Little Gob, Big Heart

Little Gob came into my life the summer of 2016. In the spring, I was commissioned to make four goblin puppets for a Labyrinth themed, Sneaky Experience event. I was really pleased with these puppets and didn’t realise how attached I’d got to them until someone came to take them away.  I decided to make a puppet that was just for me.

By now, I was getting to grips with using the Muppet-style pattern technique. Starting with a foam head with opening mouth, I followed the design of my blue goblin by covering – or ‘skinning’ it with white fleece. I was sat out in the garden sewing the fleece with Gary, saying that I didn’t know what (or who!) it was that I wanted to make. Gary suggested that I be intuitive and let the puppet evolve naturally. ‘Intuitive puppet making’ – what a great path to take.

The white fleece worked well, stretching slightly around the round head and the bendy nose I’d conjured up from a scrap of plastic-coated wire I’d found on the street, right outside my house. Teeth appeared from a box of foam oddments I’d treated myself to from my local Aladdin’s cave-like scrapstore, Scrap Dragon. His mohawk hair-do grew almost naturally from the remains of some-once fancy lighting a friend had saved for me. He was easy to dress; he almost dressed himself!  Choosing a mishaped mohair jumper, courtesy of Common Thread Clothing, a mysteriously acquired Kid Acne neckerchief and a ‘Resistance’ badge from a lefty folk night out in Glossop.

That night, I lay awake designing him in my head; imagining him a green goblin with many coloured spots all over his face. The next morning I began painting; adding green and blue acrylics then washing it out under the tap, applying more, rinsing and finally adding detail until I was satisfied. I rummaged about, searching for something I could use for his coloured spots, playing with buttons, pom-poms, plastic insects… Then in the corner of my eye, I noticed a Ferrero-Rocher box, full of melon seeds!

It’s obvious Little Gob has strong goblin genes and traits that lend to his identity, but I think his name came more from fanciful aspirations I was having about us being double-act. I drifted off to sleep imagining myself wearing a full-head mask of a big brother goblin that I’d wear, so the two of us could perform improv stand-up comedy and maybe even make a living. I’d be Big Gob – he, Little Gob. Playing with perceptions of my egotistical, confident self and the more humble, shy side. In the cold light of day, this was all too much for my shy-side and the dream was shelved. But it was taking him out with me, that I realised there was new potential and more spontaneous opportunities for Little Gob. A visit to see Elton, proprietor of the best hairdressers in town, Betty Tigers. While there, we bumped into a friend Rachel, who took an instant liking to Little Gob and his buddy, Green Monster. She took the puppet and brought him to life! I was agasp as I sat back in my chair and witnessed him in full swing. I didn’t need to do a thing! This felt much more comfortable than me having to be the maker and the puppeteer. And so I discovered the trick was to simply hand him over.

In October 2016, I left for Athens on a crowdfunded cause to run puppet making activities for young immigrants and refugees living there. You can read about this here: Puppet for Refugees. I took a few puppets along with me: my mum and Morris marionettes, the green monster and baby and of course, Little Gob who always made a good impression and new friends when we ran workshops in the refugee community centre, Khora and the squats and camps around Athens.

We’d only been in in Athens a week and Halloween was upon us and we were swept away for a spooky night out at Kafeneio. Little Gob and the crocs were great company and introduced me to people that would lead to new adventures with my puppets in Greece.

By November, I’d teamed up with Robin and together we ran activities for young refugees and with adults with special needs at Estia Agios Nikolaos in Galaxidi: A wonderful place I’d return to several times over the following months; puppet making and performing shadow puppet shows with the residents.

In January 2017 I started running workshops for adults and children; Incredible Puppet Making in Psiri and Soft Puppet Making at the Kafeneio

A June visit to Estia Agios Nikolaos in beautiful Galaxidi

Back to England in the summer for some ‘Pop Up Puppet’ making at Northern Green Gathering weekend festival in Derbyshire

December 2017 and we were off on our travels once more. First to Bulgaria where we ran shadow puppet workshops with Dreams on Wheels after school project in Sofia.

At new year we did a show in the heart of the Balkans, in Plovdiv.

Happy New Year 2018 and back to Athens.

In February we visited the Mosaik project in Lesvos

Rounding up an audience for a shadow puppet version of The Gruffalo at Pikpa, Lesvos

March 21st was World Puppet Day and took along some of my puppets. This led to meeting some wonderful puppeteers who invited my puppets (and me!) along to Children’s hospital in Athens. We visited different wards and patients there, playing Hide and Seek and giving shadow puppet shows. Here we all are relaxing at the end of the day.

Hanging out with friends, old and new.

April and more Soft Puppet Making workshops at the Kafeneio by the Academy of Plato.

With plenty of lemon cake!

And relax…

I wonder where Little Gob will show up next!



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