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Saturday, 12 May 2018

Sasha Celebration Weekend 2018 - what a Muppet

The theme for this year's main competition display at the Sasha Celebration Weekend was 'on the red carpet', in other words dress up as if attending the Oscars to hopefully receive an award.  There were the usual Oscar categories for entries, however we dreamed up something a little different - after all, those famous characters arriving in their best bib and tucker needed a fanfare to serenade their important arrivals! So I asked Janet if we could provide a small fanfare band rather than stick to the categories and she was very happy to allow this idea, especially as our Sasha dolls have musical instruments.

I wanted to provide a trumpeter in his best tailcoat.  Mary R decided to join us with her beautiful NP doll playing the flute and wearing a gorgeous elegant dress.  So far so proper and upright for a dignified fanfare.  However you cannot have a fanfare without some drums and it didn't take a giant leap of imagination for my younger daughter and I to brainstorm the outrage of a toddler getting in on the act and subverting the whole piece by being the drummer - in character of course - none other than Animal from The Muppets!

How to make Edmund look like Animal was the next challenge.  We looked at plenty of photos and some hilarious videos (Animal duelling with other famous drummers who had come on as guests of The Muppets).  My younger daughter had just learned how to crochet and I suggested she return to Lorraine's hat pattern from the first SCW (she had not got very far with it during that craft workshop).  She constructed a crochet helmet for Edmund including a chin strap in both the base red colour as well as a strip of black crochet for inside his lower lip. She also crocheted a ridge of black to form a base for his eyebrows.

Edmund wearing the basic crochet helmet with his proud owner who was just fastening off the chin strap
Then she sewed on a large round red wooden bead for his nose (just above his little face peeping through the mouth opening) and glued on some white felt circles into which she had glued some wobbly plastic eyes. She made a row of white teeth of felt and glued that onto the black row of his lower lip. Suddenly the red helmet started to look something like the character she was creating.

Sewing on the nose

Making sure the nose was securely stitched onto the helmet

Finishing the nose sewing

Nose in place and the chin strap with the black band for inside the mouth

Eyes, eyebrows and teeth in place, adding the first of the shaggy hair
Next came the most time consuming part - lots of lengths of coloured wool was hooked into the helmet (rag rug style) all over his head.  This meant cutting hundreds of pieces of wool, folding them in half and using the crochet hook to loop them through the holes in his helmet (the texture of crochet provides natural holes, ideal for this purpose).  She used a few strands of carefully placed black wool to emphasize his wild eyebrows.  She used the same thick red wool as the helmet for some strands but thinner, 4 ply variegated colour wool for the bulk of his mad hair - the colour shades included coppery orange and deep reds.

Hard at work making Animal hairy

Looping through the next piece of wool as Animal starts to look like his wild self
She made his simple top and trousers and we had plenty of large link chain in the workshop to provide Animal's tether.  My elder daughter looked at lots of pictures of the Muppet drum sets, many of them said Dr Teeth (because it was the band name) but I wanted the drum to have 'The Muppets' on it, so she designed a good combination of the two. I printed this out on card (she had designed it on her ipad) and fitted it on the largest drum of the desktop drum kit.  I made a stand to turn this drum into a bass rather than a snare drum out of thick wire and used two flexible camera tripods fitted into lolly sticks to hold the two smaller drums in the right position and height for snare drums (on the original layout they clipped onto the rim of the biggest drum, mounted on a stand which was too high for Edmund).  I made a wire stand to attach to the existing cymbal stand (which normally also clipped onto the biggest drum).  I gave the wire stands feet of orange clay to stop them scratching any table top they were placed on.  I made a couple of drumsticks out of bamboo skewers and beads for Edmund / Animal to hold.
Late night finishing of the back of Animal's head
Next we decided that the band needed its own red carpet and bunting, so I cut longer posts than we had used for the Happy Birthday banner at the 2017 festival and fitted them into the existing banner stand.  My younger daughter made simple bunting out of red cotton sheeting with the letters written on the bunting with felt tip pen.  I made a carpet out of the same red sheeting and carpet covers for the 3 doll stands.

The remodelled desk top drum kit with The Muppets on the bass drum and clay feet on the metal stands

The Fanfare band bunting
I decided that Reuben was honouring a famous jazz trumpeter who was also a movie star in High Society - Louis Armstrong. I designed the tailcoat using adapted pattern pieces I had previously used for the school blazers I made for the Summer School swap Lorraine organised a few years ago. I sewed a simple sleeveless white shirt to go under the tailcoat to provide a white collar, and some black trousers. 

Reuben needed to hold the trumpet, this was my next challenge.  Sasha doll hands are curved but are not designed to hold a heavy metal trumpet at the right angle for a fanfare.  So I used some clay to fill in his hands and pushed the trumpet onto the damp clay to get the best position and shape when his hands were held up (fortunately his stringing is good).  The clay dried, was painted brown and one piece was glued to the trumpet.  The 2 clay pieces were fitted back into his hands using blutak (I did not want to glue them to his hands) and when setting up the display the second piece of clay was glued to the other side of the trumpet to hold the hands closer together than they would normally naturally be (blutak failed after a while in that position in my earlier experiments, so it was better to use evostick glue for trumpet to clay joins).

Reuben holds up his left hand to show the painted blob of clay

Reuben holding the trumpet with his right hand

The right hand clay piece glued on the trumpet, with blutak for sticking it to his hand

Louis Armstrong and Animal warming up for the big Fanfare
Please note, these photos were taken before the SCW at home.  I'll do another blog post after the weekend with photos of the red carpet display and the band including its classy flautist.


Kendal said...

An absolutely outstanding and creative little Gotz toddler MUPPET. Definitely second to none for the WINNER of the red carpet display!
As an ex-teacher it was pure delight for me to see such creative thought and detail, time and effort that went into the designing and making of this fun little fellow and in complete contrast to the majority children of today who seem only interested in spending time hunched over on their social media mobiles and on their IT gaming skills.

Congratulations and well done on DMD on WINNING the Red Carpet display.
PS. Thanks too to DollMum and her husband for their support and encouragement and obvious 'enabling' home craft environment for the following generation of Sasha Doll collectors.

Serenata said...

This was just absolutely perfect, I loved the whole ensemble, but especially Animal who was/is my Dad's and my favourite character in the Muppets. The concentration and creativity involved is wonderful to see. Many congratulations on a well earned win indeed.

Leni said...

Absolutely brilliant and very well deserving of the Oscar. It got my vote, and obviously a whole lot of others! Animal was amazing. Very well done!

Dee said...

A very worthy winner, he looked brilliant banging away at his drum set.
Congratulations to DMD for making such a perfect 'Animal' who I am sure will be in
demand to grace other events this year.

I thought everyone had put much time and thought into their entries , that it was hard to chose the winners. So a hard field to win against.

Sharon said...

That is so cute and obviously well worth the win!

jamamy said...

Just an amazing result, I just loved the surprise of the Muppet Band at the end of our Red Carpet display. The photos of the construction of Animal's hat brought back so many happy memories for me. I was always beavering away at craft projects as a child, assisted when necessary by my ever patient mum.

NeverUschi said...

I especially love the remodelled drum kit. I always thought these sets are too large for Sasha, but with the changes you made, it is just perfect.
Your creative solution of the trumpet problem also is amazing! And I love Edmund's Animal hat.