Friday, September 4, 2015

The making of a giant crankie!

Well it's happened… an enormous shadow puppet crankie (or moving panorama). This is one of the biggest and most engaging projects I have done for a while. Last year when Cortina productions, a film company that makes historical films for museums, approached me about doing this, I was pretty excited. 

Boston Harbor

The film is about a traveling story teller, who uses a crankie to tell the story of the American revolution through 6 different people who lived through it. (among them, a housewife, a native american man, and an african american man). These stories are taken from actual oral histories of people who lived at the time. It was an inspiring and educational experience working with producer, Brent Feito and a curator, Katherine Gruber of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

Cutting out a sample scene

I got to spend months researching, story boarding, making sample scenes, and finally making the final piece. The images are based on artwork and aesthetics of the period. I worked closely with curator and historian Katherine Gruber to research artwork and materials of the time period. 
 In order to make the deadline friend and colleague, Caleb Stine,  worked full time hand cutting paper and glueing down scenes with me for over a month. Some other folks who lent a hand during construction were Annie Howe, Lisa Krause, Christine Sajecki, and Eamon Espey. We ended up with three scrolls, some of which are over eighty feet long. 
Gluing down a scene with Caleb Stine

 It was especially moving to be working on this piece about these questions of freedom and human rights as the riots broke out in Baltimore this year. It felt all the more meaningful and powerful to be revisiting these questions in my work.

Producer, Brent Feito

After the crankie was done, I finally arrived in Virginia, where they had been filming all the stories I had illustrated on the crankie in live action. Michael Lamason and Valeska Populoh of Baltimore's Black Cherry Puppet Theater came to Virginia where we performed the crankie in period dress for the film. 

Puppeteering during the film shoot with Michael Lamason and Valeska Populoh

This has been an exciting and challenging project. The rough cut looks great and I can't wait to see the the final edit of the film. In the meantime there is an exhibit of the making of the film on display at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

The film will be edited and available to the public in 2016. More to come!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Crankie Sisterhood

Excited to receive the April issue of fROOTS magazine in the mail yesterday morning! If you like crankies or moving panoramas, you will love Pamela Wynn Anderson's article on "the scrolling picture Sisterhood."

What a thrill to read this lovely piece about these wonderful women artists whom I adore and inspire me so much. (Anna Roberts Gevalt, Sue Truman, Elizabeth Laprelle, Dejah Leger, Clare Dolan, and Pamela Wyn Shannon).

Pamela speaks about creativity, imagination, and inspiration reminding me that, as creative people, we are some of the lucky ones. Excited to see where we all go from here.

Photos posted with consent of Ian Anderson (editor of fROOTS magazine) 

Friday, April 3, 2015


I spent much of this winter designing the puppets for a shadow puppet play by Cecilia Cackley of Wit's End Puppets in Washington D.C. Saudade is about living as an american immigrant and longing for home. 

The screen for Saudade is crankie or moving panorama surrounded by 3 screens.
Puppet design

Image for paper cut on the crankie

I designed 60 shadow puppets for this piece.

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Yo no soy mexicano. Yo no soy gringo. Yo no soy chicano. No soy gringo en USA y mexicano en Mexico. Soy chicano en todas partes. No tengo que asimilarme a nada. Tengo mi propia historia.”
― Carlos Fuentes
— at Atlas Performing Arts Center.

More puppets


Shadow puppets

Clearwater Crankie

Had a great time performing "I Don't Feel Dead Yet" with Burke Sampson and Paul Richardson at Andrea Clearwater's music salon in Philadelphia this past weekend.

Katherine Fahey @ Andrea Clearfield March Salon 3-29-15
Photos by John Hayes