Our Mission

Welcome to my blog where I chronicle my efforts in designing and building puppets and their worlds. My hope is that I will contribute to the art of puppetry as I use it to lift up the name of Jesus.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's been a while since I last posted. I've been busy working on holiday related projects. Just to update regarding my puppet type activities I'm currently working on some scripts for a Joshua Junebug and Friends VBS program. Well, to be honest I'm having a hard time getting into the writing thing. Ever since high school I've found that I most motivated to write when the deadline is close at hand. ... Yes, I know, I need to be more disiplined. That's my pledge, I will stop procrastinating and get to work.

I'll post more when I have something more completed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Juan Pancho and His Friends

This is a update report on the Peruvian puppet I made a few months ago. He has been named Juan Pancho and is now happily settled in his new home and is enjoying helping as an assistant in a children's spanish class. The children and their parents love Juan Pancho as well and one of the little girls goes to him and gives him a kiss first thing when she gets to class.

I've included pictures of Juan Pancho with his new owner and his classmates

Police Woman Hat for Rhino Beetle

The first challenge in building the Rhino Beetle was making her look like a woman. I think I was successful in accomplishing this. The next step is to outfit her to look like a Police officer. The first idea I had was to make her a police woman hat.

First I made a hat out of interfacing. This was a challenge but patience and perseverance paid out and I was satisfied with the shape. Next came covering the hat with fleece. The crown I covered with black and the brim I cover with white. I chose the white to make the hat stand out from the Rhino Beetle itself. Then I added a badge to the hat and it was done.

I'm not settled on the badge but it was the only one that I could find in the house so it will do until I can find one I like better. I need to find one so that I will have one for her hat and a matching one for her chest.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Solomon Gets Wise Video

If you've been wanting to see the Lilac Hollow gang in action your wait is over. Last week I produced a short video that feature 5 of the 6 characters I've built so far. Admittedly the video is a little rough but but none of have much experience in puppetry for video or video editting. We're just kind of learning as we go. That being said I think the story comes through and every thing went pretty well.

So without further ado here is Solomon Gets Wise ...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rhino Beetle Complete

Here she is ... Constable Richelle Rhino Beetle!!!

Aside from the accessories needed to complete her police officer persona she is complete. Honestly, she was a challenge and a lot of fun. Some aspects of this build were much more challenging that previous builds I have done.

Tomorrow I'm planning on shooting some video of Richelle and several other puppets from the Joshua Junebug menagerie. I'll be posting the results of that as soon as they're available. Until then here are some pictures of the complete Rhino beetle.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rhino Beetle Update

I know I haven't posted in several days but I've been quite busy with various projects. I'm taking a break from one of them to update you on my progress with Richelle Rhino Beetle. As you can see I've gotten her head and body completely covered. I'm very please with the outcome so far. The red lips give just the right touch to emphasize her femininity.

All that's left are the eyes, the hands, the legs, attaching the head into the body (right now its just sitting in place) and some accessories.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Joshua Junebug's First Video

Well I've finally taken the plunge into making videos. This posting is really just a test or practice run. At the same time I wanted to introduce one of my characters and why not make that character Joshua Junebug, the first of my bugs. And speaking of bugs, I'm sure that you see a number of mistakes in the video. Please bear with them and enjoy meeting joshua Junebug in action.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rejected to Power Pig

My second puppet was a pig I built for my churches puppet ministry. Well the first attempt was a lot bigger than I wanted it to be so I abandoned the partially built head and started over. That was several months back but a few weeks ago my nephew came for a visit and asked if I would help him finish it. His idea was for the pig to be a kind of super hero. Well I taught him how to glue and sew by hand but the look and character are all his design. He's pleased and I'm very proud of him.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Richelle Rhino Beetle Preview

A new member of the Lilac Hollow gang is in the works. This new puppet is a Rhinoceros Beetle Police officer named Richelle. I decided that there needed to be an adult female figure in the series and felt that a police officer offered the versatility that I needed.

The Rhino Beetle is a neat challenge because of the horns. Getting the rhino beetle look and still having an approachable character is a interesting challenge. So far I'm happy with the look I'm getting. The figure is just about to the point where I'll be starting to fabricate it.
I'll be back in a few days to post more reports on the progress of the build.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Introducing Seth Slug

I've been working the past few weeks on another puppet. He had been planned for a long time but I had put his construction on the back burner. Now a story idea has pushed him to the front of the line. I'm really happy with the way Seth Slug has turned out.

He's a bashful, slow moving, slowing talking, slow everything classmate of Joshua Junebug and his bug friends. Through Seth, Lilac Hollow is going to learn that good things come even to those that don't hurry and scurry around.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

T-shirt Pattern Addition

I decided that our little Peruvian boy just couldn't sit around naked so a made a t-shirt for him. It was my first try at making clothing and it went so well that I've decided I would add the pattern to the puppet pattern package I'm working on. I figure anyone that can build a puppet ought to be able to use a pattern to make a t-shirt. And with this pattern the shirt will be custom fitted to the puppet.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Round Head Puppet Completed

I finished the round headed puppet I was working on. All I had left after the last post was the facial features. The eyes are made of spoons with felt circles for pupils, the nose is made from a little NERF ball I cut in two and shaped on my belt sander and covered with fleece. This was my first time working with fur and I'm pretty pleased with the way the hair came out, its made from black fur and is attached in three pieces so that the hair will all the lay in the direction I wanted it to. The ears are made of 1/2 inch foam covered in fleece.

I decided against adding a tongue or tonsils. Sometimes simpler is better and less is more. I'm also leaving the clothes up to his new owner. The last time a talked to her she was really excited about picking out his clothes.

The puppet is supposed to be a Peruvian boy but realistically he could be any central or south American boy, depending on how you outfitted him.

This week, if all goes as planned, I'll introduce him to his new owner, a teacher that wants to use him to help teach her students. It will be the first time she has gotten to see him. I hope to surprise her with him at school and get to see the students as they meet him for the first time.

It was fun building a people puppet after all the bugs I've been building. But never fear, the next two puppets I have to build are bugs: a slug name Sylvester and a rhinoceros beetle named Richelle.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Round Head Puppet

I've been working for the past week or so on a basic round head puppet. I also plan to make the pattern for this puppet available for a very small fee. A pattern for every part of the puppet pictured below will be included so that the beginning puppet builder will have everything he/she needs to begin getting his/her feet wet in the process of puppet building. Included will also be some patterns and suggestions for other features of the puppet like: eyes, ears, nose, hair and clothing, etc.

General information about the puppet you see that the body and head are constructed of 1/2 inch foam. The mouth plate is made of 1/2 inch foam reinforced with 6mm Foamie craft foam. Finger tubes are installed on the top and bottom jaw to give maximum control of the puppet and the head and body are fully lined. The posable hands are made of 17 gauge wire sandwiched between 1/2 foam and the arms are filled with poly fiber. The mouth is covered in red blizzard fleece and the remainder of the puppet is covered with brown anti-pill fleece.

I would definitely be interested in what you think of the puppet. Thanks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Puppet Pattern

I've been thinking of creating a generic puppet pattern that would be good for beginning puppet builders to use and at the same time offer more skilled puppet builders a good starting point. Well a friend has nudged me from merely thinking to doing.

I have been asked to build a puppet for a friend that is an elementary school teacher. She has left the design entirely up to me and I have decided to take this as an opportunity to create the pattern for the generic puppets. Hopefully in the next few weeks you'll be able to check back and see the results of this puppet build and it won't be too long after that that I will be offering the pattern.

Just to warn you though there will be a small cost if you wish to get a pattern for yourself. This way I'll be able to come up with some money to cover all the puppet projects I'm dreaming of. I haven't figured out all the particulars yet but we'll keep you posted as things progress.

VBS Project

A few weeks ago my wife suggested that I employ my talents for puppet building and working with children in the task of creating a Vacation Bible School Program. So I've accepted this as a challenge.

Right now I busy thinking through and mapping out the themes and lessons that will be taught in the course of the program. There will be two puppet segments in each of the programs one set in Lilac Hollow and the other in the Bible. My thought is that I will use the Lilac Hollow characters to act out the Bible story.

I'm also thinking of putting together a package of scripts, DVD's, Music and craft ideas so that I can market the VBS program to churches. Right now I trying not to think too much about the scope of the project because I don't want to become overwhelmed.

First I'll write the scripts, then I'll record the videos. We'll see what happens after that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Photo Gallery

Here is a gallery of many the puppets I have made.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Adam Ant

I finished Adam Ant today. I am very happy with the way he turned out. He might just be my favorite puppet so far. The mechanism works perfectly. The hard hat fits perfectly and he's just down right cute.

I've decided that Adam and his family are going to be latino. This gives me the opportunity to introduce additional cultural elements to the Johsua Junebug series. At the same time accents are very helpful in generating new voices.

I am planning to introduce a brother and sister to the cast as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Free Puppet Head Pattern

I've decided to post the basic pattern for the heads I have been building for the Joshua Junebug series of puppets. In reality this pattern is just the starting point. So far only Joshua has used this exact pattern. All the others have been modifications. I post this so that others who are just beginning building puppets will have something to help them understand how to shape foam.


If you would like a higher resolution copy of this pattern I'd be happy to email one to you.

PS: I have posted a video tutorial for building this pattern on You Tube. Hope this helps too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Adam Ant

I'm working on an ant puppet, for the Joshua Junebug and Friends project. At this point I'm planning to name him Adam. In many ways the process of the build is similar to the termite build the major difference, other than cosmetics, is the internal mechanism. I decided that I wanted the mechanism to be small enough for the puppeteers hand to fit inside the puppet and still work it. It took a bit of thinking but I was able to come up with a new design.

The bulk of the mechanism is made out of 1/2 inch pvc tubing. The spring is a section I cut from a old fashion screen door spring. this spring is secured by forcing it into the top of the pvc tubing. The bottom jaw is made out of a wood dowel whittled down so that it would fit snugly into the spring. The trigger is made from a 1 inch dowel. I drilled a 3/4 inch hole through the dowel and then carved the dowel down to prevent finger pinching and cut a grove to prevent pressure points on the fingers. 14 gauge wire secures the trigger to the bottom jaw.

The mechanism works great. I think I'll probably use this design for all my new rod puppets.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Background Completed

Well, I've finished the outdoor background. I wanted it to have a coloring book kind of look to it and I think I succeeded. You notice that I made some minor alterations to the hills in the picture. I thought this change and the dark outlining for a few of the elements would help to give the picture more depth without making it too complicated.

I painted it with high gloss, Rustoleum, water base paints. Their selection of colors is limited but by mixing them together I was able to get basically any color I wanted. All in all I very happy with the result.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Making a Background

Well I changed my mind as to which background I will do first. I've decided that I will do the outdoor background. I'll be helping with a VBS program in a few weeks, the theme is bugs, and the outdoor background would be useful for that set up so I'm doing it now.

Below is a line drawing of what the background will look like. I plan to paint the back drop with some nice bright colors.

I'll be painting the scene on 4X6 foot canvas which I've primed to ensure the canvas doesn't soak up all the paint.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I've Been Very Busy

I know it's been almost a month since I last posted and to answer any of your concerns I want to assure you that I have not given up on the Joshua Junebug and Friends project. but I have been very busy with almost every other aspect of my life and when push comes to shove my hobbies almost always end up getting pushed.

I do have some preliminary sketches of the school house background and plan to post them after I refine them a bit more.

Thanks for your patience with me as I balance try to keep my life in balance.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Taylor Termite - Completed

Today I completed Taylor Termite by adding the two pair of legs. This completes the third of the Lilac Hollow gang. The legs are made of simple fleece tubs that are tapered to a blunt point and stuffed with fiber fill. Below is a picture of the completed puppet.

The next project will be one of the two main backgrounds for Joshua Junebug stories, the School room. Right now I fine tuning the plans but I hope to be able to post drawings of the proposed background soon.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Taylor Termite - Arms, Hands, Bow

It's been a busy week. The kids were on spring break and my father-in-law has been visiting. We've had a great time doing family things. Somehow in the middle of everything I was able to get a little done on Taylor.

I made a bow out of some of the fleece I had used for the construction of the head and body. I simply glued a bunch of dots onto some fabric. Then I took the fabric and folded it in thirds. Next I pinched it in the middle and sew a small band around the middle of the bow. And there I had a polka dotted bow.

Just tonight I made the hands and arms and attached them to the puppet. The hands are made of polyurethane foam with 18 gauge florist wire inserted to make them posable. This I covered with fleece by tracing the hands onto the fleece and extending the arms from the wrist. I then folded the fabric onto it self and sewed around the lines leaving space to insert the foam hand into the fabric. Once I had sewed the gap shut, I stuffed the arm with poly fill and sewed it to the body.

I'm very pleased with the look so far. What I have left to complete this project is to add the legs. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I need four legs of only two. Below is a picture of Taylor so far. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taylor Termite - Fabrication

Over the last several days I've been able to get quite a bit done in fabricating Taylor Termite. The technique I use for fabricating a puppet is called "draping". In doing this you place a piece of fabric over the puppet and pull and pin the fabric to the puppet. Gathering any excess fabric together and trimming it so that when it is sewn it will lie smoothly over the foam structure of the puppet. The idea is to get the fabric to lie flat and at the same time have as few seams as possible. When learning this technique I recommend that you use it to make a pattern which you will use to cut out your skin fabric. This will minimize the chance of making costly mistakes.

Well, after researching the coloration of termites, I chose to cover Taylor with two colors of pink fabric. The darker color for the head and the lighter color for the body. When I first started covering with the fabric with the colors I started to have second thoughts about them. I wasn't sure I liked the way they were coming together. But I kept on and as the eyes, antenna, and the inside of the mouth were added I decided that I liked the way they worked together. This reinforces something I read some where. If you've planned ahead, don't panic and make adjustments mid-project. Trust your plans to produce a good looking puppet. Some elements might not seem to fit until after other features are added.
Below are pictures of the progress so far. ENJOY!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Taylor Termite - Body

Yesterday I was able to build the foam body for Taylor Termite. It's really a simple part of the build. All I did was cut a piece of 1/2 inch foam 12 inches in width. This is glued into a tube.

For the thorax of the body I cut off a 6 or seven inch piece of the tube and removed four darts from each end. Then I glued the darts closed thus creating a taper at the top and bottom of the thorax.

The abodomen was a little trickier to make. I wanted the abdomen to extend at an angle from the thorax. To do this I took the remaining foam tube and cut an angle in one end. then I removed four darts from the angled end of the tube so that when they were glued shut the abdomen would match up with the thorax. I made sure to make the front dart long enough to allow the rod mechanism to exit the body of the puppet. Then I attached the abdomen to the thorax. Finally I removed eight darts from the tail end of the abdomen so that when I glued them together they would completely close the tail.

And wahlah. It was done.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Taylor Termite - Foam Head

Over the weekend I made a little more progress on Taylor Termite as I continued construction on the head. The head is a pivotal piece in the puppet build because, for me at least, the size of the head determines how big the body, and the rest of the puppet, needs to be.

The first part I made was the mouth. The way I build a mouth is to cut out the palate of the mouth from 1/2 foam. I then reinforce what becomes the top and the bottom of the mouth by gluing on 6mm craft foam. To this I add tubes made of 1/2 foam. Usually these are finger tubes but in this case they will recieve the top and bottom mouth bars on the rod mechanism. These tubes are then reinforce with fabric. The last thing you want is the tubes coming unglued in the middle of a performance.

Once the mouth was made I was then able to trim and shape the top and bottom bars on the rod mechanism.

Next came the construction of the head. I used 1/2 foam and a pattern of my own design. I've made a few puppets with other people's patterns before so I had a fairly good idea how to get the shape I wanted. I just had to do a bit of fussing to achieve a product I was happy with. If you're just starting out building puppets I recommend using someone else's pattern as a starting point. I've put a list of some links to free patterns which are currently available on the web. These are great for getting you started. Once you feel like you understand how foam works you can get creative and make your own.

As you can see with this head I made the top and bottom separate. I did this to make it easier to insert the rod. It turns out that this was unnecessary as the rod comes in and out with the head completely assembled.

Below are pictures of the head with the rod inserted. The first is with the mouth fully open and the second is with the mouth closed.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Taylor Termite - Rod Mechanism Redo

I had some problems with the rod mechanism I posted yesterday. I was so tickled with the way it work that I spent a lot of time playing with it. After a few hundred squeezes of the trigger one of the wires broke. This had happen before with a lighter guage wire but I thought that a heavier wire would fix the problem. When the heavier wire broke I figured that guitar wire just couldn't handle the action of puppet opperation.

Well, I thought about the problem and came up with a different way of getting the action. First, I left the mouth bar exactly as I had originally made it. Second, I repositioned the trigger underneath the handle. Third, using a wire coat hanger, I made a rod that ran between the trigger and the back end of the mouth bar. I ran this wire rod through some refrigerator tube to keep it from flexing when the trigger is actuated. Fourth, I moved the spring so that one end hooked directly to the back end of the mouth bar. The other end of the spring was attached to the rod with a screw.

Below are some picture of the finished product. I am fairly confident that this rod mechanism will be able to stand up to use. This rod also doesn't have any wires that would have to be worked around when installing the rod into the mouth of the puppet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Taylor Termite - Rod Mechanism

I've begun the construction of my next puppet, Taylor Termite. I've included a sketch of the character to give you an idea of where I'm going with the build. The character of this puppet is a kindergarten age "child" termite. I want the puppet to be much smaller than either Joshua Junebug or Prof. Inch were. As a result, the puppets head is going to be too small for a persons hand. The solution is a rod mechanism to opperate the mouth.

Below is a picture of the rod mechanism I built for Taylor. I made the rod using a 24" - 1" maple dowel. I cut a slot into one end of the dowel long enough to accomodate the action of the mouth bar. The mouth bar is held into the rod using a wood screw which also serves as a pivot point. I used steel guitar strings for the wire. There is an 11 lb spring for tension on the wire that closes the mouth. I am using some refrigerator tube to contain the wire along the rod. The trigger control for the mouth is a dowel secure with a hinge. (In the future I plan to attach the trigger the same way I attached the mouth bar.)

This was my first attempt at constructing a rod mechanism and I learned a lot. Over all I am satisfied with the result.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prof. Ichabod Inch

Prof. Inch is the school teacher at the Lilac Hollow elementry school where Joshua Junebug and his friends attend. He is grossly over qualified for the position but his love for children and his desire to make a difference has drawn him out of the world of science and academia. Now instead of trying to make a name for himself he's trying to mold young lives so that they will become loving, responsible and respectable adults.

As I was developing the Joshua Junebug and friend characters I decided that I needed to have a character that was the voice of wisdom for the stories. I had already decided that I didn't want to have the parents appear directly but felt that I needed some adult presence. Eventually I decided that a caring and knowledgable teacher would be just the right character. Since all the characters are bugs a bookworm type creature seemed logical so I decided that he would be an inchworm

At the time when I began making puppets, Prof. Inch was the character that I had the clearest idea of what I wanted him to look like. As I was making the puppet and playing with the character it seemed natural that his almost too perfect grammar would come packaged in a german accent. While a few adjustments have been made since the initial sketches I am very happy with the outcome of this build

The next character I will be making is in honor of my eldest daughter. She asked that I design a character for her. All the characters have names that begin with the same sound as the creature they are. So her's would have to begin with a "T." So was born ... Taylor the Termite.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Joshua Junebug

There I was, four years ago now, thinking to myself that it would be fun to come up with some children's stories in which all the characters were bugs. The first character that popped into my head was, Joshua Junebug. To me the name sounded fun, friendly and likeable. In fact, just knowing his name made me want to get to know him better.

At the time all I knew about junebugs was that they were a fat beetle that came out in June. And with that scant knowledge I began to write about this playful third grader and his friends. The stories are often centered around their school activities, because many lessons third graders learn they learn in school.

When it came time to creating the Joshua Junebug puppet I had yet to make a sketch of the character. All he was was a indistinct idea. As much a feeling as he was a mental image. So I sat down to my computer and searched for pictures of junebugs. I found out that they came in many shades of golds, browns, greens and even reds. And that they also had these fabulous, almost feathered, antenna. Well I drew up a couple of sketches and went to work. And in about two weeks Joshua was completed.

The entire process of the build is documented on the forum at puppetsandstuff.com in a tutorial call Joshua Junebug. The following link will take you to that tutorial.


In my next post I will introduce you to Professor Ichabod Inch.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

About Joshua Junebug and Friends

About four years ago now I began writing some children's stories in which the characters are bugs. There's Joshua Junebug, Christpher Cricket, Sylverster Slug, Professor Ichabod Inch, Filicity Firefly, Anita Ant, Taylor Termite, and the list could go on and on.

The inspiration behind these stories was my Mom, who at the time was fighting terminal cancer. My mom was one of the best readers I've ever heard. She just had a gift for making the story leap off the page when she read to you.

Well, I had written four stories when my mom passed away. And with her passing I lost my enthusiam for writing the stories she had inspired. Now, three years later, I'm inspired to take those stories up again. I've discovered the magic of puppets and I want to adapt the stories I've written into puppet scripts and flesh out the story ideas I've had and turn those into puppet scripts as well. Eventually I want to have both a collection of chilren's stories and a puppet show directed toward kids.

The setting is Lilac Hollow. Here Joshua Junebug and his friends play together, pull pranks together, go to school together and sometimes even fight together. In the mix of all these bug children is Prof. Inch. He is their teacher and the only adult that appears in the stories. Prof. Inch answers their questions and asks a few of his own as he helps Joshua and his friends learn about life and how to live peacefully with each other and prepare to live with God.

Right now I'm busy building puppets and sets and writting scripts (all things that are new to me). I hope those of you who tag along will enjoy the journey. Along the way I'll leave postings about lessons I learn regarding everything involved in producing your own puppet show.

God bless

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bashful Puppet - About the name

I thought I would begin telling you about my puppet projects by telling you how I came up with the name "Bashful Puppet."

I was designing an avatar for a puppet forum I'm a member of and wanted to use my family crest. To this crest I added a monster puppet that was peeking out from where he was hiding behind the crest.Later as I was trying to come up with a name for the line of puppets and puppet resources I'm developing I decided it would be fun to match the name to my avatar. I thought of Hiding Monsters and Bashful Monsters. Both of these fit but then I thought that some children might be frightened by monster and I didn't want to frighten my primary audience.Then I thought, Bashful Puppets. It fit the avatar and avoided possibly frightening some of the