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Making Puppets with Jim Henson
September 16, 2010 1:37 PM   Subscribe

In a wonderful 15-minute video from 1969, a young Jim Henson shows you how to make puppets out of ordinary things. Yes, it's SLYT, but it's a really good SLYT, so I beg forgiveness.
posted by cerebus19 (43 comments total) 118 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is awesome, no apology necessary!
posted by m@f at 1:40 PM on September 16, 2010


Somehow, a favorite seems almost insultingly inadequate to express my feelings about this.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:42 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


What's with all these people begging forgiveness or asking folks to be gentle with their FPPs lately? Just make your post and own it. MeFi will do as it will with the content, but if you're unsure about a post don't post it.

That said, thanks for posting. This is great!
posted by hippybear at 1:44 PM on September 16, 2010


My favorite thing about this video is how serious his assistant looks. As if he is thinking, "yes, yes, that's exactly how this tennis ball should look as I make it nod, completely within engineering specifications."
posted by davejay at 1:49 PM on September 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Kermit sure does a good job running that big Jim Henson puppet. You can always tell it's Kermit, though, from the voice.
posted by fritley at 1:55 PM on September 16, 2010 [35 favorites]


Few things can make me feel happy and sad all at once in quite the way videos of Jim Henson do.
posted by oddman at 1:57 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


There is nothing, repeat NOTHING wrong with SLYT posts
posted by brundlefly at 2:04 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


I would like to rename MetaFilter to MuppetFilter.
posted by incessant at 2:06 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is that Frank Oz helping him? Spoonhead sounds a lot like the pre-dubbed voice for Emmett Otter's mom.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:09 PM on September 16, 2010


More proof that the 60s conter-culture movement continues to destroy America.
posted by notion at 2:17 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


And spelling. And comedy. And self-worth.
posted by notion at 2:18 PM on September 16, 2010


Is that Frank Oz helping him?

No, that's Don Sahlin, the designer of the Muppets.
posted by briank at 2:47 PM on September 16, 2010


Everyone please stop adding "SLYT" and pre-emptive apologies to posts. Just post the video, please.
posted by empath at 2:49 PM on September 16, 2010


I beg forgiveness.

THAT'S RIGHT BEGGGG!

Oh wait, this is rather good.
posted by nola at 2:50 PM on September 16, 2010


I'd just like to remind everyone again that SLYT does not rhyme with "might". It rhymes with "mitt".

Thank you.
posted by gurple at 2:51 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Never ever apologize for linking to Henson. He is one of the pillars upon which the world stands, and is not destroyed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:58 PM on September 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


More proof that the 60s conter-culture movement continues to destroy America.

Who let Sam the Eagle in here?
posted by JHarris at 3:05 PM on September 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


It never ceases to amaze me what life Henson could give to a sock and a couple of ping-pong ball halves.

Here's a script and patterns to make actual Muppets for a Christmas play (and save the $100 they charge to build you one at FAO Schwartz). This article appeared in Woman's Day in 1969, and apparently gave a lot of budding puppeteers a foundation to build on.
posted by evilcolonel at 3:05 PM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Derail: Forty years later, the various political parties are building candidates like this. Only they're using sewage as their raw materials.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:12 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, that's Don Sahlin, the designer of the Muppets.

There's a third person, though. Don Sahlin stays above the table during the taping.

Seeing as Rowlf makes a cameo, I think we can safely say that Frank Oz is below deck.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:40 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seeing as Rowlf makes a cameo, I think we can safely say that Frank Oz is below deck.

That's just peculiar. Rowlf is (was) worked and voiced by Henson. I think it's clear from the very beginning of the clip that whoever is working Rowlf is playing to a recording of Rowlf's voice, as any of the actual Muppeteers would never be that sloppy with the mouth work.

I have no idea who is working him during the beginning of the video, but it's certainly not typical.
posted by hippybear at 3:46 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Last fall, I went to the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta (well worth the tour of historical puppetry with lots of interactive features); they have a big room dedicated to Henson and the Muppets and Fraggle Rock, etc. There are videos and big pictures and various characters and it is awesome. Tucked away in one corner, there was a hands-on section with some felt-covered orbs, and a variety of features (all flat, no half-ping pong balls or anything) you could stick onto the heads - it wasn't quite the Muppets, but it was close enough for a tiny little thrill.
posted by julen at 3:52 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's just peculiar. Rowlf is (was) worked and voiced by Henson. I

You're right, I was confused.

The weirdest part is that the other puppets sounded to me exactly like the puppets on Mr. Rogers.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:15 PM on September 16, 2010


I just want to apologize to everyone in advance for the vacuity of this substance-free comment. Sorry.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:33 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The legendary Keith Johnstone talks a lot about the way that a mask takes over an actor - but these puppets (even the simplest) comes alive in just the same way - viz Spoonhead in this clip.

Thank you so much!
posted by Grangousier at 5:09 PM on September 16, 2010


The weirdest part is that the other puppets sounded to me exactly like the puppets on Mr. Rogers.

I'm pretty sure the "German old lady" puppet is actually Lady Elaine Fairchilde, mudpuppie. Probably before she became famous (and O.D.'ed, but that's what sudden celebrity does to some people).
posted by IAmBroom at 5:13 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


That HAS to be Frank Oz doing the puppets' voices - they also sound like Fozzie Bear doing impressions to me...

This is fab, thanks.
posted by Knicke at 5:28 PM on September 16, 2010


I am committed to building puppets out of kitchen utensils. Folks in the Des Moines area, who's with me?
posted by cottoncandybeard at 5:33 PM on September 16, 2010


Thank you for this, from the bottom of my fuzzy, left-handed heart.
posted by kostia at 6:03 PM on September 16, 2010


I have a little girl, gonna turn 1 next week. This has every rainy afternoon from now until she discovers boys covered. I can't thank you enough for this vid!
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:46 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


THAT'S RIGHT BEGGGG!

Save it for the paying customers. Tho it is easier on the feet, not having to wear the ballerina-boots.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:49 PM on September 16, 2010


At the end he says "...and the next time we get together we'll take these shapes and add features to them to give them different kinds of characters." Where's that video?

Also, awwww that dog is sooo cute!
posted by The Dutchman at 7:27 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is great. For some reason I keep picturing Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman doing this video, probably because of Don Sahlin's seriousness.
posted by Memo at 7:30 PM on September 16, 2010


Thanks for posting this. I wish they had the follow-up video he alludes to at the end.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:05 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, love this.

As a kid, I had a terrific book about how to make muppets from household items. It came with a bunch of fake fur and googly eyes. To this day, I can't see a wine opener without picturing the little man I transformed my parents' into.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:21 PM on September 16, 2010


I'm at work and so have only watched the first minute, with no sound. But how muppety is Don Sahlin?! (Assuming he's the one introduced at the end of the first minute).

He's got the funny stick-on moustache and the big comedy glasses. If I watch long enough, will Jim Henson pull his nose off and give it a squeeze?
posted by penguin pie at 12:32 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


But how muppety is Don Sahlin?!

Seriously Muppety!
posted by Jugwine at 6:22 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously Muppety!

Oh wow - lovely! He is Muppet number one :)
posted by penguin pie at 2:11 PM on September 17, 2010


Fantastic post. Thanks.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:15 PM on September 17, 2010


Muppets and puppets always win, hands down, in my book, over man-made robots.
posted by simulacra at 5:36 PM on September 17, 2010


I just clicked this link and now I'm 15 minutes older but 20 years younger. How the hell did that happen?
posted by chairface at 5:47 PM on September 17, 2010


Here's some Henson 'Making Muppets' videos I came across from a workshop he taught in France in 1987:

- Teaching Muppeteering through singing and counting
- Teaching Puppets to make Muppets (this appears to be one of Henson's assistants).
- Rehearsing.
- Student film 'The Box', The Making of 'The Box'
posted by Happy Dave at 4:13 AM on September 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


blue_beetle: "Derail: Forty years later, the various political parties are building candidates like this."

*cough* *cough*
posted by Rhaomi at 4:19 PM on September 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


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