Archives for the month of: April, 2014

I had some good news recently: in August Puppet Festival at the Estuary Art Centre in Orewa is going ahead as planned. Kim Boyd, the Centre’s manager has allocated the entire month to all things puppetry. I am really excited as I hope it will show how diversified puppets can be. We have Anna Bailey, a puppeteer from Wellington, coming up for 2 weeks and running workshops on puppet making and she will also perform some of her wonderful string puppet shows. Sarah-Jane Blake a performance designer, working in the UK and in NZ will also run workshops on story development and telling. Finally in  the last week I will be facilitating stop motion animation workshops.

The Festival will start off with a buskers and market day on Saturday the 9th of August and then continues with an exhibition called “A story-teller’s world.” If you are in New Zealand and want to partake in the exhibition of puppets and other object which elicit imagination please get in touch with either me or the Estuary Arts Centre.

The bad news is that my Artstation workshop has once again very low enrolment numbers and is unlikely to go ahead. It is so sad that most people when they hear the word “puppet” dismiss it as a children thing, at least here in New Zealand.

While I was preparing my course, I came across this wonderful interview with the amazing Candadian puppeteer Ronnie Burkett by Gary Friedman (also a puppeteer working on a film about politicial puppetry at the moment). Ronnie explains so eloquently here what puppets are all about, its really worth watching.

Here it is, the long awaited sequel to “Life of an Artist”. One year on, L’Artiste is still saddened that his art wasn’t perceived that well last time. Remember he threw his tunic in an act of despair at the end of the original film? Obviously, Skeleton picked it up and kept it for him in her closet all this time. Now she thought it was about time for L’Artiste to snap out of it. Surprisingly, once he slipped back into his tunic, he regained his confidence (I wish I had a magic tunic like this :) But what am I saying to you… watch the film.


Finally I got round to attend to my Dedes and I made good progress on the sequel to “Life of an Artist”. I can tell you as much: Skeleton felt sorry for poor L’Artiste who was still stitting in the corner crying. She brought him his tunic back and convinced him to have another go. For the rest of the story you have to wait… I hope I will have the film finished by tomorrow.

I though I’d share this page from the Artstation Term 2 Programme with you. It promotes my upcoming course. Kit Lawrence, the photographer,  has captured the essence of my art extremely well. Being a puppet artist suits me to a T. I love being in the background and happy for the puppets to have the limelight. They are such amazing creative tools. To be honest, the only difference between an object and a puppet is imagination. For me personally, having a sound imagination is extremly helpful in navigating modern life.


It is Easter again. It is around this time of the year it’s most noticeable to me that I have moved from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern. The weather is pretty much the same in both countries, but Germany is now moving towards the warm summer months and Easter marks the end of the cold, while here in New Zealand we start to batten down the hatches for winter. Last year at Easter I made my first stop motion film with the Dedes. It was a spur of the moment piece about the life of an artist. I have been wondering for a while if it is time for a remake. Nothing much has changed. A year, though, is not long enough really to justify a remake, or is it? Maybe I’ll make a sequel!

Here is the original.


Looking back even further, two years ago I created this sequence of images for the blog. Not a film yet, but it is clearly pointing towards film making :)







I’ve searched this morning for “fat legs”, as I wanted to see whether our film “Fat legs & all” shows up in the search engine results. Very high on the list I came across the perfect script for a puppet show about Lipoedema on a bodybuilding web site. Okay the dialog happened in 2005. The first sentence said it all. I would love to know how the story continued.

If you can bear it, read it:

My girlfriend has fat legs

“My girlfriend has a great upper body, but her lower half leaves a little more to be desired. First off, she has naturally muscular legs from her high school dancing career. She’s got thick calves- 14.5 inches! Problem is, she also has a thick layer of fat around her quads, calves, and hams. Cottage cheese is a good way to describe it. It’s mostly genetic how she stores her fat, as her parents are both borderline obese.
I know 2 months of diet and cardio can do the trick, but the problem is her attitude. She’s not very driven. At one point, she went to the gym consistently for 2 months, but I believe it was only to make me happy. Now that we’re both home from school, I’m pushing her to join a gym and get down to work, but she keeps putting it off.
Worse, she buys mini-skirts and dresses which make her feel self-concious. She’s always asking me to tell her she looks great, and frankly, I’m not a person who likes to lie. Last night, I yelled at her and said “you don’t have any right to be wearing anything that exposes your fat legs!”, which is the God’s honest truth.
If you don’t have it, don’t show it, but obviously my harsh philosophy backfired, and she’s angry at me, telling me that I’m controlling and abusive for telling her what she can and cannot wear.
Yes, she has a right to wear what she wants, but it just doesn’t look right, and I don’t want her to be embarrassed if other guys/girls give her looks, and moreover, I don’t want to be seen with a “fat girl”.
I love my girl to pieces, and I’ve been with her for nearly 5 years. She just lacks the drive for fitness and self improvement that I have. Her favorite phrases are “I want to wear what makes me happy”, “Running is too hard”, and “I don’t care what you or other people think”…which are the phrases 100% of fat people say. She’s plain lazy and unmotivated.
How can I get her to lose that weight? She’d look gorgeous in a mini-skirt if she did it, but damn it, what should I do/say?


“Well, aside from dragging her to the gym kicking and screaming, and buying her clothes that go well with her body type, there is not much you can do. Seems that your girlfriend has made it very clear that she does not care how she looks and does not want to excerise. Now if you don’t like being around “fat girls”, you have to make a choice: Keep her, or find a fit girl.


“I want to keep her, I mean, I’ve kept her for almost 5 years now. She has so many great qualities, but this legs thing is horrible. I try not to look at them when we’re in bed, cuz it makes me go limp within 2 seconds…lol.
I just don’t get it. I mean, lets put it this way: I have horrible side delts, so I would NEVER wear a tank top. Never. Hell, I’m cutting right now, and won’t take my shirt off unless I hit my goal of 10% bf…only 2 more months to go. See what I mean? You gotta earn your right. In the mean time, have the decency to hide that ****.
Any other suggestions?


“Break both her legs with your foot.


“Have a long term vision.
Fat legs will be good in long term.When she will be preganant, her body will burn fat legs to get energy.So legs will be slim.


“You could ask her to come along when you train. She can workout with you. Then do cardio. Once she goes that time and feels great after, she will want to go….and soon she may start going alone.


“I’ve done that…not breaking her legs, but taking her with me to the gym. However, she hates every exercise except dumbbell curls with 5 pounds, tricep kickbacks with 5 pounds, and 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill.
I’ve even gone as far as making her a meal plan, which she pathetically tried to follow for a week, and I even made her a training split, which she slowly veered off from. I’ve tried to be nice, to compliment her and feed her ego…nothing has worked.
I see alot of qualities in her which I could see myself being with long term. But her attitude towards fitness sickens me. Her parents are fat, and I fear I’ve got myself a future fatty.


“Looks like your in a tough situation my friend. It’s great that you have put all this effort into getting her to workout, but if she is not going to do it….well…
i don’t know what to say.
Maybe also explain to her that excersing is never easy but she tell her that she has to do it…not just for you, but for her own benefit.


“I have. Believe me, I’ve tried everything. She’ll do it, but only for a short spurt where she sees results, but for some reason the results don’t fuel her to work even harder, unlike how most of us are fueled by our results…it’s very strange.
It doesn’t help that the only “food” in her fridge that I’ve ever seen over the course of our relationship has been frozen cheese blintzes, old chinese take out, ice cream sandwiches, and an assortment of barely recognizable rotted produce. There’s also an abundance of canned soup, sugary cereal, and Easy Mac. Her parents don’t cook, and her brother is malnourished.
I think her parents are kinda senile, or crazy. They’re both burnt out from the high society living they once had. Her mom was a lawyer, and her dad still owns a large portion of Worcester, the city I live near by. They’re rich Jewish folk, if that has anything to do with their family mentality.
They love their kids to pieces, but God, they don’t feed them very well, and I guess my girl is just used to that…I dunno.


“She is used to doing whatever and she wants, and thats not going to change anytime soon. Girls are like that, in denial, they buy **** that they don’t look good in and expect their guys to feed their egos or else they are “a$$holes.”


“keep her until ur at 10% bodyfat, then dump her and get someone who is more fit for u
keep upgrading them :P


“Exactly. I’m no *******. I just like to call it like I see it.


“You know you can always take her to the doctor and have a doctor tell her that she needs to loose weight. Have her blood pressure, EKG, etc. Once she learns that something may be wrong, she may change…who knows.


“Last summer, I worked at a gym, and almost cheated on her with the swim instructor. That caused all sort of problems when my girl found out.
I love her though, so leaving her isn’t an option unless it gets horrible.


“I got the same problem as you man, I love her to death but shes a little chubby. When I find something out, I’ll let you know.


“maybe u just think u like her… and are too afraid to leave her and start a new relationship. Just think about it… one day u’ll wake up , ur 250 pound gf lying next to u, and be like wtf am i doing in here. By then it will be too late


“No, I love her to death, but I WILL NOT tolerate an fat/obese girl. Absolutely not. The way I look at life, fitness, and my body, I will not stand for it. That’s where my love stops- when the scale goes above 150.
BTW, she’s 5’5, 134 right now. She looked absolutely stunning back in high school when she was 112 and co-captain of the dance team. Guess I can thank 3 years of college for this. Stupid college…lol.


“I’m kinda in a similier situation. My g/f was a cheer leader/dancer in high school and also on a very competetive gymnastics team, AMAZING shape…I mean a perfect 10. Now 2 almost 3 years later she has gained weight, doesnt work out and really doesnt act like she is too intrested in it, she even complains that she is fat (which I dont think she is FAT, just a little on the cute chubby side =) But says she doesnt have the drive or time to work out…
It’s so hard cause I know if I bring it up she will think I’m calling her fat hah…


“Yeah, it’s tough because they know they’re fat, they know you think they are, yet they refuse to do anything about it. It’s like you know there’s a nasty black rat in your kitchen, but you sit there and refuse to get rid of the bastard. It’s illogical. I hate it when she fishes for compliments though. From now on, I’m not taking her with me on my cheat meals, and I’ll tell her she’s fat everytime she asks me how she looks.


“Dont justify her actions. If you dont like it THEN LEAVE.
Its as simple as that. You cant change people. If they are lazy slobs then they will be lazy slobs forever. Fine a new girl.


“Girls are not like guys….they are either motivated and enjoy eating healthy and working out, or they’re not. So many of my friends say they want to get in shape, they workout for a week and hate it.
This is a tough situation because you love her, yet she is becoming unattractive. If she is motivated now to get in shape, I doubt she will ever be.
You have to know right now that she most likely won’t change, no matter what you do. So, you need to choose…can her personality and all the things you love about her make up for the fact that she is not attractive to you.
Of course it sounds selfish, but attraction is important. And, it’s not just about that, it’s about a lifestyle. Working out and eating right is a big part of your life, if it’s not part of her’s than it will always be a problem.


“One of the most sensible things I’ve heard in a long time. Are you a girl? If so, I hold your opinion to be even higher.

Its not going to get better. Unless she wants to slim down for special occasions.


“I’ll slip laxatives and Lipo 6 into her food and drinks…haha. J/K


“chop her legs off

What the heck. I am currently trying new things. Nothing really for public viewing yet…. but I uploaded my first Munch & Kin trial as an unlisted clip to youtube. Just to show the people I am working with what the puppets can do. There are lots of things I haven’t sussed yet. For example the backdrop of the theatre. I used a triple folded net curtain. I hoped it would hide the puppeteer completely while the puppeteer on the other hand would see the puppets while working. Unfortunately you still can make out a shadow, while I couldn’t see a thing and therefore the puppets move pretty awkwardly. I had no idea which way they were facing. Also they don’t have their final dresses yet and I had to finger my way through copious amounts of material that I had fixed in a make-shift way to their handles. So to sum it up, it was a disaster really, nevertheless I do like the expression on their faces. And this is the most important bit, everything else I can learn or solve.

fat legs clipping

The local rag did an article on the film. I guess this is another milestone. Note, Lizzie has the wrong head, she looks really scared here. She will have a bit of a break for now, while I work with the new munchkins.

2 badi_cup

I was so itching to get back to puppet making and spend all weekend to create puppets for a project that will advocate good nutrition. Here it was important to me, that the puppets could open their mouths, but they also should show their relationship with the Dedes.  In this photograph I photoshopped two images of the same puppet together, to show it with the mouth open and closed. However, here the mouth is propped open with a aluminium tube, which I originally wanted to use. It runs inside the handle. But when the puppet was finished, I discovered, when I shake it in a certain way, the mouth opens and closes without the help of the tube and I only need one hand. So I can work two puppets at once. It is amazing how plans always change.

Everything is back to normal. The conference is over and my friend Avril has gone back home to Australia. The picture shows Avril next the poster with our star, Lizzie. We had brilliant feedback about the film from the people who watched it at the conference. Personally, I know more about Lipoedema now than I ever wanted to know :), but I guess this is why I like to get involved in such projects.

Most people were surprised that we did the film without funding. Avril and I had talked about whether we should seek funding for the project in the beginning, but it was in the too hard basket for both of us, particularly as we were working in different countries. I myself have no experience with funding agencies and I believe seeking funding would have slowed the whole thing down and made the process more cumbersome.

Would I do it again? Most certainly! Though I would rethink my view on seeking funding first…