Sunday, March 15, 2009

WHATnot to do...

You've read Kyle's adventures in the Whatnot Workshop Land, now it's time for my own experience...electronically.

For my birthday, Kyle and my girlfriend pitched in and got me a MUPPET WHATNOT of my own. They ordered the kit so I could design it online and have my little friend greet me by way of UPS Ground delivery.

I was so excited when I got the kit that I plopped down on the floor and started playing like a kid with the color forms for hours...days...weeks. I could not figure out which combination I wanted. Kyle and I seemed to want just about all of the same features and our goal was to get a good variety to see how everything was made.

Finally, on my girlfriend's birthday- exactly 10 weeks to-the-day after mine- I got so jealous of her getting presents, that I ordered one for me! Kyle already had the green body, which was my first choice. Then, he had just received the orange on in the mail. My second choice was blue so I went with that. I played around online and came up with something that looked like nothing I had chosen before. Then I clicked to finalize the order before I could change my mind...

This is the nightmare part for a puppet builder. You know what you designed and had in mind, but the fate of the features are up to the "puppet builder" at the Whatnot Workshop. I've got to admit, if I had dozens or hundreds of the same order go through my hands, I'd probably mix things up quite a bit and hope that the owner likes it when I'm done...but that's just it...what if they don't?

I got a call from my girlfriend that I had a surprise waiting for me after rehearsal. I knew exactly what it was and agreed to open it when we could both see it together...after a long rehearsal and a visit to a friends house, we were finally home together so I opened it!

He'll grow on me I guess...

I wish they'd show the side view of the heads online. Don't assume you know what the head shape is by looking at the picture. I wouldn't have picked blue, that's for sure...

I knew they used hot glue- as well they should with order sizes as large as they receive- but it just proved yet again why I stopped using it so long ago. This may not apply to any of you out there who consider yourselves "Hot Glue-rues," but if you insist upon using it with your puppets, specifically with the features, know that less is more. I invite you to give Fabri-tac and the gel form of Contact Cement a try though, as well as good old hand stitching.

The eyes themselves are great, however, they were places slightly too close together and slightly askew so instead of the Muppet focus, he's a little cross-eyed. The teardrop nose The hair is what breaks my heart the most, though.

Something that I enjoy very much when designing features for a puppet, is taking into consideration the way that those features will assist the characterization. Movement is BIG! Hair is KEY! I love fluidity in hair because I happen to be a more fluid puppeteer. I love the side to side movements so the yellow boa was the perfect choice.

I see where they were going with the placement of the hair. He looks like a balding conductor, especially in the lounge singer type jacket. I wanted a younger character though so Kyle and I could trade clothes sometimes. With the boa placed so far back on the head, you can't really use it in the movement of the character because you can't see it. It may have stood a chance though had the glue not been so hungry for the frilly part. It is matted down and doesn't look as full as others I have seen.

So I'm a bit sad...

Don't get me wrong. I love that my girlfriend and my best friend went out of their way to buy me something they knew I'd love. It's a gamble when you do it online like so many of us have to do. It's even harder when you're a picky puppet builder and you've got to give over the creative control.

If you want a Whatnot, I'd recommend waiting until that trip to NYC. Bypass the online experience...unless you're feeling lucky.