Renew, Regenerate, Recreate

Look who popped up to say "hi."

Today feels like spring has finally come to Iowa:   it’s spring break, temp is in the 60’s, sunshine, Ben is off from work, and to top it all off, the kids are visiting Grammy for a few days.  Whew, after that long winter, I’m starting to feel like a human again.

I have been doing some work on the puppet performance of a Baba Yaga tale that I am trying to put together.  I met with Monica, puppeteer and freelance artist, last week to get some tips about techniques for building puppets and rehearsing.

Tomorrow my good friend, Kelly, is coming over to brainstorm some song ideas with me.  She wrote a fantastic song about Bruce Aune, local news caster extraordinaire. She is so creative and fun, can’t wait to get together.  We are hoping to perform the show for her 4th grade students.

Here is what I have been up to when not outside enjoying this gorgeous weather . . .

Here's Bony Legs' (Baba Yaga's) head. I papermåched over a styro-foam ball. Eventually, she is going to be a hand puppet.

I've set up the dining room as my workspace. Don't need to worry about fixing meals for the kids, yay!

The cat body fresh out of the oven. I made an armature out of tinfoil, and modeled sculpey over the armature. I am hoping to attach the head (papermached)with a spring and use string to connect the feet to the body. One rod will go in the center of the body.

Ok, off for a walk and then sushi.  Enjoy your day!


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Bagel Faces – by Eliott & Thisbe


Filed under Uncategorized

Crafternoon Sisters

One should never underestimate the power of strong and creative women getting together to make things!  That’s what “crafternoon” is all about.  We were founded by the queen of all things crafty, Blythe!

Here’s some of us a few weekends ago making food to freeze for Liz before her baby came.  I guess it worked; she went into labor the next day.  They named their baby Cora Trinidad- how beautiful is that???!!!

Get your craft on!

Sophie, host of this gathering, has an amazing apartment – total source of inspiration.  Here’s her mantel.

It all works togehter so well!


Filed under Uncategorized

Magic Lantern

I collect old view finders, toy cameras, and mini toy t.v. view finders.  So when I saw there was a collection at the UI Special Collections called “George Elmer Magic Lantern Slide Collection,” I had to find out more.

After researching the topic I found out that the Magic Lantern or Lanterna Magica was an early prototype to the first slide projector.  They were produced from the 17th up through the early 20th centuries, were the forerunners of slide projectors, used for visual entertainment in theaters and elsewhere.  In the case of the “George Elmer” collection, they were used to supplement church sermons in Mississippi.

And get this, the company that sold and rented the equipment, slides, and sermon guides was out of Davenport, Iowa — the Ryan Lantern Slide Production.  (UI Special Collections also has a collection devoted to the guy, Viktor Ryan, who founded the company.)  Who would have guessed!

The slide series I looked at the “Starlight and Sunlight” series.  The sermons that went along with it “trace thru (sic.) the ages the gradual increase of the light of the knowledge of God.”  I especially liked the slides of the creation, the garden of Eden, and the fall from grace.  The slides look like reproductions of lithographs and are hand tinted.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a “magic lantern” to view them with, so I had to just hold them up to the light to look at them.  I would have LOVED to see them projected.  Supposedly there is a box of stuff in the basement of the library that old George use to carry around with him.  If I ask “Sid” I might be able to see it.

Here’s an image I found online –the slides I looked at weren’t as exciting as this devil projection.

I love the theatricality of these magic lanterns, that they were used as part of performance.  I am going to tuck away the idea of using these old-timey slides for a shadow puppet show or for an outdoor magic lantern party.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Books . . .

Last semester I took Book Binding I through the University of Iowa Center for the Book .  What an amazing experience  – excellent instructor, supportive work environment, and talented, interesting students!  The fruits of my labor (besides the ones I gave away) are posted here.


Coptic Binding

Coptic and Case Bindings

Long Stitch



Box for my grandma’s German/English dictionary

Book binding requires great attention to detail (not always my strong point) and lots of uninterrupted time to focus on the work.  So, carving out enough time to get things done with two little gumbos underfoot was a little tricky at times.  Every now and then in a mad dash to get things done under deadline, I would work with the kids around.  As you might imagine, they took a real interest in the “book finding,” as Eliott called it.

Vicariously, and with some encouragement from Mom, Eliott became a little “book finder.”  Here’s some of his creations.  (We gave him the robot box full of blank books and supplies for Christmas.  The coptic-bound robot book is huge- filling it is ongoing.  I love it!)

Enough said!

Coptic Robot Book

Here’s some of Eliott’s fabulous pictures from his books.  Of course there’s lots of elaborate narrative that goes along with them. . .

Transcribed by Daddy

This robot is named Eliott.

Portrait of Daddy


Filed under Uncategorized


The kids and I recently checked out a great adaptation of a Russian folk-tale, Bony Legs by Joanna Cole with pictures by Dirk Zimmer.

Eliott loved the story, and got a real kick out of the name “bony-legs.”  Thisbe continued to comment on the witch, saying, “She mean!”  “She scares me!” I love that the protagonist is a little girl and that her kindness for others is what makes her win-out over the witch in the end.  I think this would make a great puppet show, given the response from the kids.


Filed under Uncategorized

Brüder Grimm

Fairy Tale Series, Quintero, 1997Cloak, Quintero, 1997

As a child I grew up listening to my grandmother’s renditions of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tales, including those on the “A” list–Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Rupunzel.  But these weren’t the Disney versions.  Oh no, in Grandma’s Cinderella, the ugly step sisters cut off their toes to fit them into the glass slipper and in Snow White, the evil stepmother had to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she fell down dead.  What wasn’t to love about the stories?  They didn’t shy away from violence, that’s for sure.  They also made magic seem possible (especially in hidden secret places, deep in the woods), and good triumphed over evil.

In her thick German accent, Grandma also told me some  lesser known tales like The Golden Goose and The Wolf and the Seven Goats (two of my absolute favorites), probably because they were more humorous than the  better known tales.  (And I like a good laugh!)

Grimms’ Fairy Tales has been translated into more than 160 languages.  Their influence permeates so many aspects of culture world-wide from pop culture to the fine arts.  I want to learn more about the history of the Grimm brothers, how their stories have been “translated” and “adapted” over time and in different contexts, and to try to understand how and why these stories still resonate with  different audiences.  Of course I’m also curious to young people’s responses to these stories.  In my dream- world, I see myself using my German and researching in the archives of the Museum of the Brothers Grimm in Kassel.   And . . . I want to create my own translations and adaptations of the stories into puppet theater.

I have a National Geographic from 1999.  I have saved it over countless moves, two babies, and a house remodel project.  In it there is an article “Guardians of the Fairy Tale:  The Brothers Grimm.”  The article’s author, Thomas O’Neil, and photographer, Gerd Ludwig, trace the geography of the Grimm’s tales in the German state Hesse and to “roam the back roads to see if landscapes evoked by the fairy tales still lingered in the Hessian countryside.”  After some digging around this evening, I found the magazine. It’s chalked full of interesting facts about the Brothers Grimm and photographs that capture the magic of the Hesse’s landscape and people.  It a great source of inspiration as I start my journey.  Jetzt geht’s los!


Filed under Uncategorized