Sunday, December 23, 2007

SaveXmasNow Podcast Episode 8



In the final episode of the SaveXmasNow Podcast we talk with Ronald Snow, the congressman leading the government's regulation of Christmas. Time is running out - Do something at SaveXmasNow.com! Click here to watch all of the episodes in order.

SaveXmasNow Podcast Episode 7



In Episode 7 of the SaveXmasNow Podcast we talk to members of the greater holiday community. Do something at SaveXmasNow.com!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SaveXmasNow Podcast Episode 6



In Episode 6 of the SaveXmasNow Podcast Jack-O-Lantern discusses the larger ramifications of the government's war on Christmas. Do something at SaveXmasNow.com!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

See Swazzle in Dr. Floyd Live!

drfloyd

Swazzle will be presenting the Grasshopper and the Ants, from their new school assembly puppet show, The Swazzle Workshop Live. Join the cast of The Radio Adventures Of Dr. Floyd as they put on a live recording of their show! Combining wacky, off the wall humor, celebrities and audience participation, it's no wonder the show sells out so quickly!

Get your tickets NOW to be part of the fun! Click here for tickets and more information!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New SaveXmasNow Podcast



It's not even Thanksgiving and you know what that means - Merry Christmas! Many of you may remember our 12 Days of Christmas Podcast from last year. I'm happy to announce that everyone's favorite podcasting snowman and his snowball assistant Steve are coming back.

This year's podcast will be different because now our frozen friends are on a mission to save Christmas from the clutches of the over reaching American government.

Please help us spread the word by sharing this promo with all of your friends. To learn more, and to join the fight to save Christmas, visit SaveXmasNow.com.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sean and Satan's Minion

Minion with Spear

This is me performing one of Satan's Minions in a new JibJab Sendable. In the final video he was composited in with the Hitler puppet performed by Patrick. Check out all of the Greetings from Hell Sendables at JibJab.com

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hitler in Hell

Patrick and Hitler Puppet

Patrick performs the Hitler puppet for the JibJab Anniversary Sendable. In the final video the poles holding the chain were hidden behind a digital rock element, and the puppet’s hand hole, was covered with digital fire.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Performing Satan

Sean, Patrick, and Satan

Patrick Johnson puppeteers Satan's mouth and left hand, Sean Johnson assists with Satan's right hand. All of the puppets were shot at Jibjab's green screen studio and comped into their fiery environment using After Effects and Flash. See Satan in action in JibJab's new Sendables.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Greetings From Hell

Greetings from Hell

The comedy website JibJab most famous for their "This Land" political cartoon just introduced a new service called Sendables. They are funny videos with a personalized message, that you can send to your friends. Patrick and I did all the puppetry for the Greetings from Hell Sendables. We worked from a recorded track and performed the puppets against a green at JibJab's headquarters. There are six Greetings from Hell available now - check them out, and send them to all your friends.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Stork

Stork

This is the stork from The Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan by Snapdragon Puppet Productions. The stork is a little rod puppet. His head is made from a small wooden ball, and his miss matched eyes match his goofy character.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bugsy Brown Online Comic, Coming Soon!

comingsoon copy

We are working on a super cool new project over here at Swazzle. We're in the midst of creating an Online Comic. based on our puppet show Bugsy Brown Private Fly. You can follow our progress, and get exclusive insider information at the new Bugsy Brown Blog, or become Bugsy's friend on Myspace.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Half Price Tickets for Puppet Up!

puppet up poster

See Puppet Up! - Uncensored for just $15.00! Goldstar Events is offering half price tickets to this Saturday's show. Puppet Up! - Uncensored is the Jim Henson Company's hilarious puppet Improv show. The show plays at Avalon Hollywood, Saturday, Oct. 20 @ 8:00pm. Click here to get your $15.00 tickets!

Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots

This is Puss in Boots from Puss in Boots from Snapdragon Puppet Productions. This puppet may look familiar to you, that's because it is pulled from the same mold as Bartholemew (see previous post). Puppet builder Roger Mara, simply changed the cat's color scheme, added an new costume, and created a brand new character.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

This is Teddy Roosevelt from The Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan by Snapdragon Puppet Productions. This puppet is also a Bobberhead. It's complex rod control allows the puppeteer to open the mouth, move the hands, and move the legs all with one hand.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Swazzle Workshop Episode 8

Swazzle Workshop, Episode 8

Episode 8 of The Swazzle Workshop is now online. In this episode Louie the Snake stops by to show Tiger and Mousedeer how to make a snake rod puppet.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bobberheads

Paul Bunyan

This is Jimmy from the Tall Tale of Paul Bunyan by Snapdragon Puppet Productions. This cleverly designed rod puppet stands just under 10 inches tall. Puppet builder Roger Mara called these puppets "Bobberheads" because the heads are made from fishing floats or bobbers. The Spring 2007 edition of The Puppetry Journal includes detailed instructions that show how to make a Bobberhead. The puppet making guide is complete with a parts list, labeled illustrations, written instructions, and close up photos.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Puppet Up! Sat., Sep 29, 8:00, Avalon

puppet up poster

The Jim Henson Company's Puppet Up! Uncensored returns to Avalon in Hollywood this Saturday. Doors open at 7:00 pm and the show begins at 8:00 pm. If you haven't seen this show you really must check it out. Click here for tickets.

The Ogre

Ogre

This Ogre hand puppet is from Puss in Boots, by Snapdragon Puppet Productions. The head is covered with antron fleece (also know as Muppet fleece), and airbrushed to give it definition. Puss and Boots debuted in the summer of 2006. It was the last puppet show that Roger Mara created.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mosquito Rod Puppet

mosquito

This mosquito puppet is from The Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan by Snapdragon Puppet Productions. The wings are attached by a small spring and controlled by black thread. This simple but inventive puppet is a great example of Roger Mara's cleverness as a puppet builder.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Babe the Blue Ox

Blue Ox

Babe the Blue Ox from The Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan by Snapdragon Puppet Productions. This yonger version of Babe is a rod puppet, as he grows during the puppet show, he becomes a larger hand puppet. Babe's head is snipped from a block of foam, and a string is attached to his bottom jaw to open and close the mouth.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Puppets After Hours

The Mantis Sisters

Puppets After Hours, Saturday, September 15 @ 7:30 pm, Free-of-Charge. 1745 N. Spring Street #4, Los Angeles, CA 90012. This is an outdoor venue, so please dress comfortably. Light refreshments available.

Farmlab presents Puppets After Hours as part of the Accidentally on Purpose Series. A fully immersive evening of adult-themed puppet theater, interactive performance art, and live music featuring some of L.A.'s best best puppeteers. Puppets sing, dance, perform sketch comedy, and engage in avant-garde art installations. The audience is invited to walk among giant fish in our puppet aquarium. Pick up a drum and jam with the percussion performance art group GLANK. Join in three-part harmony with our Praying Mantis doo-wop girl group. After the show all are welcome to mix and mingle with the cast.

Created, Produced, and Directed by Frank Langley IV, Donna Kimball, and Jordan M. Albert, in association with the Chiodo Brothers Productions, PUPPETS AFTER HOURS boasts these talented performers:

Contributing artists include: Tim Blaney, Alison Mork, Scott Land, Kristin Charney, Victor Yerrid, Peggy Etra, Donna Kimball, Michael Oostrom, Kevin Carlson, Brian Clark, Eli Presser, Robyn Simms Johnson, Sean Johnson, Patrick Johnson, and more!

Puppets After Hours is not suitable for children.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Roger Mara's Workshop

Workshop

During our trip to Seattle we had hoped to visit with Roger Mara, a puppeteer friend of ours that had been diagnosed with cancer. Sadly he passed away before we arrived. Roger was an amazing and talented puppeteer and puppet builder. His early death was a great loss to the puppetry community. When Patrick and I were just starting out, we often looked to Roger for help and advice. Drawing on his years of experience, he taught us how to run a successful and professional puppet company. While up in Seattle, Elizabeth Luce, his long time friend and collaborator kindly let us tour his workshop, so that we could see some of the new puppets he created since relocating to the Pacific Northwest. Over the coming days I'll be sharing some of Roger's puppets with you. I hope his work inspires you as much as it inspires me.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Archie McPhee 2

Archie McPhee

Archie McPhee in Seattle is a great place to find unusual puppet building materials, puppet show props and inspiration. Check out these cases: plastic coins, tiny pigs, miniature rubber chickens, 8 ball beads... and more. If you are not in the Seattle area check out their online store.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hobey Ford is Coming to L.A.

Hobey Ford's Golden Rod Puppets, Turtle Island Tales

Friday, September 14 - 7:00 pm

Scherr Forum Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Coumtrywide Performing Arts Center, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks, Blvd., Thousand Oaks CA.

Tickets: $16 kids, $22 adults. Purchase tickets by phone with VISA/Master Card, Call (805) 646-8907

Turtle Island Tales is a performance of songs and stories of Native Americans, told through shadow puppetry and a life-sized realistic Native American singer puppet who narrates the show. Winner of puppetry's highest honor, the UNIMA Citation of Excellence, and recipient of three Jim Henson Foundation grants, Hobey Ford is known for excellence in puppetry performance and craft.

Hoby is an amazing puppeteer and a very talented puppet builder. I saw him perform a couple of years ago, and the show was great.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Swazzle Workshop Episode 7

Tiger, Mayor Mole, and Mousedeer

Episode 7 of the Swazzle Workshop is now online. In this episode Mayor Mole stops by to show Tiger and Mousedeer how to make a Garbage Monster puppet. Please enjoy and pass it on to your friends.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Video Puppetry Workshop in L.A.

I just got word that puppeteer Michael Earl will be offering some video puppetry workshops in the Los Angles Area. As a past student of his, I would highly recommend this workshop to any puppeteer interested in video puppetry. Working with Michael eventually led to my involvement with Jim Henson's Puppet Up!, and greatly improved my video puppetry skills. Many of today's top film and video puppeteers have studied with Michael. Anytime I perform a puppet in front of a camera, I am using the techniques I learned from his classes.

Michael Earl has performed in many Muppet and non-Muppet productions, most notably as the original Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street. He joined the Muppets in 1978 at the age of 19. After three years under contract, he freelanced with the Muppets for the next twelve years on several projects. After leaving the Muppets, he went on to become a four-time Emmy Award-winning puppeteer and writer/lyricist.

For more information about his classes visit his web site and click on contact.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Archie McPhee

Archie McPhee 1

Located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Archie McPhee is a must visit store full to the brim of oddities and bazar collectable junk. It's like shopping in Pee Wee's Playhouse!

The founder of Archie McPhee started in Los Angles by selling rubber lizards, rubber chickens, punching nuns and other crazy items out of his home. He discovered that there was a market for that stuff and in 1983 he moved his entire inventory to Seattle and set up shop. His first store was located in Fremont, an arts neighborhood in Seattle, and it stayed in that location for fourteen years. The shop was moved to its current location in Ballard in 1999. Archie McPhee's is a must see tourist destination and an outrageous shopping experience.

For the puppet builders out there you will find plastic bins full of taxidermy eyes, a wall of wigs, spools of wacky ribbons, colored wire, rubber tubing, industrial odds and ends and more.

Archie McPhee's also sells it's own line of toys through their toy label Accoutrements. Some of their most popular items include Devil Duckies, the Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure, and Bacon Bandages.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The New Henson.com

henson

The Jim Henson Company has just updated their web site. The new site is bright and colorful, and features photos of their puppets. The home page has a flash slide show that has information about Puppet Up Uncensored!, The Skrumps, Tinseltown, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth DVDs and more. Also on the home page there is a link for a new Kids' Zone (Coming Soon) - that should be fun. You can also ask the company a question, and it might be answered in an upcoming episode of the henson.com podcast.

Frog Dissection

kermit

I occasionally get e-mail from readers of my blog. Most people ask about specific puppet building questions. Some people send me photos of their puppets, or works in progress. The other day I received this photo from a sender that asked to remain anonymous. Yes, they have actually deconstructed the Kermit the Frog photo puppet from Master Replicas.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Little Mermaid

Mermaid

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Ye Old Curiosity Shop Too are two popular stores located on Seattle's waterfront. They feature Native American art, local souvenirs, imported crafts, mummies, shrunken heads, exotic artifacts, taxidermied animals - both real and imagined. The mermaid and child are part of taxidermy display that features bazar creatures like a two headed lamb, and a Jackalope.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Fremont Troll

Troll

During our trip to Seattle puppeteer Rob D'Arc (see previous posts) gave us a great walking tour of Fremont, an arts neighborhood in Seattle. He took us to the rocket ship, the Lenin statue, the center of the universe and main attraction, the Fremont Troll. This concrete troll stands 18 feet tall and lurks under the Aurora bridge. He was created by local artists with the support of the Fremont Arts Council. Every October 31th the troll is celebrated with Trollaween, a mobil party that starts under the bridge and moves through the streets of Fremont.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Neoprene Puppet Heads

Puppet heads

These are neoprene puppet heads under construction. They are being made by Seattle Children's Theater head puppeteer Doug Paasch.

Neoprene casting compound is a great puppet building material. It's nontoxic and it comes ready to pour into plaster molds. Once it is removed from the mold it cures and the resulting product is both light weight and sturdy. Cured neoprene can be sanded, drilled, primed and painted. Neoprene is the preferred building material for puppeteers that make ventriloquist dummies and marionettes.

At Swazzle we use neoprene for special touches like horns or teeth. Neoprene can also be brushed onto foam with a chip brush. I used that technique to create the "bone heads" of Sid and Ed the Pachycepholauruses from Harry and the Tyrannosaurs Rex.

I get my Neoprene from Chicago Latex. They offer various compounds that range from rigid to flexible.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pig Puppet

Pig

This snipped foam pig puppet is a work in progress backstage at the Seattle Children's Theater.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Duck Rod Puppet

Duck

This is a close up of the Rod puppet duck by Seattle Childrens's Theater head puppeteer, Doug Paasch.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Duck Rod Puppet

Children's Theater 3

After a brief summer break from blogging (see previous post), I'll be posting more regularly now beginning with the rest of my photos from our trip to Seattle.

Backstage at the Seattle Children's Theater, head puppeteer Doug Paasch demonstrates the simple mechanics of a papier-mache rod puppet to Victoria Johnson.

Summer Wrap-Up

Summer is our busy season, and this summer was no exception. Since May I have been working nonstop on some very cool puppet projects. Along with performing over 60 solo puppet shows all over Southern California for Swazzle, I also puppeteered on a new children's video series for Disney; worked on a feature film with Jim Henson's Creature Shop; helped create and build an entire puppet show for Blue Cross; built three puppets for the Chiodo Brothers; and attended weekly Puppet Up! puppet improv classes at the Jim Henson Company. It's been a crazy couple of months, but I feel so fortunate to be able to make my living doing what I love.

Right now, I'm already hard at work on some other very exciting puppet projects. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jim Henson's City Critters

DSCN4461

On Saturday I attended Comic-Con. Believe it or not it was my first time - I had a blast. I'll be posting some of my photos soon. In the mean time I've just uploaded some photos of of Jim Henson's City Critters toys to my Flickr site. Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Seattle Children's Theater Puppet Workshop

Childrens Theater 1

This is Doug's puppet workshop back stage at the Seattle Children's Theater. He has a nice corner carved out for himself in the large scene shop. Doug has designed, built, directed and performed puppets for various Seattle Children's Theater productions including: Winnie-the-Pooh, Bunnicula, The Big Friendly Giant, The Odyssey, The Lion Which and the Wardrobe, and more.

To learn more about Doug and see samples of his work check out his website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Seattle Children's Theater

Children's Theater 2

During my trip to Seattle, puppet designer and graphic designer Elizabeth Luce arranged a tour of the Seattle Children's Theater - many of their productions include puppets. We met up with Doug Paasch, their head puppeteer and he gave us a peek backstage.

From left to right: Me, Elizabeth Luce, Doug Paasch, and Victoria Johnson backstage at the Seattle Children's Theater.

P.S. Please note Elizabeth's cool Tiger and Mousedeer sweatshirt available at the Swazzle Store.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Pea Gees

pea-gees

Check out the new "Pea Gees" card from PuppetGreetings.com - it's super! I made the peas - puppeteers Victor Yerrid, Carol Binion and Michelan Sisti performed them. Send it to all your friends.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Merry Flea

Cockroach

This is The Merry Flea also made by Seattle based puppeteer Rob D'Arc. He was made for the upcoming show Archy and Mehitabel.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Archy the Cockroach

Rob's Puppet

This is Archy the Cockroach made by Seattle based puppeteer Rob D'Arc. He was created for the upcoming show, Archy and Mehitabel. I really love this puppet's unique look and asymmetrical design.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Call for Puppeteers

Swazzle is looking for two puppeteers for a new live puppet show that will tour Southern California. The show will be bilingual and performed for Spanish speaking audiences at community events, so at least one puppeteer must be fluent in Spanish. Auditions will be held on Friday July 13, 2007 at the Madilyn Clark Studios, 10852 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA. For more information, or to schedule an audition please e-mail Sean Johnson, sean@swazzle.com.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rob D'Arc

Rob

Rob started in puppetry as a walking puppet stage for Knott's Berry Farm, and a puppet "boothie" at the Renaissance Pleasure Fair. In 1987, he founded Kidstuff Puppet Theater in Riverside, California. For 14 years he coordinated all elements of production, and created and performed over 30 original shows.

Rob currently tours with his puppet shows and his neo-vaudevillian act, Professor Humbug's Flea Circus, which can be seen on sunny weekends at Seattle's famous Pike's Place Market.

Click here to read his whole bio.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Giant Parade Puppet Ant

Parade 4

This giant ant puppet was made by Rob D'Arc for the Fremont Solstice Parade. The parade sponsored by the Fremont Arts Council relies on volunteers to make the parade happen. Planning begins in late winter, and by May people are organizing ensembles, gathering materials, getting floats prepared and more.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Giant Parade Puppets

Parade 3

The Fremont Arts Council encourages the public to lend a hand in the creation of costumes, parade art, and puppets for the Solstice Parade . Workshops are offered to people of all skill levels. For more information e-mail: workshop@fremontartscouncil.org .

Monday, April 23, 2007

Another Giant Parade Puppet

Parade 2

This is another giant puppet from the Fremont Solstice Parade. The parade winds its way through the streets of Fremont, an quirky artistic neighborhood in Seattle every summer. Its final destination is Gas Works Park - a park built around the rusted remains of Seattle's old gas works facility (picture a rusted Emerald City emerging from green rolling hills). There the public can enjoy Food, drinks, music, art, and the Solstice Pageant - a community collaboration involving dozens of artists, actors, dancers, musicians, and puppeteers.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Giant Parade Puppet

Parade 1

Just about every inch of the Fremont Solstice Parade headquarters is covered with fabric, puppet building supplies, and giant parade puppets. This is one of the large puppets that was hanging from the ceiling.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Solstice Parade Headquarters

Solstice

While in Seattle we visited the Fremont Solstice Parade headquarters. The building is a charming brick structure that used to be a power plant for the adjacent school. The parade is an annual event now in it's 19th year. This fun and funky affair features ten float bodies and a limitless number of ensembles and individuals - no experience is necessary.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dino Pop Up Puppet

dinosaur

This dinosaur puppet is yet another Pop Up Puppet by Rob D'Arc. Back in 1999 Rob wrote an article for the Puppetry Journal showing how to make a Pop Up Puppet in four easy steps - complete with a simple pattern. If you want to buy a Pop Up Puppet check out www.planetofthePuppets.com.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lion Pop Up Puppet

Lion

Rob D'Arc's Pop Up Puppets come in a range of sizes, colors, and categories. The lion is is part of the Jungle Creatures collection. His web site features other collections including, farm animals, clowns, woodland land creatures, pets, holidays, mythical beasts and custom puppets.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blue Dragon Pop Up Puppet

Blue Dragon

Rob D'Arc first got the idea for the Pop Up Puppet while waiting in line at a Puppeteers of America Festival. A fellow puppeteer, Duke Krause, showed Rob a simple creation made from two tongue depressor with a face drawn on the front. Rob took that initial concept and dressed it up a little. With Duke's blessing Rob developed some designs, created some prototypes and together, they named them Pop-up Puppets. In 1998 Duke passed away, but his legacy of the Pop-up Puppet lives on.

Click here to read more about Pop Up Puppets.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pike Place Market

Public Market

A trip to Seattle would not be complete with out a visit to the world famous Pike Place Market. The market now in it's 100th year features fresh produce, flying fish, and hand made crafts. As a puppeteer and puppet builder, I was thrilled to find Planet of the Puppet - a vendor selling hand made "pop up" puppets.

Red Dragon

The pop up puppets were the creation of Rob D'Arc a puppeteer and puppet builder that I had met years ago at a Puppeteers of America Festival - small world. His puppets are made from fun foam and popsicle sticks. The designs are imaginative and colorful. At his booth he was selling pop up puppets of all shapes and sizes.