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Twig is an ever-so-magical, traveling theatre of puppetry.Help me finish the theatre, the lighted props & the Earth Shaman Puppet.
Created by

Brett Evans

141 backers pledged $5,067 to help bring this project to life.

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Toothwalker head and more on theatre design

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Toothwalker

 Trying to get the shape of the head right before I needle felt the foam.

 Felting around the nose. I used a brown wool fiber to do the muzzle to add some definition as i think the whiskers will be white. The wool fibers pull out with a little effort if i change my mind on the coloring.

 Insert glass taxidermy eye to see what his presence feels like. I actually like the coloring and shape of this eye even though its not realistic. It looks nice against the white. Walrus's eyes are brown and the pupil is large and more square.

 I am working on a mannequin so i can get a feel for what the head looks like on a human body

 Looks like a walrus with a bad "habit". tehe. aka "the flying walrus"

 sweet face

walrus bling

 feeling out colors and pieces to add when project is closer to completion...

 So, remember the other skin covering I said I was excited about...the melted Tyvek? Well, I don't feel the felted skin and the Tyvek really go together so  I decided to just construct another head and try out the Tyvek skin on the new one....who knows...maybe they would mesh well together. The needle felting is very neat and compact and i may a bit more patchy and random with the Tyvek....we'll see.

 I decided to start this one from pink insulation foam...glued together with spray caulk foam

 carving

 yes, it is fragile.

 Reinforcing with 4 layers of paper mache and white glue. This adds a tremendous amount of strength. Will it be enough??? not sure!

 Paper mache can get tedious!  especially if your pieces of paper are smaller....So I am watching a movie while i work! I found the DVD "Tusk" at our local library....couldn't believe they had a copy! The movie was fun and I liked it till Johnny Depp's part. He slowed the film down too much. 

 Dollar store ping pong balls to practice making eyes and some basic mechanics. This time I am trying out more realistic coloring and size....just to see if i like it. Ultimately I would like the final eyes to be glass whether they are realistic or not.  There is a depth with glass you just can't replicate with plastic....plastic also reflects too much....you can't see 'into' the eye.

 brown eyes and square pupil for walrus

 Here are some wires I used for lids...they hinge

 I glued the ping pong ball into a plastic dome shaped candy mold from Jo-anns.

 Then I used the edges of the candy mold to run a cable through

This is the eye closed

 and by pulling on the cables the eye opens

 Here is the eye with mini springs on the lids. The springs push and keep the lids in a closed position until .....

 the cable pulls them open.

That's it for Toothwalker today. Next post....more on Tyvek skin walrus. Obviously the mechanics would be covered with some type of lid material....tyvek probably. look forward to sharing next phases with you all

Theatre design .....

 Theatre is on its back for ease of working and access.

Here you see the design is completely cut out....hand sanding pieces

 Sanding theatre doors to give the surface(where I will glue down the cut-outs) some tooth.

 Staining pieces...not too dark to start out with. I can always go darker

 Nothing is glued down yet....just feelin' out the look of it.

 So, my sense here is......I love the design and the cut-outs. Not crazy about how much it still looks like ply. May have to stain much darker

or play with some faux finishes for the next update.

 This is from this morning....about 8 inches!....we've gotten about 3 more inches since then! And it is still coming down!

OK! signing off from Snohio!!!

Magical touches to the theatre!

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Curtains!

Here are the original curtains. Linen. My intention was to paint an Art Nouveau design on them to bring in some color and whimsy. The dark earthiness of all the wood needs some sparkly festive color so it feels balanced.

 So!!!!!! Plans change! I found this delightfully fun fabric and pink frilly top at the thrift store not long ago. Cotton Candy and circus tent stripeys. I love it

At first I was imagining making a clown puppet and saving it for just that ...and then i had the thought....wow, it might make really lovely curtains!

Here they are! There was literally just enough fabric and I managed to spread out the ruffle for all three puppet compartments! (you know, places where the puppets will hide) Much more festive now...old timey, french circus carnival thing a happenin'. 

Now for another colorful element......

The Dragonfly door!!

 This little compartment door needs some fixin's.

I have this fastcast (resin plastic) tile I made years ago. Originally I sculpted it out of clay, made a silicone mold from the clay and then poured the fastcast into the silicone mold. The thin one on the right was a thin tile I made and now I want to put it into this little door.

 So, I chiseled it out.

  Vwalla! I tried some acrylic paint on it just for an idea of what color might look like. Acrylic and plastic don't take well to each other.In fact that paint will just wipe off with soap and water. I will look for some special plastic paints or dyes to give it a rich colorful splash...the other tile above (the thicker one) was dyed with bright inks...

For this dragonfly maybe some yellow or gold and magenta in there and a darker color for the space around the dragonfly.

 little nature spirit

Art Nouveau Doors!!

For this project I utilized the mini mock-up of the theatre. I have wanted to do some trim around the edges of the doors to help the theatre lose that "rectangle box look" . I had played earlier this year with some ideas and none of them worked for me. A coupla of weeks ago I decided to give it another try. I sketched out a few designs before I found these two and mocked them up on the model.

 Sort of a butterfly...A little thick and too much.

 This one I love! It not only creates a shape that takes your eye off the straight edges of the box,  it also mimics the design in the lanterns. The design came from a turn-of-the-century hutch. I am tickled.

 Drew the design on a piece of 1/8" ply- the size of the door. I will cut out the shapes and then trace the other one and then glue onto each door. 

 Here is the final design, taped off so that when I cut out the shapes with the jigsaw it doesn't tear the layers on the ply. The boomerang circus finials will be removed and used for something else.

 cuttin'-

  Almost done

  I love this design on the theatre...My vision all along for the theatre has been a mosh of old timey, Gypsy/nature,European Art Nouveau, whimsical carnival, dark and magical! It is finding itself. Might have to do some crocheted moss and danglies hanging down over the top of the theatre and the tops of the lanterns..... To give it that 'just unearthed from the Enchanted Forest' look!

  Here is the other door half done. Working with the scrap materials I have I will piece together the design on the second door. It will hardly be noticeable when I am done.

Sanding required on all edges. Then staining. I don't want the design to be ALL you see on the theatre so I will stain them darker-not as dark as the theatre though. At the the same time I don't want to lose the whimsical lines.

 They are clamped on at this point. Next update they will be stained and glued on.

 Once the doors are complete it about wraps up the "backside" of the theatre. Yes, this is the back side. The other side of the theatre faces the audience and has the name of the theatre on it. So, aside from various little touches the main things to complete on the theatre are the front design and getting her a pair O' wheels!

I have purposely waited on the wheels so that I could see what looks best with the complete design. I have been thinking wagon wheels all along -to give an old Gypsy feel to it. But recently have considered other ways to look Gypsy-ish without going with heavy, loud rumbling wagon wheels.

I like something about this wheel but not sure it has the visual heaviness that fits the theatre. It is just a 28" bicycle wheel with no rubber on it. Mostly I wanted to see what the spokes looked like.

 This is more what a wagon wheel would look like

 I have wondered what a an old Penny Farthing wheel would look like on it.(???) It would be dark or black and still have the spokes. I like the black spokes -Could be interesting. I think the biggest I can go with a wheel is 30" or 32". After that it is just too big. Some things to think about.

puttin' along. Slow and mighty! All for now.

Thanks fer hangin' twig gang. Much love to you all.

Next update will be finished doors and some more on Toothwalker.

Support frame for puppet and melted tyvek Walrus skin!

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Support Frame for puppet

I learned a lot from the first costume frame I played with. Seen here with attached moveable, rotating parts to allow the puppet certain movements. The shoulder pads were a thrift store find.

  My vision was to refine this design to the bare minimum for the Walrus Shaman puppet

 I started with flat-stock aluminum from Lowes...I love it...lightweight, strong, bendable and yet holds its shape

 This width of aluminum may end up being too bare minimum. In that case I can just bump it up to the next size. It is a simple build.

 I made this on Wednesday in a couple of hours.  Ultimately it will get covered with foam and black fabric so it will be comfortable and hidden underneath the skin of the walrus

 I see it being a frame to support the walrus skin as well as his arms. I imagine the skin and arms being super lightweight. 

Walrus Skin

Speaking of skin...I bought an $11 tyvek suit at Lowes! This was too exciting! Tyvek is a very thin lightweight plastic "fabric" that is also very strong and won't tear.

I wanted to experiment with melting it....yes, melting it! for walrus skin.  I had run across melted tyvek online when I was doing a search for simulated animal hides. And gosh dern it if it doesn't look just like walrus skin!

 Heat gun on low....gave this melting effect....large bubbles

 Here is the same spot cut and splayed open. The left side is melted the right is not.

 Some paint and holey moley!!!

 Looks just like me !

 With some light shining through ...it has some semblance of animal hide.

And this skin (tyvek) isn't even going to be the main skin that you see on the walrus. It will be underneath a crocheted skin-covering composed of white and sea-foam green wool yarn, shells, barnacles, seaweed and other imagery. The crochet style will be a free-form open weave. I have been teaching myself to crochet!

In case you have never heard of or seen free-form crochet you will be most inspired by the work of free-form crochet artist- Mandy Greer. Her work makes my chest explode!

For me I feel its movement under my skin... it has a drippy feel to it ....art nouveau. I am very excited to attempt to emulate the feeling her crochet style has for me. (for the Walrus' outer skin.) The tyvek skin will give support and show through the open weave of the crochet.

Here is Mandy with one of her installations.....

"Mandy Greer creates a site-specific spatial installation that visitors can explore through sculptural objects with a biological and phytomorphic appearance that allude to the stories and images of mythological worlds, combining shamanism and Native American traditions."

I love that...."a biological and phytomorphic appearance" !!

Below is some of her inspiring work....

Mandy Greer Crochet

 Mandy Greer crochet

 Mandy Greer Crochet

Mandy Greer crochet

Thank you Mandy for the beauty that comes through you!

To see more of her work visit here...

http://mandygreer.wordpress.com/

I will leave you all with these beautiful images!

Thank you for checking in!

Some necessary changes to the project!!

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Hello Everyone, I am excited to share with you some changes I have made to the project so that it could move forward. I hope that you will also be pleased with the direction it is taking. As you are aware I have been struggling for some time with the Shaman Puppet.... his head and face. And this has slowed(actually halted) the process of the entire project.  I have made attempts at different faces and have felt they do not capture the original face that inspired the Earth Shaman to begin with.

 The shell face that inspired the making of the Earth Shaman.

  Was not moved by this although it looks pretty close to original

 tried for a bit more abstract as the roundness of the previous face wasn't working for me

 another try, alien looking

and another

With this one I was having fun with the eyes and creating lids and depth but ultimately was not pleased with the outcome.. I have experimented with different crude materials and many false starts and I have not been very moved by any of the creations to continue their build to a final puppet .  I  have been fairly unsure of myself throughout the making of this character. What is so hard about this?? For one - I haven't been able to bring any depth or dimension to his face... It has a flatness to it, an alien-ness and feels somewhat scary. I can't seem to get away from this. I have asked myself, "Am I never going to be satisfied with what I come up with?....is that what is going on here?" ....OR have I been merely pushing something that isn't to be. Am I listening?....deeply enough? quietly enough? To what wants to be created here.

One thing that is clear that wasn't before.... it is often difficult to take something that holds a certain power (in miniature -as this sculpture/model of the Earth Shaman below) and re-create it enlarged and expect it to retain that same magical-ness. It is the actual "miniature-ness and scale" of the object/creature that lends that 'special something' to the imagination. I have been trying to do this with his face and, for me, it has not been working.

It feels very important for me to finish this project -not only for myself but for the project and all of my supporters...YOU!  This fall I felt the push from Kickstarter about "project completion and fulfillment". This bore heavily on me as the project has not been moving ahead.  I felt that  something drastic was in order....so I sat with the original idea and vision I had (of the Earth Shaman) and asked myself some questions. ..

I know I want this puppet to be "of" the Earth, not an alien-looking being. I asked myself what kind of energy does the face in the shell elicit in me. What does it feel like? Does it feel more human or more animal? a blend?"

I went on a bit of a journey, drumming a little, looking for some answers. I had only 'journey-drummed' once( several years ago) and my experience of it was very powerful. ...so I thought I would seek its assistance again. I kept a notepad next to me as I closed my eyes and just played a steady rhythm on the drum.  nothing special.... just a rhythm. What I have experienced is that it does something very interesting.....It promotes a deeper council with ones self by shutting off the head....by dampening the mindless chatter and the more cerebral concepts.  And in this blank space, this stillness  - the language of the heart can be heard-  it speaks in feelings, sensations, whispers, images, symbols, metaphors, fragments of ideas, words and phrases. It is nothing short of an amazing creative discovery....a seemingly magical attunement and yet so very natural to access the recesses of the imaginative heart in this way. The dream drumming itself forth...

This Shaman is slow and deliberate in his movements, I feel this movement in my own body.

 even if he is mostly animal...it feels clear that it is still a Shamanic representation of that animal. the spirit of that animal.

 I kept getting the feeling of something large.... a water creature maybe....the original Earth Shaman WAS inspired by a sea shell( a bi-valve mollusk).

  is it a manatee? It does move slow and benthic. It's wisdom is ancient. Seeing and feeling images of heaviness and weight.

yes, a bit like a manatee...the nose large and bulby. and yet, not quite.

  Then a strong image of a walrus came in...a walrus?! hmmm, something about this is resonating within me. The energy of the Shamans indeed feels like the energy of a walrus. Especially Its mouth and nose... a part of the Earth Shaman i have had so much difficulty with. The walrus' face also has a tremendous amount of depth and dimension

I sat with this for a time. I liked it. And then some fear came up.....Wow, this feels like a big change from the 'Earth Shaman face' to a 'Walrus face'... What will everyone on the project think about this?.... Is this too far from the original idea?

Walrus Shaman, Ron "Qay" Apangalook. Anchorage Alaska, ca. 2009

ooooh, I love this.

I found some amazing art honoring the Walrus in the lives of the Inuit people.

 As I research images and see this animals' magnificence my fear is melting, i am warming to the idea. They are stunning and strange... mythical looking beasts.

In subsequent drummings I saw a white Walrus with a heart of fire in its chest...as a white being he becomes the spirit symbol of the living animal....as well asa visual representation of the snowy arctic environment he is so adept at navigating. Very exciting development. The drumming opens the door to the sacred language that my minds literal-ness can't wrap itself around. This is good

 nursing calf- see a 2 minute video here of mother and calf

I love the embrace.  I had no idea the females had tusks too! Hmm...will the new Shaman be male or female?!!  Time will tell as the story unfolds.

As I was doing research on the walrus...just out of curiosity, I googled 'white walrus'.

  This is what came up......

Kevin Smiths new horror/comedy/drama film. And yes, It's about a white walrus..... sort of. How is this possible!!! What are the odds!? This kind of collective consciousness manifestation blows me mind! ....Like everyone around the world simultaneously being 'into' dragonflys.

I WAS fancying the word 'TUsk'  for this new Shaman being......imagining something along the lines of Earth Tusk and maybe not so sure about the horror film connection and then I found

"Toothwalker"

The tusks are perhaps the most useful adaptation of a walrus. They are dramatically elongated upper canine teeth, not horns like some used to believe. These tools are used primarily for hauling a walrus's great girth out of the cold water. This action is where the scientific name Odobenus comes from. The word translates to "toothwalker".

I like the sound of "Toothwalker" It has a powerful ring.  Sounds like Truthwalker. What story will this Benthic Shaman tell? It is too early for the name to lock itself in...this however remains a powerful inspiration.

I was very excited to dive into this beings creation .....Will this work as a Shaman puppet? What does that even mean? Such a serious question!! I AM a Capricorn you know! Why wouldn't it work!!!

So I dove in.... using my preferred method of fleshing out a puppet....foam

  I used this image as a reference for the walrus skull

 More puppet guts.....all over....everything

 I cut the skull apart so I could take out some of the length and bulk. Its foam, you can do that!

 Coating the Tusks with rubber latex so I can paint them white like ivory/bone. The rubber coating helps the foam take the paint.

 White coat going on

 Looking tusky now. Refining the look of the nose.

So, at this point I was wondering and wandering back and forth..... a dance between how metaphorical do I want this to be...... (a skull and tusks with a black socket eye )versus( a live walrus that opens its eyes and looks at you.)(???) I love the power of metaphor in storytelling and yet I want to feel and experience the soul and personality of the animal itself. I found my answer as I saw the animal in the flesh ...white like the arctic ground it walks upon and only partially constructed(only a partial visual representation of the living walrus).Mostly just the head, chest and front flippers

This is enough of an abstraction. I see it in my minds eye working!

.

Speaking of eyes....if he is to come to life I want him to have eyes. At least for now!

 Here are some eyes I found a friend had in his treasure chest...they are glass taxidermy eyes. They are nice and even can be somewhat illuminated from behind so they can be seen better for an evening performance. Walrus eyes are brown and black....but I am staying open to what feels the best versus what may be anatomically correct.

 Here is my first attempt at whiskers...stripped chicken feathers!

coated with rubber latex and painted white. They are flexible and fairly strong.

 Here I have covered the foam carved skull with a thin layer of flesh. Taking shape now.  Starting to feel really right.  I hope you are as surprised (in a delighted way!) with how he is taking shape. I never would have cognitively "chosen" a walrus and yet it is feeling right.

I must share a cool synchronicity with you I am just now realizing as I am writing this ....

The Walrus' main food source is the mollusk! He uses his tusks to dig them out.

May I remind you again the original Earth Shaman was inspired by a mollusk I found on the beach in Malibu! Maybe the story of the walrus was already inside the clam, waiting to be revealed .....

 ....waiting for me to work away the mud and stagnation, clear the unconciousness- healing myself before its secrets could be revealed. Walrus medicine is powerfully at work. and I never even knew it! Now I know what it meant when I saw the words "the walrus, as animal totem, reveals that which is hidden." I wondered how I could find what that meant for me. Thank you Twig family for staying with me on this healing journey. feeling a deep sense of gratitude......in awe of the mystery of how this life unfolds

 as you can see I put the layer of thin foam right over the skull

 He's looking good!

 For his 'skin' I decided to play with some white sheep fibers I have. This is what the fibers look like before I comb them out and punch them into the polyfoam with a very sharp felting needle.

 This needle punches the fibers in and through the foam....it's actually locked down pretty good.

I like the look of the white wool (much better than painting the foam)and will punch it into the rest of his head.

I awoke to a sweet walrus on my bed this morning ......Tickling my ear with not-yet-there whiskers.....whispering the secrets of the universe. Am I listening? Do I want to know what is hidden?

For your viewing pleasure i did a quick-rig mouth and eyes. Just to give a feel for where he is going.

I worked on this last month and really wanted to get it to a certain place before I shared the progress with you all. For myself I really needed to know if this was just another sort of 'sidetrack' away form the original idea or if this was indeed the natural movement of the original idea. It feels right I must say. I have journeyed several other times with this puppet and have gotten pieces of a story with other walrus', an orca, a polar bear and many just wildly creative ideas that are fleshing themselves out! I watch as I am becoming more of an observer, a witness and facilitator to this unfolding process rather than the controller of...

 For this photo I let go of the eye to get a photo without my hand in there and because the foam was just folded and held into place- it began to unfold when I let go....it now looks like a little Star Wars Jawa tucked in there. I love when weird things like this happen.. Imagine a being whose eyes are two beings hanging out on his face. hmmm something there! Two beings in symbiotic relationship -helping each other

 Different eye shapes

 sad eye!

 sleeping eye

 something like this....

more posts soon! And I mean it this time!

Oh yeah and .....I do not own nor did I take any of the walrus photos!

Earth Shaman progress

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Hello Twig Family! Ok, first off I am going to quit promising an "update in 2 weeks"..... I never seem to make it happen when I say its going to happen...so, I just won't say it!

Ok, very excited to share Earth Shaman development.....

But first I would like to revisit the original design concept for the Earth Shaman because I moved away from it for so long....

If you remember, the original sculpture I made with found nature relics....

Sea urchin behind his head, sea branches for antlers, curled tree bark for his robe and the piece that inspired it all....a shell for his face.

 And as you can see....The butt of the clam-like shell is his face

Except for the tree bark all the other pieces were found at Malibu Lagoon

 he gazes heavenly

clay sculpt of his head

 paper mache' face from the clay sculpt

 Then I painted it white and because I didn't like the way it looked or was going....I layed it down and moved on to other ideas.

So that brings us up to date.....Now that I have "played with other ideas" for a while I am coming back to this face to flesh it out a bit more and see what works and what doesn't (so glad I didn't toss it)

 face with some paint on it...... similar to the tile I created (to the right)

There is something happening that I like....taking it further with some foam antlers.

 Foam is so easy to make into any shape

 Then I reinforced with wire for stability (foam is floppy). Next time I will use an even stiffer gauge wire (from wire hangers ) An armature wire on the inside would be great support too.

 I want to fuss about some more with the antlers. Coating them now with rubber latex- so I can paint them white

 The foam is very porous . This is the first layer of latex...it takes several layers to coat it nicely.

 Here is a sample of paper mache on top of foam that worked....I was considering it for the antlers- to give them more stability (don't want em flappin' in the wind)

However  I concluded that I didn't want to completely cover the wire design and two the paper wouldn't stick, even with the latex. The surface of the antlers is just too bumpy. Learning materials, that's for sure.

 So, I tried paper and fabric mache' (white glue formula) Toilet paper looks nice and scrappy but offers no stability

 This fabric is too opaque and heavy

 hmmm, a little closer

 I kinda like this for now...cheese-cloth. It stiffens up really nice

 These have been fun to play with...

  So, stepping back and looking at this.... It is pretty close to the image I had of him in my head from the shell. And yet, there is an aliveness missing. I need to play some more with him....in more of a loose way.

Inspiration from the HEArt!

Several weeks ago I worked for a couple of days with the amazing group of people from "Honey For The Heart". They are based here in Athens Ohio and make parade puppets and other magical things and beings. I was inspired by their use of paper mache', cardboard and lots of other found objects. Below you can find their information....

 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Honey-for-the-Heart/280593735391081

 Honey from the Heart beasts

 So, I decided to give cardboard a try...

 The plan for this puppet head is that he is first on top of my head and then he comes off when he comes alive. Here is the frame structure for the mask

 eyes, plastic ornament balls from thrift store or Joanns

 gently drill small holes in sides, reinforce holes with tiny washers (hot glued) then bend hanger wire to make hinging eyelid

 wire for pulling and pushing eyelid closed

 playing around with another piece ....hot glue and felt

 eye lit from behind- I am starting with a large pupils because I want it to have a more gentle gaze, like an elephant or whale versus a very defined round black pupil with a penetrating stare...we shall see how this all looks

 Here is a glass [paperweight] I found in an antique store...I like the depth glass offers. I am considering glass eyes as my partner(Mark) happens to be a glass-blower!!! why not huh!?

 side view

 it wouldn't have to have so much color...I would go for something much more subtle ...blues or browns with a black center.

 work space

 for now these eyes are great!

 rough draft face pattern

 I must say....it IS a really odd face I picked. not an easy one to replicate....

 oooh Scared me for a moment...... lookin' a little 'Jar-Jar' here

 hmmmm, just a comparison

 Sittin' on the deck working and "Oh!...."

 Hello!

Didn't even see this guy makin' his way across the deck. sneaky little fella

 I thought he was a rattler cause he coiled up, and rattled at me AND had this patterning but then i saw his cute pointy tail with no rattle and knew he was a faker....he is a juvenile ratsnake/blacksnake

 Playin' more now...twistin' some cardboard up here and there. This is fun and I like it!

 Hmmm, I like all this business!

Sorta resembles the sculpt i did a ways back.....

 Ok, it for now! Thanks to all fer still hangin' in there with me!

Summer tidings, Heidi

Will keep you posted on developments!