Monday, February 24, 2014
Believing in Boogeymen
I have created a monster! Seriously though, his name is Cal. And this is how he came to be.
Puppets have always had a fond place in my heart as I grew up with the Muppets and Sesame Street. When I was requested to create a puppet pseudo Boogeyman for a birthday present/musical production, I couldn't resist. The scene would be a staged parody number of a song from Avenue Q, which is a well known puppet filled Broadway show. The parody was based on the temporary trials that law students have to deal with, as the show was put together by a large group of law students to help lighten the load of school. There was only one type of puppet I could see, a monster. A big, furry, loveable monster. For some reason the Boogeymen sack puppet monsters are the ones I always connected with including Cookie Monster, Sweetums, the two headed monster, Rolf, and the aliens on the Muppet Show. Maybe I loved the underdogs of the stories or the not as "beautiful" ones. When I got to make my own I was thrilled and a bit scared. Here's the rundown.
Step 1: Figure out your materials and go shopping! Thanks to my requester, the incredible Garrett (who also happens to be my "partner in crime"), we were able to pick fabric - an awesome purple with long shag like fur and gather other materials including a glue gun, a sewing kit, dense foam, feathers, and colored felt. I knew at home I had some of the other things I would need: elastic, a sharp knife, a piece of plastic (I used a milk bottle), and other things from previous projects that I may need.
Step 2: Watch YouTube videos on how to make a puppet. Hence the need for the computer. My favorites are from Puppeteers Unite http://puppeteersunite.com/ which as easy straight forward and help you figure it out even if you didn't buy a pattern kit with them. Oh and the Jim Henson stich is awesome, even though I didn't end up using it.
Step 3: Realize you already made a mistake and it won't be the first. I bought thick dense foam (about 3 inches) instead of the thinner more flexible foam. My solution, cut my foam in half as I go, the downside is it took about twice as long to make the form as it should have. Things to learn and use for next time. I am not going to get into all the details of each and every step and how I made it, if you want to know, feel free to ask. I did quite a bit of what they showed in the tutorials and also just made it work with my craft knowledge and knowing that hot glue would work just fine in some cases instead of stitching (as I currently don't have a sewing machine around and have to hand stitch everything).
Step 4: Use what you have around. Elastic from an old pair of hand me down sleep pants, a milk jug, old t-shirts, and plastic spoons were all things that were able to be utilized instead of thrown away or recycled. Remember, reusing is almost always better than recycling. It also gives you the chance to figure out a name for your monster.
Step 5: Assemble and hope that it turns out better than you first thought. Now I have an art degree and have a bit of history with fabric, thread, and hot glue, but it still is always fun to create new things and see how they turn out! Cal turned out well, but if I was going to sell puppets there would be some changes. Originally, I thought about using feathers for hair, wooden circles for eyes, and cones for horns. However, I found that he looked funny with hair, spoons worked better (thanks to Puppeteers Unite suggestion), and the foam I had left worked better as a flatter triangle. Overall, I am very happy with how Cal developed and I use that term purposely. Puppets, like all great art, come into their own, speak to you in their shape and eyes, and draw you in with their quirks. Sometimes, I realize life is a bit like creating a monster. We grow and develop, change how we look, swap out things that don't quite work, and finally look in the mirror and decide that we finally are happy with the monster staring back. For the Boogeymen in are lives may be scary at first, but as we learn more about them and ourselves we can choose how we want to feel. I choose love. Thank you Garrett for requesting a monster, so I could fall in love all over again with my own monster inside.