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

Archive for the ‘Diane’s Puppets’ Category

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

Puppets, Puppets, and more Puppets!

Leap Year: A Puppet Making Day

Today was a special day, a day that only comes around once every four years.

So did I propose marriage to my long term partner? Nah! We’re happy as we are thank you very much.

No, I did something much more special : I made 20 , yes TWENTY ‘how to’ videos for the video production company Videojug.

The lovely Duncan came round bright and early at 9am with his camera and lights and we spent the entire day filming and making puppets.

The last puppet was made at 6pm, ten hours later. Phew!

So here I am exhausted , back aching but feeling very satisfied. I’m looking forward to seeing the edited results up on Youtube in a few weeks time. As soon as they are finished I shall give you all the link. But for now, here are photographs of today’s toil.

Puppets

The result of a long but creative day of puppet making

Animal felt finger puppets

Animal felt finger puppets

Paper bag monkey puppets

Cheeky monkey paper bag puppets

Hand made puppets

Cats and dogs and birds

Junk puppet crocodile

Snap! Look what I made from rubbish.

Barn owl hand puppet

Beautiful barn owl puppet

Finger puppets on the farm

Finger puppet animals on the farm

lion puppet hand puppets

Lionel with friends

Scary monster paper plate puppets

Monsters and cats

So, would you have a go at  making a puppet now? Soon you can watch me show you how it’s done.

In a Videojug Puppet Making Frenzy

After having been approached by Videojug,Image the video production company to make a series of how to puppet making videos for Youtube, how could I say no? Anyone who knows me a little or indeed reads this or my Diane gets Crafty blog knows I’m an avid maker. Plus the opportunity to have 20 short professional videos made for me that I could use was just too tempting.

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane

Me, an expert? Who'd have thunk it?

So I signed up to make a series of 20 short 3minute videos on the most Googled puppet making searches and become Videojug’s expert puppet maker. Gosh. I like that title. I set a date for filming the 20 videos ,worked out my list of makes and got all excited.

Then, like so many other people in the UK I went down with the flu.

Cue lots of days not being able to get out of bed , loss of voice , coughing, spluttering and generally not feeling very well.

Add to this scenario normal work commitments : children’s parties that were booked well in advance. I had to fulfill those despite a barely audible voice and not feeling very well at all. In fact I was faced with one of my busiest periods of booking for a long time. Yey for success, boo for illness and bad timing.

This was my nightmare scenario: having so many opportunities and struggling to live up to them. But I soldiered on. Somehow.

Then I woke up one morning to find my top lip covered in fever blisters where my skin had cracked from the flu and I was facing being filmed just a week later.

I rescheduled and pushed back the filming a week. It’s now due in just a few days time and I’m on my last few puppets. I can’t make most of them completely as it is for demonstration purposes, so I’m in a situation of having to make multiple stages of each puppet so I can do a Blue Peter style ‘here’s one I made earlier’ moment. There are so many restrictions when trying to fit everything into a 3 minute video.

Punch and Judy puppets made by Diane's Puppets

Here's some I made earlier , 20 years ago in fact.

So I’m almost there.

Did I mention getting some terrible 24 hour gastric bug as well ? Oh I forgot that one. My lip is now healed. I’ve stopped being ill and I’ve almost got my voice back, and I’ve four parties to complete before finishing the final 6 makes.

Time is ticking , so what am I doing writing blog posts?

Here is a quick preview of some of my makes:Cat hand puppet made by Diane's Puppets

Dog sock puppet made by Diane's Puppets

Silly sock dog puppet

Mr Punch paper puppet

Mr Punch paper puppet in progress

Judy paper puppet made by Diane's puppets

Judy all finished

Felt finger puppets pig cow

Felt farm fingers

Ballerina finger puppet

Paper ballerina finger puppet

Mouse paper finger puppet

Cute mouse finger puppet

making papier mache puppet heads

The stages in making papier mache puppet heads

Well those are just a taster. Many of the puppets have to be made on camera. So, if you’re looking for a place to find out how to make simple puppets for and with your children or just for you ( puppets are for everyone!) then do come back and see my videos on Videojug.

Coming soon, just for you.

Children’s birthday parties: A Lesson in Trust Building

As a children’s entertainer, I have a unique job requirement: I have to walk into a room full of  small children, none of whom know me, and instantly establish trust and rapport. There is no time to mess around and get it wrong, I’m only at a party for a very limited time. Creating this instant rapport isn’t easy. Children are the worlds best or worst audiences, depending on how you look at it. If you are an optimist like myself, you may agree with me that they are the best audiences as they are unflinchingly honest. They ‘smell’ fear and lack of integrity and will quickly walk away and do something else if you don’t immediately capture their attention. Unlike adult audiences who may politely clap even though they may inwardly criticize, the average 2 or 3 year old audience member will just simply walk off and find something to play with or even worse, cry. I can hear you saying ‘How is that positive?’ . Well, the flip side of that  brutal honest appraisal is that if children like you, they LIKE you. If you manage to capture an audience of young children, it is the most gratifying and satisfying audience to play to /( and in my case)play alongside.

I use many strategies to make my tiny audience members feel at ease. On the surface you will see a grown up woman acting silly. But behind this silliness is a very serious study of how children think and establish trust. It’s all about empathy, I have to put myself in their shoes and try and anticipate how they are feeling and how I would react if I were in their shoes. I ask myself, what would make the three year old me feel comfortable? Then I use that feeling to feed back to the children. It is never the same strategy, all children are different . One thing remains constant though: I will always play alongside the children rather than try and entertain them.

A puppet party

Establishing trust with Fifi the Fairy

Note in this picture I’ve created  a semi circle of chairs for the children to sit on or sit in front of. This creates a cozier setting in  a large space and determines the focus of where to sit/interact. If you like, this is one step of creating a boundary.( The link takes you to my previous post where I talk about how boundaries make small children feel safe). I try and position my chair a good way back from the children to allow them a safe space  and will only approach once I can feel the children relaxing  or if they approach me . This is a clear signal that they are feeling comfortable and are ready to play. The chairs also form a place where mummies and daddies can sit if they want to join in. ( It’s great when you do, believe me!) Sometimes the chairs are used for those children who are really nervous and they produce a space to hang behind. They can get closer if and when they feel more comfortable.

Once trust is established then it is time to play, in this case Sleeping Bunnies.

playing games at a puppet party

See the little bunnies sleeping...

You’ll have to look close to see those lovely bunnies playing the game, they’re all lying down and sleeping with the puppet bunny getting ready to jump up and hop. One little bunny was happy to watch. I would never force any child to do anything against their will, it’s all for fun after all! I find pushing a child to join in really doesn’t help. They will join in in their own good time or like this bunny here, just be perfectly happy watching others play. She did have a cuddle from the puppet bunny afterwards though! It’s the same situation for face-painting: I never pressurise a child to have their face painted, in fact I am very quick to reassure those children who clearly are not comfortable with face painting that I’m not going to ask them because I know they don’t like it.

So the next time you see this silly lady being silly at a party, try and spot the method in the madness. It’s there somewhere!

Thank you to my lovely client Hana for sending me these sweet pictures.

Just to reassure all my clients and future clients out there, I have been police checked and have an advanced CRB through Kids Company and have full Public Liability Insurance.

I discuss trust building in this blog post also: From Freak to Friend in Forty Minutes

A Cuddle from a Tiger Who came to Tea : A Real Life Fairy story

A true fairy story

Once upon a time there was a lady who brought fun and silly antics with her whenever she went out to work. Children's entertainer and puppeteer Diane

Like the seven dwarves in another fairy story she loved her job and would sing and whistle while she worked.

She loved bright colours and would tie a rainbow of ribbons and clip crocheted daisies in her hair. She really was a very happy lady.

One day she left her colourful house, with its angels who lived on the kitchen ceiling

Painted kitchen ceiling Madonna and Angels

The lady's kitchen ceiling

and pink leopards on the walls,

Pink leopard painted walls

Pink leopard walls in the lady's kitchen

and pretty magical mosaic fireplace

colourful mosaic fireplace

Magical fires burned here

stepping out into the cold air with a song in her heart and a bag of face -paints on her shoulder, dragging a pink suitcase full of funny puppets and cheeky characters behind her. The puppets grumbled as they rumbled across the cracked paving, bumpety, bumpety bump. The lady blew magical cold air smoke from her mouth as she ran for the big red bus. Rarrrr! She was breathing fire like a dragon.

Fire breathing dragon puppet

Rarrrrrrr!

The big red bus took her to a nearby land called Clapham . There was a big green park in the centre of this land and in the centre of the park there was a pond. It was so cold that the  ducks were skating on the frozen water. Brrr, their bottoms must’ve been so cold.

The lady trundled her grumbling puppets in her pink suitcase until she came to a door with a magical number painted on it. Bright bouncy balloons bobbed as she knocked on the door.

Ten little children and a  birthday boy called Rory were gathered in the house. Rory was three, what a big boy!

Grumbling no more, the puppets popped out of the pink suitcase one by one and made friends with the little boys and girls and big boy Rory. The funny rabbit Bobby Bunny made everyone giggle with his naughty snoring when he was supposed to be sleeping. He loved giggling with the boys and girls as they hopped together.

White rabbit puppet

Sleeping Bunny Bobby

A funny clucking hen and a mooing cow played a Dingly Dangly game and the lady kicked up her legs and did the Can Can which made the children giggle. A naughty monkey called Twinkle

Cheeky monkey puppet

Twinkle, my very cheeky baby monkey. A dear friend.

played Happy Birthday on the banana to Rory and learned how to say please. A fairy came to visit and sang Happy Birthday to Rory and sprinkled magic wishes on his toes.

Fairy puppet Fifi

Fifi eating her wand

Then tummies rumbled and it was time for tea.

In the kitchen the lady had laid out all her beautiful colours ready to paint the children’s faces. She painted princesses with golden tiaras, flowers and pink and tigers with terrible teeth and wiggly black stripes , all with very sparkly noses .

Tiger face painting

Diane says Rarrrrr!

Batman made sure everyone was safe. All parties need a Superhero, just in case, you never know.

Rory was painted as a tiger and had tiger paws to match. Now his face matched his very lovely name. Rory could roar with the best of tigers. RoAAAAAAR!

After a nice cup of tea the lady felt very happy. She really did love her job. Children around her were smiling and playing and pretending to be tigers and princesses.

Feeling satisfied , the lady went to pack away her cheeky puppets since they had all collapsed in a big exhausted heap after all the excitement of the party.

Rory the tiger came to help.

As the lady put the lion back in the pink suitcase, Rory said: I’d like a cuddle.

The lady asked : A cuddle from whom?

” The lion” answered Rory, who was feeling very brave now he was a 3 year old tiger.

So Rory had a cuddle from a sleeping lion.

The lady went to put back the chicken. She had stopped clucking and her feathers were ruffled and ready for bed.

“I’d like a cuddle” said Rory.

‘From the chicken? ‘asked the lady.

“Yes.”

So Rory cuddled the chicken.

The lady zipped up the suitcase , the puppets had all gone to bed.  Rory the terrible tiger stood still.

” I’d like a cuddle” said Rory the tiger.

” But they’ve all gone to bed! ” said the lady.

” Who do you want a cuddle from?”she asked.

“YOU!” said Rory the tiger.

So the lady went home, skipping and hopping, happy to have been cuddled by a tiger.

As she stepped down from the bus, powdery snow started to fall from the sky.

The lady sighed.

It had been a perfect day.

She unlocked her door and went into her colourful cosy  house to eat a slice of lemon drizzle cake and have a nice cup of tea.

Tag Cloud