Vintage Vitale: Purple People Eater?

Wanna see something really hideous?

AACK! The first puppet I ever made by myself, and never really finished.

It was the mid-1980’s and my parents finally enrolled me in a puppetmaking class at The Center for Puppetry Arts. The class was taught by Carol Daniel and we learned basic foam rubber head construction. I went one night a week for about a month or two, I think, and through Carol I met many more people into puppetry in the Atlanta area, by joining a puppetry guild.

Once I got home and started making my own puppets, I realized I wanted a slightly different style than this. This style utilizes a round, humanoid,carved foam head with the jaw made completely separate and connected with fabric.I tend to have characters with long faces, beaks and muzzles. But, since I had learned through this class how foam rubber behaves and how to glue it together, I felt confident enough to try my own techniques. Still, I owe a lot to that intimate little class of long ago, and I regard Carol very highly.

I’m not sure why I chose purple fabric for covering the face; but once I realized how goofy this head was turning out, I gave up trying to make it even slightly resemble a human, and Carol encouraged me to experiment. I bought a pair of huge frog eyes and, after carving out an eye socket in the foam, stuck one in there and gave it thick gray fake-fur lashes. My classmates and I thought it was definitely leaning into purple-people-eater territory, and my plan was to give it a horn and wings, and a furry body.But, alas,in those days there was no purple fur to be found in the fabric stores. So,I settled for black, but by then, the class had ended.I took my sad little one-eyed funkything home and put it away.I found it this morning while looking for something, and now YOU get to look at it!


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