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Christina Bryant
09 January 2010 @ 11:51 pm

Two of our friends, Will and Diana, just got married in an awesome Colombian celebration. Besides the fact that they are both gorgeous and brilliant space scientists, they are a lot of fun. Diana contacted me about making a gift for Will to be presented on their wedding day. She asked if I could make the Jennifer Lopez puppet from South Park as it's become a huge joke between them. I thought this was an awesome idea and here are the results:



The body is a very basic doll body of fleece stuffed with fluff. I hand sewed her bathing suit out of white lycra underwear and sculpted her shoes out of sculpey. The fur coat is... well, it's a cut up stuffed bear hand sweed into a coat. I had way to good a time finding just the right one to decapitate and deconstruct, and at one point it was almost disturbing. Ms. Lopez's head is felt glued to cardboard that is attached to an armature wire rig that slips on your first finger. The lip is an elastic ring for the thumb, and the body is on an elastic ring for the middle finger.

Oh and she has some junk in her trunk too:


Diana videotaped herself performing their song with the puppet - I hope oh I hope I'll get that video and post it later - which was then presented with the puppet to Will; it went over beautifully. Until I get that video, here is Cartman and Ms. Jennifer Lopez performing "Taco Flavored Kisses" from the show:




 
 
Christina Bryant
09 January 2010 @ 10:34 pm


A belated post I know, but I wanted to share some a few of the crafts that Paul and I did together in preparation for our Halloween party.

Below is out series of apothecary/specimen/witch's kitchen jars. We spent hours on these puppies, shopping for grow in water animals, wierd squishy things, and food dye; lovingly stamping and tea staining labels, and sealing the burnt corks with wax, complete with pentacle seals.  I collect lots of random objects like skull and bone bracelets and dead cicadas (see pixie bones) and both of us had saved our pulled wisdom teeth (see teeth) so we have a lot to work with. Sometimes the simplest ideas translate the best (jellyfish tentacles is hot glue strands in red water.)

Thank you to the following blogs for wonderful inspiration and advice on making specimen jars:
http://scienceblogs.com/bioephemera/2008/09/diy_for_mad_scientists.php
http://aranamuerta.com/2008/01/29/witches-kitchen




Paul and I also dyed 10 foot pieces of mulin red, going over them with thick red paint spatters, hand prints and streaks to create a gory hallway our guest had to walk through, complete with bloody meathooks. I built a large wire bat candleabra whose curly tendrils hung under our glowing red living room light, bats, crystals and electric candles hanging off of it. And in the bathtub were the abominations, the alien fetuses hanging in their pouches from wire, a mess of jello and fabric dyed beneath them.

And then as noted below was the rooftop machete chop, where we chopped up gourds and apples. Photos of our guests chopping, details and more in a video of the events that Paul created, it features his sound design as well:
 


 

 
 
Christina Bryant
02 November 2009 @ 07:22 pm
This year, after tossing around 3 or 4 costume ideas, I settled on a Satyress.


I bought a pair of devil horns to save some time, then glued thread around them to get the ridges. I painted it a cream base and then splotched black and gold paint over it for texture.



I bought a black vinyl bustier I'd been eyeing and a few bucks of garland, but I happened to have a plethora of fur lying around. I've never sewn pants, so I didn't do a pattern, I just wrapped the fur around my body, cut it up the middle to creat two pant legs and then through a series of cutting and pinning, figured out where I needed to sew seams. I then sewed some elastic in the waist and pinned a tail on the bum.



For the hooves, I made them out of posterboard and then duct taped them to some mary janes. I then covered them in duct tape to ensure they had structure and painted them black.


Then I made some friends with other horned ladies.

In case your curious about these pictures, they were taken on our roof while we were chopping up gourds with a machete, hence the machete. It was a wonderful night filled with good friends (including Ms. Paola above) and mirth. :D
 
 
Christina Bryant
24 September 2009 @ 01:28 pm

  

Two of my speculum puppets will be making their gallery debut at the Rude and Bold Women show in Binghamton, NY next weekend. If you are in the area, go check out this collection of cutting edge visual and performance art from local and regional woman artists.


RUDE AND BOLD WOMEN
October 2 and 3, 2009
Garland Gallery
116 Washington St, Binghamton, NY
http://www.rudeandboldwomen.com

PS: A very special thank you to Lynn Senick who ask me to enter this show and continuosly encouraged me even as I tried to ignore the schedule the puppets wanted to operate on. :D

 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
Christina Bryant
24 September 2009 @ 12:46 pm

I love making mix CDs, further I love the trend of giving out mix CDs at wedding functions - I think it's a great way to encapsulate your relationship into a take home gift that people will use and actually enjoy. My wonderful brother Steve and his stunning fiance Lauren are getting married next month and I made a mix CD for their wedding shower take home gift.

First I asked Steve and Lauren to give me songs that encapsulated their relationship and feelings about each other. Sickeningly, they both chose the same songs for everything... ah, amour.

Then the fun part  - cover art! Steve and Lauren are both musicians, Steve professionally for many years. They are outdoorsy people who own canoes, love camping, and enjoy finding antiques and vintage repro furniture. The both love beer. So I decided on a vintage, rustic, country feel.

I dumped out all the random old time found objects I collect onto an old crate: some old bottles, guitar strings, glass beads, etc. I thne took some digital photos, loaded it into Paint.net (free photo editing program somewhere in between Paint and Photoshop) spent hours tweaking it and adding text, a photo of the couple and a digital label and voila! here are my results:

The CD Cover:



The picture I used for the circular CD label, the blank wood being the center:

This was a blast! I second Paul's desire to rekindle the Bite the Music Mix CD club; I'm addicted and want to make more!
 
 
Christina Bryant
26 July 2009 @ 06:40 pm
Desert Dreams
Those of you who know me personally know that for the past 12+ years I've had a special relationship with the southwestern desert despite never having been there. I grew up reading several authors' gorgeous depictions of the land, its potential magic and mythos. Some of my favorites:

                

When I was young I hoped and hoped this magic was true; as I got older I realized that nature and imagination are their own magic and what is truth doesn't really matter when it comes to possibility. The desert then grew into a symbol of freedom, fearlessness, and true self which I've been holding in my heart all this time. Last week I finally spent a week in Arizona that was beyond my dreams.

The land in Arizona is vast and varied: red rocks turning into pine forests, canyons turning into plains, cacti standing majestically next to mountains. It's teeming with wildlife: mule deer (a larger, softer deer than our east coast variety,) elk, raven, rabbits, jackrabbits (huge! and they move as gracefully as deer,) lizards of all sizes, quail, coyote, javalina (wild pig-like creatures,) rattlesnakes, bobcats, etc. It's hot and bright, but you only sweat a little. You have to constantly think about your basic needs: food, water, cover from the sun, or animals that could harm you and that strips away alot of the bullshit of day to day city life. I felt myself return to the beauty of land, quiet my inner dialogue, and just take in my surroundings. It was incredibly nourishing.


Tucson
The last few days of my trip were spent at a space that is down a dirt driveway off of a dirt road in the Rincon Mountains of Tucson where many of my favorite writers/artists have traveled.  In all honesty, I was not initially enamored with Tucson after spending the first leg of my trip on the most gorgeous land I've ever seen, but while not as breathtaking as Flagstaff, Sedona or the Grand Canyon, it started to draw me in. Part of it was to be in this space, with little bits of these artists left behind. And I felt myself wanting to leave my own little trace. I hit a craft shop for some clay, sinewy string, copper wire, and tools and that night I  hunkered down in Quail House:



A cozy cedar shack removed from the main house, I was surrounded by scrub and darkness. I couldn't get the CD player to work, something that I thought would undo me, but I settled into the nightime sounds of crickets, quail, and something large bumping against the shack - I think it was javalina, it was most definitely deliciously terrifying :) I'd never used red clay before and it did not allow me to get much detail as it started to dry and crack very quickly, but the forced speed was probably good for me. I thought I'd make a mule deer head, but I was trying too hard, so eventually I just looked at a lumpy bit  of clay and said, ok, what face is already there? I made these three and called it a night:


Starting left and then clockwise: mule deer/jack rabbit/snake thing, Mr. Spike Cacti Head, Grandma Stone.


The next morning I headed back to Quail House with my cup of coffee and a working CD player and began to comb the property for twigs, reeds, pods and other pieces of material I had noticed on my walks. Here is my collection:



I decided to focus on these long spiral reeds I fell in love with and the mule deer/jack rabbit/snake head and create this long, walker creature marionette. Here's the vague layout:



I had bought this faux sinew string and decided to use that to connect the joints. Starting with the arms, I cut the twigs in two at the elbow, hand drilled some holes and threaded the sinew through to create a joint. I then started to screw into what I thought was a circular piece of wood for the body and was surprised to realize it was a piece of horse hoof shaving! Which is very dense! I found some natural holes and began to joint the arms and head to the hoof. I decided to keep the head central and fairly stationary and ran a string straight through it. I found some dried cacti that looked like driftwood (natural holes, less hand drilling!) and made an "X" hand control. I started to connect the strings (which I had braided to keep cleaner and stronger) to the hand control and added a small dried cacti twig to the control for just the arms. By lunchtime, I had the basic jointing and machinism done:



After lunch, I worked on getting the tension on the strings right so the creature could move. I figured this marionette would be less functional and more decorative as I only theoretically know how to make controls and work with counter weighting. But I did want some practice, so I used little pieces of quartz to counter weight the joints. Meaning that if I want the arm to hang sticking straight out, but to lift up when I lift the control up, I need a weight to pull it back down when I return the control to its neutral position. So I wrapped some copper wire around the rocks and tied them off to parts of the legs and arms where I needed weight to keep the limbs in the correct positions.

I then started on more decorative elements. I love spirals, they are a beautiful symbol of time's passage and were a frequent symbol in The Wood Wife, and thus a nod to some of my inspiration. Plus I had those spiral reeds, so I decided to continue the spiral theme by wrapping the copper wire decoratively in the belly, on the legs and arms and as an ear piercing. I added spiraled pods as ram horns and a flowered reed tail. The spiral in the belly reminded me of those things you put on your desk that hold photos, so I decided I needed a piece of paper and a word.

But what word? What encapsulated spirals, my trip, where I was at? After losing my father this month, I've learned a great deal about acceptance. About having to accept something coming to an end whether you want it to or not, whether it's your father's life, or a magical trip, or a concept you have about yourself. So "accept" it was. Here is the finished marionette, Spiral  Dream Walker:











But what happend to the other two heads!? Well they wanted to stay in Tucson in their element and keep an eye on the place:


Grandma Stone likes her new hairdoo.


Can you find Grandma Stone? 


Mr. Spike Cacti Head blends in.

Thank you to the writers that inspire me, Terri's space, Will's kindness, Paul's love and support, and Arizona's beauty. I feel open and free of blocks! I'm curious to see what happens next!

 
 
Current Mood: thankfulthankful
Current Music: Peter Murphy, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
 
 
Christina Bryant
18 June 2009 @ 11:03 pm
Background
This past weekend was my third year at www.womongathering.com, a women's spirituality retreat that I highly recommend to any woman who is looking to bring goddesses and/or a community of women into their life. At Womongathering there is a space called the Red Tent Temple, a sanctuary which hearkens back to the menstrual tents of yore where women took time during their menses to be together and share stories, laughter, tears, and crafts. For more info on the modern day Red Tent movement, check out Alisa Starkweather's site: alisastarkweather.com/index.php or read the book The Red Tent by Anita Diamant for the source inspiration.

Two years I ago, I sat in a cozy Red Tent Temple at Womongathering, drinking tea, flipping through a book, when I saw a basket full of plastic specula. A speculum is the instrument an OBGYN inserts into a women's vagina to create space to do a pap smear and to visually inspect the area. It looks like this:

I picked one up and start playing with it, making it talk and thought - "Wow, this would make a great bird puppet! " The following year I shared this idea with one of the women who created the Red Tent Temple and she sent me home with at least 20 plastic specula for my crafting puposes.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I'm at a puppet low and ready to walk away from it all (yes, even puppets can feel overwhelming.) I realize I still have these specula under my bed, a promise I have to keep to myself and my gifter. I drop her a line and ask if I can offer the Speculum Puppets as a craft in the Red Tent Temple. She says yes and I pep talk myself into wrapping this idea up.


Building the Theater and Puppets

I was lucky enough to have my friend's house in quiet suburban NJ all to myself for a weekend, and luckier still to have a Michael's craft shop and a Joanne's Fabrics down the street. I used most of the weekend to build 4 puppets and to brainstorm how to construct a theater that is light weight, folds flat, has multiple curtains, an ornate proscenium and at least slightly suggests a vagina. I spent hours in each craft shop choosing just the right fabrics, finding better wood choices, and hunting down sparkly things for decorations. Most importantly though, I got excited, excited to finally work on one of my ideas and share it with others. Here were my results:

Theater with moon phases and framed picture of Sheela na Gig (the sculpted Sheela na Gig burned in the oven...)


Fiesty Mermaid:




Magpie:




Spiral Snake:




Super V!





At Womongathering

To spare you all a psychiatric diatribe, let's just say that this weekend was a huge lesson in life affirmation, stepping up, ending fear, and GRATITUDE. The craft was a hit with young and old, for those who knew what the specula were and those who didn't. I am happy that many were entertained, but I'm more in amazement by how women were healed and discussions started. I was told of one woman who made a puppet to heal her younger self's traumatic experience, of girls whose puppet antics led to a solid discussion on safe sex and their bodies. I watched young girls scrunch their faces in grossed out trepidation of the speculum only to laugh later as they made their puppet sing and dance. It was beautiful. Here are some of their amazing creations:

I love this furry bandit.


This one has pink puff balls for a tongue!


This young woman spent a lot of time on this bearded dragon and it shows.


This is Fertilda. Yes Fertilda the Speculum puppet. I love her.


A very joyous Spec!


Puppets and Moon Time Theater in the Red Tent Temple space.




The Speculum Puppet Movement

I am re-invigorated as a puppet maker and so thankful to have had such a rewarding weekend. I watched what was originally just a silly idea become a craft that gave power and broke down communication barriers. I am inspired to take it further.

I will say it here, I am starting the Speculum Puppet Movement.

I don't know exactly what shape it will take or how it will manifest, what catchy name will attach or if anyone will be interested. But I'm going to put it out there.

There is a power to these little plastic puppets and I'm honored to have them in my life.




 
 
Current Mood: peacefulhonored
 
 
Christina Bryant
30 May 2009 @ 03:59 pm
I'm currently building puppets made out of plastic speculums (gynecological duck lips) and a vagina theater for them to play in. Why? I first got the idea two years ago at my yearly women's retreat when I realized speculums would be great for bird puppets with those long beaks. This year, I'm offering it as an informal craft or just something to play with.  

POLL:
I'm trying to decide on a centerpiece for puppet theater's proscenium. She will be made of silver Fimo clay and attached overtop of a full moon; there will be framed moon phases to either side of her. She shal serve as the spirit of the theater space and anatomically she will be where the clit would be.

Shall I go with Sheela na Gig with her coy smile and wide vagina? I would make her a bit less bald and tired eyed  than the Christians did:




Or the Spiral Goddess, arms up raised to the moon and a spiral to her womb? 


 
 
Christina Bryant
20 May 2009 @ 12:05 pm

This past weekend I wrapped up Spring Awaken Giant Puppets Tell All! at Green-wood Cemetary. It was a historial walking tour with an incredible live band that used puppetry to bring the dead's stories back to life in this stunning cemetary. When I say stunning, we're talking acres of sprawling hills and valleys filled with 100's of years of history with views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. It's open to the public to explore and I highly recommend a visit.

 The wonderful Teresa Linehan who co-directed and was head puppet guru on The Martian Chronicles assembled a wondeful team of puppeteers with even more wonderful backgrounds and stories. With very little rehearsal time, we created a show that spanned a chunk of the cemetary and looked pretty sharp. All I know is the kids and adults seemed to eat it up:




Our fearless leaders, the Parrot children.




The spaceman puppet from Martian Chronicles was ressurrected. I'm right foot this time. Tapped my heart out to Erie Canal.




Michelle up a tree in her piece that was a cabinet of curiousities. I did some sound cues for her and loved following her silent character explore marionettes, found objects, and hand puppets. Just gorgeous!




Here we have Minerva, goddess of wisdom, meeting Liberty. I'm hidden on Liberty's arm.




Minerva and Liberty create a Maypole dance. Parrots, children, adults, and the band rock out. The lovely Teresa is in the bottom left corner sporting the fez.

* I cannot say enough about the creativity and kindness of Teresa. When she introduces you, you try to keep from blushing from her accolades. As I struggle to figure out where I'm going with puppetry, Teresa's faith in me as a person is a very dear gift.
 
 
Current Mood: energeticenergetic
 
 
Christina Bryant
20 May 2009 @ 11:41 am
Two weeks ago I finished this leg of building props for Lone Wolf which resulted in 2 partial skeletons, 4 dog collars with giant spikes and a dozen or so mini IV bags for a sculpture.

As always, I love working with Kevin and Gloria - two incredibly talented artists. I'm thankful that Kevin gave me a shot to try performing and puppeteering even though ultimately it  stirred up too much anxiety, I now know where my line is in regards to puppeteering (second puppeteering good, performing and first puppeteering over my head.) And I'm thankful for Gloria's un-ending knowledge of materials and techniques and her willingness to share them with me. Thanks again for a great learning experience.




Me, Gloria, and the Butoh sculpture of Eugene at Lone Wolf Tribe's fundraiser.


More pictures to follo!