other puppeteers

Tom Tichenor Pilgrimage

In summer 2013, I had the great privilege of not only going to see The Monkees at The Ryman in Nashville, but also taking a quick trip down a few blocks to the Nashville Public Library to view the permanent collection on display of one of my heroes in the puppetry field. His name was Tom Tichenor, and although I never saw one of his plays live, I learned a lot about puppet building from his book, Tom Tichenor’s Puppets, which  I checked out of the library almost weekly as a child. I now own this book and have used and adapted many of the patterns in the book to build my own puppets today.

A magnificent castle used in the Nashville Public Library shows.
A magnificent castle used in the Nashville Public Library shows.

A very nice Tichenor fox puppet, still in use today. I use this same pattern for my own puppets.
A very nice Tichenor fox puppet, still in use today. I use this same pattern for my own puppets.
Tommy Dog and another dog whose name I don't know!
Tommy Dog and another dog whose name I don’t know!
Tommy Dog, from the still-used Tichenor puppets.
Tommy Dog, from the still-used Tichenor puppets.
I was allowed to see some of the puppets used in shows every day that were made by Tom. This is Cedric the Dragon. I LOVE his little round nose!
I was allowed to see some of the puppets used in shows every day that were made by Tom. This is Cedric the Dragon. I LOVE his little round nose!
Tichenor's "Puppet Playhouse".I am guessing this was some sort of little  peek-a-boo window.
Tichenor’s “Puppet Playhouse”.I am guessing this was some sort of little
peek-a-boo window.
A Holy grail of sorts--Tichenor's "Puppet Playhouse". Look at the detail!! I admired this so much in my Tom Tichenor book I used to check out of the library all the time as a child(and eventually bought).
A Holy grail of sorts–Tichenor’s “Puppet Playhouse”. Look at the detail!! I admired this so much in my Tom Tichenor book I used to check out of the library all the time as a child(and eventually bought).
A Holy grail of sorts--Tichenor's "Puppet Playhouse". Look at the detail!!
A Holy grail of sorts–Tichenor’s “Puppet Playhouse”. Look at the detail!!
Part of the backstage Tichenor archive at the Nashville Public Library. Mary Tanner Bailey of WIshing Chair Productions took me back to see all these marvelous pieces. This is the star of the Tichenor production "The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings".So sweet!
Part of the backstage Tichenor archive at the Nashville Public Library.
This is the star of the Tichenor production “The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings”.So sweet!
Part of the backstage Tichenor archive at the Nashville Public Library. Mary Tanner Bailey of WIshing Chair Productions took me back to see all these marvelous pieces. This is the star of the Tichenor production "The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings".So sweet!
Part of the backstage Tichenor archive at the Nashville Public Library.
This is the star of the Tichenor production “The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings”.So sweet!
More of the Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library. There were many many of these wonderful little houses covered with intricate scenery.
More of the Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library. There were many many of these wonderful little houses covered with intricate scenery.
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library.  Sweet mousies!
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library. Sweet mousies!

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Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library.  I think that is one of the Billy Goats Gruff at the top.
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library. I think that is one of the Billy Goats Gruff at the top.
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library.
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library.
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library.
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library.
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library. The puppets from  "Carnivale",including Horrible Harry the green walrus, are at center.
Part of the main Tichenor exhibit at the Nashville Public Library. The puppets from
“Carnivale”,including Horrible Henry the green walrus, are at center.

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“The Violet Thing” and Carson

A few weeks ago, I made some puppets for someone. This was one, included as a freebie:

I called it The Violet Thing, and I got very attached to it.  I hated to send it away.

So I decided to make a new one. This time I might even jazz it up with a furry neck, using some very crazy-patterned fur I got from my pal Jill in a fur trade.

This was the result of my doodling:

Haven’t started it yet, but you can see most of the same features—-the little corkscrew feelers on top of the head, the long tongue,multicolor pompom nostril bumps, and wide eyes. His name is Carson, because, well..I have this idea about keeping him in the car and entertaining my fellow saps stuck at red lights. He is also named for my pal Brian Carson of Creatures Inspired.

Zombie Walk 2010!

So we’re back from ZombieWalk Atlanta 2010, and we have mixed reviews.

First off, we had fun anyway, getting our costumes and makeup together. Not to mention bringing Little Jed to life. Jaime was a zombie Beatles fan, and her LP-through-the-head prop got lots of laughs and photos taken.

The event was totally in the rain, which definitely made it more apocalyptic, and you cant help the weather. Hundreds of people turned out for an impressive array of zombie costuming, from well-thought out and crafted spooky, gooey masterpieces to the frat boys who bought a five-dollar bottle of fake blood at Party City, threw it on some old clothes and ran downtown hoping to harass civilians.

We started out at historic Oakland Cemetery, which, looking back on it, ended up being a rather disrespectful place, considering what people were doing—-I even got caught up in the moment and had photos taken amongst the graves—–but people were smearing fake blood on public property and I don’t really take kindly to that.

There is a definite code of conduct for these type events, and while the majority followed them, the “frat boy” mentality of some made us look bad. There were many people diving out into the street after cars, banging on the hoods and sticking their heads into the windows of drivers who,I can assure you, were not willing participants.

Then we had the people who were just a little too “into” it to realize how annoying they were…those who kept doing the same schtick over and over to the same zombie costumers in the procession…yes,we,your fellow zombies, saw your costume five seconds ago; you don’t need to come “RAAAHHHR” in our faces again. And again. And again.

But overall, it was a real hoot. I might think twice about it next year, especially since the organization on it wasn’t that keen, either..it took forever just to find out where everyone was supposed to meet up, although there was definite drama posted on the information site about “who we are no longer affiliated with”. Cut the personal crap and just tell us where and when.

(more…)

Atlanta Puppetry Guild Meeting,Feb 28,2010

Much fun was had at our Guild Meeting last night. In these pics you can see Heidi Carpenter(our photographer) with her new cat puppet she created from an older monster puppet,Kevin Pittman and cute ducky,Lee Bryan and oodles of inexpensive found object puppets he uses in his “You & Glue” demonstrations,the fabulous Hobey Ford and his otter and tiny Elf puppets,and me with Glarfus and Blorfus from The Little Green King.

Tom Tichenor.

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When I was a kid, I checked  this book, “Tom Tichenor’s Puppets”, out of our library quite frequently. Written by Tom himself, I enjoyed the matter-of-fact but warm and fatherly tone of his writing.  Reading his book truly felt as if I were a learning apprentice, and he soon became one of my heroes. I can remember seeing a scant few of his puppets on public television when I was small and visiting relatives in Tennesssee.

One of the most important things I learned from this book is the use of color and patterns; do not use patterned fur or fabric on a puppet’s face, as it will hide and obscure the features, and do not ever make an all-black or similarly dark-colored  puppet, because it will look like a hole.

Tom’s career began at age 15, performing at the Nashville Public Library,and here is an excerpt from the Library’s article on this talented and versatile entertainer:

Tichenor’s association with the library, both as volunteer and staff member, spanned 50 years, including a period in the 1940s and 50s when he worked for commercial radio stations WSM and WSIX.

From his nationally televised Poindexter series to his outstanding work with the Circle Players and the Nashville Children’s Theater, and his stunning contribution of puppetry in the Broadway musical Carnival!, Tichenor’s professional career was exciting and varied.

In 1967, after the completion of his daily children’s program Birthday House, broadcast on WNBC-TV in New York, Tichenor returned home to the Nashville Public Library. By the time of his retirement in 1988, he had marked “fifty years of enchantment” and was a much-loved figure to generations of audiences who treasured his marionette shows.

Nashville suffered a great loss upon Tichenor’s death in 1992, but his work lives on today. Wishing Chair Productions(the current full-time performers at the Library) is proud to preserve Tichenor’s memory through the continued use of his beloved marionettes and puppets. The Nashville Public Library honors and embraces the legacy of the unique craftsman, artist and storyteller that was Tom Tichenor.

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One of my favorite puppets made by Tom Tichenor is his notorious green walrus,Horrible Henry,from the 1961 musical Carnival.