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Area residents become puppet makers at workshop

| Sunday, Oct. 21, 2001

After its recent performance of 'Out of the Mist ... A Dragon' in Somerset, the Woods and Strings Theater Company, of Centerville, Tenn., proved that out of a piece of foam, string, macaroni and fabric ... a puppet emerges.

Two members of the theater company, siblings Ed and Malinda May, presented a two-hour workshop to children and adults on how to make one's own puppet.

'Puppetry is possibly the oldest art form in the world, and has usually been associated with religion or moral concepts,' said Ed May.

Every puppet, from sock puppets to elaborate ones created for movies, have to have three things in common, he explained.

'First, all puppets are objects - wood, plastic, or even socks. Second, it has to have a moving part and third it has to be used to tell a story,' said May.

With those instructions, the children and adults were given foam blocks for the puppet's head and scissors to create their characters.

'Depending on where you make your cuts will suggest a different character,' said May. 'Cutting the foam vertically or horizontally will make a wide variety of different shapes which lead to different characters.'

By cutting, or adding on material, many characters were created, including alligators, witches, robots and even Oscar the Grouch.

After cutting the foam, the puppet makers were able to sort through boxes of yarn, macaroni, buttons, strings and household items to add to their foam puppets.

Once the puppet heads were complete, pieces of fabric and a wooden rod were glued to the foam base to create bodies and a moveable arm to finish all three aspects of a puppet.

'The best part is being creative and using your imagination,' said Malinda May. 'You may want your puppet to be a blond-haired, blue-eyed Cinderella, but using you imagination you make a blue-haired, purple-eyed puppet and it's still Cinderella to you, that's the fun part.'

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