Today, I’m happy to host a blog tour visit by Diana Schoenbrun, author of “Puppet Play” a fun new book about making puppets out of recycled and repurposed goods found around the house. Lonely Mittens and socks get a new lease on life with this book that perfect for crafters looking for fun projects to do with kids that are affordable and educational to boot. You better believe this book will be part of the summertime entertainment schedule here at the CraftSanity headquarters once the school year ends.
Please read the Q&A below to find out more about Diana and her new book…
Jen: You studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a BFA in illustration. When did you start making puppets?
Diana: In college I started making soft sculptures, stuffed animals, and puppets. I wrote children’s book stories and created 3-D characters to go along with them.
Jen: Is puppet-making something you’ve been doing since childhood?
Diana: As a child I was always making things. Here is a photo of me with a dragon puppet I made. I’m clearly showing off the puppet I made at an arts day camp.
Jen: How many puppets do you have in your personal collection?
Diana: Too many.
Jen: What inspired you to write “Puppet Play,” your new book featuring 20 puppet projects made from recycled materials?
Diana: I began working on this idea over four years ago. After teaching workshops with children I saw how much they enjoyed performing with the puppets they made. I wanted to create a book that made puppets accessible and easy to make with recycled and materials and things found around the house. I am a bit of a pack rat and like to repurpose found objects and bring new life to them rather than throw them away.
Jen: Are any of the projects inspired by pets or people in your life?
Diana: The description for Roslyn the Raccoon was inspired by my sister who loves to eat. The raccoon was inspired by the color of the mitten but then I tried to think of what raccoons like to do which is go into the trash and eat leftovers. I came up with a character who loves to eat based on my sister who is a foodie. While the Kangaroo characters are based on my friends who have charismatic personalities. I associated them with being jumpy Kangaroos.
Jen: What is your design process like? Do you sketch out your puppets before making them? Or do you just gather up all your materials and get to work creating?
Diana: Both. Sometimes I need to sketch out my ideas before I make something. For this book I usually gathered my materials as I went along. For example, I went through a few weeks of cans from my trash before I had the right size cans for a robot puppet. I would make test samples and then redo something or incorporate other objects I needed to. I would make notes and quick sketches of each step I did to make the puppet.
I often try different color combinations by laying the fabrics together with materials to see them against each other.
Jen: I know you’ve taught puppetry workshops for children, what is it about puppets that they find so appealing?
Diana: Children enjoy using a toy that they can manipulate and bring to life through active play. Giving a puppet a personality with voice and motion makes playtime exciting.
Jen: What are you hoping readers will do after reading your book?
Diana: I hope they search their house for materials and make puppets! Dive into the recycling bin and go through the trash if its not too smelly.
Jen: Any advice for beginning puppet makers?
Diana: Anything goes. Be creative and inventive. Working with a friend to create puppets is always more fun.
Jen: What’s next for you? Do you have another book project on the horizon?
Diana: I’m working on sketches for some children’s book stories I wrote a while ago about an artist and a woodcarver.
Jen: Thanks for stopping by, Diana, and congrats on your book!