17 April 2014

Throwback Thursday: Marionette

Here's a thing you may not know about me: I love puppets. I grew up on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and my fascination for how a skilled puppeteer can bring an inanimate object to life has never waned. One of my favourite toys as a child was a raccoon hand puppet that my dad brought back from a trip (I had a huge collection of stuffed animals, too). It was realistic enough that even my young self could make it look like I was holding a live animal in my arms.

Also, my paternal grandfather had puppets. I believe he made some of them himself. We grandchildren weren't allowed to play with the marionettes, but I remember when we visited I'd always try to sneak into the basement and just look at them. One in particular fascinated me: a papier mâché skeleton. Now that my grandfather is gone, I sometimes wish I had that puppet, so I could look at it, the way I did as a child.

Then, a few years ago (okay, more like ten or fifteen years ago), I decided I should try to make a marionette. So I did what I always do when I want to try something new: I went to the library and got out a stack of books, and I read them.

I was already making dolls. Not many, just the odd one as an idea came into my head. So I figured why not try a stuffed doll marionette first, to see if I could. So I did. Meet Iris.

Iris was inspired by the Greek goddess, messenger to the gods of Olympus, and spirit of rainbows. As I child, I also loved rainbows (unicorns, too). I used black cloth with white paint because I love the look of Greek white-on-black pottery, and I used ancient Greek art as a starting point to design the look of her face.

Her hair, hand-dyed yarn that I picked up on a whim, is much more rainbow than it looks in the photos -- the greens and blues and purples are at the back -- and it has little crystal beads tied into it, like the water drops that make a rainbow.

I don't think the Iris of Greek myth was depicted with wings on her feet (Edit: according to my notes, she did indeed sometimes have winged boots), but Mercury -- also a messenger to the other gods -- was, so I extrapolated. Except I gave her butterfly wings. If I were to do this same puppet again, I might go with dragonfly wings instead.

So why a sudden post about marionettes? I always meant to make more, after Iris, but I never did. Soon after I made her, I went to art school (she was in my application portfolio) and didn't have time for such whims. But a couple of weekends ago, my neighbour at the Halifax Crafters spring fair was Pam of Puppet Dudes. She makes Muppet-like hand puppets, but my puppet-love was roused again. And I've been watching Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge on TV (don't tell anyone, but I might have a slight celebrity crush on Brian Henson).

Now I want to make another marionette. I had an Idea. I bought some fabric: black cotton again. And then I haven't had time to work on it. Right now I'm in a slight pause between the two halves of a big bookbinding job while I wait for the artist to finish the rest of the pages. I should be catching up on my April book reviews. And I will. But since I haven't had time to play with my marionette Idea, I thought I'd write a quick something about it.

Edit: I remembered I have my NSCAD application sketchbook still. Here are a couple of the pages where I was working out Iris's design (one added above, one here):

When I get some free time, I'll make another cloth doll marionette. If it goes well, maybe I'll try a papier mâché skeleton.

09 April 2014

Writing Wednesday: Almost There

I'm still not writing much, alas. In fact, I have a short freelance article I wanted to have handed in at least a week ago that I haven't finished yet. I can't express how much that bugs me.

But no sooner was the craft fair over with that I had to launch myself into a big bookbinding job. It's more catalogues for textiles artist Sandra Brownlee (I'd link to my previous post about the work, but I'm on the mobile Blogger app for iOS which, for some inexplicable reason, lacks the ability to insert links), and is going to keep me busy for at least another week or two, especially with juggling my About YA Books work (and that damned freelance article I *will* finish soon).

The above image is just a fraction of what I have to do. I'll be binding and putting covers on 76 regular edition books, and once I have the rest of the materials I'll also be doing 12 deluxe versions with all sorts of extra inserts (if I remember, I'll add links to the two earlier blog posts about these books when I'm back at my desk; in the meantime, if you search "Sandra Brownlee" in the little search box at the top left they'll come up in the first few results).

So far, I have managed to sew 15. I'll need to speed up if I'm going to get this done in good time. So now I'm off to make supper, and then back at it. Oh, and this means my Stamp Saturday posts are probably going to continue to be nonexistent until this job is done.

02 April 2014

Here is a Pretty Picture or Two

Thing I made recently for the upcoming craft fair, after which I will be resuming regular posting with more than a single sentence.