Saturday, 29 December 2007

The Perils of Puppet Building

Nobody can deny that building puppets is one of the most frustrating and fun things to do all at the same time. For me, things go wrong and go right in equal measure... but it's always a surprise to see which things work and which don't.

I am working on a project at the moment (pics coming soon) which i though would be really hard, in actual fact it has gone very smoothly and is coming together much quicker than i had anticipated.
Today however i would like to briefly talk about the Perils of Puppet Building. Last night i was using the hot glue gun to attach some fur trim to my new project... and tagged my finger big time! The glue gun had been on for a while and was at the stage where it was smoking when i applied it to objects. I was just thinking i had better switch it off and let it cool down for a while when i spilt some glue on my finger. I looked down and to my surprise i saw the end of my finger shrink a little bit in front of my eyes... No kidding! The skin shrank back - needless to say i spent the rest of the evening running to the tap every 10 minutes to cool my finger down. Now almost 24 hours on i have a blister almost 1cm long on the end of my finger.
Now i am happy to admit that i have accidents all the time (i know there no point pretending otherwise)... but the funny thing is as i have been wandering around cyberspace reading other people's puppetry blogs i have noticed that everyone has at least one post like this on their blog somewhere! So to all the puppeteers and puppet builders out there with glue gun blisters on their hands - We salute you!
I'll post the pics of the new character very soon, have a great New Year!
take care - Dave

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Christmas & New Year

So it's nearly hear... it seems like you wait all year for it and then it's over all too soon. I don't know if it's just me, but i always seems to get more excited about New Year rather than Christmas. Don't get me wrong - Christmas is great, and i'm all up for celebrating Jesus coming to earth, but personally i have always thought there really is something special about New Year.
  • It could be the promise that next year you have a clean slate again... the year is what you make it.

  • It could be the feeling of optimism that seems to be in bountiful supply at this time of year.

  • It could be that i am welcoming the prospect of closing the chapter on the year just gone.

Of course it's none of these and all of these at the same time. In some ways no one feeling is more important than the other... all are equally important. However before some of you look at my thoughts and think must have had a really bad year, that just isn't true. Here are a few of my personal highlights of the year so far:

  • Seeing my brother and his family twice in one year, including seeing my nephew for the first time ever!

  • I was able to meet up with my extended family to celebrate my Grandmother's 100th birthday! (that's something not many people can say)

  • I made some great friendships at work, despite the fact that many of these friends have moved on.

  • Thanks to the help of some great friends i have made some huge steps forward in my puppet building and i look forward to expanding my puppetry in the year ahead.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported my videos on YouTube, i know they are random and sometimes a little crazy, but they have come in very handy. In the past year i have been approached a couple of times by TV companies looking for new performers and new ideas... thanks to you all watching my videos! I am considering combining both my channels into one "super channel", but the jury is still out on that one.

Thanks for your support, have a great Christmas and New Year!

All the best - Dave

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

December update

Sorry i haven't posted in a while, it's Christmas soon which means the whole world seems to step up a gear. I worked at not one but two Christmas parties on Sunday, and i have a few more before i can finally put my feet up for the holiday.

This however is a quick note to say "hello" and "yes, i'm still alive". I have posted a little pic which shows the new character i'm working on with the ears i mention in the video added. I think there is a certain "Dennis the Menace" quality about him at the moment... not Dennis himself, but he looks like he could be at home in one of those cartoons for sure.

Take care - Dave

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

I got my baby back!

Yesterday my baby returned home after a week away from me... i am of course speaking about my sewing machine :) (snappy headlines just help you get interested in the blog that's all)

So here's a pic of me and my Singer re-united. It's bizarre i have worked without a sewing machine for years, i am a really quite quick and hand sewing now after all the practise... but as soon as i got my sewing machine i became dependant! As a result i have got very little work done since my partner in crime left me.

It was kinda fun trying to find a sewing machine repair man for an old Singer 507... a lot of the new machines are all digital and able to be computer programmed, so it was important to find an old fashioned repair man. Thankfully i did find one after a recommendation from a local fabric store. The chap who fixed it was a nice retired gentleman who asked me a few questions about my machine over the phone and said straight away that it sounded like one of the cogs under the footplate had stripped and would need to be replaced. I booked the 507 in for a service reassured that the repair man told me it was "a good machine - well worth repairing" (well he would, wouldn't he) it's all fixed now and working good as new! He also proudly presented me with the stripped cog at my front door when he returned my machine... it was a lovely "i told you so" moment :)

take care - Dave

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Wonnacott Wolf

Wonnacott Wolf is finally finished and i've posted his first video onto YouTube (see below). You will have seen before that he was very nearly completed but there were a couple of details that were not yet complete. Now with a set of half moon specs and a smart collar and tie Wannacott Wolf is ready to face the world.

I think the process of building puppets is fascinating... at what point does this collection of foam and fur stop being raw material and start being alive? The obvious answer is when the puppeteer picks it up, but sometimes that isn't true. I think with some characters you form and instant bond, you "know" them as soon as you see them. You are able to pick up the character and immediately start performing with them. I found this with Spam, the second i started to use a Scottish accent with him everything fell into place. Other times you have to work at developing a character for them. Wonnacott Wolf for me has been a "grower". You know those songs you hear which you don't pay much attention to at first, but after a week or so you think they are fantastic. It's not that the song has beaten you into submission and you are forced into liking it... you just needed time to get to know it. It's the same thing with certain characters for me. Pierre is so much a part of me that i don't even have to think when performing him. I never need scripts and it's all ad-libbed, Spam and Mooney are the same. Wonnacott Wolf will become like that once i have made a couple of videos with him and settled down into the character a bit more.

I have posted two videos below, one of Wonnacott Wolf's introduction to the crex81 channel and the second is a short piece of video which is me ranting at the camera between takes whilst making Wonnacott Wolf's first video.

All the best - Dave

Monday, 3 December 2007

Wonnacott Wolf - almost completed

By now if you have been keeping up with things in the workshop you will be well aware that i recently met up with Phil Fletcher from the Gluvets to exchange puppet building tips. The upshot of this means that the latest character to leave the workshop is going to be a heavily "Gluvet" inspired puppet.

"Wonnacott Wolf" will be hitting the small screen soon! the very small YouTube screen that is. Wonnacott is still awaiting some final details to his body, a tummy patch and a nice bow tie should finish him off nicely. Of course you will see him in action as soon as he is ready to roll.

I had hoped to get him finished off quicker but sadly i managed to break my sewing machine during construction so i have shipped it off today to the local repair man... hopefully it will return soon with a clean bill of health. I am now back to having 3 sewing machines which don't work. I was fortunately able to borrow my mum's machine to stitch up the last few odds and ends (not without breaking one of her needles off her machine). Sadly this has also had a knock-on effect on my next project which i have already started... let's hope the repair man is skilled and speedy!

All the best - Dave