Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year from Hellyer's Puppet Workshop

So we've successfully reached the end of 2010... a year packed full of great memories!

This year in the summer I was fortunate enough to visit the United States again to teach puppetry at I-Fest (you can buy DVDs of the workshops I taught from Despite the festival being fantastic as usual (and being looked after so well by the One Way Street team - Thanks to Todd and Susan!) the highlight of the trip this year had to be the visit to see the Blue Man Group in Chicago! Dave and June Privett from Playsoup took us along and we had a fantastic time!

Also in the summer I was able to visit my friend Phil Fletcher again who is a fantastic puppeteer and puppet builder. We've known each other since the good old days when MySpace ruled the earth and Facebook hadn't even been invented :) Phil is now working at the BBC in London and he (and Warrick - also a puppeteer at the BBC) were kind enough to show us round TV Centre and their studio.

Later on in the year I also taught at the One Way UK annual puppet festival in Reading, I have been teaching at that particular festival for the last 13 or so years so it was great to be asked back again (must be doing something right). 

And all this activity has been squeezed in between puppet builds and some fairly major planning sessions for the future of Hellyer's Puppet Workshop (the fruits of which will be seen in 2011).  I'll leave you with two videos... the first is Pierre's big end of year 2010 quiz:

The second is a wrap up from me and a possible New Year resolution.

All the best for 2011!
Take care - Dave

Friday, 3 December 2010

Sid the Cyclops

If you love fun monster puppets, then you're going to want to meet: 
Sid The Cyclops!

Sid is a brand new professional half-body puppet hand made in England by Hellyer's Puppet Workshop. He measures approximately 21inches (53.5cm) tall from the top of his yellow mohican to his waist. He also has an excellent arm span of approximately 40inches (102cm) allowing real scope for expressive arm gestures (two arm rods with elastic bands are included!). He has a cute little pot belly and just the one eye (but hey... he just wouldn't look the same with two!). He's a great fun character who will really engage audiences of any age... he's a friendly monster!

Like all the puppets made in Hellyer's Puppet Workshop Sid has been made out of great quality materials. Sid's body is made out of durable and lightweight mini-cell foam and his head is made out of durable and flexible reticulated foam. His body is covered completely in 1" pile electric blue deluxe faux fur fabric with details in 3" pile yellow fun fur. He is lined in polar fleece for added comfort and his nose and eye-lid are covered in hand-dyed antron fleece. The fleece covered hump in Sid's mouth will help you grip it while manipulating him, and his neck is separated from his shoulders to allow greater flexibility of movement.   

Note: This professional quality puppet has been hand made by Hellyer's Puppet Workshop for adults, it is not a toy. Hellyer's Puppets are used in many countries in shows and films to enthral and entertain. If you'd like to find out more about our puppets and how they're made search online for: "Hellyers Puppet Workshop"

We hope you love this character as much as we do
Happy Bidding :)
Take care - Dave

Monday, 11 October 2010

Hellyer's Tag Cloud

My friend showed me this recently and i thought it was pretty neat... can generate a pretty tag cloud of your blog. Here's mine:
It's heavily influenced by that fact I was recently at I-Fest and was writing reports of what happened the night before (as you can see)... but it's a bit of fun :)

Take care - Dave

Friday, 10 September 2010

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

How to make money with puppets... a new book

As a rule I'm not a fan of posting adverts on my blog... but Paul Louis sent me a link to his new book recently and I thought it would be helpful to a lot of the people that read my blog (judging from the questions I get emailed). I'm guessing most of you will have seen his videos from eHow on YouTube so you'll probably know who he is, but for those of you who don't know him check out his bio below: 
Paul Louis has been a professional puppeteer, filmmaker, award winning actor, writer & composer since 1981. He is a now popular Internet Video Puppetry Guru, featured on,, and all over YOUTUBE. As a power seller on eBay, Paul has built more than 4,000 custom puppets for theaters, ministries and film/video production. He is a "direct call" listed puppeteer with The Jim Henson Company, and the creator of the former nationally syndicated children's puppet TV series, "Jelly Bean Jungle" (Which President Clinton called, "High quality children's programming"). Louis has performed as a puppeteer for more than 30 TV & Film productions, including the hit cult film, "Team America: World Police." He now teaches puppet building and performance workshops all over the world, and collaborates & advises producers on their own puppet related projects for TV, film and theatre.
If you'd like to check out the book for yourself then please follow the link below:
Click here to view more details

take care - Dave

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I'm back from I-Fest and have had a little break - but now it's full speed ahead in the workshop again!

One thing I did realise when I came home from the States was I never showed a video of Wolfgang - I just posted his photo on here. Now don't get me wrong the video isn't going to be an Oscar winner or anything like that... but i like it. It doesn't even feature any good puppetry... but it's fun: enjoy!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

I-Fest 2010 - Friday

So yesterday was my favourite day of I-Fest so far! last night we had two fantastic feature performances, one by Maegan Bruce and another by Ferrel Marr. Both of these performances were very different from the rest of the feature performances of the week - not least in terms of the number of performers, but also in terms of style of delivery. Every time I come to I-Fest there is one night when I watch a performance and say to myself "that is what I came to I-Fest for"... last night was that night for me.

Maegan Bruce is a ventriloquist, puppeteer and artist. Her ventriloquism and puppetry were technically excellent, but that wasn't really what caught my eye... she finished her performance with a brilliant piece of painting. It was fantastic. What stuck out to me was not the technical or artistic ability with which she painted but the fact that you could see that she was doing it with a raw, honest passion. I love the fact that sometimes the simplest things can make the biggest impact.

Ferrel Marr's performance similarly blew me away. You know when you have a family get together there is always that relative who has the rest of the family eating out of their hand when they tell a story, seemingly without making any effort? Well last night Ferrel did that to I-Fest! A beautiful mix of marionettes, puppets, blacklight painting and song made up his beautiful patchwork performance.

Both performers last night did not have any real glitz or glamour about what they did, they didn't have a massive show stopping routine with hundreds of performers involved... but they were true to themselves and they did what they wanted to do, excellently! If there was an object lesson hiding in the feature presentations last night it would have been: don't ever try and be who you're not, be yourself - you have a unique gift.

Each one of us has a unique gift and we should all be different when we perform, after all variety is the spice of life :) Don't ever feel under pressure to emulate someone else because their style is more popular than yours. Both Maegan and Ferrel performed brilliantly engaging pieces last night with techniques others people wouldn't think twice about using... it was great to see!

This is my last blog about I-Fest "on location"... I hope you've enjoyed them.
Take care - Dave

Friday, 9 July 2010

I-Fest 2010 - Thursday

OK so Wednesday was hard for me as the jet lag caught up with me... but Thursday was great fun!

The day started with a LAB workshop working through a song routine, it was all pretty simple stuff but the group responded really well and they are going to perform what they came up with on main stage Friday morning. After lunch I got to teach my favourite workshop "Getting to grips with arm rods". It was very well attended and I felt it went well... I am pleased to report I keep on getting stopped in the corridors here being told how much people found it helpful which is always very encouraging!

Thursday afternoon was special for a whole other reason though... we took a trip to Walmart! It's sad I know but Walmart is super cheap in comparison to the UK. I bought my son a few cute little outfits and even got a couple of surprise gifts for my wife which she might like (I hope she does). The highlight for me was I picked up the new Sony Bloggie HD camera for cheap. The exchange rate worked in my favour and I got a good deal.

When I got back to I-Fest Dave Privett had launched his new Puppet Building DVD... another purchase was made! His series is fantastic - if you haven't bought them yet I would advise you to, go to for details.

Thursday evening was the blacklight competition which is always a highlight of the week too - so all in all it was a great day!

Take care - Dave

I-Fest 2010 - Wednesday

So Wednesday was a hard day for me. As you can tell I'm doing this update a lot later in the day than I would normally... it's because jet lag kicked in! Yesterday afternoon I felt like all of a sudden my body switched back to UK time and just couldn't make it through the rest of the day - not good!

So Wednesday was internationally day at I-Fest, the evening performance was dominated by all the international guests. We saw performances from teams hailing from Puerto Rito, Canada, Australia and the UK. The     international guests also had a reception in the President's dining hall after their presentation whilst the Improv invitational went on... sadly I had to miss out on both these fun things as I was utterly shattered and did the very rock-n-roll thing of going to bed early!

Anyway looking forward to writing up Thursday already... I have made some exciting new purchases!

Take care - Dave

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I-Fest 2010 - Wednesday

It's 7:50 and I'm sat at the PC again next to Mr Barrett as we both check emails and try and work out what the time is in England.

Yesterday Gene Cordova and the Bonilla family performed on the main stage in the evening... It was cool. Gene had a nice style of storytelling where he started a couple of threads and kept switching between the two stories. The Bonilla's did some great work too, my particular favourite was the part when Jason explained how to do some silk magic with the assistance of his lightening quick son - he tried to convince us that the reason the silk disappeared was because his son shot across the stage faster than light and stole it from his hand (they even did a slow motion action replay to show how it all worked).

I did my first workshop yesterday morning which was "learning great lip sync", 68 people attended and as far as I'm aware it went pretty well. Everyone that I spoke to had a good time. Today I am on a Q&A panel with Dave Privett and David Pannebecker. That should be fun, but these are the two people who inspired me to start building in the first place.

Yesterday I watched the Lip Sync Challenge in Kresge auditorium, and sat with the Smile Puppet team (from England) who had two puppeteers who had entered... both made it through to the final! We'll find out in chapel this morning how well they got on but they are at least guaranteed 2nd and 3rd place which is excellent!

Today is international day at I-Fest so there's the reception tonight... I'm not sure I can make it yet - but I'll try.

Take care folks speak to you soon

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I-Fest 2010 - Tuesday

It's 7:58am, I've just had breakfast and now it's time for a cheeky check on the computer before the day kicks off in ernest. Paul Morley is checking his emails next to me (and probably the football transfer gossip too if he's honest).

Doug Nearpass and Lenny Corliss were spreading the good news of MacBooks at breakfast today... and following both my brothers making the big switch from PC to Mac the strength of the case in becoming overwhelming (now I just need a spare $2,000!).

It's funny the things that stick out at you when you go someplace new (sorry I'm already adopting my American English vocabulary which I slip into all too easily these days), but my parents have joined me this year for their first ever I-Fest. This is their first visit to America since 1999... so day 1 of I-Fest, what stuck out to them most? Fireflies! I was taking them over to the competition in the Kresge Auditorium from the Ludwig Centre. Just as we were leaving Ludwig I said "of course when you go out at night here the thing you want to keep your eyes open for is fireflies"... as if I had planned it 8 or more fireflies began to dance away in the bush right in front of us. My parents love gardening and wildlife etc so they nearly feinted!

FYI Paul just left and was replaced by Harry Barrett checking his emails... Harry is definitely not checking up on football gossip! I don't know why I feel it's necessary to share these facts with you - I just am :)

On a more puppet related note S.T.A.G.E.D. Puppet team from Omaha, NE performed on the main stage last night with some really great blacklight routines. Also Joe Bruce from Weatherford, TX did a great ventriloquist routine with a really neat quick draw in the middle of it. This is my 7th visit to I-Fest and the performances in the evenings have always been a highlight for me. I am quite a visual learner so I love to see new things and new ideas. 

Well today I have my first workshop that I am teaching this year. It's "learning great lip sync", it should be fun. I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow.

Take care folks - Dave

Monday, 5 July 2010

I-Fest 2010: Monday

So here we are again at ONU waiting for the start of I-Fest. It's great to be here again and I'm really looking forward to spending a week with some really creative puppeteers and performers.

I'm excited that a puppet festival in the USA has attracted so many puppeteers from the UK - there's loads of us over here! There are 11 from Smile Puppet Ministry, 10 from St Peters Puppets, 2 from Upbeat Puppets and 1 from The Puppet Factory (and me of course). This is probably the biggest English contingent that I can ever remember being over here in all the times I have been to I-Fest (this is my 7th visit).

This is going to be my busiest I-Fest to date too... I have lots to do in terms of workshops and the occasional performance, but the thing I looking forward to most has to be the performances. I love being at a creative one-stop-shop! There are so many talented performers here, it's a great place to pick up ideas and get inspired.

Hopefully I'll be able to sneak onto a computer often enough to update this blog throughout the week to keep you up to date with what's going on. I'm sorry to say the YouTube videos will probably not be flowing this week as my Kodak camera has died on me again! If I can I'll borrow a camera I will.

Anyway - see you soon, take care!

Friday, 25 June 2010

What's inside the bag?

So recently I opened "that" bag that has been under my desk for the past year - just to see what was inside.

enjoy :)

Monday, 21 June 2010

Hellyer's Puppet Giftshop

Some of you may have spotted it already... but in case you haven't: I recently opened my Zazzle store!

It's great fun and I hope you enjoy checking it out. If you have any suggestions for what you would like to see featured in the store be sure to let me know.

Take care - Dave

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Wolf puppet building video diary

So over the last couple of weeks I've been making a video diary of one of my puppet building projects. The character is Wolfgang the Wolfhound. You can check out the series of videos below to watch him being made:

So he is all finished up now and this is what he looks like. As you can see he has large and almost bulbous yellow/cream round eyes. I was slightly concerned whilst building that these would make the character look mean or evil but I think you will agree he has kept a very open and happy face despite the eye colouration. 
You can't quite see them in this picture but Wolfgang has two moulded teeth that sit right below his whiskers on his top jaw... he has quite a large overbite on the top so that they can sit there happily without fear of them being knocked off by the lower jaw.

This character is one that I have build specifically for I-Fest which I am going to in 6 weeks... it's always great to build new characters to show when you go and visit fellow puppeteers. If you're going to I-Fest I look forward to seeing you there... be sure to come and say hi to Wolfgang!

Take care - Dave

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Summer of fun

I am pleased to say that just in time for the weather improving the orders are winging their way into the workshop. It already looks like it is going to be a busy summer of building. I am really excited to be trying out a couple of new techniques… I have a bunch of mental sketches in my mind’s eye which hopefully will become puppets before too long.

Also coming up is I-Fest, I received my conference schedule this morning… it’s going to be great! It’s a brilliant opportunity to meet other puppeteers and puppet builders to share tips and techniques. I have been 6 times already and I can easily say it’s the best puppet festival that I have been to. I’m really looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones.

If you’re going… see you there!
Take care - Dave

Thursday, 22 April 2010

My Son continues to AMAZE me!

So I've been a Dad now for almost 6 months... which means I've spent the past 6 months in amazement at my son Samuel. However this week he raised the bar on himself!

We recently went away on a little family holiday to Poole in Dorset. We had been planning on going to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Bosnia... but due to the Volcanic Ash floating over Europe all flights were cancelled so we had to holiday closer to home. Whilst away on holiday we decided to play catch with a rustly ball we had bought to entertain Sam on the plane... we decided to give it to him anyway even though we weren't flying - he LOVED it! check out the video below to see how well he reacted to it:

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

I-Fest workshop leading confirmed

I have confirmed with the events team at One Way Street the workshops that I am teaching at I-Fest this year... it's really exciting!

I was delighted to spot that the brand new One Way Street blog that they have written a post about Hellyer's Puppet Workshop [and me :)]. It's great to get support from an organisation who have helped me so much over the years - so thanks guys it's much appreciated!

If you're going to I-Fest I'll see you there!
Take care - Dave

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 is now LIVE!

I've written before about my new website that is about to go live... well now it is live finally! Below you can see a sneak peek of what it all looks like. Click on the image to visit the new site - enjoy!

Friday, 5 February 2010

New site ready to launch

I'm very excited at the moment for a number of reasons... but one of them is my new website. Those of you that follow my blog here will know I have been trying to update/improve my website since 2007 so this has been no small effort! As these things seem to work in my experience you wait ages for any progress on a project at all and then it seems like the floodgates have opened and all of a sudden you're ahead of where you had anticipated being.

Rather than updating my website I've built a completely new one which I will be able to change myself without needing to ask others to do it for me (which is something that pleases me no end!). At the moment I'm beta testing the site bus what I can say for now is I'm really happy to have finally moved out of the dark ages and into something which better reflects me and my work.

I'll post a link next week to the site so you can go and have a nose around it.
Take care - Dave

Monday, 11 January 2010

Meet Geoff the parrot!

So I've shown you photos of Geoff already... but here's a brief video explaining how he works: