File puptcrit/puptcrit.0612, message 338

To: <>
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 22:49:19 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] Speeding puppetmaking courses?

Hi all.

My two students  left with semi finished hand puppets (fabric sleeves, paper mache heads and hands).
Both were not artistically experienced, but both had VERY impressive puppet heads.
One design turned into an intricate dragon, both a bit scary and wise-looking, the other became a endearing old man with a huge mustache. This one has brass pupils that are endearing, instead of the robot-look I was wrong to imagine it would have.

They may not have finished, but I still gave them the entire training to finish on their own.
Two days (12 hours) is never enough for students to finish a good quality hand puppet, but at least, their designs were encouraged until awesome, the paper mache was finished. The puppet sleeves are sewn, the hands are well on the way. there would never be any tmie for costume making, not within 2 days.

Question: I wonder what I could do to speed things up even more?

I already sew the sleeves in advance, and prepare the studio and supplies before they arrive.
The longest step is design. I can't seem to find it in my heart to stop them in their newly found enthusiasm for creating. Once they are conviced they can do it, they have this sudden urge to have awesome results.
I think there could be rules I could instate to simplify their designs, but I don't want them to have boring featureless egg-heads! So far, the quickest and economical method is to have them shape everything in crumpled newspaper and tape, then adding details with crumpled aluminum foil.
The forms are then covered with plastic wrap, and covered in paper mache strips. This step is reasonably quick if the heads are small and not too complex. I really optimised my paper mache methods, and it dries real fast. We added an average of 5 layers per head in 5 hours today. While they are applying paper strips, I can show them additional techniques by demonstrating. Soon after each course, I send them reminder notes, just to make sure everything is clear.

Most of my students are total begginers, some never even finished a single artwork.
I refuse to lower my expectations just because they are begginers. So far, this attitude has paid off. Not underestimating my students (and often boosting their egos) means that their results are surprising. I could be jealous of some of their designs, but I choose not to be, beause I could be crying a lot. LoL.
People come back for more techniques and reccomend me.  But I still miss that thrill of seeing a completely finished product at the end of the course. Asking them to send pictures is easy, but so far, not many have bothered. It's easier to have them bring the puppet if they take another course, but not everybody needs to take another course.

I do have ideas, but they are not very great or comforting.
Maybe I give too much in such a condensed form. I do it to make sure I accomodate people more, since it costs them less and it is less difficult to organise. 
I could make more money by limiting the amount of info I transmit them in such short times. I could increase the minimum duration of courses (adjusting the price higher, accordingly) It would be hard to stop my enthusiasm for sharing, but it might make it easier on the participant's stamina. 
I don't want to limit the creative flow, but I guess simplifying the designs by lessening the detail level might be necessary, if very disapointing to me.

What tips do you have to help us work faster in paper mache puppetmaking?

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