Carp and Diva

I am building a giant carp for a new opera called Carp and Diva. I haven’t heard it yet, but the libretto is as silly as the title sounds. Since some people have asked what it is that I do, exactly, for a living, I thought I would show a bit of process. I start by meeting with the director, in this case the composer,and talking about the project. Then I do a drawing for their approval.

Once that is approved, I do a technical drawing, usually at full scale. This one is not very complicated since there are no mechanisms and the puppet is essentially a tube with decorations.

Next I make a pattern from the technical drawing and assemble the pieces. I’m using two types of foam here. The blue stuff is a polyethelyne foam and is fairly stiff, but still flexible. The white stuff is a reticulated foam called Dri-fast. I’m using it for the outer layer of the fish because it has some stretch to it. The pieces are held together with either hotglue, a contact cement called Barge (strong but toxic) or, ironically, fishing line.

After I get the shape built then I begin the process of covering the puppet with fabric. Most of the work is hand-stitched. At this point in the process of the fish I’ve done about seven hours of work. You’ll notice a small figure on the fish’s dorsal fin.

That’s a Flat Stanley that a friend has sent to visit me. I thought I’d take Stanley to work before sending him back to New York.

So there you go. That’s what I do for a living. I’ll post a picture of the fish when it’s finished.

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