Friday, March 23, 2012

BarCamp Canberra 2012

Last week Jonathan and I gave a presentation on puppetry at BarCamp Canberra - an event where no one is just a spectator, but rather, everyone is a participant and involved in the event in some way. Participants can give a talk, by signing up at the start of the day and allocating themselves a room and time, use social media throughout the event, voluteer and become an 'un-organiser' or avidly take part in other people's presentations by asking questions and giving feedback and suggestions.

We were newbies to the whole BarCamp universe (it's a world wide event, in an 'un-conference' style), and decided to give a brief overview about puppetry, what it's like to be a puppeteer and teach everyone some basic puppetry techniques, such as lip-syncing, eye-focus and character voices! Each participant created their own puppet character with their provided socks and eyeballs. Other presentations included talks and demos on bubble blowing robots, laser cut jewellery, small business funding, arcade games and more. The corridors were filled with all sorts of delights like 3D printers and designer cupcakes... We were a bit worried that we'd stand out a little with our puppets, but we were surprisingly embraced by the BarCamp community, which was evident from all the live tweeting that was going on (see a selection of tweets below) and the involvement of everyone who attended our workshop!

Thanks to all the participants that came to our presentation and everyone who tweeted and took photos! Special thanks to Ruth Ellison and Alastair D'Silva for sharing their great photos with us!

Marianne gives a preview of "Marco Polo" - photo by Alastair D'Silva

Marianne gives a preview of "Marco Polo" - photo by Alastair D'Silva

Explaining lip-syncing techniques - photo by Alastair D'Silva

Explaining lip-syncing techniques - photo by Alastair D'Silva

A captivated audience at BarCamp learning lip-syncing - photo by Alastair D'Silva

A captivated audience at BarCamp learning lip-syncing - photo by Alastair D'Silva

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

National Museum Commission

National Museum of Australia

We've got some great news today - PuppetOOdle is being commissioned by the National Museum of Australia to develop and perform a puppet show for their upcoming exhibition of 'Travelling the Silk Road'!

We'll be developing a whole new series of puppets themed around the exhibition and our show will feature traditional fabels that were told on the Silk Road. Our performance will be at the NMA's 'Silk Road Festival' which is a family fun day with free admission into the exhibition, at 10:30am on Sunday the 15th of April!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy birthday PuppetOOdle!

I can't believe my little business is turning one this week! To celebrate, I'm offering 20% off all my puppets in my Etsy shop! WOO HOO!

Simply type in the code: BIRTHDAYPUPPETOODLE in your shopping cart to receive the discount!

Happy birthday PuppetOOdle!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Adopt your own PuppetOOdle!

I'm very proud to announce my first line of puppets that are now available for adoption/purchase from our online Etsy Shop (!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Latest bunch of holiday programs!

This month, we hosted a series of PuppetOOdle school holiday programs at four of the ACT Libraries. We launched our brand new show, 'Jack and the Beanstalk' with live, original songs and music and brand new special puppets I'd crafted. Before the show, we warmed up the audience with sing-a-long songs and dancing and afterwards, the children created wonderful drawings of their favourite characters in the show. We also hosted two very exciting and fun workshops. A 'Paper Puppet' making workshop, where participants learnt how to make and manipulate a puppet from paper and a 'Puppet Manipulation' workshop, where participants learnt the basics of manipulating puppets - just like in the new Muppet Movie! They learnt professional techniques, such as lip-syncing, eye-focus, character voices and applying different emotions and movements. All programs were booked out weeks in advance and all who attended left with enormous smiles and enthusiasm for PuppetOOdle!

Friday, December 16, 2011

#5 Best Puppet Site of 2011

Surprisingly, this morning I wake up to find myself listed as the number 5 puppet website on the School of Puppetry's's list of "Best Puppet Site of 2011"! Thanks Naomi Guss!
In other news, the past month has kept me busy with puppet shows and workshops at various Christmas parties and Libraries, working on our new show 'Jack and the Beanstalk', and also working on a series of puppets I'll be selling online in the new year! I'm really excited - so stay tuned to! :-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Front page - The Goulburn Post

Today PuppetOOdle made the FRONT PAGE of The Goulburn Post Weekly! It features a great little story about our upcoming paper puppet making workshop and awesome photo by Mary Luckhurst!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nine new PuppetOOdle workshops!

I'm proud to announce nine fantastic new PuppetOOdle workshops, suitable for your local school, library, community group, party, function, festival, event - or even your local workplace, to help inspire creative thinking, artistic skills, strengthen and build relationships and encourage better communication, confidence and identity.

Big thanks to my brother Jonathan, for the fantastic new website design! Take a look and follow the links to book a workshop:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Awesome holiday programs!

This week, Jonathan and I had fun during our holiday programs at ACT libraries! We debuted our new show, 'The Frog Prince', which featured a stack of funny, original songs and special 'velcro' puppets I designed - so that the Prince could magically turn into a frog and back again! The kids also made some fantastic little frog and princess finger puppets and in each performance, the room was filled with love and laughter.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Last week of Puppetry Residency

Today was our last day, teaching the students (Kindergarten up until year 2) at Isabella Plains Early Childhood School 'Communication through Puppetry'. Each week the students became more confident performing and talking in front of the class and excelled at puppetry techniques, that can even take some adults years to learn. Teachers often reported that they would often find their students turning everyday objects into puppet creations during their regular playtime. We had some very special moments together that I'll never forget. We're going to miss those little puppeteers!

I just want to give a big thanks to my brother, Jonathan, for his support and being an amazing assistant/photographer every single week; Liz Wallace - Isabella Plains Principal, for all her wonderful support; all the teachers for their help and assistance in the classrooms; all the students for their continuous enthusiasm and creativity; and lastly, to Krista Schmeling and the team at artsACT for the amazing opportunity.

For the full run-down of our 10-week program, visit:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FRONT PAGE - the Chronicle

During week three of my ten-week residency project at Isabella Plains Early Childhood School, we had a special visit; Arts Minister Joy Burch! She happily joined in with our eye-focus and lip-syncing excercises with the kindergarten class and learn all about the different emotions and expressions puppets can have! More info at:

This also gave us a wonderful FRONT PAGE feature in local newspaper, 'The Chronicle'!

(page 8 feature)

(closer image of the front-page photo)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Booked-out library programs

I'm proud to say that my last couple of school holiday programs at the ACT libraries were booked-out in almost 24hours! Not only that - but they were a tremendous success! Our show, 'Rumplestiltskin' was a hoot and all the kids made some very wonderful little Rumplestiltskin finger puppets afterwards! Thanks again to all who came, the ACT libraries, my very supportive parents and my talented brother, Jonathan for the live music and specially co-written songs!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Front page

The popular Canberra online news blog featured PuppetOOdle on the front page! For the full story, visit:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'Artist in Schools' grant awarded

Earlier this year, I received an amazing opportunity - to become an 'Artist in Residence', or rather a 'Puppeteer in Residence' at Isabella Plains Early Childhood School, during term 3. The 'Artist in Schools' program is funding through artsACT and supported by the ACT government.

My theme will be “Communication through Puppetry” - addressing several different types of communication from eye-contact to learning new ways to express themselves, all through the magical medium of puppetry. I'll be updating my weekly projects at the school, here: .

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Feature in The Canberra Weekly

Canberra Weekly featured a editorial with a photo by Cole Bennetts from a very successful, booked out show and workshop at Canberra's Civic Library during the Holiday Program.

Friday, April 29, 2011

First PuppetOOdle show

My first PuppetOOdle show and puppet-making workshop went brilliantly. All the kids laughed at all the right places, they were engrossed making paper puppets afterwards and all the parents were pleased. I don't think it could have gone any better! I'd like to give a big thanks to Civic Library, Canberra for having us, my parents for all the help and support and my brother and partner in crime/puppet business, Jonathan Mettes for the amazing live music!

Friday, March 18, 2011 launched!

I'm pleased to announce that I've launched my new puppet business,! Yay!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cover Girl!

I'm proud to announce that Woozley and I have made the cover of the November publication of the Canberra Weekly Magazine! WOO HOO! Big thanks to the Canberra Weekly, Cole Bennetts for the awesome photos and Allison Redman for the great story!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mary's awesome photos!

Mary Luckhurst, aka Sealegs Imagery took some amazing photos of me and my puppet creations.
Thanks so much Mary!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Fun Facts about going on a month-long puppet pilgrimage to the USA:

I travelled an estimated total of over 34,156 kilometres (about 21,223 miles for you Americans), took a total of twelve air-planes, three buses, landed in ten cities, stayed in six different hotels, attended two puppet festivals, saw three famous puppet theatres, worked on one puppet film set, made hundreds of friends, slept only an average of three hours a night - all over a total of 29 days.... That makes me just tired just thinking about it! (I also spent several months planning and saving before hand, but let's not dwell on the boring stuff!)

Photo by Mary Luckhurst:
What resulted out of this crazy adventure you ask? Well, honestly - it changed my life.

It fulfilled me in so many ways and not only just in making friends and learning the art of puppetry - but also, probably most valuable of all is now knowing that I'm not alone in my passion for puppetry and the more 'wacky' side of life - that there are others, just like me - living to fulfil a passion. I now know that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people just like me and some, perhaps even slightly more crazy, enthusiastic and passionate than I am!

Each person I met on my adventures embraced me as if I was long lost family and not only welcomed me into their puppet communities, theatres, homes and festivals - but they also welcomed me into their hearts.

Since I've created this blog and documented all my experiences - I have received nearly 800 views and counting. In addition, there have been hundreds of views of my youtube videos, my google 'adventure' map (, my twitter account (, my picassa photos ( and facebook entries related to my trip - all together there may have well be several thousands of people who have experienced my journey with me (and still reading on with me now) through cyberspace.

Through statistics, interestingly I've found out that these views are nearly equally divided between the Australian audience and the American audience and has also even received many views from all over the rest of the world too.

Many people - especially within the puppeteer community - have written me and expressed their heart-felt thanks to me for having written and shared my experiences. What actually started out to be a mere diary of my adventures for myself, has suddenly turned into something rather large for the puppet community and also the general public. I think it's given the people all over the world insight to see that there are others out there who feel the same passion for puppetry, since it is a bit of an insular and sometimes forgotten art-form.

So here's my big thank you to everyone I've met and everyone who's helped me along the way - even if it was just to stop and say hello or told me your story - it's meant the world to me.

I can't wait to see ya'll next year (insert southern accent)!!!

But for now - here is my story in pictures:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Noumea, New Caledonia: Accidental Paradise

It was hard leaving Minneapolis and even harder knowing my big adventure was over. It was like leaving a piece of myself behind - even though I'd grown so much more as a person.

After a long day of travelling (Minneapolis to Phoenix Arizona, to L.A.), I finally got on my Qantas flight back home to Australia... I was relieved that I'd made it as well as sad and overwhelmed all at the same time. However, I woke up during the flight (around 5am Australian time) to a P.A. announcement stating that we were going to land in Noumea to refuel due to a severe fog in Australia.

We glided down between beautiful mountains to what looked like the smallest little runway in the middle of nowhere. My plane buddy, Tim and I were looking out of the window and jokingly said how we've never been here and what a pity it was we couldn't get out... Then, as if the universe was listening, the captain comes back on the P.A. with another announcement - this time with a rather shaky and nervous voice: "Uhhh... It appears we have a slight problem... On inspection of the craft, it appears that one of our tyres was 'blown' during take off and has caused some superficial damage to the plane... We're going to have to a technician to look at this and get it fixed." The murmurs around the cabin all suddenly got a bit nervous, and I, still a bit sleepy, was rather confused what was happening. A few minutes later, the captain came once again, "Uhhh... It appears there are no Qantas staff here at the airport, or any staff who are really equipped for this sort of thing... So, we're going to fly someone over from Sydney - so please stay relaxed and we'll do our best to make you as comfortable as possible." More murmurs swarmed through the cabin, this time more agitated and angry at the delay. I was still rather dazed, and continued looking out of the window at the lack of civilisation and then went back to watching my movie...

A few minutes later, the captain came back on yet again, "Uhhh... it appears that all the staff in Sydney are incapacitated due to all the happenings with the fog in Australia, so we're going to have to stay here in Noumea - possibly overnight - but we'll make sure we all get you in a nice comfortable hotel so you can all rest while we get this problem fixed." He was endlessly apologetic and kept explaining how in all of his career, nothing like this had never happened. I thought it was all pretty exciting honestly! My only problem was that my American phone didn't work and I had no way of telling my family what had happened and that I was safe. But Tim, my plane buddy was nice enough to let me send a text message home on his phone, it stated: "I'm in Noumea, New Caledonia - all is well, might not be home till tomorrow." I would have loved to see the look on mum's face getting that.

Around the cabin, complaints were going ramped - however, there wasn’t as much stress as I would have expected in such a situation. A lot of people were also rather thrilled to be ‘stuck’ in such a beautiful place. A couple next to me were actually supposed to end up in Noumea, so they got home much quicker then expected! But, I did feel rather sorry for a really young boy travelling all by himself and had been sick the entire way from L.A. You didn't see him complaining once, although he was constantly surrounded by some quite pretty flight attendants. Or the guy in front of me who was in the U.S. Army and only had a few days with his wife and newborn in Australia. Others just thought it was all rather 'annoying' being stuck in paradise and tried every trick in the book to get on another flight home somehow - some even succeeded. But, I think most of us were just happy to be alive - knowing that the 'superficial damage' could have been so much worse!

After we finally got out of the plane, got some sort of weird visa stamped in our passport and collected all our baggage - we all (200 something passengers) lined up to get onboard three big buses to our hotel. Lots of people were mentioning how it seemed just like out of a Lost episode... I hadn't actually thought of that at the time, but the more time passed, the more it was almost exactly like that - except the plane hadn't crashed and there was no sexy doctor to save us all! But we all bonded since we were all 'in it together'. You could either feel frustrated - or just let it wash over you and enjoy it as an adventure, which I truly did.

The bus ride was about an hour or more - but since I had no way of measuring time, it felt like an eternity. The rolling mountians and green pastures were beautiful, but also just endless and all I could keep thinking was, "where the hell are we?" I was beginning to wonder if this was in fact an episode of Lost and if Qantas was going to make us all a big hut to sleep in. But finally we entered civilisation and some sort of city life - however dishevelled and poor it looked. But this assured me that we weren't lost (or in an episode of Lost) and we weren't in the middle of nowhere - we were... ummm... somewhere...?

The city did slowly became nicer and more beautiful as we entered the more 'up market’ and tourist area of Noumea. Thank god, as I wasn't really interested in another Downtown L.A. experience (see older blog entries)! Finally got to the hotel and to my amazement it was a beautiful 5-star hotel ON THE BEACH! All expenses were paid for, including the most amazing French gourmet meals and even short phone calls home to explain to our loved ones what had happened and the times we were expected home.

The phone call however served as a bit of a challenge for me: getting the phone to work. Being a French Colony, one of the main languages spoken on the island was of course French. Luckily, the front desk staff spoke beautiful English - unfortunately - no one else did. But my mum was a French language teacher, as I kept boasting to my plane buddy Tim and our little group of friends we had made... However, I failed to mention to them that I’d stopped learning the language when I was about 12 and really didn't remember much apart from "Je suis en stilo-abeia" Which isn't proper French at all - it translates to "I am a ball-point pen." So that really wasn't much help at all. However, I somehow managed to remember a couple of words here and there, like ‘I am lost’, ‘where is the food’, ‘where is the toilet’ and so on - along with some form of spastic sign-language I managed to get by and get the phone working... With a bit of laughter of course - yes, them at me.

After a quick change of clothes, a gorgeous buffet French cuisine and sitting around drinking New Caledonia beer with some of the other passengers, I decided to go on exploration. I walked along the beautiful beaches and spoke my spastic French to the children playing in the sand who kept saying "Bonjour" so excitedly to me. This may have also been due to my Sesame Street t-shirt I was wearing - but I didn't matter - everything was beautiful and I finally felt like I was on a real holiday and not trying to stressfully absorb everything puppets. When I got back to the hotel, I was so exhausted from everything, including all the travelling and lack of sleep, that I took a luxuriously long bubble bath in my beautifully luxurious hotel suite... Ahhhh... This was the life. This was exactly what I needed to decompress from my month-long puppet bender.

The coolest part of this little ‘mini adventure’ was becoming friends with all the people on the plane. At every meal we'd have great conversations about life and how we'd come to be here, stuck in Noumea together. Yes, of course, I had the weirdest stories out of everyone - but everyone loved my enthusiasm and put up with all my excitement and endless stories about my puppet adventures.

By the time we were all back in the little airport the next morning - we were all a little sad. We'd all come to know each other's stories and had became friends in such a special way, that it seemed surreal we were all finally going home. At this point I think a lot of us were actually pretty keen to stay a few more days, but somehow I don't think Qantas would have paid for that!

It was such a unique experience that left me stronger yet again. I'd conquered another hurdle - just after I'd thought I'd conquered them all back in America. It left me thinking, “what else could happen to me now,” and feeling a little indestructible and vulnerable all at the same time.

Noumea was a beautiful place with beautiful people. I think Qantas handled the whole ordeal with ‘flying’ colours and honestly, it made a loyal customer out of me! The whole adventure was a wonderfully welcomed little pause before I came home to normal life, and it’s definitely a place I would love to return some day, perhaps after I’d practiced my French a bit more!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Transylvania TV: being a 'puppet extra'

As mentioned in my last post, I got the awesome opportunity to work on a real ‘puppet film set'! That of Transylvania TV - it's a an internet TV show for adults (but not puppet porn) that has a rather cult following. Their website describes it as: “The Retro Monster Comedy That's Really Not For Kids.” So you get the picture.

Currently, they're filming a big Halloween feature: “TVTV Real Meanin’ of Halloween”, which is to be aired on Twin Cities television in October of 2010 and later available on DVD. So I got my very own debut and credit as a puppeteer in a feature film! How awesome is that?

So I got to play two of three different characters that involved a bit of puppet on puppet action (yes I know I said it wasn't porn, however this is what happens when you let me loose with puppeteers for a month!) I walked puppets to and fro past the camera and was also involved in some group scenes at a table. Pretty cool huh?

I learnt many different techniques and manipulation skills by watching and also doing it myself - it was all rather exciting and a little scary too! But not only did I manipulate puppets on camera, but I also got a great insight into how a team of puppeteers all work together in such harmony - all for the love of puppetry. TVTV is the brain child of Gordon Smuder, Michael Heagle and Clarke Stone - along with several others who all put in their time, passion and love for free - simply because they all believe in the project, the people, the scripts and the puppets. Honestly, I can understand why. I was only there for two days, but I was so welcomed, supported, encouraged and embraced into their little family that it was clear that these were some pretty fantastic people. There was constant comedy on and off camera, as well as just pure hard work, passion and determination. Everyone got along so well and there was never a nasty word or comment - which is something pretty special on a film-set in my experience - and I've been on quite a few, however never a 'puppet' film set. It only yet again reaffirmed for me how this adventure just kept taking me to amazing places and just kept inspiring me and strengthening me towards the puppeteer I want to be.

It was such a fantastic experience in so many ways. Not only seeing how something as large scale as this is put together, but also to be part of something so special and being able to leave my little mark on the film as well - and of course meeting such great people! So if you’re reading this and you love puppets, get behind Transylvania TV here: You can watch the episodes, buy the DVDs or T-shirts, or simple read a bit more about them. Their shows really are very funny and I think they have a very serious and exciting future ahead of them! I wish them all the very best and hope one day I'll be able to take part in their work somehow again!

Here is a video that was taken during my time on-set!