Last Weekend for Paperhand Puppets Painted Bird!

This summer I had the great joy of becoming part of the Paperhand Puppet Intervention team.  I was so lucky that at the time that they were looking for a costumer to help with this summers show I had a break in my contracts…and I had friends that were awesome enough to think of me and bring me in to the studio.  I have been following the Paperhand shows since I moved to NC years ago.  I so admire their work and their creative use of materials and it has been a dream to become part of the magic.
When I came in I was picking up where the first costumer had left off.  Sometimes it is actually harder to develop someone else idea than to start with your own, but it was an interesting challenge and I loved it.  I love the way that Paperhand is really a community of artist.  We worked all together in an old gym sometimes as teams and other times on our own.  It was supportive and fun and I think that energy really shines in the final product.  Each puppet passes through so many artist hand as it grows from a pile of materials to a fully created piece.  It is magical how so many people can come together to create such amazing art.  Even with so many people working on each puppet everything stays cohesive through the care and guidance of Donovan and Jan the co-founders of the company.
Some of my favorite pieces I worked on this summer where the rat costume, the headdress for the big yellow puppet and sewing the giant Painted Bird that was the title creature of the show.  For the rat costume I used scrape fabrics in gray, silver, white, brown and burlap to create fringe.  The sewing aspect of the costume was fairly simple but there was so much cutting to create the fringe!  In the end it was worth all the time to create the furry body suit because it had create movement and color during the performance.  We added touches of color with arm bands and bright tassels of color attached to butterflies.
The yellow puppet is special because it was the first big puppet I was asked to contribute to.  I used fabric to create the sun like halo around the face of the puppet.  It was exciting to sit and talk with Donovan and Jan about their vision for what they wanted the finally image to look like and then be sent to run with the idea and put my own creative spirit in to things.  I love that collaboration and sharing of ideas that took place through the process.
The last and biggest of my projects is the huge painted bird.  This was a massive project with sewing long seams with lots and lots of fabric. I was so glad that we often worked in teams to feed the fabric through the sewing machine.  No needles were broken during the sewing of the painted bird!  To fringe the wings and add the detailing we had to stand the bird upright and sometimes use ladders and stools to reach the higher places because it it so huge.  I had never made anything so larger before so it was certainly a challenge and an adventure to have it come to life. Watching the bird come out at the end of the show was such a huge rush for me.  It was amazing how the group of puppeteers made is move and fly across the sky.  I watched the show several times before opening and each time I felt like a little kid as I was completely captured by the magic.  But the best was being able to see the show with an actual audience.  Seeing the reactions of the audience with each new segment of the show and hearing how excited everyone got when the next giant puppet came out was so very cool.  The music in this year show really drives the whole story and it is so beautiful composed by the musicians playing in the pit.  It it the kind of music that I can't listen to in the car because if I did I would end up places with no idea of how I got there.  It makes my imagination run wild and it is the perfect back drop to the characters on the stage.
If you live in the triangle area of NC then you really should try and make it to see this years Paperhand show.  This is the last weekend before it wraps for the season.  You can see it at the North Carolina Museum of Art this weekend.  I say this not just because I happened to be part of this years show, but because it is truly a magical event that everyone can enjoy.  Plus there is tap dancing and in my opinion tap makes everything just a little bit cooler :)  I am hoping this is just the beginning for years to come of being part of this magic.


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