In December 2011 my life was taken over by some cheeky little hand puppets, my dede puppets.
Okay, okay it is partly my own fault!
Simply, because I let them do it!
To recap the story:
One rainy day after Christmas, I went into my studio with the best of intentions. I was going to tidy it up. But instead of making the obvious and ruthless trip to the recycling bin to dispose of the rather large pile of out-dated newspapers, I sat down and started dabbling with paper maché. Memories of my mum talking about a devil hand puppet she once made when we kids were but a sparkle in her eye popped into my mind. I never saw the puppet, but I remember her excitement vividly when she talked about it. So, I thought I will give a devil character a go. The figure turned out beautifully, even if I do say so myself.
The devil needed a princess, so I continued… And within a week or so I had a cast of fifteen puppets. The numbers are still growing. If there were only more rainy days (ha, ha!). Look at the Mug shot Gallery to see all my friends.
Sharing is fun
My new chums enchanted everybody I showed them to. So I photographed the little critters as a means of sharing them with my real life friends. The imagery was completed by adding simple bodies using a drawing program on the computer. The graphics are deliberately kept plain to support the facial expressions.
Then, out of the blue, a hook for a story was presented to me. So, I sat down and wrote a narrative for all the characters I had to date. Last but not least, I printed thirty copies and got them hard cover bound by a local book binder.
Admittedly, it all sounds very accidental, but as a good old artist friend of mine said at the book launch: it was a story a long time in the making, it was just wanting to come out… And I have to agree. Of all the stuff I have ever done… this project is certainly the most biographical. It is me!
What is the story about?
The book is called Hermit’s Web or the few friends I need, I hand-craft myself. The idea for the story was presented to me on a silver platter:Around the time I was creating the puppets, I was invited by someone to become his friend on Facebook. I didn’t know this person, nor do I have a Facebook page. It is not that I don’t want to have friends, and I am working on the computer day-in day-out, but here was the opening for my puppet story… I am an online hermit (Liar… the vigilant reader thinks now, am I not reading a blog here? How online hermit is that? Okay I was an online hermit and to this day, I still don’t have a Facebook page.). Most importantly – and I won’t budge on this – I value real life people. My face-to-face friends will always have highest priority! I equally treasure quiet times as an invaluable opportunity to recharge my batteries.
But back to the story: the narrator claims to be this online hermit and then goes on to observe his (puppet) friends’ behaviour and traits. They are authentic, fair dinkum characters (as an Australian would say), and the readers have easily recognised the traits in some of their own friends, if not themselves.
The feedback from the early readers was so overwhelmingly positive that the copies of the gift edition were lend out to an ever wider circle of people… to more and more readers. I didn’t know them all personally, yet they still enjoyed the read… This fact encouraged me to take the plunge and to commit myself to a larger print-run.
If you want to buy an autographed copy of the book, click here to go to the publisher’s website (Zeitgeist Publishing & Design Ltd, Auckland) or click on the link in the footer of each page.
This blog will document my journey and the development of the dede puppets. I hope you enjoy reading it.
The very sad part
There is also a mournful aspect to the story. From Christmas to Easter I pushed myself extremely hard to get the project finished. I had no idea why. Now I know… When I began making these puppets, my mother was still alive. She was aware of the success of the book launch, but sadly passed away three weeks later. Rest in peace and I am for ever indebted for this great inspiration!