Puppet Making with Corina Duyn - Introduction

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Puppet making with Corina Duyn © 2019 www.corinaduyn.com

Dear puppet-maker-in-the-making, First a few notes …. •

As part of this self-directed course, I will forward each paid section (head; hands/feet; body & cross; painting/clothing) via WeTranfer and/or supply links to Youtube videos and ISSUU book via email.

To accompany your course, you can ask for Email and/or Skype support. This can be purchased via http://www.corinaduyn.com/site/puppet-making-course/ 20 minute Skype sessions need to be booked and agreed upon at least a day in advance.

The sculpting tool used in the videos can be purchased on the webpage too.

Included in this introduction are: o The story behind this course o List of materials and tools needed, and some general suggestions for sculpting o Video links supplied to registered students in the introduction email

This course material was created by Corina Duyn and draws on four decades of experience. It is for your personal use only. Please do not share this course content with people who have not paid for it. If you intent to follow this course in a group, please get in touch as I can offer discounted rates. Licenses are available for institutions, colleges, etc. Please note that having followed this course does not mean you can teach this course using my material. Thank you for your understanding. Please contact me if you have questions regarding these conditions. Corina Duyn © 2019 www.corinaduyn.com

Best of luck with your puppet. Enjoy the adventures. And please let me know what you have created!

By the way, the puppet decides who it is going to be. Trust me! Corina Duyn

The journey on how I got to share my work with you.


Born in the Netherlands in the early 60’s, I made tiny dolls clothes on a hand-singer-sewing machine since I was about 7. I still have some of these clothes, and the fabric doll I made with my aunt when I was ten. To make my first puppet at age 15, I followed the instructions in ‘Karakterpoppen’ (Character dolls) by Jeannette Hildersley, published in 1974. I was hooked. I borrowed several doll making books from the library, and purchased many others over the following decades. I followed a short course and private module with amazing Dutch Doll Artist Marlaine Verhelst in the ’90. Other than that all my work has been self-

The work I create now is a compilation of all these experiences and explorations. Mixing and matching the techniques I learned, and adapted to my needs. Life’s circumstances have certainly played a roll too. During the ‘90 I created ‘Fantasy Folk’ Artist Dolls. As it was my living, some dolls/puppets were a design range, although still all original pieces. I also did some teaching in my studio and in a group home for young people during 1997/8. There I realized the power of the arts, of creating dolls and puppets. I realized that ‘the clay would not lie’. That our emotions, thoughts, desires, fears, make their way from our brains, through our hands and into our work. This experience was a pivotal moment in my own creative development and subsequent work. Becoming ill in 1998 changed the output, design and intensity of my work. You can see some of the created works on

my website – follow ‘art’ links, and images used in my books, see ‘writing’.

During the early years of learning to live with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), I was unable to sculpt as I had lost the ability to hold tools, or have the energy to hold my arms up. As I spend many years housebound - my world became small. However, this gave me the opportunity to closely observe the birds. Nature became my teacher and made its way into my creations. Illness and resulting disability dictated the method by which I could sculpt again many years later. I adapted tools, and found new ways to work. Mostly twenty minutes at the time. But small segments of time still result in finished work. It just all takes a little longer… During 2015/6 I was well enough to teach again. I facilitated a puppet-making project with other people with disabilities. Over the period of about 8 months we created nine puppets stepping out of the Disability Box. We created a short film: ‘Life Outside the Box’. (See puppet blog) We all had support staff. Without this practical support I could not teach. This project let to invitations to give talks about Puppetry, Disability and Health (see my blog for transcripts of my talks, and Youtube for recordings), in Ireland, UK, and via Skype in Brazil and Chile. A life altering experience. My physical health has unfortunately taken many steps backwards again - which in a way is how you ended up being on this course … The year after facilitating ‘Life Outside the Box’, I started teaching in my studio, which is in the garden. The benefits were plenty: I could set up the workspace a day in advance, and three students could continue to work in my studio when I needed to go inside to rest. It was a good compromise. I loved seeing the puppets evolve: each telling their own stories. Making puppets remains a wondrous journey of discovery. During one of these courses I was communicating with Linda Crowhurst, a woman living with severe M.E. for 25 years. Her husband Greg is her fulltime carer. Both amazing advocates for our illness.

During one communication she expressed that Greg would love to make a puppet. I wrote: “There is always a way”. This was the start of creating my distant learning puppet making course. Some of the material you will explore was initially created for Greg, who made ‘Johnny Toes’. The course as you see it now, has been created in response to questions from my students as went along. It will explore more basic sculpting, and more advanced techniques. Last year my ability to teach even a small group in my studio became impossible. Over the course of a year, while teaching a few people via distant learning in Ireland, Scotland and India, I created more instruction films and documented all stages of puppet making through photos and written instructions. But even these fully guided distant learning courses are now beyond my physical ability. Feeling a sadness to have all that work hidden on my computer, I decided to release them out of obscurity and share them with interested creatives like yourself. It brings me joy to think that people all over the world can taste a little of the magic which is making puppets, or dolls. I hope though that it is respected that these instructions are for those who paid for access. Please know that the funds raised through my course, will pay for ‘Creative PA (Personal Assistance)’ to help me to still be able to create, although at yet again in a new way. At present (autumn 2019) I continue to write a script and design props for a puppet film with the working title ‘Invisible Octopus’. This was made possible through an Arts & Disability Ireland ‘Connect’ mentoring bursary with Dr. Emma Fisher. The bursary has also partly funded Creative PA support. There is always a way… Please explore my website/blog and social media pages to read about my work, see imagery, watch puppet movies, learn about my illness and the associating challenges, explore my books, or read transcripts of my talks, or to see where the puppet movie script will bring me in time to come. Welcome on board. Enjoy the process of exploring your world through the enchanting art of puppetry. Corina

Website www.corinaduyn.com Blog www.corinaduyn.blogspot.ie Facebook art page https://www.facebook.com/CorinaDuyn Youtube videos (not tuition ones) https://www.youtube.com/user/flyingonlittlewings Instagram www.instagram.com/corinaduyn Life Outside the Box http://lifeoutsidethebox-puppetproject.blogspot.com ) Email: corina.duyn@gmail.com

What you will need for your puppet o you might need other tools, props and paint etc. depending on the development of your particular puppet/doll. o The instruction on how to make the head, hands and feet for a puppet are (mostly) the same for making a doll with a wire body. o If you just like to make the head, instructions are also given on how to place them on a ‘bust’.

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DAS air-drying clay. White. Available in 500 grams and 1 kg. It is available from craft shops and online. For example Specialist Crafts and Amazon. Sculpting tools. See details below. Dowel of about 30 cm long, diameter of a broom handle, or inner core of a ‘clingfilm’ roll. A bottle or tall jar, with neck/top opening wide enough to fit the dowel. o Have the head of your puppet right in front of you, so find a bottle and length of stick to achieve this.

Strip of cotton, approx. 3 cm wide, 5 to 6 meter long. A torn up old sheet is perfect. Plastic doll eyes- if required (approx. 12 mm, with 9mm iris). Instructions are also given in the course on how to sculpt the eyes – this actually gives your puppet more individuality as eyes can be created to size. A smooth plastic placemat, or oilcloth to work on. A roller, rolling pin or bottle to roll out clay. (I use a rubber roller used for print making) Clingfilm, or tin foil. A small jar of water. A well sealed tub or zip-lock bag to keep the remaining clay in. A nail brush or sponge to clean your hands with after using the clay. Wet wipes are great too. Sandpaper: fine sandpaper, super fine black - ‘glass’ sandpaper, and wire wool. See below. A dust mask if allergic to fine dust (when sanding the clay) In terms of paint, this depends on what your puppet/doll is going to become and what your tolerance for paint/varnish smells are. Instructions are given on various options. A selection of small brushes for painting. Set of pliers, for cutting and bending wire.

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Sharp small scissors Fabric for the clothing, and hair – we will discuss this later in the project. o All details of these will be given with the Body/Cross part of the course Glue- (superglue) and PVA glue. Wooden puppet body: dowel, plywood, body stocking, stuffing, small screw eyes, small open hooks and wire. Collected images from magazines of faces, hands and feet, perhaps clothing you like.


The sculpting tool is actually for leather, but it great for working on the features. Both sides can be used, depending on the detail required. Available through my website. http://www.corinaduyn.com/site/puppet-making-course/

The brush (Round Short Handled Watercolour Brush - Size 8) is for wetting the dry clay base (when the clay is dry, between each session, you need to wet the clay, slightly, with water, for the new clay to stick the previous work). The brush is also wonderful for even finer detail, say around the eyes, or around the nose and mouth. Play around with both tools. Do not use this brush for painting! My main tools really are my thumbs and index fingers. I use both hands at the same time, for example around the shaping of the nose, to feel if both sides are equal in size and shape. See videos.

Also, for example to smoothen the base of the head you made in the first session, it is great to slightly wet your hands and smoothen the clay. If you have very warm hands, the clay will dry out much quicker. I would advise the wipe your hands on a damp cloth while you are working, so your hands don’t become caked with clay. Experiment what works best for you. Some people prefer the tools, others are more tactile and use the tools very little. The Knife is a very sharp kitchen pairing knife with a smooth blade. So please be careful! I use the knife if there is any detail on the sculpted parts I don’t like, or are too much. For example, the head base is too big on the left, and I like the right side better- it is perfectly ok to cut off the part you don’t like. It is also useful to cut the leg dowel into shape. Sandpaper I use two kinds of sandpaper- the rougher (brown) one, and the black ‘glass’ sandpaper. Also steelwool. These are used to correct any imperfections, and can almost be a like a sculpting tool – taking away detail instead of adding. You will often see me referring to sanding before adding any more detail. See sanding video Do the sanding over a sheet of newspaper and discard this before starting to work with fresh clay again and use a mask if allergic to dust. Never mix sanded clay dust with new clay! Drying the clay When you are finished working, and are happy with the results so far (we keep adding, and correcting detail- the head/hands/feet are made during several sessions so don’t despair!) place the sculpted part near a source of heat: a radiator, a stove. But not in an oven. Depending on the source of heat, and thickness of clay, the clay will dry in a few hours, or a day. If you want to work a little further on a particular part, wrap you work in cling-film and keep it in an airtight container. It is easiest to build the features one step at the time, on dried clay.

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