Are the kids whining and bored?


Are you whining and bored?


Then why not make a puppet?


Jay Tyson, a Havelock resident and professional puppeteer whose work appeared in Jim Henson’s "Muppets from Space" believes that anyone can learn to make puppets, using just random stuff at home that’s lying around.


Tyson has been building and working with puppets for years – he began his journey of puppet-love as a 19-year-old student who’d attended a Henson Productions puppet seminar in college.


Now he plans to teach the basics of puppet-making with downloadable patterns and a live Facebook video that he plans to do on Friday, April 10, at around 6:30 p.m.


"It was just a whim," he said of his plan. "I was kind of sitting there, working at my desk and looking at the news stories." It occurred to him that there are an awful lot of people out there looking for something to do, and then thought of all the pleasure he has had working puppets over the years.


"I thought you know? I could do this. I can design a simple puppet that people could make."


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Tyson’s own creations have gone from the ridiculously simple to the insanely intricate. He has marketed his puppets and also used them in video and stage productions.


He’s thinking of resurrecting a simple rat-puppet design for Easter, but transforming it into a "Kermit the Frog-style bunny. A glorified sock puppet," he added. A bunny, after all, is basically a rat where somebody yanked so hard on his ears that his tail pulled inside, who’s wearing a cotton ball to cover the embarrassing wound where the tail used to be.


His basic design requires sewing by hand or machine – but it’s simple sewing. And what kind of materials could be lying around the house? "It doesn’t have to be fake fur," he said. "I was thinking old curtains, old band tee-shirts that you can sew together and have fun, especially those who have young kids."


Socks work too, if they’re long enough, or old jeans.


If you’re wondering what you’ll use for eyes, you very likely have what professionals use just laying around. "You could use plastic spoons, which are a staple for puppet-makers," he said. "You could have ping pong balls; those are good. You can even take white fabric and draw the eyes on and stitch that on top of the head."


As a matter of fact, some puppets work fine without any eyes. Think of the Swedish Chef or Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, the bald, green, mild-voiced little guy who usually performs his experiments on the hapless, test-tube-shaped Beaker.


Tyson plans to keep his patterns simple – "There won’t be any fingers," he said, and, "I’m going to gather some materials and show some examples of things that I found around my house."


Tyson has decided to teach a live class to give viewers an opportunity to ask questions as he goes along. Once the class is done it will remain online for anyone who wants to watch it.


"The tough part (for me) is going back to basics," he said, "but it’ll be fun. I haven’t made a puppet in months."


Tyson’s event page is "Make a puppet with Jay from stuff around the house." The page includes pictures and dimensions of the patterns for the puppet body.