This is my online home for my love of puppetry. Whether it’s my own personal creations and projects or things I just find fascinating in the world or puppetry and want to share.
Darker sense of humor? You betcha.
Puppets? How did you get started in puppetry?
I’m still not 100% certain how this all came about. One night I was on the internet surfing like we all do, back in 2003 or 2004. Something got me onto the idea of ‘I want to build puppets, this is my destiny.’ and it began.
It started with researching on the net, then buying books (The Foam Book by Grey Seal Puppets was my initial holy bible of puppetry), collecting tools and supplies, the WORKS. I must have spent close to a grand before even sewing a stitch or cutting a piece of foam. Oh yeah, bought that sewing machine too with absolutely no knowledge on how to sew let alone thread the machine! That was an amazing conversation with a lady at Sears. “Sir what do you need a sewing machine for?” … “Puppets!” — I’m thinking I was her ONLY puppet customer that day/week/year.
…and a bit later it happened. I made my first “creation” and named him, Larry the Lizard. To this day I still have not completed Larry, he is just a head. Many flaws from this crappy shiny material I should have treated first, to a brutally squared off snout with no depth and shape. I could go on and on. But you always have your first! Larry the Lizard is my first. Am I super critical of him? Yes. But I still love him. He was proof in concept that I CAN do this. I want to do this. And most importantly, I WILL do this.
The Mad Puppet Scientist is BORN!
From there I started experimenting with various shapes, patterns (both paid for and free online patterns), and really just any material I could get my hands on to experiment with. I went through so many sticks of hot glue and foam at this time because there is no other way to learn than just getting your hands dirty and doing it. Burned my fingers 1,000 times. That is a puppetry right of passage IMO. I can hot glue a ball of hot glue to another ball of hot glue now. That took suffering!
The next thing you know, I had a closet completely taken over in our small apartment. Filled to the ceiling with puppets and even more puppet building supplies. No regrets. My wife used to joke that she couldn’t open that closet because things would fall out. She wasn’t lying.
I started to find my puppetry legs. Building a multitude of characters. Eventually learning towards the idea back then of starting up a website or YouTube channel. So like anything else I typically do, head first, both feet in I began that journey. Rotten Puppets was born. A decade + ago we had a forums with decent buzz, I was selling t-shirts and buttons (before DTG was so popular), and making wacky videos you can still find on our Rotten Puppets YouTube channel today.
It was a magical ride.
Eventually real life took over, I had a kid, and my availability along with my priorities changed.
I shut it all down, packed everything up, shut down the websites, and 5 years or so of life ticked by. Totally worth it and I have absolutely ZERO regrets on my decision. Tough at first? Sure. I felt like I made a sacrifice in the beginning. I would occasionally pull a puppet out of a case to play with my kid, or let her play with them and figure out how they work. And something strange, and mostly unexpected happened.
She loved puppets too.
We did Sesame Place for vacation of course. Being in the Northeast it’s a quick drive and who doesn’t love the Sesame Street gang. While we were enjoying the shows my daughter said to me, “Why don’t you make puppets any more Daddy?” and at this stage in life, I didn’t have an answer.
Well, I didn’t have a GOOD answer. I brushed it off with, “Enjoy the show sweetheart don’t worry about me.” and just kept working on those Dad skills. That is a far more important priority. But what she said stuck in my head.
So we started pulling more puppets out of storage. Supplies 1 by 1 started making their way back into the house from the attic. I even bought a craft table for the office and started working on things a little here and there, always making sure it included her. She produced half of the ideas and sent me on a build quest. I obliged. As she kept getting older (we’re up to 8 now) her own desire to participate on a level deeper than paper bag puppets has manifested and truth be told, I’m excited to continue this journey with her.
The next chapter begins, Rotten Puppets is reborn…
So the last 3 years I’ve been quietly dabbling in all forms of puppetry. Sharing nothing. Learning again, experimenting, figuring things out on my own terms and in my own way. Sharing the experiences and learning sessions with her, so we’re in it together. Taking something that was “oh no, put them away you can’t do this with a kid.” and turning it into “this is a fantastic moment with your kid.” was a big undertaking.
I even ran a class for World Puppetry Day at my kids’ elementary school when she was in Kindergarten. A simple Pete the Cat paper bag puppet for 40-50 kids and it was awesome.
Now the time has returned. The kid and I are working on a completely kid-friendly separate project to open her up to the magic of puppets but Rotten Puppets, in this day and age especially, needs to return to glory.
Lately I have been messing around with 2D puppets which has been a lot of fun. Utilizing razor and craft foam, and eventually creating everything in Adobe Illustrator and cutting them out on a Cricut Maker. I had an idea called Dungeons and Puppets and another one called Puppet Pro Wrestling. And yet another called World Go Boom which was meant to be an extension of what Rotten Puppets once was but in a 2D Universe. All fun ideas but honestly, I’ve been bouncing around on so many different puppetry paths lately finding my way I have shut down all those websites and they can reside all in Rotten Puppets. One home. One place. One goal.
Worldwide Puppet Domination. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!