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

Posts tagged ‘London’

Diamond Jubilee : My tribute to HRH

It’s Ma’am like spam

I’m  not much of a Royalist to be fair, but I do enjoy the pomp and circumstance that goes with the British Monarchy. As a very proud Londoner, I couldn’t imagine  not seeing the Horseguards with their big bearskins guarding St James’s palace, or witness the changing of the guard. I do enjoy a Royal Wedding too, I must admit.

So, this year we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of our Queen. Whilst I am sick to the back teeth of all the Union Jack stuff everywhere, ( talk about overkill) I’m not going to be a total killjoy when it comes to the Jubilee celebrations. I’m going to be really busy this June 4th, with a street party plus a stint at a really lovely local pub that are putting on a mini beer festival and including a puppet show and facepainting. (that would be me).

Tiger Facepainting Diane's Puppets

Rarrrrrr!

London Children's Entertainer

Diane, the London Children’s Entertainer

Years ago, I’m talking probably 25 … I made a bunch of Marionettes. Here is my tribute to HRH, my puppet of the Queen.

Queen Marionette puppet

HRH waves at you

Queen puppet

One is having a lie down.

Does one like one’s crown?

Close up of Queen

One has very lovely clothes and shoes

Just to end this on a balanced note, here is my tribute to God Save the Queen ( and her fascist regime) I loved the Sex Pistols.

Portrait of a Punk Puppet, check out that bobble nose!

He looks so camp. I like that!

Check out the hairy armpit!

Both puppets are working marionettes, but need restringing and a control. They are old, so they have some wear and tear, but I think this adds to their character. They are both for sale and cost £60 each. Both characters stand a full 70 cm tall and feature hand carved wooden hands and feet and the heads are made from sewn and painted fabric.

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.

 

 

 

A Special Puppet Show for a Special Birthday Party

The Pearl Dragon and the little Bird who wanted to fly

 

Dragon puppet for birthday parties

Diane's beautiful and fierce Pearl Dragon

 

Following on from Monday’s post about the Chinese New Year and all things ‘ Dragony’ I thought I’d show you more of the cast of my most enchanting puppet show that I perform at kids birthday parties across London.

The story, written by my very lovely friend and one time side-kick ( pre recession!) Lena Augustinson,

Children's entertainer Diane with Aunty Lena and Fifi the fairy

Here is Aunty Lena and her wonderful hat and myself with Fifi the fairy.

 

tells a timeless story of the impatience of youth.  A small bird is in an outdoor cage hanging from a tree ( a magic singing tree as it happens) somewhere in China. He is owned by Little Girl who tells him that he cannot come out of the cage until his wings grow bigger. Little girl puppet Bird puppet for birthday party puppet shows

Little bird isn’t satisfied with having to wait, so one day he takes an opportunity to escape the cage when Little Girl leaves the cage door open after feeding time.

 

He takes advice from the magic Singing Tree who tells  him to find a magic pearl somewhere on the moon and give it to the Ferocious Pearl Dragon to gain his wish to have big wings. But how was bird to get all the way to the moon?

With the help from the young audiences who instinctively understand and relate to this story, Little Bird manages to find himself on the Golden Moon where his adventure really begins.

Monkey puppet and bird puppet for birthday party puppet shows in London

Little Bird meets the trickster Monkey

Beautiful tiger puppet, golden tiger, tiger puppet for birthday party puppet shows

Beware of the Golden Moon tiger Grrrrrrrrr

As all good stories go, this one ends with a happy ever after and a magical transformation.

 

Want Diane to come to your child’s birthday party? Inquire here or call her on 02078209466 for availability.

A New Skirt for the Kids Entertainer and Puppeteer, Diane

2012 and it’s back to business, back to being a London Children’s Entertainer and puppet lady extraordinaire…

Time to brush off the cobwebs of 2011, throw out the old and bring in the new.

I’ve just taken down my Christmas tree, well better late than never. I was loathe to take it down this year as my darling granddaughter Erykah-Rose was totally fascinated by it and did the most marvellous Donald Duck impressions upon spotting the robins that nestled within its’ branches. I put it up rather late too as the life of a Children’s Entertainer in the Festive Season is rather a busy one and your own celebrations tend to have to wait. So the tree overstayed it’s welcome with permission.

Such a cutie!

So that was the old out.  Or was it?

I looked at my skirt that was hanging up, waiting for the next outing at a Children’s birthday party and I saw it with fresh eyes, horrified fresh eyes! My goodness, all my hard work of being a puppeteer/ children’s entertainer and face painter  in 2011 showed in that skirt. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Evidence of the wear and tear of life as a kids entertainer

Still can’t see it? Let me zoom in for you.

The scars of hard work.

See the patches and tears? That comes from kneeling on the floor.  I do that rather a lot when behind a puppet booth when I’m performing a puppet show at a child’s birthday party. Even before the show starts, I do like to sit on the children’s level, it goes with my child-centred philosophy of playing with children rather than merely performing at children. But all this getting down to floor level  does take its’ toll on my clothes: my shoes have dents in the toes. Strange side effects from my job!

Anyway I digress. It was time to use the lovely sewing machine that  Santa ( well, my lovely partner) had bought me for Christmas. Out with the old skirt, in with the new and improved puppeteer /entertainer skirt.

Ta Da!

So here it is.

As you can see, I’m rather partial to a bit of applique ( who wouldn’t want a fire breathing dragon on their skirt? )

I’m sure over the course of 2012, the skirt will evolve. I’ll add bits and pieces to it, inevitably given my obsession with all things crochet, it will acquire a crochet embellishment or two, but this is the start of the new skirt.

I think it’s rather splendid, don’t you? It sure beats having to power dress for the office! This is my sort of power dressing: dressing with imaginative power, the super power to charge little minds with creative visions and fantastical imaginings.

The skirt is on its’ maiden journey today. I’m off this afternoon to entertain , paint faces and do a puppet show in a traditional style puppet booth for a lovely 4 year old girl’s birthday.  I shall wear my skirt with immense pride!

 

Here’s to a splendidly creative 2012. I’m off to breathe fire into the New Year.

Toodle pip.

 

 

Make your own puppet

At a Diane’s Puppets party there is always an option of a simple craft session as part of the entertainment.

I will design the craft around a theme of the clients choice or to complement  the puppet show or story session.

Recently I entertained at a lovely four year old girl’s birthday party where we made our own finger puppets as part of the entertainment session.

Finding a craft that can be easily done in 20 minutes and is not too messy and do-able for tiny fingers isn’t always that easy.

Fifi the fairy

My frken

My friendly piggy policeman

WitchyPoo the birthday witch.

I drew up simple characters from my fairy puppet show and copied them on to card. Cut holes in the bottom for fingers and cut around the outside.

I brought along feathers, yarn and sequins and self adhesive jewels and stickers.

The children were encouraged to colour the pictures in and stick on their own decorations. With a little help from the mummies, this was easily achieved.

Everyone produced their very own lovely puppets which they proudly took with them at the end of the party to show to Daddy.

 

Fairy Make Over

I love fairies.

I have a pathological hatred  and fear for plastic surgery . Duchess of Alba. Need I say more?

Today I combined my passion and my fear as I gave my darling Fifi a drastic make-over.

 

First a bit  of background about Fifi the Fairy.

 

I think my love for fairies stemmed from a very young age. I remember way back in my childhood, a very special book that was so large it was kept in the airing cupboard. I must’ve been around 2 or 3 years of age and I remember distinctly that this magical book was bigger than me. Opening these precious massive pages revealed a magical world of fairies that I could totally immerse myself in. I think it must have been about that age that I decided that I was going to be a fairy when I grew up.

Let’s just say I didn’t really have the right body type for the job. Fairies are distinctly delicate and I have farmers ankles.

Genetics , what can you do ?

Well, undeterred I did the next best thing. I made a fairy puppet called Fifi and lived out my fairy ambitions vicariously through her. That was about 15 years ago. She’s been through a few phases in all that time. She started out looking like this:

Fifi

She’s never been the prettiest fairy, but she does manage to win over hearts with her special charm.

Like all ladies, time took it’s toll on the fairy and constant use wore her down. She went through another make over and ended up looking like this:Her face was starting to twist and although the children still adored her, it was starting to become very difficult to take a still photo of her without her looking decidedly past her best.

So  today I decided to take Fifi in  hand and to reconstruct. Yes dear readers, I did some fairy puppet plastic surgery.

Out came the eyes, the nose was reconstructed, a new skin was stretched over the face and the eyes were repositioned and new hair ( extra feathers and crochet ringlets ) were fastened in place. She was finished off with a new hair clip and butterfly and a few fresh flowers.

Now Fifi the Fairy feels good. She also looks younger.

Fifi in her new found freshness

Look at her pretty hair!

Pretty ringlets and wings

So Fifi is rejuvenated and ready to go. Her newest adventure will be pretending to be a mermaid.

But more about that soon.

Why not have a Fairy themed birthday party for your next daughter’s party? Fifi can come to your home or venue and enchant the children with her silly songs and giggly chat before beautiful fairy face- painting during tea time ( with fairy cakes?) ending off with a puppet show in a booth all about Fifi the Fairy’s first day at school.

Fairy nice!

 

Diane’s Puppets gets a face lift

I may just be a silly clown, a silly sausage, a silly puppet lady, but this London children’s birthday party entertainer takes her work very seriously. I’d had a good hard look at my website and found it wanting.

Room for improvement? Oh most definitely.

So I’ve spent a few hours  ( well days) sitting at my beloved Apple Mac ( RIP Steve Jobs) and using it’s wonderful capacity to create images simply. This is the result.

Diane's Puppets London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider

Who framed Bobby Bunny?

I’ve chosen a different theme, tweaked the text and decreased the file size of the images ( you live and learn hey? ) I think it’s working well.

But what do you think?

Do have a look here.

I’d love to know. Feedback most welcome. After all, I want the Diane’s Puppets experience to be the very best it can be.

A brief history of Diane’s Puppets in Pictures

Puppets, puppets, puppets!

A picture is worth a thousand words , so how many words are lots of pictures worth?

Here is a collection of my puppets and I, let the pictures tell the story.

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane with Bobby Bunny puppet and Tabitha cat puppet

Bobby Bunny, Tabitha Cat and me, Diane.

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane

Before the recession hit I used to have lovely Aunty Lena

London kids entertainers and puppet show providers in action

We made a great team

Kids moving at a birthday party at a Diane's Puppets party

Getting the children to stretch and wiggle

Child entranced by a puppet show at a birthday party

Bobby Bunny hopping in his show

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane in her puppet booth after a show

Now it's just me but the show must go on!

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane with her face painted like a tiger

Diane can be fierce and brave like a tiger

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane with her face painted like an Easter Bunny

Or gentle like a bunny

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane face painted as a butterfly

Or magical and colourful like a butterfly

London Children's entertainer Diane painting faces

What would you like to be painted as?

Child with butterfly facepainting

You're a pretty pink butterfly!

Fierce pirate face painting

Or you could be a fierce pirate oo arrgh!

Pirate captain puppet by kids entertainer and puppeteer Diane

with a pirate show to match!

Pretty mermaid puppet by puppeteer Diane

We all love a pretty mermaid, this one can fight too!

Shark puppet in pirate puppet show by Diane's Puppets

Watch out , there's a shark behind you!

Jester rod puppet

Whatever show you choose, Diane promises to keep it silly and to keep you laughing

London Children's entertainer Diane waves

Until it's time to wave goodbye!

Diane’s Puppets guarantees a fabulous time for all boys and girls at their birthday party and Diane promises to  be a silly sausage always. Hope to see you soon at a London Children’s birthday party near you!

From Freak to Friend in Forty Minutes

London Kids entertainer and puppet show provider Diane

Rainbow on my head

I’m a Children’s Entertainer so my work clothes are somewhat bright. I stand out in a crowd. I love my work outfit. I wear it on my way to work . When I walk down London’s streets on my way to a birthday party I often get stared at. Sometimes I get whistled at , sometimes I raise a smile from old ladies but the most common reaction is laughter , especially from teenagers. Upon explaining that ‘ These are my work clothes’ , the derision quickly changes to interest and sometimes to admiration. Yes, folks, I get paid to play and  make people laugh at birthday parties, how cool is that?

Today I had a little birthday party for a  sweet three year old girl in Chelsea. When I walked in, there was a small boy who was sitting on his mummy’s knee who burst into tears when he saw me.

My heart sank.

Mummy explained he was a little freaked out by my hair. I can understand, it’s not everyday that you meet a lady who wears a rainbow in  her hair. When you’re three that must be a little disconcerting to discover.

I made the decision to avoid all eye contact and play to the children who were in front of me and not focus on the little boy. I made a conscious effort to comment about my silly hair and call myself a silly sausage. There’s nothing like humour to cut tension.

I kept half an eye out for the little boy in question as I continued with my routine and smiled as I saw his tears turn first to smiles and then to laughter. I didn’t quite manage to persuade him to have a cuddle from the bunny puppet like the other boys and girls but I knew I had turned his fear into interest and I didn’t want to push my luck.

He never left his mummy’s lap but I managed to turn myself from a ribbon monster to a funny lady in just forty minutes. I even had a kiss blown in my direction on departure.

THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT!

London Children's entertainer and puppeteer Diane

Birthday party entertainer/face painter and puppeteer Diane of Diane's Puppets

The International Language of Puppets

Painting by children, International Peace Day ...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the wonderful advantages of being a London Children’s Entertainer is the opportunity I get to meet people from all over the world and to share in that cultural festivity that is a children’s birthday party.

I’ve performed for people from all over the the world in my 18 years of being a children’s entertainer including Japan, Russia, Saudia Arabia  and Australia. In the past week  alone I have done parties for people from:

South Africa : land of braaivleis ( barbecue to you and I) and boerewors ( very yummy meaty sausages) the Springbok rugby team and also the land where I lived between ages 10 and 21. The party children sat enraptured and giggling their socks off at the antics of the silly puppets.

 

India: It was a splendid outdoor party for a lovely gentle couple with the sweetest daughters. I wish I had a waterfall in my back garden.

 

Italy: This was a fun, boisterous but enjoyable party with energetic boys who relished being vampires and tigers. I loved performing in their ‘football ‘ room complete with it’s full sized football stadium wall piece. Go Chelsea!

Fifi loves giving hugs

Fifi the fairy got lots of  hugs at this party. Boys really do love her!

 

France:  The French really appreciate puppets. I have  many French clients and they are always a joy to work for. It’s always fun to practice the French I learned at school. My puppets mask my ineptitude as I struggle with my vocab. Joyez Anniversaire! ( The cake is always splendide!)

 

 

Spain: Pinata! The wonderful spirit of the Latin party, full of noise and ebullience and fun. Not for the shy and retiring , the spanish party is a family affair with the grown- ups having just as much fun as the kids. This last party I was really touched by grandma of the birthday child coming up to me and saying: ” Diane, my English is not good but you were magnificent. ” Thank you Grandma. I appreciate the love.

 

I just love London. What other city is such a wonderful melting pot?

 

 

 

 

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