It has been a busy year. Puppets are making a comeback, which is great! I've had the pleasure of creating a number of book characters as puppets, which can sometimes be tricky and takes some nutting out. From talking animals to trucks to talking backpacks, there has been a variety to keep me on my toes. Along with finishing my third Middle-Grade novel (which is about to launch), I'm hoping to create my own protagonist and dragon Gruffyd into characters for story-telling. It has added a new dimension to the art of the story-teller, to have their characters in 3D. As I'm all for enthusing imaginations, what better way to do it?
I love the Muppets. Have done so since my younger brother watched Sesame Street in the early 70's. In the late 70's, John and I would be glued to the television set every week as The Muppet Show went to air. Jim Henson was one talented and gifted man. Was it just coincidence that I went into puppetry after living in a flat in Henson Street, Summer Hill? I'm still loving making and using puppets for story-telling, and I can tell you, so are the audiences. How about you? Any puppet influences on your life? Here's a cute pic that appeared on my Facebook feed this morning. They look too good to eat!
I discovered this today while looking through some Clewer Puppets computer documents. Puppetry is so versatile, it can be used anywhere with a minimum of props. This was a great Easter occasion seven years ago, and a wonderful backdrop. I would love to be able to do something like this again. Maybe I will get the chance one day, but it won't be the same without my life partner and soul mate by my side.
How did we get started? Back in 1991, my husband John was in Theological college. I wanted to train to work with children in church, and other ministry areas. I enrolled in a one year Children's course, where we had various lecturers. One of those lecturers was Owen Shelley, who had been an instrumental worker with Scripture Union Family Missions in what seemed like forever. He and various other people were involved in producing small puppets, and performing plays in many public arenas, including the Royal Easter Show. Now, as a 10 year old in 1968, I had dabbled in puppetry, and loved it. My grandmother bought me a set of Punch and Judy hand puppets. In those days, the local greengrocers had wooden crates which had held their deliveries of fruit and vegetables. The crates were often given away, and I procured 2 from one of the local shops, then proceeded to set them up in our little inner-city street, on the road outside our tiny 2 bedroom weatherboard house, and put on puppet shows for the kids in our street. I was hooked. When Owen brought his puppets to college for a session on puppetry, I was hooked again. (Having been thoroughly plugged in to the Muppets in the 70's). I wanted something larger for classroom use, but the only ones available at the time were too big, too unwieldy and much too expensive for a couple of students. I tracked down a small book with little puppet patterns, and adapted them into a 1 metre puppet size. The first two were based on our dog, and my grandmother. Owen was most impressed when I showed them to him-he even gave me a $100 donation at the time to further my puppetry. Over the years, people enquired as to where the puppets had come from. When I told people that I made them, they asked whether I could manufacture puppets for them too-and so, in 1999, Clewer Puppets was born. John and I met Owen at an Expo 10 years later, in 2001, and I was able to thank him for his support. He was most impressed again-this time at how far my puppetry making and our small business had come. Our puppets have gone around the world for various orders-and now this updated site is a new chapter.
An update since this blog was published. John was diagnosed on the 29th March with an aggressive brain tumour, which was inoperable. He died on the 10th April. I am devastated-my soul mate of 40 years is gone.You can read diary entries which I have just begun under the heading of My Personal Journey on :
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