Saturday, December 31, 2011

Francis Whitmore's Wife Shadow Puppet Video

One of the most rewarding things I've gotten to do this year is share a new shadow puppet show I made.

Katherine Fahey, Katie Cuffari Shinsato, and Rebecca Siegmund Williams

This time last year, I was thinking a lot about this song (Mrs. Whitmore's song) and how i wanted to make a shadow puppet show about it.  I had made a crankie (a hand cranked scrolling story telling device in a box) as part of a shadow puppet music video for band Wye Oak, but it wasn't till I met fiddler, Anna Roberts Gevalt and ballad singer, Elizabeth LaPrelle that I thought of making it portable. They had made a couple of crankies they could take around with them and perform. I based the design of my box on theirs.

Even then, i had no idea what kind of adventure this was going to take me on. My first show was in the warm and welcoming Black Cherry Puppet theater in my town of Baltimore. After that, I quickly found myself performing at cafes, schools, parties, music shows. I even got to do several performances at Virginia Center fro the Creative Arts and other shows in Virginia and West Virginia with Anna and Elizabeth.

This new shadow puppet show did several things for me which I never expected. Always having been shy about performance, the crankie allowed me to sing without feeling so much of the attention on me as well as allowed me to share my art with people in real time. I was able to experience the connection you make with an audience in a way that only live performance can create.

Now with January coming around again I have finally a video of the crankie to share with all of you. I know it's not the same as seeing it in person but hopefully it will allow me to share it with more people.

So I guess my lesson for 2010 is to keep doing things I love but am afraid to do. Happy New Year!
Video Credits:
Art Director/Paper cutter/puppeteer/Vocals: Katherine Fahey
Songwriter: Carole Moody Crompton
Director of Photography: Michael Patrick O'Leary
Puppeteer: Katie Cuffari Shinsato
Puppeteer: Rebecca Siegmund Williams
Paper Cutter: Raj Bunnag
Sound: Nick Sjostrom
Crank Box Construction: Neal Golden

Friday, December 30, 2011

12 days of Christmas

I was back as a visiting artist at the Providence Center for adults this December. We put on a shadow puppet show of the 12 days of Christmas. Such a great group of students. A woman was interviewing one of the them today. She was asking him what he wanted to do; what were his hopes and dreams. Do you want to travel? Do you want to get married? No, he said. I want to make more art.

5 golden rings                                  
a partridge in a pear tree                                                   
french hens                                       
ladies dancing                                         
maids a milkin'                        

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh Virginia

I spent the month of November at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains doing an artist residency there. I got a lot of work done, enjoyed some great walks, and spent time with some talented and wonderful folks there. There are usually about 30 writers, composers, and visual artists there at a time. I can't say enough how meeting dedicated artists inspires me.

I performed the Elizabeth Whitmore shadow puppet crankie down in Virginia at VCCA, Rapunzels in Lovingston, Amherst Elementary, The Palisades in Eggelston, and at the the Floyd Country Store. The best audience I had was the 50 2nd and 50 3rd graders at Amherst Elementary. They didn't stop asking questions til the teacher made them stop. I will always remember one little girl who raised her hand and just asked me to sing them more songs.

Maggie Smith, a fellow resident at VCCA, began writing poems about the crankie during our time together there. She has written 12 so far. Here is the first one she wrote.


They are alone, the woman and the girl child.
The man has gone over the mountain

to work for a year, maybe longer, and the sunlight
here is a little bitter, the color of turmeric,

the same gold-green as the leaves floating down.
The girl has an eye like a spyglass for birds.

She must be marked, the woman thinks.
Wherever she walks, the shadow of a hawk

falls on her, the way a light trains on something
but in reverse. In this thick forest, light can’t

touch every leaf, but the woman watches
wind touch all of them. If they weren’t paper-

thin, this rustling would be a hammering
like hooves on hard ground. The man will return,

but what a strange homecoming to the world
belonging to the woman and child. They cut

its intricate shapes from nothing, like silhouettes
from paper. They have a rhythm. Mornings,

to the creek on horseback, ochre leaves falling
through ochre air, nearly indistinguishable.

Evenings, at the fire, telling stories the man
won’t know. Maybe there is something about

his hands, rough as bark, the girl will remember.
But if she’s grown wild in this wilderness,

who could blame her. Once small enough
to fit inside the hawk’s fallen shadow,

now she can almost outrun it, only the dark
blade of a wingtip scissoring across her face.

photos above by Margaret Woodson Nea

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Linda Nelson, Waiting on the Moon

This Summer I had the honor of working with country music singer songwriter Linda Nelson on the cover of her new CD Waiting on the Moon. Linda is the kind of person that just the sound of her voice on the phone makes you feel like you're standing in a forest somewhere. She welcomed me into her world with the same kind of gentleness and honesty that she seems to do everything. It was a pleasure to get to know her and work on this project that meant so much to her.

This Sunday October 30th, 3 PM-7 PM we will be celebrating the release of Waiting on the Moon at Andy Nelson's BBQ. I will be there performing my crankie along with a killer line up of talented musicians including Jody West, Christian Kane, Caleb Stine, and other special guests. BBQ, hot cider, and warm folks! BYOB 1107 York Road Cockeysville, MD.

Special thanks to Scott Dennison for his wonderful work on the booklet insert and expert printing advice!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Puppets in the City

I spent this past Monday at Northwestern High School here in Baltimore city where art teacher, Danielle Long, did a shadow puppet unit with her two classes. She had shown them the shadow puppet music video I worked on for Wye Oak, invited me to do my crankie for them on the day of their performances, and talk about my work. These kids were learning to work together and use their creativity. I saw so much potential in them. I watched Danielle guide them through the class, always gentle, always patient and thought about what a difference a good teacher can make. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Yesterday I spent the day at the renowned annual craft fair in Waterford, Virginia. I've been visiting family friends in this pre-civil war town since I was a little girl. Neal and I performed my Elizabeth Whitmore crankie at the Sugar Shack after party on Main Street and met so many wonderful people there.
At the end of the night, we walked to our car in the moonlight, across town and an empty field, alongside about 18 civil war soldiers on horseback. I can still hear the sound of their horse's shoes on the now paved roads. After all these years that little town continues to amaze me. I wish i could explain it better, but there are some things you just have to experience for yourself. Thanks again Waterford.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

West Virginia, my home away from home

I recently spent a week in Elkins, West Virginia at the amazing Augusta Heritage Center. I performed my Elizabeth Whitmore shadow puppet crankie three times while I was there, along side fellow crankie maker Anna Roberts-Gevalt. The response was overwhelming. It's amazing for me to be able to share my artwork in a similar way that musicians are able to share their songs; to take it on the road and have an active exchange with people.
Anna and I with our crankies

Footage of Paper Fish Perfomance at Metro Gallery

Guy Werner recently posted his documentation of the live performance of Wye Oak's video Fish we put on at the Metro Gallery this past April. It was great experience to get to share the shadow puppet show live and work with Mike O'leary, his awesome lighting crew, Jenn and Andy of Wye Oak, Guy and Sarah of the Metro Gallery, and our amazing team of puppeteers. So wonderful to have this footage to remember it by. You can view it here on Push Play Record

photo by Neal J Golden

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pile of Craft Saturday!

Come on out for Pile of Craft this Saturday!
JUNE 25, 2011 - 10am to 5pm
2640 St Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21218, inside St John's Church
This year's fair will have over 65 of the best local and national crafters, as well as a weaving demonstration by Carlybird Weaves and and a raffle to win a huge basket full of goodies by supporting Baltimore Clayworks! Check the blog to see vendor interviews and raffle basket sneak peeks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saturday Shadow Puppet Show at Black Cherry Puppet Theater!

Recent work on Baltimore band Wye Oak's music video Fish and my love for music have taken me further down the road of shadow puppetry as of late, but this time, into the past. This new shadow puppet show is based on a song written in 1978, set to the tune of an old shape note song, about a woman who lived in the mid-1700's.
It was inspired by the imagery of a song written by Carole Moody Crompton called Mrs Whitmore's Song. I've loved this song for years, but didn't know much about it. Crompton based her song on an article she read about Elizabeth Whitmore, a regional heroine, surviving a winter while caring for her small child, on her own in the wilds of Vermont in the mid-eighteenth century. She set her lyrics to the tune of a haunting but beautiful old shape note song called Fuducia. The combination of the moving music and the vivid imagery drew me in the first time she heard it. I couldn't help but want to make something about it. I was able to contact the songwriter who explained that when she wrote the song she was supporting herself as a single mother and felt an intense connection to this woman from so long ago. As someone who sees a lot of this same struggle in my own city, this made me want to do it even more.

Shadow puppetry is a lot like animation. You work on it for a month and it's over in five minutes, but somehow you can't stop doing it. A cranky shadow puppet show is created by pasting paper to one continuous scroll of paper which you then crank. It was an exciting new challenge creating a continuous visual story line. With the help of my wonderful husband Neal and my fantastic intern Raj Bunnag I was able to complete the crankie in a  month. 

Black Cherry Puppet theater will host a broad array of wonderful entertainers this Saturday night including, among others, Squidfire's Kevin Sherry and Miranda Pffiefer, creator of Celebration's stunning video, Honey Suckle Blue. Special musical guests TBA! Tickets available at
Puppet Slamwich!
Saturday, June 18, 2011, 7 and 9 pm
Black Cherry Puppet Theater
1115 Hollins Street
Baltimore, MD

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paper Fish closing and Raffle

We had a magical night at the closing event of the Paper Fish exhibit at the Metro Gallery. The live shadow puppet performance of Fish went off without a hitch! Jenn and Andy managed to sound amazing despite Jenn's cold. The music, the puppets, and lighting came together flawlessly.

Anna and Elizabeth and their crankies were so wonderful. They swept everyone off their feet with their perfect harmonies and luminous storytelling.

We raised $245.26 with our raffle for the tsunami victims in Japan. The winner of the seven foot paper cut was Jen Raffensperger. Congratulations Jen! If you would like to make a donation you can go to

Thanks again to everyone for making it such a great evening!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wye Oak video Fish, live show on April 22nd!

Friday, April 22nd we will attempt to perform the shadow puppet show from the video live accompanied by Wye Oak. It's been a challenge figuring out how to pull it off. I've been making doubles of certain puppets (in some cases, 5 of them) and Michael O'Leary, who filmed the video, is orchestrating an elaborate screen and lighting setup. Excited to see how it turns out! Opening are Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle from southern Virginia and their amazing crankies (scrolling shadow puppet shows)!

$8   Friday, April 22nd at the Metro Gallery   7-10PM   21+

WYE OAK "Fish" from Michael Patrick O'Leary on Vimeo. If you are having trouble viewing the video, click here to watch it on youtube.

Video Credits:
Songwriters: Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner, Andy Stack)
Director of Photography: Michael Patrick O'Leary
Art Director/Paper cutter/puppeteer: Katherine Fahey
Editor: Owen Lang
Puppeteer: Scott Dennison
Puppeteer: Shari Edelson
Paper Cutters: Katie Field, Scott Dennison, Robin Reid, Brook Kearley, Annabel Kearley, Shari Edelson, Elodie Rabilloud
Gaffer: Matt Brennan
B Camera Operator: Nick Midwig
Camera Assistant: Neal Golden

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friday! Paper Fish Opening! Wye Oak Video Premier!

Just got news the video is finished! It was so exciting to see it done after all the hard work we all put into it. It's been a wonderful experience to collaborate with so many talented and creative people. We will be screening it for the first time this Friday at the Paper Fish opening at the Metro gallery. 1700 North Charles Street, across from The Charles Theater.

The Paper Fish exhibit is a show of the shadow puppets and paper cuts which I made for the new Wye Oak Music Video for their song Fish, from their great new CD, Civilian. There will also be fantastic photos of the process of making the video on display by Neal Golden.

Opening event Friday, March 25th 7-10: At the opening guests will have the opportunity to make their own shadow puppets and participate in an impromptu production.

Closing event Friday, April 22nd 7-10: Live performance of the shadow puppet show from the video with Anna and Elizabeth and other special musical guests.

Email me with any questions.

Hope to see you!


Sunday, March 6, 2011


As show of spontaneous, richly layered prints which chronicle all kinds of screen-printing work I’ve done over the years, from paintings to posters.

Opens this Thursday, March 10th 6-8PM at the 33.6% wine bar. 1117 W. 36th Street Baltimore, MD 21211

Friday, March 4, 2011

Neon Video

I got to break out some of my old faux finishing skills recently helping out on Tommy Mayer's new video for his song called Neon. I wood-grained some doors, painted a wall will some decorative elements, and made some large signs with sparkly letters on them. The fun thing about working for Tommy is it's a rare opportunity to be really over the top.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shadow Puppet Music Video

I spent the first part of this year working on an inspiring new project, a shadow puppet show for a music video for friends Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak. The video is for their song Fish off upcoming release Civilian.  I had a lot of fun creating the characters for this underwater world and the process of working with film was a new and exciting experience for me.

Thanks to a lot of long days and helpful friends the video will be released along with Wye Oak's new CD this month.

Special thanks to Neal Golden, Katie Feild, Scott Dennison, Shari Edelson, and Mike O'Leary, and Owen Lang for all their hard work on this project!
(photo above by Michael Patrick O'Leary)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winters flying by.

Winter's going by so quickly and i haven't written a thing. Time for some catching up!

I was fortunate enough to spend October at an artist residency in Amherst, Virginia this fall. It was amazing to be immersed in such a creative atmosphere and get back to my roots in my home state of Virginia.

Since I've been back in Baltimore I organized a house show of the work from the residency. I enjoyed  sharing my experience with my community here. The whole time I was at VCCA I thought how can I make my every day life more like this. I am happy to say that I realize that much of what I had at VCCA I have right here in Baltimore also. I just need to continue investing my time and energy into it. To read more about my experience at VCCA you check out this Radar Redux article For the Sake of Song.

Recently I have been hard at work on an art project with local band Wye Oak and photographer Michael Patrick O'Leary. I'm also excited for some art shows I have coming up this spring. I'm looking forward to  teaming up for some singing with The Shape Note Sisters in April and May.

More to come!