I think that the artisan at the Medieval weekend of 27th August 2010 in Vila Nova de Cerveira, who made the biggest impression on Family Kiwidutch was George…
George makes puppets. not glove puppets or rod puppets but Marionette type of puppets.
And what’s special about George’s marionettes? Well, they are special because they are all Ants.
George hand-makes all his puppets himself and they are a very colorful array of eccentric looking characters.
What’s more they can produce an amazing amount of movements… and George is an expert when it comes to demonstrating their possibilities.
We had seen George and his wife the evening before, but photography was impossible as it was seriously dark by the time we discovered his stall. By “we” I mean Kiwi Daughter and I, since Little Mr was rapidly tiring and fraying around the edges so preferred to sit with Himself by the restaurant we had eaten at whilst daughter and I had a quick scout around the remaining stalls.
Kiwi Daughter loved the Ants. so I said to George that we could come back for a proper look the next day to check them out in daylight, and when I said mentioned this he probably assumed that such a comment was a way of a passer-by to escape buying something.
When we turned up next morning he remembered us and was delighted that we had returned as promised.
We got talking, and from what I gather, George worked in the field of Entomologist in a former career, and has a fascination for ants. In fact he expressly asked me to mention in my blog that most people would not know that ants make up 20% of the earth’s biomass and are very very important creatures in the world ecosystems. (and No…I didn’t know that, either)
George also asked me a question: Do ants work or survive? I said that they work… “wrong!” he replied, “people work, work is done for money, ants survive because that is their simple instinct” So… I’m learning a lot about ants today, as you are too, I assume.
I personally love low-tech toys that use imagination so I was immediately drawn to the Ants.. and so were my children, they fell in love immediately and yes, I was most happy to buy some to bring home.
Now, even if I do have to blow my own trumpet here, my dexterity skills in maneuvering these is better than that of my children.
But when it came to making a small video to show you, it quickly became clear that operating the puppet and filming it at the same time was never going to be a success, so I roped in the kids … the results are ok, but I can assure you that you can make these walk and dance with a very smooth movement and it looks wonderful.
I can do it “OK” ( better than the kids, but still just “OK”).
Georges did it brilliantly and if I had any sense I should have made the video with him whilst we were at the stall.
Needless to say that at the time I didn’t have any sense. Now I only have 20/20 hindsight.
There is a trick to winding these up and storing these and Little Mr. hasn’t mastered it yet, resulting in me sitting untangling his puppet a lot, but Kiwi Daughter has it down to a fine art and delights in showing off her skills.
We hope in time to get as skilled at working these as George is… Ah ha.. more practice is needed, and with each practice I can assure you are many squeals of laughter and delight.