Archives for category: Stop Motion

little skeleton

Last week I had this great workshop at Studio One in Auckland. It was supposed to be a holiday programme for kids from 10 to 14. Truth was the youngest was just 8 and I was a bit worried, that the age difference would be too noticeable. Surprisingly it wasn’t at all. They all played wonderfully together and came up with this lovely story not to judge a book by its cover. I am always amazed about their creativity. Isn’t this skeleton just gorgeous? It is made out of two shuttlecocks and pipe cleaner by thirteen-year-old David. We had so many characters in the end we could easily have made a few films…. But what I really like is that they come up with one story as a group and work on it together.

For me personally it was a wonderful break from the drudgery of school and it became very clear to me that I have to get back into the swing with my puppets. I have three projects on the boil and have to make up my mind which one I am starting first. Life is definitely too short…

And here is the film we’ve created.

Life is a bit of a chaos at the moment and when this happens the blog has to take a back seat. There is one more film from last week to put up, which is really an easy task and only takes a minute. But I got side tracked again, as I took in a homeless person this week and preferred to have good conversations around the dinnertable rather than popping down to the computer to work on my blog. Yes, a real conversation beats sitting in front of the computer anytime. So, here slightly delayed the last film we made at the Festival. This one is an impromptu impromptu. Impromptu for me, as I wasn’t prepared for the participants and impromptu for them as they weren’t expecting it at all. It was a a group of 8 to 10 year-olds. I had accidentially set up the stage in the wrong room. Luckily three out of the four people that had enrolled in the worksho pthat day were sick. We just got into the swing with the last remaining person when a group of kids showed up for their weekly art class. There was a bit of a discussion who’s room it was. It turned out that the volunteer at the reception had forgotten to tell me I should set-up somewhere else, so I offered my participant to come to the next workshop at my studio when the group will be bigger. She was very happy with this solution. So my assistant and I started packing up when the art teacher suggested we should run the workshop with the kids as we were here anyway. Working with kids is so different from working with grown-ups. Workshops with kids are full on, as they all want to talk at once and you have to channel their engery.No way I could run a workshop without an assistant. But it is great fun, I thoroughly enjoy seeing them getting right into it.

The results of last week’s workshops could not have been more different. On the first day we had only a small group. Half the people who had booked  into the workshop were taken ill as a nasty cough doing the rounds in Auckland. We still had great fun and in my opinion it shows in the little film.

Last week I did three workshops as part of the Festival of Performing Objects. In those  workshops the participants used my Dede puppets to come up with an impromptu play and then acted the story out. During the process props have to be created on the fly. The story might end up totally different than originally anticipated. The film I put up today, was the one we did last. The group did not know each other, which of course adds another dimension to the workshop. So it took a while until they came up with a subject they all could relate to. Of all three workshop this one was certainly the most structured story and thought through from from beginning to end.

Normally I would take around 200 pictures during a workshop. In this one I got barely 90, so it is a bit of a stretch. But i think the result isn’t too bad.

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This week is probably the busiest week I will have all year. It started off on Monday with finishing one puppet workshop. I had done a six week course at Toi Ora, an art trust that works in the mental health sector. This is definitely the area I want to move into. Unfortunately the course didn’t quite work as I envisaged it. I liked the students and the settings, but there were also areas that weren’t sitting right, though I think my blog isn’t the forum to divulge what didn’t work. In the course the participants made their own characters and came up with the story and we celebrated the uplaod of our little film with a red carpet event. It’s a very short film, so we only had a very little red carpet.

And here  is the film


Oh dear, this year seems to be the year of best intentions. I am so sorry for having neglected my blog for some time. Though it doesn’t mean the Dedes have been neglected.

You might know I have lost a few of my major sources of income at the end of last year and I have been working hard to secure new income streams. Now six month later everything came to fruition at once and this just means I am rushed off my feet to fulfill all my promises. My book of “101 recipes with flour and water” is still not finished, however, I am using it a lot, but I am stuck on 51 recipes.  My backyard chooks deliver an invaluable addition to my diet too.

Recently I have taken on a part-time teaching job. My first salaried job in 20 odd years. Even though I have been teaching for a long time, it was always on a contract basis. It seems with a salary inevitably come the politics… Something I want to steer clear off as much as possible. Navigating the foul ground takes a lot of energy. Believe me, I feel some good puppet stories coming on….

The Festival of Performing Objects is about to start. This weekend I have to deliver the Dedes I want to show in the exhibition. Every Dede is keen to pack up and go. Some of them will just sit in the Gallery for the month, while others will get action in the stop-motion workshops of the last week. I have to make a decision who is going to do what. I did a lot of work in the early days of the organisation unfortunately with all the changes to my working life poor Kim (the manager of the arts centre) had to bear the brunt of the recent weeks. She did an amazing work luring puppeteers out of the underwood. I am very confident it will be a fantastic exhibition.

It looks like we are getting quite a bit of attention. The first article about the event was published this week.

HM puppets 28_7_14

Here is the second film we did last week. This one was created by a group of teenagers as a holiday programme. Pretty slim pickings, but we got there in the end. In this film the kids had to make their own actors and they also created the music, the backdrop and the props. I enjoyed working with the youngsters and I’ve learned a tremendeous amount. The kids on the other hand just thought I was weird… Happy, but weird!

At the moment we have school holidays and I did two puppet workshops last week. They couldn’t have be more different. The one I was so looking forward to was a four morning course where the participants were supposed to do the full monty – creating the actors, coming up with the story, making props and then filming the thing. The other one was just one afternoon in the library, where the participants invented an impromptu story and used the Dedes to act it out.

The course in the library was fantastic. It doesn’t take long to set the youngsters (aged between eight and twelve years) off to come up with a weird and wonderful story. There was no stopping them. All of them were running around making up props and chopping and changing the storyline. One of them sneaked in their own puppet. You might notice the non-Dede in the group picture at the end of the film when they celebrate.

Ah well, the other workshop was totally different. First of all it was a different age range. Here the participants were teenagers and puppets are so uncool. It is strange how kids can be so creative when they are twelve and with their thirteenth birthday all the creativity seems to go out the window. And then when they leave school, they are expected to be creative to find a job….

We did get there in the end, though I don’t know how much sticks in their minds, but I’ve learned heaps.

Here is the film from the library.


Last Friday Cath and I did a workshop at the Mairangi Arts Centre together. It was a holiday workshop for kids aged 7 to 12. Originally we wanted to do two days. The first day should have been puppet making and the second day creating the stop motion film with the puppets from the previous day. Unfortunately there weren’t enough takers for puppet making, though the stop motion part was reasonably popular. So we had to create the actors for the film on the same day… It was all a bit rushed, but I finally learned my lesson: Don’t mention puppets!

Of course, on the day the kids were really happy to create their puppets. They had heaps of fun, but would they enrol in a puppet making workshop. No way!

Ah well, here is the result: As I said it is all a bit rushed, but it was certainly a good sign that the kids didn’t want to leave when the class came to an end.

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.