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Puppet workshop at Sellwood museum makes for creative play

Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - Marty Richmond helps Doyle Sekora finish his new marionette. Instead of coming to look at figures or watch a show, families have also been coming to Sellwood’s Ping Pong's Pint Size Puppet Museum to learn the art of puppet building.

During these “Build-a-Puppet” sessions, kids and adults learn how to make – and then take home – a real marionette, or a rod puppet, or a “hopper” puppet.

“Over the summer, we’ve had twenty-five kids and adults come to the sessions, and spend three hours picking through stuffed animals and creatures to find the one they want to customize,” said Steven Overton. They have an incredibly fun time, because they get to accessorize the puppets, adding ‘bling’ like hats, feathers, beads and jewels.

“Some of the stuffed animals or figures – they can choose from 75 of them – are a little stiff to be puppets,” Overton said. “So we have to do a little ‘surgery’ on those, taking out some of the stuffing so we can turn them into a marionette or rod-operated puppet.”

He and partner Marty Richmond help participants with the technical aspects, such as putting the strings on the marionette, and installing rods on the rod puppets.

“What’s been so fun about the workshops is that we never know what they're going to build,” Overton smiled. “And, while many adults are afraid to try doing marionettes, when children start working with them, they find out how fun and easy it is to bring them to life.”

See what’s new at the museum by visiting their website at www.puppetmuseum.com, or drop by Ping Pong's Pint Size Puppet Museum at 906 S.E. Umatilla Street in Sellwood