This summer I was hired by a production company in New York City to make five large fish puppets. This is their story.
The puppets needed were to be operated outdoors by a single person over the course of a few days. I needed to find a lightweight solution that could respond to wind and other variations in weather.
The build time was short, and I only had a week to make a prototype before heading to New York for other work. I asked Bill Holznagel, an excellent builder and performer for Tears of Joy and his own company Signal Light (if you live in Portland and haven’t seen their show Playtime with Pete and Randy, do yourself a favor).
An emphasis was put on the desired “flowiness” of the puppets by the client. In an earlier test, I’d looked to find that element with a combination of materials and performance. It’s show here in shadow, ’cause when you’re videoing your self, you make sacrfices.
Finalizing the Design
In New York, I worked with my friend Sam Hill, a fellow mask maker and sculptor, to finish the build. We worked in studio in Greenpoint to figure out the final details.
A few more tests…
We took the first puppet out to see how it moved in the outdoors. You can tell from the video noise that it was windy day.