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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.
Twig is an ever-so-magical, traveling theatre of puppetry.Help me finish the theatre, the lighted props & the Earth Shaman Puppet.
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Twig Theatre final design elements coming together!!!!!

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Twig Theatre!

So, because it has been so long since my last post I will do a little recapping in this update....

 Here is the mini mock-up of the theatre. This mini version of the theatre looks perfect with very little detail added. However when the scale gets much bigger, as in the life-sized theatre, what stands out is all the blank space. As well, it was looked too much like a giant rectangle box (aka entertainment center.) So, I set out to add some design elements to the theatre that would enhance the look.

 if you remember, after playing with several ideas, I settled on the above design.

 I drew the design on some 1/4" plywood from the shop, taped it off so it wouldn't split and then cut it out with a jigsaw.

 Here is the theatre laying on the floor with the trim laid out getting sanded.

and stained.

ok, now that you have been updated, we are moving into new territory..

I ended up painting the trim a dark brown because I couldn't get the ply to stain any darker...even with a black ebony stain. Here it is being glued down to the theatre with simple wood glue. I clamped it down while it was drying.

 Here is the trim on and i love it!!! Very Art Nouveau and it no longer resembles a cabinet for your TV!

 Look at the curves together....the lantern design, the lantern brackets and the trim design.

Now to give it some highlighting.....

 -some gold paint. To the naked eye the highlighting looks more subtle. I am also painting some colored circles at the bottom

 Circles on gold paint

 having fun with colors! ooh  gem colors!

 Magico Magico!

The circles look like a cluster of flowers at the bottom. The theatre is really getting some depth now!I am delighted!

Notice the two little knobs next to the lock...

The lock was feeling naked sitting there all by itself. The knobs are functional as well as visually supporting the lock in the middle of the doors.

Ok, now on to the ...

Audience side of the theatre

 This is the side the audience will see. I will put the puppet on "in back" and come around to this side as a way to "reveal" the puppet to the audience.

 Here it is with the doors open. Notice all the curves and how they all work together. I didn't really foresee that from this side of the theatre with the doors open ...i love the way the creative process comes together like that....mysterious workings underneath!

 Here is a sort of side view..... with the cardboard wheel you can see what this will be looking like when she does get her wheels. The wheels will be the next and last step in the building of the theatre. Yes, I will continue to add little gypsy knick-knack things here and there but for the most part she will be done. Did i actually say that?

Why, yes, I did!!! 

Even though I have gushed about the wheels from the beginning I have waited till the end to order them to make sure the wagon wheel idea would still be right after the theatre was completed. So, in the coming weeks I will be ordering those Amish wooden wagon wheels. Too good to be true!

ok, so, on to completing the design of the front (or audience side) of the theatre.

Here are some sketches I played with...

 mushrooms...Sort of Alice and Wonderlandy. This was a fun idea.

I have known i wanted the design to be nature ...probably trees. 

 I looooove pine trees and really thought I would settle on one of these below, but alas, none of them were right.

 Now, I have deliberated and deliberated over this design for a long time. I have felt  stumped as to what to do. should I hire an artist to help? why is this so hard for me?....why can't I make a decision about this?

well, a little side story about the subject of "deliberation and cogitation of an inspiration".(aka cud-chewing an idea until it's a green unrecognizable mass of spit and froth)...I am really good at it. So good, that many many times I have not been able to get to the next phase of the creation process. I venture to say this is why this project has taken me so long. This pattern it seems is taking on a new face and I am very pleased with its arrival!

Last year I asked for help from community resources. I could see...a projection of the future and I knew that if I didn't ask for help I was still going to be struggling and stuck within the same old patterns. No matter how deeply I felt I was willing to look I could not see what it was that was stopping me. I needed an outside perspective. So I asked for help. It has been one of the best moves I have ever made.

And I have EMDR and my trusty counselor sidekick (Sandy Watt! yay Sandy!) to thank for that! For the last year I have been seeing Sandy and she has been doing EMDR with me (Bilateral stimulation process..helps change ingrained beliefs) you can look it up online. it is simple and profound. I feel this modality, specifically, has helped me shift my creative process and I am very thankful.

   The other very powerful healing modalities I have been involved in..          TRE(Trauma Releasing Exercises)- In the next month I will be certified in this relatively new body tremor therapy! Gratitude and love to my wonderful teacher Donna Philips!   I also have Peter Levines' Somatic Experiencing and my SE teacher Sharon Porter to thank for helping me integrate those misunderstood parts of myself..

I bring up process and these healing modalities not only because they have served  me so powerfully but also because i believe that at some point I will explore doing workshops with people that involve healing from trauma using these modalities together with (!) my puppetry in some way. Not sure, at this point, what that will look like but I think the more I trust the process the more I will be lead there. 

Going back to the subject of EMDR -                                                                                This summer I had a climactic struggle with part of the project ...I became deeply  inspired to overcome this struggle so I shifted the focus (in EMDR) specifically to the creative process and my beliefs about myself and creating.. And I gotta say....(all of a sudden! 5 months later,  things are coming easier in this area.  I don't know why it is easier except that there seems to be less deliberation. Less mental back-and-forthing of ideas.

Take, for instance, this simple line I drew on the theatre in the photo above. It is in white chalk and traces around the word TWIG and starts to head down the sides.

simple, right? I have thought about what shape to make this border so many times and have never been satisfied. Last week I walked up to the theatre...drew the line without any mental process, stepped back and said " hmm, I like that." And that was that.

It was hard to believe there was no mental argument that ensued.

"I like that."

"Wait! You mean it could be that easy?"

Its almost embarrassing to write about this because it seems so absurd.....The mental processing, deliberation and questioning is a painful experience. It has made the creation process exhausting. This constant deliberation of ideas has, I believe, been masquerading as creative process.   In the recent falling away of this tendency the truth is being revealed.....in the absence of self doubt there is an easy flow.  Has very little to do with the theatre.

When it comes down to it...The whole theatre and puppets are a projection of myself. "No, wait, that's not good enough! Gotta draw that 10 more times before it is good enough!" I am enough already. I am enough already!!  So, now I just notice when the mental back-and-forthing of ideas starts happening that I am simply doubting myself. Nothing else to do really but notice!

The theatre, the puppets, this whole project is teaching me how to trust myself. I love that! It is giving so much more than I could have asked for and I'm not even performing yet. Thank you all so much for investing in my project and the dream of magic!!

Here is yet another confirmation that things are shifting... I have been "trying" to design the front of the theatre for some time now....well, last week as I was doing something completely unrelated to the project, an image popped into my head. An image of trees. Trees from a painting I had seen some time ago......this, I knew,  was to be the image for the front of the theatre.  When i had time I looked online for the painting....I didn't remember the artist, just that I had seen the paintings many times in my Art Nouveau research.

It is the work of Sydney Long. An artist from the 1800's

and his trees are the ones that came to me

And these are indeed the trees I am painting on the theatre. All this time I have tried to come up with a design and then it just comes out of the ethers. like magic.

I wanted to mention David Bowie here....He died several weeks ago and I have been touched by his life and how he inspired so many. One of the things that really moved me was the last video he made (Lazarus) where he sings of being in heaven and being Free Like the Blue Bird this is in contrast to images of him deliberating and cogitating over his writing.I love that he chose to share and be transparent about his creation process.... that there was struggle there for him. He is a beautiful man; strange and most interesting. A brave explorer of the inner universe.

I am grateful for his being.

ok, so those trees....

 Here is the first layer of blue/indigo sky.

 Drawing trees with pencil

 Twig logo with her little dots

 The little owl I may paint on the border frame

 First layer of brown paint on trees. I am delighted!

it is a most perfect design.The strong vertical lines are a perfect contrast to all the curves on the rest of the theatre.

Moon and stars  of course! there will be more stars.

This indigo color photographs bright and beautiful but to the bare eye it is quite dark...so I will come in with a lighter blue that is a little more on the grey side. We shall see...it's play time

 Here's some lighter blue

 definitely favoring the deepnes of the other blue but I think this one could work

 Sooooo...."back-stage" side of theatre!

And "audience side" of theatre!

I will finish up the painting and then put a border around the painted trees. The frame border will be cut out of  1/4" ply and then glue down...or I may raise it up off the theatre for a bit of shadowbox effect. We shall seeeee

Adding some detail to the Lantern Brackets

 Finishing touches to Dragonfly door!

 Remember this dragonfly tile? I could never get any acrylic paint to stick to it so i just sprayed it with a thick layer of primer

 Ready for some paint now!!

 Gold and bronze. As well a little handle from the second hand store.

ok, stay tuned for more!

Toothwalker -2nd head

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Hello Twig Family! Back with another update. I am always floored at how much time has passed since my last post. A lot of transition lately. I have moved 9 times since January! I have been housesitting since this winter to save money while I am completing my certification in TRE (a tension and trauma releasing process). Things always seem to move slower than I anticipate they are going to... and yet each day goes by so quickly!

 Toothwalker head number 2

  I am liking this head more as a final puppet than the wool felted one I was working on in the previous post.

the start of the foam carved head...tusks (as seen in the previous update)

 then remember I papermached over the foam for strength

 Now I need a helmet "form" to attach to the head so I can wear it. I had the idea to make a bent-wood form. So, I took several pieces of thin wood, like these in the photo, and i soaked them in a tub of water for a day.

 When they were soft and pliable I bent them in the shape I wanted and clamped them into position. I was surprised at how easy this was to create as I had never done it before. It went along without a hitch!

When the piece had dried out completely I riveted it together.

 and then cut off all the ends

 and vwalla! a little helmet

I  then seated this together into the foam tusk piece

 see the hole in the wood piece? (where it meets the foam) I will slide some type of tube/pipe into that hole and all the way through the foam to help secure the two pieces together

 Here I stuck two pieces of Pex tubing through the foam and the wood head piece to help secure the two together

 Then began spraying foam (Great Stuff) in and over the head and helmet

  I don't really know how to draw out plans for anything. i am just sort of making it up as i go along. Umm, maybe that was pretty obvious.

 lots of foam to cover the Pex tubing secures it all together.

 Then i wanted a way to attach fabric over the walrus' head (skin) and have it be supported by another strong, non-rip material, so I used this large holed mesh (normally used to protect berry bushes from the birds) one of my housesits had it on their porch and I confiscated it!

 so the netting was placed on top of the head/helmet and then sprayed with foam.

 here it is getting incorporated into the foam making it a strong attachment

 crazy foam lady

 here you can see the Pex tubes poking out the front. You thought those were eye holes didn't you?!

 Now the carving begins. i loved this part, so fun to see it take shape.

 I pinned some soft foam on for the muzzle, mouth and nose

 As soon as i get a feel for how everything is going to come together....eyes, skin, whiskers, mechanics etc I will remove everything from the head and cover it in fabric mache (instead of paper) to give the whole head a cohesive strength

 Dis Walrus got a big head!

 I put in a plastic painted sphere for an eye to get an idea how it looks

 Here are two eyes, the larger one on the left is glass and the one on the right, plastic.

 I like the clear space at the edge of the big eye (created by the thickness of the glass). it mirrors our eyes and how if you look at a humans eye from the side you see a portion of clear dome above the iris and pupil. I also like how shiny and clear the glass eye is.

 Even though i like the "look" of the glass eye I like the smaller eye (for size) better.  Walrus eyes are quite small in proportion to their head. Part of what makes a walrus look like a walrus.

 so, that's where we are at today. I am currently working on possibilities for skin...the melted Tyvek i showed you before, burlap patch, and other ideas.

Next post will include the head covered in different skin tests. As well, I am figuring out some very basic head mechanics....eyelids open and close with some simple mouth movement - not so much to open and close the mouth as to just give it some slight muscle movement so it feels alive.

thanks for tuning in!

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!