Posts Tagged ‘fish’

The fish are out the door

We finished the fish today. Got good work done on the crocodile and leopard. Best of all, an old friend came into town and dropped by to help out. (Hi Rob!) Afterwards, Rob and my Rob and I went out to catch up.

Life is good.

Fish: The to-do list

FishI thought you might be interested in seeing what the to-do list on a puppet build looks like. This is the one for the fish. Bear in mind as you look at the list that we have to build sixteen of them.

Things in bold mean that anyone can do them.

  1. Ask office about painting in parking lot. – Emily
  2. Spray glue on all foam and dry it.
  3. Design belly paint – Emily
  4. Call Brickman’s – paint – Emily
    • 1. Design Master 1 can Blueberry
    • 2. Beltone Molatov Premium – Goldfish (brooklyn or Pearl Paint) or TerraCotta 1 can
    • 3. Krylon Special Purpose Florescent Green 3106 need 3 cans
    • 4. Krylon OSHA special purpose Safety Yellow
    • 5. Fireproofing spray
  5. Pick up spray paint.
  6. Pattern fish tails and fins with accordion folds – Mary
  7. Cut fish tails and fins
  8. Split fish heads – Erika
  9. Cut spacers for heads
  10. install headspacers
  11. Paint inside of thirty eyeballs
  12. Pattern eyelids – Mary
  13. Cut eyelids
  14. Test rod placement – Mary
  15. 16 10″ rods cut and sanded from bamboo
  16. cut 16 wedges for rod placement, see pattern.
  17. Install rods
  18. Check girl lips – Emily
  19. Pattern fish lips – Mary
  20. Cut fish lips
  21. Look at inside of eyeball color – Emily
  22. Finish sewing bellies – Sarah
  23. Paint bellies – Jane
  24. Assemble fish
    • 1. Head to spine
    • 2. Belly pulled on
    • 3. Attach belly to head
    • 4. Attach belly to spine
    • 5. Attach lips
    • 6. Attach eyes (No heat after eyes attached!)
    • 7. Attach eyelids
    • 8. Additional painting
    • 9. Attach fins

In the photo at the top, the fins are pinned on and we still need to do the additional painting. We have five fish at this state. The rest should be finished fairly quickly tomorrow.

There’s another to-do list, like this one, for the crocodile and leopard which we are also making.

Long day, many fish and a crocodile

I think the crocodile might eat us alive.

The fish are well on their way to completion. We had a bevy of helpers today, including the wonderful Kris Dikeman who had responded to my call for volunteers.

I’m at home now and Rob has made me a gin and tonic. This and then bed are all I have planned for the half hour remaining in today.

More fishy stuff

Emily DeCola's design drawing for fish Emily DeCola has been hired to create puppets for the African Children’s Choir. She started with these design drawings and has hired me to help her build the puppets. My primary job on the fish is to take her drawings and translate them into patterns that can be quickly reproduced for the sixteen fish puppets we need to make.

Patterns for the fishThe patterning itself involves a lot of tracing and testing. Here are the patterns for the male fish in a neat pile. Even though I create these patterns through the process of piecing a fish together, I still won’t know if they actually work until I try to make a second fish.

Male fish, test This is the test fish. You’ll notice that a lot of the pieces are still represented by paper.

For a dress at this stage I would have used muslin for the pattern, but for this I need to make certain that the things I use for the “muslin” have the same properties as the final product. There isn’t a good substitute for the ethafoam (the blue stuff). But, see how the belly of the fish is black? In the finished puppet it will be brightly colored and made of a similar but different material. Since I had a substitute available, I used that because it is cheaper than what we’ll use for the final product.

Male fish, test 2 We had four people in the shop today and working together this is as far as we got. We had one male fish pinned together and…

Female fish, test
…one female fish pinned together. A lot of this time was spent figuring out patterns or cutting things out. These are fairly simple puppets but there are sixteen of them and that just takes a while, even if you think things are going quickly.

I’ve got some video for you to show how quickly things can go.

Patterning fish

I spent the day shopping for fish supplies. You know, the usual stuff: bathmats, spray adhesive, tarps… It took far, far longer than it should have, in part because I needed 16 very specific bathmats and had to hit two different stores just to get three.

I will post photos, but for the moment, I am going to bed.

Fishy business

I met with Emily DeCola today to talk about a building gig that I’ll be working for her on next week. I’ll be helping her build 16 fish and a crocodile.

Now… if you have an interest in puppet building and are in the NYC area, we can use some volunteer help. You’ll be fed — Emily has very fine craft services — and instructed in the fine art of puppet construction. Not only that, it’s for a good cause. These puppets are for performances by the African Children’s Choir.

Want to help? Contact me and we’ll get you started.

Madeleine L’Engle

Obituaries: Publishers Weekly today has an obituary for Madeleine L’Engle.

Author Madeleine L’Engle died last night in Connecticut, at the age of 89. Best known for her 1963 Newbery Award winner A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, L’Engle was the author of more than 60 books for adults and young readers, most of which were published by FSG. This spring, the Square Fish imprint of Holtzbrinck reissued L’Engle’s Time Quintet in new editions.

This is so spare; it does nothing to talk about a woman who wrote a book that absolutely shaped who I am. Wrinkle in Time is one of those books that I still keep reading. I think I might need to read it now, then I can imagine that she’s just on the other side of a tesseract.

Edited to add: The New York Times has an enlightening article about her.

Best of Apex 2006 collection

The Table of Contents for the Best of Apex 2006 anthology is out.

The list is final. The decision has been made. We are publishing the following stories in this year’s Best of Apex 2006 collection.

Blood Baby – Jennifer Pelland
The Queen of Stars – Bryn Sparks
That Old Sandlands Fever – Douglas F. Warrick
Cerbo en Vitro ujo – Mary Robinette Kowal
Genesis Six – Shane Jiraiya Cummings
Starfish – Steve Parker
Indigestion – Robby Sparks
How to Raise a Human – Deb Taber

Adding Injury to Insult

I’ve had time to cook lately, which has been a nice change of pace. Last night I made a Espresso Black Bean Chili that I’d discovered when I was staying with my folks at Woodthrush Woods. I really like this recipe, although I cut it in half and still have more chili than makes sense.

Frozen HaddockI froze some of it and stuck it in the freezer. The challenge there is that three large haddock now fill our freezer. Right before Julie headed out of town, she popped in and dropped these off. The gang had gone fishing with Tóti and caught ridiculous numbers of haddock. These are not small fish and, although they’ve been cleaned, they are whole fish and take up a lot of space in our tiny freezer. It was not easy to fit everything in, so the bags of frozen chili are nestled between the fish.

Meanwhile, the pot in which I’ve cooked the chili is carbon black on the bottom. I don’t know what it is about this particular pot, but everything that I’ve made in it chars. It’s really frustrating. I had to scrape the bottom of the pot, trying to release the crust. I alternated between letting it soak, while I did other dishes, and scraping it. As I turned from tossing some of the scrapings in the trash, I whacked into the cabinet door–left open from the other dishes.

I broke the skin, but not badly. It lines up nicely with the wrinkles on my forehead, so I don’t think it will leave a mark. Still, it seemed like a good idea to put an icepack on it. Except that it was behind the haddock. As I held the first of the frozen fish in my hand, I briefly considered just putting it on my forehead and lying down.

Rob came in and found me about then and took over the dishes, including the pot of carbon. So, I guess that the frozen haddock did relieve me of one my headaches.

Saint John’s Abbey

Exterior of St. Johns After the ice-fishing, Rob and I went to Saint John’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery which has really interesting architecture. It was built in during the period when everyone was doing very modern, minimilist structures, which by and large look like concrete blocks. This doesn’t. It is clean and massive.

Rob’s mom says that he likes it because it is “masculine.”

Here’s a shot of the interior balcony supports. You have no sense of scale from this photo.
Interior of St. Johns

Once again, we came home to the smell of Shawna’s cooking. Laura came down from Duluth so the dinner table was quite full.

The Menu
Great Northern
Stuffed Peppers
Jalapeno cornbread
Green Salad

Unexpected Kindnesses

I had a rough day at camp today. One of the little girls is selfish, obnoxious, manipulative and I don’t like her. The kids made stick horses, which turned out really cute. At the end of class I told them to put them all at one end of the room while we joined the rest of camp for snack time at the other end.

As I walked past the snack table I saw that little Miss Snippy had her stick horse, which she’d been waving in my face and everyone else’s, so I told her to put it away.

“But it’s all the way over there. Can you put it away for me?” she said.

“No, it’s all the way over there for me too.”

“But,” she whined, “you’re a teacher. It’s your job to help kids.”

Biting my tongue, I took a breath and then replied, “It’s my job to help children who are having trouble, not children who didn’t follow instructions in the first place.”

“But I’ll lose my place in line.”

“There’s no one behind you. You’re the last one in line.” I turned and walked away, straight into the teacher’s lounge where I announced that I didn’t like her.

I’ve had children who don’t pay attention, or are disruptive, but not one that’s so openly manipulative. She’ll be like this when she grows up, it’ll just be more subtle.

So, I was very grouchy on my way home, but when I got there I found a box. My dear friend’s in NYC who let me stay with them when I come out have a fantastically appointed kitchen. The last time I was out, I was helping Marlene in the kitchen and commented on her sets of mixing bowls. She has a set of nesting glass bowls that come in every imaginable size and a set of steel bowls that are perfect. I mentioned that I covet them.

Today, without any provocation, Marlene sent me a set of nesting steel bowls. So, very, very kind.

Delivering the Fish Part II

Installation went very well. The guys the University sent with the ladder were great and very friendly. They got my pulleys up, and the lines installed. The fish goes up and down like a dream. The fellow who hired me is ecstatic.

The show is Saturday night, I’ll try to get some good pictures. For those readers in Portland, Carp et Diva plays at 7:30, Saturday the 16th of April at Lewis & Clark College.

An even bigger fish

Besides the giant fish, I also have to build an even bigger fish. How big is it? Thiiiiiiiiis big. Seriously, it’s eight feet by thirteen feet. Big fish. It is, in fact, the Mother of All Fish. I dyed the fabric for it today, teal. The structure is already built so I’ll just cover and paint the darn thing tomorrow.

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.