Taking the stress out of your child's annual celebrations!

Archive for March, 2012

How I became a Flairy : Or childhood dreams fulfilled.

Today was a good day.

Weather wise it couldn’t have been nicer. The sun was out and the temperature was unseasonably warm for the time of year. I woke up fresh and early , put on my work clothes , ribbons and all, packed my suitcase full of my handmade puppets and set off for a morning gig at a lovely Nursery , Puddleducks in Putney , South West London.

Kids entertainer and puppeteer Diane of Diane's Puppets

My work hairdo, jolly huh?

I trundled off down the road heading for the train station, dragging my pink suitcase full of my puppets behind me. The sun beat down and the birds sang. ‘Life is good’ , I thought.

I managed to catch the train without having to wait , a minor miracle in itself, and I settled down for an uneventful journey.

I hadn’t bargained on the very charming very old man who sat down next to me. Granted he was a little grubby, and worse for wear, it looked like he struggled to maintain a certain standard of dress but he was very old , so who was I to judge? I was certainly dressed in a rather unusual fashion with my ribbons and my gold sequined top and purple skirt festooned with butterflies, dragons and flowers. Most commuters gave me a wide berth on public transport usually, to be frank. Difference is often viewed with scepticism  in London ( there are so many nutters unusual characters about, it is just a part of London life and London caution and reserve).

This lovely man embarked on a question and answer session that would have made Michael Parkinson proud. He interviewed me thoroughly, grilling me ( in the nicest possible way) about my job as a children’s entertainer and puppeteer. Most people dismiss my job quickly as I don’t fit the usual model of adult in the workplace. It was highly unusual that this old gentleman kept saying how serious my job was and how difficult it must be to work with such young children. It was wonderful to have such validation from such a sage man, here was someone who naturally understood my #Respectthesilly campaign. As the train pulled into the station, we both got up to leave and this gentleman started to thank me for speaking to him, over and over again.

Maybe because of the way he was turned out, most people shunned him and wouldn’t talk to him? Maybe he was very lonely? To me he seemed like a wonderful old soul who was there to reassure me that I was on the right path in my life’s journey. Call me silly if you want.

So, after this most unusual start, I got to the nursery and began my first session with the under two’s. It was too sweet to see those little ones playing Sleeping Bunnies with my bunny puppet

s,ee

See the little bunnies sleeping

Diane and her puppets

Me and Bobby Bunny and Tabitha cat

I even had these tiniest of clients telling me the animals names in Old Macdonald’s Farm. They were clever little children. Clearly the Nursery is doing a very good job.

Of course there were cuddles all around from my ‘Easter’ bunny Bobby and my baby monkey Twinkle.

After that sweet session with the under 2’s I moved across the playground to the older children. As I crossed the playground, one of the mummies was dropping off her little boy. She stopped in her tracks when she saw me. ” I know you” she said. “I’ve seen you at a party before”. I  agreed that that possibility was most likely , after all I have been puppeting for over 18 years now. That same mummy turned to the Head of Nursery and said, “That’s Diane, she’s famous!”

I smiled. One aim ticked off my bucket list: to be famous for a talent.

I’m probably famous amongst the Under 5’s in London, well sort of.

What other sort of fame could I possibly want?

Well, we had a ball! Hopping with Bobby the Easter Bunny, laughing and quacking with Mummy Duck and her babies.

And all of her five little ducks came back!

It was when I was preparing the children to meet my puppet Fairy Fifi

Fairy puppet Fifi

Fifi eating her wand

and showing the children the fairy toadstools on my skirt

Magical toadstools where fairies live.

when the children came alive with their own stories of fairy sightings. One young boy’s voice rang out above the other excited enthusiastic contributers and he said: ” I saw a flairy ( sic) in my garden today and she looked like you!”

So that was my childhood dream and ambition fulfilled right there in that moment. I had always wanted to grow up to be a fairy but at a hardly delicate UK size 16 , I had all but given up on that ambition. This young lad had just confirmed that I had reached my goal.

So there you have it ladies and gentleman. I am now officially a f(l)airy, a rather substantial,a little older and a feminist fairy , but a fairy nevertheless.

An old man and a young boy made my dreams come true today.

This feminist fairy is very happy and grateful.

 

 

 

Again, Again! Or why young children love repetition

Can you do something different?

I hear this request often from clients. I understand this request very well with my adult brain. If I were going to a party as an adult and the same entertainer was there , be it a stand up comic or a magician and they did the same routine , I’d probably be a little bored. So from my adult clients ( mummies and daddies) perspective, I totally get where they’re coming from.

 

Indeed, when I started out in this business of being a children’s birthday party entertainer and I thought about my routines, I thought with my adult brain and I tried to make sure that I varied my routines as much as possible.  I wondered why my little clients ( boys and girls) kept asking me when I was going to do the monkey puppet? When was I going to do the fairy puppet?

Fairy puppet Fifi

Look at her pretty hair!

when was I going to do Old Macdonald? ie the old routines.

They looked disappointed.

What was going wrong here?

There exists a discrepancy between my two clients and their expectations. Two clients? What do I mean?

In this job as a kids entertainer, I have two client bases: one the adult clients ( the ones who book and pay me, ergo the very important ones)  and two the children who receive my services directly ( the ones who can make or break my reputation if they don’t like what I do; ergo the even more important ones. Also the ones who exert massive pester power )

Both clients need to be satisfied.

I decided to make an executive decision: I was going to stick to the routine and give my little clients what they wanted. After all, as adults we all get told how much young children need routine? Or was I pushing it?

So to this day, I’m still making sure that the old favourites are still firmly in place. If children are still laughing and joining in even after seeing me at countless parties, I’m not going to spoil their fun by changing it. If it aint broke don’t fix it they say.

 

I’ve been thinking about why children seem to enjoy repeating the same things and still get so much joy each time. I came up with a simple comparison : music.

When children watch me perform with my puppets at birthday parties or other celebratory events, they clearly give me an emotional response; the sort of response that is felt when listening to music. The joy on their faces is evident when watching the puppets antics.

We do not question that someone would listen to a piece of music that gives them joy over and over again, do we? In fact that is something that we take for granted. We don’t get bored of a piece of music that gives us pleasure, in fact repeating the experience often brings back emotions and memories all over again. This analogy seems to fit what I am witnessing with my small clients as they watch the same puppet routine over and over again.

Add to this  the fact that there is security in knowing what comes next, there is power involved in being able to participate in a familiar experience. For little children who are generally not able to exert any sort of power in a very adult world, this must feel very thrilling.

So parents, I am going to respectfully overlook your request to change things up and go with the needs and wants of your children.

( I shall add a few subtle changes along the way and introduce new characters gently  but shhhh! don’t tell the kids. It shall remain our little adult secret.)

 

 

Partying with the Big Bad Wolf

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your candles out!

London children's entertainer and puppet show provider holds her Big Bad Wolf puppet

Gosh you are big!

Hello, Big Bad Wolf here.

Yeah , you know me, that much maligned and feared character from fairy stories , well don’t believe all you read in the papers or see on the television. I’m actually not asthmatic ( thanks for that rumour Guardian newspaper) and quite capable of a good huff and puff. Blowing down houses? Well maybe not . Not unless they were actually made of straw or paper. Mind you , most people would be capable of that really, you don’t need to be big and bad like me to do that. I’d probably be quite good at playing the trumpet if I put my mind to it.

A trumpet playing wolf, now that is an image to conjure up to the imagination. Mind you, in the world of Diane’s Puppets it’s not unusual to find a monkey playing a banana like a trumpet. I may just give it a go.

I should have beaten Harriet to blowing out her candles today. You should have seen her cake. It was me, dear friends, dressed up as Grandma in bed. It was quite the cake. The firework on the top scared me a little, but it looked pretty.

It was fun at work today, even though Diane had me playing to type. I was made to scare all the boys and girls again, typical scary wolf role but I must admit it was fun. My little brother really had them going . Silly boys and girls really believed that he was the  Big Bad Wolf, as if?! He was teasing them as they were screeching to that silly Red Riding Hood , telling her to be careful of the Big Bad Wolf, he told them he was the little friendly wolf. Was he telling porky pies? Of course not! He IS the little friendly wolf.

There is only one Big Bad Wolf and that , dear friends, is me.

You should have seen their faces when he introduced me, his big brother to them. Oh boy… you should have heard those big boys and girls scream. It made it all worthwhile. There’s nothing quite like getting into role as the baddy, the antihero. There’s just so much to get your teeth into ( pun intended). I threatened to eat them all later.

Diane had to pop up in the show to calm everyone down and reassure them that I was just a puppet: such is the power of my acting skills.

I need to talk to Diane about maybe writing a different sort of role for me. I’d like to branch out lovies. I’d appreciate an acting challenge. Maybe romantic lead?

Suggestions on a postcard please. What would you like to see the Big Bad Wolf playing next. I’m so over playing villain ( although I must say I do do it rather well.)

Plus I am very tired of the indignity of having my tail chopped off each time by that woodcutter.

How VERY dare he.

 

 

Make your own Easter Bunny Puppet

A photo tutorial

Easter bunny puppet

Make this cute Easter Bunny puppet with her pocket for eggs.

You will need:

Bunny puppet pattern

A bunny template , feel free to copy this.

Materials to make puppet

Safety eyes, scraps of white and pink felt, scrap of material for pocket and two pieces of white fabric or felt for body

White knitting yarn, some pillow stuffing.

Scissors, glue and something to sew with, in my case a sewing machine. You can of course hand sew if you wish.

Step 1: Trace out the pattern and use it to lay on top of your two pieces of white fabric.

Pin it down.

Step 2:

Cut around the pattern.

Step 3:

Cut out these shapes from the felt. Set aside.

Step 4:

Mark the position of the eyes on one piece.

Step 5:

Push the eyes through a white felt circle

Step 6:

Step 7:

Do the same on the other side so you have two eyes fixed on the front of the puppet.

 

Eyes snapped in position.

Step 7:

Now finish the face using the felt shapes cut out earlier.Glue down.

 

Step 8:

Now sew the pink shapes onto the ears.

Ears and face all done.

Step 9:

Seam all around the pocket piece edges to neaten.

Pin and sew the pocket in position.

Step 10:

Now pin right sides together and sew around the edges leaving the bottom free

Sewing the puppet together

Step 11:

Clip the curves to ease movement.

Turn inside out.

Step 12:

Draw an oval the size of the head on two scrap pieces, sew around leaving an opening for stuffing.

Now stuff with pillow stuffing and sew up the hole.

Step 13:

Stuff the ears lightly with pillow stuffing and push up the head pillow into the head space.

Step 14: Almost done! Making the pompom for the tail.

Wind some white yarn around two fingers

Tie tightly in the middle

Trim pompom to shape and sew to bunny's bottom.

The finished tail.

You are now all done! Enjoy your Easter Bunny Puppet!

A perfect gift for someone special. Remember to fill that pocket with Chocolate Eggs!

 

 

Mummy Duck Returns

Making more puppets at Diane’s Puppets

I pride myself on making my own puppets here at Diane’s Puppets. I like to think that anyone who books a Diane’s Puppets party is getting a very unique experience both visually and on a performance level. No one else will have puppets like mine.

One of my favourite puppets that I have used over the years was Mummy Duck. She was a white fluffy knitted duck who flew off my knitting needles one day. She was soft and cuddly but very very bossy and loud and rather silly. She was always losing her five baby ducks when they went swimming over the hills and far away. Silly Mummy Duck would constantly suggest they were in the dustbin when I enquired where she thought they had gone. Luckily the boys and girls would always manage to call her babies back and they would get a nice cuddle from Mummy Duck before being scolded and told to go to bed.

Then Mummy Duck swam off somewhere.

I’ve looked everywhere for her, even in the dustbin. She’s just not there.

 

So I’ve been missing her sorely.

So, here is Mummy Duck the 2nd. A yellow crochet duck with 5 new babies.

Yellow crochet duck puppet

Quack Quack Quack QUACK!

Yellow crochet duck puppet

And all of her 5 little ducks came back!

Yellow crochet duck puppet

Mummy duck scolds her babies for swimming away

Five little ducks went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Mummy duck said Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack!

But only four little ducks came back.

 

Four little ducks went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Mummy duck said Quack Quack Quack Quack!

But only three little ducks came back.

 

Three little ducks went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Mummy duck said Quack Quack Quack Quack Quack

But only two little ducks came back.

 

Two little ducks went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Mummy duck said Quack Quack Quack Quack

But only one little duck came back.

 

One little duck went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Mummy Duck said Quack Quack Quack Quack

But no little ducks came swimming back. 😦

 

No little ducks went swimming one day

Over the hills and far away

Everyone said Quack Quack Quack Quack!

And all of the five little ducks came swimming back.

Five little ducks crochet puppets

Mummy duck said Quack Quack Quack Quack

 

 

Diane’s Puppets : Original puppet shows and silly songs and fabulous face painting for the best children’s party EVER.

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