Week 2:
Still Under the Sea

Karin L. Bostrom Fellow in Theatre Fabrication & Design

The Puppet Kitchen | New York City, New York

June 4, 2017

I started the week at a Memorial Day get together with some Cornell alumni from NYC. It was encouraging to meet people who came out of the same theatre program that I am going through who have jobs in their fields and are making a living doing them. With such a positive start, I was looking forward to a great week.

We continued the build on our Little Mermaid project this week. We were really getting down to crunch time as we neared our deadline to ship the puppets out to St. Louis. By now, all the puppets had been built and we were working on details like painting and embellishment. I was assigned to apply a clear base coat called Flexbond to many of the puppets that seals the foam, allowing them to be painted.

A few birds drying after a layer of Flexbond.
Me and Flotsam, or is it Jetsam?

Later in the week, I was tasked with painting the base coat of color on some red fish. It was exciting to work on part of the puppet that would be visible as a final detail.

The lovely red fish, almost ready to go under the sea.

At the end of the week I had another meeting about my personal project. The character I want to create is based off of some pictures I took of rocks at the Oregon coast. I imagined a sea guardian who looks like a pile of rocks, but when awakened rises up and fights the forces that would destroy her home.¬†Over the weekend I had been sketching out ideas of what the character could look like. I started with a very “realistic” approach, the rocks would rise into a form that looked a lot like a person made of stone. The second iteration was a simpler version of this concept where all the body part rocks would be smooth and ovular. This approach would have me focusing on the mechanics of the puppet and less on the character. The third idea was that the rocks wouldn’t form a human shape at all, but be an abstract cloud of rocks that could move and shift into shapes that suggested a body part or gesture.

I decided to take some time to develop the first and third ideas. Micheal asked me to take home some foam scraps and spend time carving them into different rock shapes. I could then string them into simple mobiles and play with how they move. This experiment would help me choose which direction I want to take my final project.

Some pages from my sketchbook where I worked out character ideas.


As I left work at the end of the week, I passed a New York staple: a film crew shooting some TV show or film project. I am constantly reminded that I live in one of the most photographed and filmed places in the world. As I walk around the city I see landmarks from shows and movies and, like a total tourist, often stop to take a picture for my Instagram or Snapchat. Its easy to get starstruck by this city, so I’m glad I have the whole summer to make it my home.

The quiet block I work on, alive with a film crew.
Story-related photo for post 19637_3037

Amanda Bentz '18

Amanda is a theatre fabrication major from Scio, Oregon.