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    Puppets

    Each puppet is one-of-a-kind and made of unique and rare fabrics. Since they are hand made by the artist there is only one of each character and they sell quickly. However, commissions of similar puppets may be ordered. A specially made base and travel box is included with each puppet. Please email or call for puppet availability. Prices range from $125.00 to $750.00.
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    Puppets

    Puppets have been in use for centuries. It is believed that they were first adapted from sticks and plant materials and may have been used in ancient man's ceremonies and rituals. Certainly they embodied the desire for communication long before language. Evidence suggests they were used by man in 5th century BC. However, because their popularity, it is assumed that puppets arrived with masks and cave paintings long before humans had language.

    Once language accompanied their human and animal forms, puppets became a way of communicating ideas. Originally they were used in spiritual ceremonies which presumably evolved into theatrical displays. Puppets were allowed to speak the unspeakable and defy social mores. Later puppets were used to express unpopular, vulgar or taboo subjects. As closely as they resemble their puppeteers visually, they still seem as separate characters able to break social conventions and contact the spirit world.

    Along with masks, puppets were also a way for humans to represent deities, devils and other mythical characters that needed to speak or pantomime. The puppets' presence indicates a need for people to deal with each other and their spirit gods in some way outside of themselves. This need of man to understand and find meaning in messages from the spirit world, gave puppets and important job in the community. Puppets became the tools of the Shaman and Priestess. They could represent a specific animate object and transcend it at the same time. An animal could suddenly speak language once it became a puppet.

    Despite the lack of legitimacy in modern man's theatrical world, they continued to exist on the streets; probably their original home. Today there are many theaters devoted primarily to puppetry. Some of the performances are extremely innovative and theatrical using both puppets and actors together.

    Although puppetry is still the step child of theater and may periodically appear to be going the way of Vaudeville, there are many who enjoy both the backyard version and the &real& theater event such as the Bunraku in Japan. It's easy to think they are not popular until you remember the Muppets. The Muppets put puppets right back on the map and have influenced a resurgence of respect for puppets. Miss Piggy and Kermit are indelible images in our minds. Despite their simple design, their ability to enchant us is amazing. Many prefer to watch a &live puppet& rather than a film cartoon character.

    Puppets range from the simplest form of a hand with lips and eyes drawn on with a pen, all the way to elaborate marionettes. They encompass a simple one dimensional shadow puppet to the Japanese puppets of the Bunraku. Regardless of their complexity or form, puppets seem to have a magic that comes from their basic form and design as well as their relationship to the puppeteer.

    Have you ever watched your own hand become a shadow puppet on the wall? Moments later you are making funny noises to match the shape of the shadow character. You find yourself engrossed in &the show& without even having an audience. You now have two hands battling and snarling at each other shadowed on the wall. Suddenly you are engaged in characters and stories and the puppets come alive. This is especially true with children who can be mesmerized by a simple hand puppet.

    Using the simplest materials one can create a cast of crazy characters who act out life's dramas without script or director. In Medieval and Renaissance times, puppets were allowed to perform stories and plays even when humans were banned from performing in the theater. Puppeteers roamed the streets with their portable puppet theaters and enthralled both young and old audiences. As with their theatrical counterparts, starvation could be right around the corner, so theatricality was highly creative with puppeteers. They were also allowed to represent all manner of repressed and uncivilized behaviors.

    Puppets have been teachers and instructors of religion and politics throughout history. To this day, puppets are used to create stories and lessons for children with much more impact than a book or even a movie can replicate. They are at once both animate and a cartoon. They are portable yet magical with their costumes, props and miniature stages.

    Some of the forms of puppets are finger puppets, gloved hand puppets, simple rod puppets, complex rod puppets, marionettes, large puppets operated by several people, shadow puppets of the Far East made from cut shapes, and foam head puppets like the Muppets which are operated by several mechanisms and people. The Bunraku puppets are managed by several technicians and the staging is remarkable considering that they are simply rod puppets. Giant puppet heads are popular in parades and bridge the gap between puppet and performer.

    My puppets are made in the simple rod puppet style. They are called &dancing rod puppets& because the only manipulation is with the spinning or waving of the rod. I sometimes use the phrase &art puppets& to describe them because each puppet is one of a kind and although they are functional, their appearance is primary.

    In building my puppets, I use deconstructed and recycled fabrics which are sewn in long &shreds& to a band which is then attached to a wooden drapery ring, located on the rod above the puppet's arms. The fabrics are vintage, antique and left over scraps from the many costumes I create. Some of the scraps I have acquired from textile artists, theaters and opera companies. There are old snippets of trim and beadwork making each puppet not only one of a kind, but collectible just for their textiles. Many of the fabrics are no longer available or are hand made and hand dyed by local fiber artists.

    The puppet's arms are wired and wrapped with fabric and the hands and heads are made from carved foam clay. Lots of recycled vintage and antique jewels and beads are used to create the puppet's jewelry and accessories. The puppet's hair is yarn or ribbon in huge wild hairdos. Each puppet has its own custom-made base.

    Puppets can teach, entertain and be art. I hope that my puppets are also alive and engaging. Each one has its own character and personality and many are created to look like characters from iconic plays or operas. It is my desire that my puppets are used to create magic and fun as well as displayed as art.

    - Julie Anderson






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