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My Week at Puppet Fantasy Camp

Beyond the Sock puppetry workshop

I just got back from the best vacation ever.

My husband and I went to the Beyond the Sock Puppetry Workshop where we spent a week learning how to make – and perform – hand and rod puppets.

So! Much! Fun!

Here we are with our instructors (and our finished puppets).

Beyond the Sock - our teachers

From left to right that’s Peter Linz, Noel MacNealย (both puppeteers for Sesame Street and lots of other shows/movies) and Pasha Romanowski (puppet-builder and pattern-designer extraordinaire).

What an incredible week! We spent every morning working on our puppets, and every afternoon learning how to perform them.

I’ll start with the making – the part that was definitely my happy place. ๐Ÿ™‚

Everyone worked from the same pattern – which was a great way to learn. This year it was a cute cat. ๐Ÿ™‚

Beyond the Sock 2018 - cat pattern

Previous years have been rats, monkeys, chickens, penguins, and pirates.

Even though we all worked from the same pattern, we all used different materials and ended up with wildly different puppets. And we didn’t get to choose our materials – we got mystery boxes like on Master Chef.

Beyond the Sock 2018 - mystery boxes

I got this really thick, lush, grey fur.

Beyond the Sock 2018 - my fur

And the fur my husband got may look familiar to some of you!

Beyond the Sock 2018 - Alan's fur

I used it for one of these monsters and in this tutorial showing how to cut fur. It’s one of my favorites!

We built a foam structure, staring with the mouthplate and basically building out from there.

Beyond the Sock - building the mouthplate

After the foam structure was finished, we sewed all the fur and everything into a skin and slipped it over the foam – a very tight fit!

Then it was time to add eyes and accessories and all that and I forgot to take pictures because I was totally engrossed. ๐Ÿ˜‰

But take a look at some of the finished puppets!

Here are mine and Alan’s.

Beyond the Sock - finished puppets

I love his bowler hat and mustache!

Mine has a little gemstone stud in her nose and she was supposed to get purple feather streaks in her hair, but I ran out of time. I’ll add them later. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are some others. . .

Beyond the Sock - finished puppets

Beyond the Sock - finished puppets

Aren’t they awesome?

Now – the performing.

This was the part that was WAAAY out of my comfort zone – but I still loved it!

Beyond the Sock - learning to puppeteer

We were learning how to puppeteer on TV – not live – and that’s a very different thing. You have to make sure your puppet is standing up straight (a constant problem for me) and moving/looking in the right direction. For those of you who have watched my “welcome to the new month” videos where I show the new Ami Club pattern – you know I’m very directionally challenged when it comes to recording! ๐Ÿ™‚

In that shot above, we’re trying to make all our puppets look in the same direction – which is surprisingly hard!

And in this one, you can see what we look like performing, and on the monitor.

Beyond the Sock - learning to puppeteer

We were trying to get our group of three centered on the screen, filling the screen, not showing our rods, and all looking at the camera. ๐Ÿ™‚

And then they had us acting and lip synching and doing improv on top of all the puppeteering! So many things to remember!

We did a bunch of performances on the last night, including a big song and dance number that had over twenty of us packed into that space below our puppets. Crazy!

Really – it was a totally incredible week and we want to go back next year.

If any of you are interested in making puppets, Pasha has a terrific website with video tutorials and sells really well-designed patterns. It’s called Project Puppet and I can’t wait to make my next one!

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

12 COMMENTS

  1. Oh my gosh, Wendi! This looks like so much fun! I can tell you two had a blast! Thanks for sharing your vacation photos with us! ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Roxanna SAYS...

    YOU TWO really must have been in creativity heaven! I’m so happy for you.

  3. Anonymous SAYS...

    It looks like a blast!

  4. Anonymous SAYS...

    Thank you for sharing your camp week!!! Looks like a very fun time!!

  5. That looks like it was so much fun. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  6. This is quite possibly the coolest thing in the world.
    Now, if only you were still in school so you could write that stellar “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” essay…

  7. Anonymous SAYS...

    What fun! I took a puppet class in college, but I think I’d do better with it now – 30 years later!

  8. Laney Judd SAYS...

    Looks like a great week! I see more puppets in your future! — Maybe some designed by Wendi!

  9. Nancy Broshat SAYS...

    So much talent… you, your husband, the instructors! This was an inspiring post to read.

  10. Mare SAYS...

    It looks like really a lot of fun and an amazing week!!!

  11. Wendi, thanks so much for this post! My 16 year old daughter is VERY interested in puppeteering, and Iโ€™ve had some trouble finding resources, especially classes. Thereโ€™s very little happening, puppet-wise, near where we live. I love your puppets!

  12. Nancy Austin SAYS...

    I started smiling when I read the very first sentence and I havenโ€™t stopped yet! Thanks so much for sharing your great vacation with all us wannabes!

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