Our newest puppet star has arrived!  Gourdon has joined the cast of “The Kooky Spooky Halloween Show” that we perform throughout October.  Here’s a look back on how this puppet went from a lump of clay, to a paper maché head, and almost making his public debut on live TV, yet to being interviewed for a weekly radio program.

The idea to create a pumpkin headed puppet popped into my head earlier this year when my daughter Eleanor asked me to watch the cartoon “Over The Garden Wall”. In one of the episodes, the two boys visit a village of pumpkin people. They reminded me of the character Jack Pumpkinhead from the Oz series of books written by L. Frank Baum.

So I began sculpting a new puppet…

The new puppet had to wait to be worked on as I toured our “Bee Happy” summer puppet show around Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and even a trip to Massachusetts in August.

Gradually the clay began to “magically” work it’s self into a friendly face that children would enjoy.  I love Halloween, and find the vintage greeting cards that feature pumpkins, witches, and ghosts most visually appealing.  I started looking at lots of great pictures, and added them to a Halloween themed Pinterest page.

Gourdon’s head is made of paper maché, and took me about a two days to build.  I lost count of how many tiny bits of paper it took.  I enjoy this part of the puppet building process, since I can listen to music while working.  I remember listening to Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, They Might Be Giants, Gary Numan and Led Zeppelin while building this puppet.  There is a reason why I always say, “Puppets ROCK!”.

The build was moving along at a good pace.  Things were looking great as I finished the head, and Gourdon started really looking like Gourdon.  I was very happy with our new puppet star, and prepared to sew his body and costume together.  I was booked to make a live TV guest appearance and wanted this to be  his public debut.

Then a bit of a “hick-up” happened after I had finished sewing his inner sleeve and body.  While quickly trying to get the puppet completed for the TV segment, I goofed up and used the wrong pattern on his costume.  It was too small.  I was rather upset, since this puppet has been my project.  In the past, my wife Lara has been the principle puppet builder.  She took a step back to allow me to be more comfortable with sewing, and give me room to learn.  Ugh.  Gordon would not be going on TV.

Fortunately we have a great cast of puppets to “step up” and take Gourdon’s place for the TV interview.  Witch Willie was the best puppet to replace Gourdon.  I have been performing her for over a year, and through the summer, so off to FOX19 she went to make her third live TV appearance:

With this scheduling problem solved, Lara whipped together a fantastic costume for Gourdon to wear for his puppet stage debut at the Behringer-Crawford Museum.  I could hear the children in our audience react to Gourdon as he welcomed them to our show, they love him.  After the show they were thrilled to meet him, with several of the kids requesting to have their photo taken with our new puppet star.

The day’s adventure in puppetry was not over.   After I finished loading-out of the museum, I had to drive back to Wump Mucket Puppets headquarters to unload our  gear, only to head back out to have Witch Willie, Gourdon, and myself record a radio interview on WVXU, Cincinnati’s NPR radio affiliate.

Tune in to Around Cincinnati next week to listen.  WVXU’s John Kieswetter had many great questions for the puppets and myself, making what I am sure will be the fun radio debut of a pumpkin head puppet named Gourdon.