Creaturiste's Laboratory

Techniques, works in progress, and everything that doesn't fit in the portfolio. Comments and questions are encouraged, custom orders are welcome!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Co-Hosting online live puppet show

I'm now co-hosting a weekly live internet show with my colleague Daryl, who lives in British Columbia. I'm the purple guy (he was my first "Advanced Sock Puppet"). We'll soon have recorded excerpts for you to see when we are not live online.

It all started as a fun improv thing on Daryl's blog, and people demanded so much, so fast, they we had to make a separate show. So here it is, next show will be this week-end, the specific day and hour still to be decided. We'll soon have a regular time-slot, once we figure out our respective schedules, in relation to time zone differences.

If you want to see me work and have a chat, I sometimes come online on my own channel:

Thursday, June 18, 2009


What has mayonnaise to do with puppet or mask making, you may wonder?
Well, it's all connected. Since I became good enough in the studio, I became good in the kitchen! The skills are transferable! And a better-fed artist is a healthier artist.

Whether it be as a meal's accompaniment or as a dip for snacks, real mayonnaise is not a luxury, it's a necessity! I wont, buy the pre-made stuff anymore.

So last week I learned how to make real mayonnaise.
By blender at first, but now I prefer using a whisk. Beats any commercial mayo I ever tried! It's great as a base for other things, such as salad dressings, or dips. Makes a wonderful base for a thick, rich cesar salad dressing!

It's much healthier this way, because one can control all the ingredients that go into it.

My favorite variation so far: extra dijon mustard, touch of honey, lots of garlic powder, and lots of black pepper.

Great as a dip for fries or veggies!
Two best sources where I learned from:
I loosely follow the first source's method, but I learned a bit more why it works by watching the second source. I find that sunflower oil has a bit of a bitter aftertaste. I'll move on to a lighter flavored oil, such as grapeseed oil. The problem is that organic oils don't come in many choices yet. Wake up society!


This video is showing an even simpler and faster method, but the chef uses a "stick blender".

Monday, June 15, 2009

My marionette Links

I updated and sent this to a colleague today who's also into marionettes,
so I thought I'd share it on the blog as well.
There are a few links that I found today, which I had not seen before.
The articles found on the Modern Mechanics website (various sources, such as Popular Mechanics) are among the new stuff (new to my list, some of which I had posted before)

NOTE: the links aren't clickable yet. Blogger's editing interface still forces us to manually input every link, even though they are properly formatted already.
I'll input them later, in the meantime, just copy and paste the links to your browser's address bar.

Street shows:
Grafton's puppet show. Mouvements rapides et précis.

Dancing skeleton

Les Sages Fous (Trois-Rivières) (not marionettes, but the visuals are fitting for me)

Stage shows:
Joe Cashore

Ronnie Burkett (je ne trouve aucun extrait de spectacles sur internet! Donc voici son site officiel:)

Basil Twist

Frank Paris

David Syrotiak's Natioal Marionette Theater (Vermont)

Pendel Marionettes (Allemagne)

Altrego (Allemagne)

Ruzicka Brothers (République tchèque)

Albrecht Roser
(pas beaucoup d'images, mais il offre un livre maintenant, qui a l'air superbe. Le distributeur (Ray daSilva) est fiable et très rapide en livraison, j'ai commandé deux fois chez lui.

Scott Land

Philippe Genty

Phillip Huber

On Film
Séquences de marionnettes du film Being John Malkovich (performances par Philip Huber et équipe, article sur le processus dans le dernier lien).

Superbe visuellement, pour les passionnés des fils, un DVD à posséder en archive...

Simple & Efficient

John Roberts: cours de sculpture de marionnette à fils, au Little Angel Theater (GB).

The secrets of Making Marionettes (2 parts)

The Art of Making Lifelike Marionette Bodies

Boy's hobby Creates Puppet Opera

Trick Marionettes

Posable Skeleton model

Amazing skills with most famous puppets

Building Disney's Pinnochio!

Marionettes go Hollywood

Stephen Mottram: atelier de mouvement (en 6 parties)

naked marionette

The Puppeteer
A film by Chris Schmidt & Gary Henoch
Très touchant, inspirant aussi.
Un beau souvenir d'un collègue parti trop tôt.
Saura plaire aux performeurs de rues comme de scènes.
Environs 32 minutes.

Superbe, en Allemand et Anglais.
Le travail de Gmelin et Shmelz, en marionnettes à fils (Pendel Marionettes).
Contient un survol des étapes de fabrication, mais pas la méthode complète.
beau livre à avoir en consultation, pour les images et les idées transmises.
Kunst, Bau, Spiel.
Art, construction, Play.
2004 (nouvelle édition, l'ancienne est tout aussi belle, mais offre quelques différences d'oeuvres présentées)
ISBN: 3-87463-367-5

Ancient articles on marionettes
Some in French, some about other types than string marionettes.

Meeting of a puppeteer (in French),M1

Revue de Paris (article in French)

Histoire des Marionnettes (long Article in French),M1

French Polichinelle Play,M1

Histoire des marionnettes en Europe (Puppet History book in French)

Mentions of marionette and intricate mechanics in this article.

Eclectic Magazine, page 299,M1

Same article as above, different publisher,M1

Part of a novel by George Sand, features the description of puppets and
page 161,M1

Book of written puppet plays in French,M1

All the Year Round,
article: Punch and the Puppets (page 517),M1

Le Theatre des marionnettes (Goerge Sand, in French).

Historical Dictionary of Theater, definition of marionnettes (French),M1

3-page article about an excentric Puppeter in Paris and his destroyed
theater. (French),M1

Gentleman's Magazine, page 578.,M1

Histoire des marionnettes en Europe (full History book in French)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do-it-Yourself lumber, and bones!

There are two new instructables on their wonderful site, both related to paper mache.

First is about making your own "lumber" out of cardboard
and glue. I'm really interested in trying this. When I have more time.
I wouldn't attempt this without a table saw or band saw, so now I'm almost
all set (getting a fence for my band saw first, can't cut straight for the

Second one is about making paper logs for your wood stove, using only newspaper and water. This could be used, in various sizes, as structural materials for making bones, limbs, or armatures for sculptures.
Super fast to make too.
Could be made stronger by adding some glue to the water, but I don't think that's necessary if you intend to cover with paper mache strips, or as long as the final product is well sealed, to prevent moisture penetration and imprisonment.
Pounding a wet newspaper with rubber mallet on the pavement and then rolling it?
The simplest methods are often those we don't think about.

I'm a bit of a maniac about cleanliness in my artwork, so I'll skip the pavement, and use a clean board.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bandsaw & I

The band saw I got a few weeks ago is indeed turning out to be a wondertool!
How could I do my work without it for so many years is already getting hard to comprehend!

The band saw is becoming an essential in my workshop. I got it mostly to cut wood pieces to make better marionettes and simple wooden toys, but now I can confirm what people have been telling me all along: it's super versatile!
It also cuts polyfoam, styrofoam, cardboard, light plastics! And these don't require a new blade either! A friend of mine needed to cut the top off of a peanut butter jar's lid. No problem! Did it in 5 minutes. I tested it before with another jar, to make sure the plastics were not going to shatter. The jar plastic shattered, but not the lid. so i just left the lid screwed tight on the final jar, and carefulyl cut off the top of the lid.
The jar part was cut with scissors.

I spent half the afternoon learning how to properly change the blade, and finally succeeded, despite the inadequate instructions in the manual. I was able to solve the problem by studying the exploded diagram of the whole machine! Feels great to get past the difficulties and figure it out! The new blade (Delta industrial) is an eight of an inch wide, making it a lot easier to cut better curves. I'm told there are even better blade types. I'll keep an eye out for them. And wear safety goggles while doing so.

The rest of the day was for designing and outline-cutting the torso and limbs for my next marionette. I've been working on it for a while, but I've been (and still am) so busy planning my solo exhibit, that it's slow going for every piece I'm working on. I also have a few pieces to finish before the show.

Back to the band saw:
The only problem with it is the lack of a fence/guide.
I shall get one next paycheck, even if it means I have to drive my bicycle for an hour to get to the supplier. That's how motivated this tool is making me! I'm starting to understand how some people become so attached to their car. I wouldn't be surprised if before long, the band saw told me its name. Even without a fence, the saw is still amazing.
I have not needed to re-saw wood at perfect angles, so with a little planning before cutting, there was no problem.

Operating this machine becomes a way to focus on the moment, it feels so mind-clearing to think of nothing but the the finger positions, and feel and control the precision of the cut.
It's almost a meditation. The fact that every use puts you in the position of possibly losing fingers or eyes, is a great motivator to self-discipline. If I don't feel focused and fully aware, I don't even turn on the machine.

I'd play some more with it, but I respect my neighbors, and I decided to not operate noisy equipment after 8pm. So tonight, I'll see if I can finish the paper mache steps on a brooch I'm making for a colleage overseas. It's still an exciting feeling to know some of my pieces are going to be appreciated by people so far away! I hope I don't ever get jaded about this!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Inspiring Film: The Puppeteer

Very special thanks to Doll Artist Marie-Claude Dupont for making me discover this very touching piece of documentary work!

The Puppeteer
A film by Chris Schmidt & Gary Henoch, about the work of Puppeteer Igor Fokin.

It's beautiful, it's touching.
It's also inspiring to make the viewer want to do things now, before it's too late. The artist lives on people's memories, in a memorial sculpture, and in this film.

You see the artist at work on the street, his interaction with the audience and one sculpted puppet in progress. You hear his views on various topics that touch us as performers and makers and people living in countries of abundance.

You see what happened after his sudden death at 36, and how people honored him. You see how much one person doing what he loves can touch many. I highly recommend this very short but very good film. It takes you places. What an homage to someone's work!

Sites concerning Igor Fokin:

There is a second documentary film about Igor Fokin. This one's profits all
go to the puppeteer's family. Both films are described here:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Easy Curtains

For at least a year, I've had a real theater black curtain (100% cotton, velour finish on one side, very thick) hanging to separate my bedroom from my studio space. It's been great as a backdrop for photographing my creations, when doing webcam meetings, and a great relief as a blocker from the street light when sleeping (I live on a busy avenue).
It also cuts a bit of sound.

As useful as it was, it was slowly driving me nuts, due to the inefficiency of the sliding "mechanism".
There's one thing about focusing on the most important stuff, but small tiny annoyances can build up! My curtains themselves were ok. The "hooks" were simply loops of nylon webbing (backpack straps) I had machine sewn on top of the curtains. For the pole, I had taped two broomsticks together, using a piece of pipe to join them. Friction on the pole, and especially at the link, was too much, forcing me to stand on a bench each night and each morning to open and close by hand.
Today, at the hardware store for puppet making supplies, I realized it was about time I fixed this.
So I did. I bought a long piece of CPVC pipe (it's blue-grey, and denser-stiffer than the yellow PVC). At less than 5$, the price was right!
Back at home, I made some wooden washers to space the pipes from the wall.
To make the washers, I just pierced a deep hole at one end of a fat dowel.
I then sliced it in three spacers.
I then pre-pierced wide holes at both extremities and center of the pole, but only piercing one side, not going through. The holes were big enough for the head of the long wood screws I would be using. Then pierced the smaller holes to fit tightly around the screw thread.
Then I slid the curtains on the pole. Then I placed my spacers between wall and pipe, and screwed everything in place. It would have been much easier with a helper, but I managed by having the screws hold the pole on the other end while I was working my way towards it.
Now, the nylon webbing curtain hooks slide easily on the smooth pole.
It's a dream, by comparison! It's not as nice as a "real" system with pulleys and rope, but it does the job for what I need it for.