Week 7:
A Cinematic Holiday

Karin L. Bostrom Fellow in Theatre Fabrication & Design

The Puppet Kitchen | New York City, New York

July 12, 2017

My week started with a fun puppet field trip: an outdoor screening of The Muppets take Manhattan right in the center of Manhattan! Chef Michael set up the outing, and we all met in Bryant Park before sunset with blankets and snacks as well as puppet making supplies. We spent the preshow time making simple hand puppets that were just eyes and ties. I had never seen a Muppet movie before, but when the movie started it was clear that almost everyone around me had seen this film multiple times. The casual outdoor atmosphere allowed people to burst into song and respond along with what was happening on screen. It was a fun night of getting to know my coworkers outside of work, and meeting new people in the New York puppet community.

My eye and tie creation.

The following night was the Fourth of July. This was the first time I spent my favorite holiday away from my family, but I still managed to have a good time, New York City saw to that. After a day in the Puppet Kitchen we had a monitor night, a workshop that taught puppet performance for TV. After a few hours of puppet wiggling we went up onto the roof to watch the fireworks over the East River. I love fireworks and these did not disappoint. In the end it was like a night from a movie.

A view of the NYC skyline from the roof of the Puppet Kitchen.

Work continued this week on the seven foot tall puppet. We took it from model to pattern last week, and this week was all about cutting the foam, covering it with fabric, and start putting it together. Draping these large pieces with spandex was one of the big challenges of the projects. We had to cover each section before they were assembled into the final shape. The tricky part was that each piece was curved and the spandex would change how it was curved if it didn’t get attached at the right tension level. We developed a process in which we would loosely drape spandex over a piece, pin it in place, then stretch the fabric until it was taut across the foam. We pinned it all in place then glued the fabric to the foam. It was a good project for practicing problem solving and patience.

The structural cart that the puppet will be built around, with an unattached foam piece.

I did some finishing touches on another puppet this week that will be sent out to children’s hospitals. I gave the 3D printed eyes the usual treatment of sanding and paint and sewed a wig onto the puppets head. This puppet was human shaped so it was a little stranger sewing into it’s head than that of a fuzzy purple monster. It’s funny how easily we personalize and anthropomorphize the puppets we make. It does feel a little like creating life, once the eyes and mouth are there the character can look at you and talk to you. Puppetry is weird but I like weird.

Using a curved needle, I sewed on this little puppet’s wig.
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Amanda Bentz '18

Amanda is a theatre fabrication major from Scio, Oregon.