Ken Haines Table-Top Workshop

After quite a hiatus, I have finally returned to The London School of Puppetry for ROUND TWO! "The Final Countdown" is playing in my head as I write... there is so much work to be accomplished before I head back to Australia and limited time, but I am determined to WIN!

... Well, to graduate at any rate. Mind you "to WIN!" sounds much more exciting and dramatic doesn't it? So lets stick with that.

Spending the past week back at LSP, I am feeling incredibly motivated and inspired. I have been working hard developing my solo show with my beautiful marionette Astrid, something I am very excited about. But I digress, that will be a story for another time.

Today I want to tell you about a workshop experience with the wonderful Ken Haines. Someone I was very eager to meet, Ken is a very talented puppeteer and maker, with more than thirty years experience in a variety of forms and mediums. From the moment we walked through the door, my fellow student Addya and I felt very comfortable. Ken is an incredibly personable man, charming and funny, and he welcomed us into his home as though we were old friends, already in the middle of a conversation. This was a wonderful dynamic to have throughout this two day workshop.

Aimed at helping Addya and I create our own rod/ tabletop puppets, this workshop was set up as a part of our upcoming rod module at LSP. Arriving with some ideas of our own, Ken set us to work without a moment to lose, eager to make the most of our limited time together. For those of you following my twitter feed, you will know I had been working on a baby orangutan character, creating the face in a masterclass with Chris Wylie (see previous blog post Modeling, Mould Making and Casting with Chris Wylie). Created specifically for this purpose, as a beginning to my rod character, now was my monkey's time to shine!

Correspondence with Ken in the lead up to this two day workshop was incredibly helpful, we had discussed my ideas at some length via email and so it was relatively simple to get underway. Addya on the other hand had only one piece of the puzzle, she wanted to make a badger but had no real concept of the how or why. Ken leaped in to action and very soon (after much laughter at pictures of badgers online) Addya was on her way as well. A totally new experience for me in making, Ken was a wonderful teacher, offering guidance and support, but also allowing us time to play and discover. Having Ken's wealth of knowledge and experience at our disposal, was an incredible gift throughout this process, not to mention the many cups of tea!

Learning through play; experimenting with different techniques, mechanisms, materials... playing with tactile things... Finding your way - through practical application... This is my favorite way to learn, and one of the reasons I love LSP so much. This workshop was a strong example of how the school works; with the expert guiding hand of Ken, we were encouraged to find solutions for ourselves and develop our work as it came to life. Ken offered this advice; Don't worry too much about the finishing touches, just make sure the puppet works first. Though my orangutan is not completely finished, he does function, very nicely in fact, which leaves me the task of the finishing touches, playing with the overall aesthetic and tying off lose ends. 

I can not thank Ken enough for taking the time to work with us, and of course Caroline at LSP for setting it up. Thank you both. A wonderful shared experience, I know I speak for both Addya and myself when I say that we grew from this workshop and walked away with a greater sense of confidence than when we first arrived. 


Stay tuned for my next post... Astrid's Debut!


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