Wednesday, July 28, 2010

giant monkey puppet!

It looks like I never posted the first big puppet I did, Giant Monkey Puppet, at ECA when I was co-teaching the circus class there with Jake Weinstein. So here are pictures. Just like Common Ground the students planned, built, and operated with me and Jake just guiding with tech support, over most of a semester. The great feature of this one was eyes that moved and popped out.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Giant Chicken Puppet!

And here it was on the campers' last day, during the family picnic. I had to choose these 4 to be the puppeteers, which was easy as they'd come to class after class. The rest were appeased by being given bubbles, streamers and rattles to accompany us with. I took the inside position as the puppet had gotten too intense for a small person. My head puppeteer was an amazing fellow who held up that heavy head for our whole 20 minute show. We danced, we pecked at things and ate the camp staff. Best of all we laid 2 eggs, which got cheers from the surprised crowd. And for me, being inside, getting to see a stampede of feet around me with cheers and shouts, and occasional faces popping in from underneath to discover the secrets of the giant chicken puppet, that made the 3 very challenging and exhausting weeks completely, utterly fulfilling.

All the credit goes to these kids. They came up with the all the design, from the sunglasses and ukulele props, to the extra long extending neck, to the laying of eggs and the tossing of gummy worms, and the cowboy boots (which, well, turned out to be go-go boots). And they did all the work other then the heavy interior construction. Plus by the end they had specific theatrical requirements, like that the puppet be hidden until just the right moment of the picnic.

And now, to start another one all over again on Monday! (thanks to LB Stein for the photos, and getting me the job!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chiru video

Jacqueline, the author of Chiru, made a sweet little video about the animals, her trip to Tibet, and our book. I hope somehow this book causes me to go Tibet someday too.

Since the video was getting cropped I updated my Blogger template. They have all kinds of patterns now! I prefer sparse backgrounds for art blogs, but in honor of Antinomia's 5th year let's keep a little flair around for a while. How about a nature pattern and lots of green to go with the theme of this summer?


The Giant Chicken Puppet got made in one hour classes with changing groups of usually 12 campers ages 6-12 and a teenage counselor assisting. It was a challenge to keep everyone of all ages occupied at once, and re-teach and explain the project every class. I had at least 4 different task stations they could switch between if boredom was imminent: feathering, egg painting, head papier macheing, sewing, and prop making; most needing lots of supervision and instruction, so I was running between tables like a headless chicken. I experimented with teaching one camper a task, then letting him or her be the supervisor of that table, and I was surprised how well they worked together that way. I also soon realized smocks were key.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Antinomia's 5th birthday

Today it's been 5 years since I started this blog! In July of 2005 I was making masks with Margie and ElizaB for Elm Shakespeare and thinking a lot about puppets. Not much has changed. Some photos from our big art project at ecology camp: a giant chicken puppet made of recycled materials, designed and made by the kids, with just structural and technical guidance from me. It's going to be amazing!

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I've had so many great ones this year. Aileen Lawlor (photo above), imported from California for the Wildfire fire performer training camp, is a gorgeous fire staff artist. She taught staff as an acting class rather then a trick class, and had us visualizing relationships and moving in ways that exploded my conceptions. I finally felt myself begin to progress from staff spinner to staff dancer, the teaching I've been seeking for years. Here she is doing a poi duo at Wildfire with Noel Yee.

Then I got to drive the most awesome performer, mime, hand model, actor, director, etc Andrew Dawson around New Haven for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. His piece for the Festival, Space Panorama was hilarious, breathtaking, suspenseful, and everything a show should be with just his hands, a table, and 30 minutes. I saw it 3 times and could watch it a hundred more. I got to take his workshop on hands and mime and his experience with Feldendkrais which addresses physical injury and is all about subtlety and awareness, something I struggle to remember. Frankenfinger had a hard time keeping up. It was mind-bending and brain-turning and hand-waking.

During that class I remembered when a mime named Tony Montanaro came and taught for a day at my rural Maine elementary school, and then I went to his mime camp for the summer, which was a nest of progressive art right down the street from me in the middle of Nowhere Podunk Farmville, and in that camp we danced, mimed and made big puppets, and I realize now what a huge influence that was.

Beacause this week I've gotten to know and teach several dozen young campers how to dance, make art, and puppeteer giant puppets, and generally enjoy themselves, and life, and the world, and I am humbled by the weight of the task of potentially being a life long influence like that, and here is hope upon hope that I do a good job of it.

Andrew Dawson and his elegant and subtle hands:

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Consistently though my life, when I get a call from an art director to do an illustration, it very often is subject matter that closely resembles something going on in my life. A synchronicity.

Cricket magazine called a while ago for a one page poem piece (above). In that time I heard about, interviewed for, fretted over, and eventually won a full time job as a nature camp counselor, and finished this painting the night before the kids arrived. Camp counselor is not anything I ever expected to do, but I find myself outside all day every day with a great group of kids, eating lunches, making art, and hiking. It is a great contrast to the recently past dark days of mono and night shifts. I'm pretty happy about it.


With just a gap of 12 hours in between, I went from artist's driver for the Festival to recycled art teacher at a kids nature camp. I'm still not recovered from the whiplash. It's my first time being a full time teacher, and the first time in ages being at camp.

The first project was printed windflags, based on Tibetan prayer flags, made with all plant materials. The night before I was experimenting with natural dyes on the muslin. Something didn't go quite right, my beets and red cabbage/blueberry dyes weren't very strong, and my carrots were a wash out. But some tumeric spice added last minute gave a great yellow. I'll keep working on this because it is really fun, and the campers took to the vegetable prints with enthusiasm.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Finally, finally, finally, Chiru is an actual book, with a cover, and a jacket, and a spine, and pages, and everything. And Wilson gives it twelve out of twelve whiskers. You can see some of the interiors here.