Sunday 20th May
In todays workshop, we began by varnishing over the parts of the puppets that we had repaired in the previous session. Then Russell let down one of the poles on which the puppets get hung and attached the dragon to it. He then raised it back up to a height at which I would be comfortable painting the underside, I did this so that the latex and paper I had put on previously would be safe from becoming brittle. The dragon was put onto a pole that had two giant fish hung on it, so I met them when we were hanging it back up. They were scary-toothy.
Once the fixed puppets were away I set about making a head of one of the new green men puppets. Starting with a cruciform of bamboo cane, double width along the upright, I put a tin can about half way up double cane; this would later hold the neck cane. I then built withy circles around the cross to form a sphere.
As I was completing my sphere, Russell discussed the idea of moving eyes with Ron for his head. He asked me if I wanted to have moving eyes too, but I thought it might be nice to have a different articulated feature and suggested waggly ears. I had to then install two circles of wire onto the frame to allow for the movement and protect the paper shell of the head.
Once this was done I needed to cover the entire sphere in the double-weight tea bag paper and latex.
Then I set about constructing my man’s facial features, starting with his lower jaw. I had a bit of trouble getting my head around what order to put things on in, but got the hang of it eventually. I left him with eyebrows, top and bottom jaw/ lip and jowls.
Monday 21st May
I’d decided to stay over in Chester on Sunday night, staying at the bunkroom hostel. I thought it would be more sensible than trying to get through monday rush hour traffic. The place was pretty much empty, I had a 6 bed dorm to myself and managed to get a good night’s sleep in. When I arrived, Russell was covering balloons with brown gummed tape; apparently a fast and effective way of doing papier mache. Vicki and I joined in, we made one balloon each; they were to make the heads of three allegorical figures on horseback that Russell was working on.Following that, we got to work on out green man heads, Vicki set about finishing the one Russell had started on Sunday and I continued with mine.
I covered more of the structure with latex and tea bag paper before adding his nose. I spent a while working out the shape of the nose and whether or not to add nostrils as I wanted his features to be quite squashy looking. Eventually I put nostrils on, I think I will build his nose up more with foam later on.
After the nose was stuck down, I put his eyes on.
Once the features were finished, I put a base-coat of green paint all over the head making sure to get into all the nooks.
I decided later that I wanted to make the green man into a hazel as there is an historical folklore connection with the tree and it produces catkins, which would look nice in his hair. I had a look at the shape of the leaves and started to sketch out leaf shapes, slightly simplified. Russell showed me how he had made the leaves for his green man; using a stencil with 3 leaf shapes cut out, in order than you can make a number of leaves at once.
To make the leaves the stencil is placed on paper and green painted over, repeated until the desired number have been painted.
I started making a stencil for this. Once Vicki had finished painting her base-coat onto her head, we made a start on building the backpacks onto which the puppets will be mounted. Using bamboo canes, gaffer tape, cable ties and infuriating sack ties we made lightweight carriers.
It was really satisfying to make a structure that held together and was sturdy. it was also really great to just wing it with the materials, not really paying attention to how it looked as long as it worked as the structure wouldn’t be visible in the end. I finished mine with lots of padding and tried it on, it was awkward but comfortable.