Saturday, April 28, 2012

Love this guys bikes

I havn't writen much about bikes recently as been absorbed in my Ma, and puppetry, but got really excited about this guy: and had to share it... 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Puppets for Patrick (the snakey saint guy)

Tangle theatre is reincarnated once more!!!!!                        after a last minute application me and co-collaborator Arran of Cork Circus were accepted for a commission for this years St.Patricks day parade... the theme was happyness and what more appropriate than aliens!?!?!?              Well yeh perhaps you don't see the connection but aliens looking from another planet and seeing the world as it is, come here not to suck our brains but to show us how to have a good time!

Space ship puppet theatre and life size alien rod puppet

The Parade was great fun, we worked with a youth group from Mahon and a group of asylum seekers, mostly from the African continent, the group creation of the aliens worked really well, as in making an alien there's no rules really, because their aliens, and because no one can really say what and alien looks like, theres no mistakes, and no wrong way to do it, which can be very liberating when not so confident with your artistic skills, I used a stuffed bag technique to make the alien heads, where you make a rough shape with bags stuffed with newspaper, rubbish, anything really, tape it into place then build up layers of newspaper and brown paper stuck together with wallpaper paste, if you click on my 2008 posts you should see this technique, as i used it in La Cambalacha in Guatemala on my second vist to their fantastic place
The aliens having a great ol time in their converted paddling pools

Me and mr alien

details of control

jus chillin

detail of hand puppet potential
We used a kind of foam called profile foam for the tentacles, these were off cuts of foam and kindly donated by Vita Cortex a foam factory in Cork, the natural bubbiness of the foam looked very alien tentacle and all that was required was to cut, glue and paint them
flying saucers

alien controlled robot and flying saucer aliens

skeleton of alien rod puppet
The alien rod puppet was constructed from tent poles recycled from last years festivals, this skeleton was then covered in foam, using copydex to glue it, which needed to be heated with a hairdryer to make it stick effectively, foam and copydex is actually the same substance, copydex being latex and foam being latex with has had foaming agent added then cooked like bread, this fact only came to light when i researched how to create puppets from a mold... and i blew my did.
more skeleton
Once the foam was carved to the right shape, the whole thing was covered in copydex and muslin, then layers of copydex mixed with pigment.
The fun thing was when the copydex was at just the right stage of drying, you could actually shape and mould the features, the softer the foam the more effective this was
carving foam head
Demonstrated by copydex man, my little test piece i made, he was made from very soft foam and i had great fun shaping him by hand.  and made quite a freaky little fellow
copydex man.....little test piece

foam body before latex and muslin applied

Puppet maker Lesley givin it some alien moves

asylum seeker workshop painting large paper mache head

more detail of painting


Arran painting tentacle surrounded by flying saucers

internals of flying saucer

flying saucer packed down, neat ay

Assembling African alien, note red cross for mouth signifying lack of voice for asylum seekers

Arran an the Alien
Big Eye

found a few clips of the paddys parade on youtube, this is the whole parade and we are at about 41.50

this clip is a bit better: and we are on at
about 12 mins in theres a good bit of Arrans alien robot on it

and some good flying saucer spin action on
at about 29 mins in.....

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Puppet Chicken

At the end of 2010, friend, clown and sometime collaborator Arran, commissioned me to construct a puppet chicken to be included in a performance him and three other clowns were doing as Clowns without Borders in Somalia. A chicken was selected as it was easily reconised, and it was built around a builders hat in order for it to be placed on the head.

The legs were contructed of wire and newspaper jointed with bolts, strung from behing to give realistisc chicken movement, the wings were made from truck inner tube bolted to the builders hat

The finish of the chicken was exposed newspaper paper mache, as the clown show was called 'Good News' utilising newspaper props, so the show didn't look too flashy, and keeping accessible to all audiences.

This was the first time in twenty years an international performance group were in Somalia as it is a country with no government to speak of and a chaotic situation for much of the inhabitants, who are mostly displaced within their own country.

I felt honoured to be involved in a small way in such an inspiring project, as bringing smiles and laughter to situations where hope and joy is in short supply has been an ambition of mine for a long time, ever since reading the circus to iraq blogs in 2004 (

The puppet was constructed in my freezing workshop with the wood burner was on constantly, and the water would freeze as it came out of the tap into my kettle as i fed my need for constant cups of tea.

So it felt a little sureal that in those conditions it was then whisked to the 30-35 blinding sun to become part of  a circus clown routine to entertain children who'd witnessed untold horrors in there short lives

A very inspiring project, and one i was very happy to have a small part in.
For more information click on

Monday, December 07, 2009

Lecy Picy

Here are pictures from the space I organised at the electric picnic, Non-Toxic Machines, it was based in the Green Crafts space, while technically not a green craft, making machines out of old bikes seemed to fit in quite well with the ethos of the whole thing, and I felt really welcomed, the organisers of the space Marie and Nic Piper were great, they did everything they could for us and trusted everyone to do their own work and do it well, creating a real community feel to the space, and it made me wonder why more organisers arn't as pleaseant and organised, having bad experiences working for the body and soul area, where ego's seem to rule the space, the organisers arn't at all organised and seem to think that people should be honoured to be part of the festival and generally treat people with contempt.... they know who they are.. anyway me and my friend Anna, fellow bike artist from Belfast, Paddy Bloomer, and his partner Joanna who also made dresses from old tents, ( had a great time. Padddy made a bike soundsystem on a old sinclair C5, an i mostly tinkered with my bike powered virtual reality machine and people had much fun peddling and playing tunes on the pedal soundsystem

Hollies workshops

ok, these were workshops me and my friend fergal ran at the hollies centre for practical sustainability ( in the summer. They went over two days and the first workshop was concerning making bike generators, this went ok considering there wern't to many people, we decided to make two kinds of bike trailer, the first kind was based around a fish box, the big heavy rubber/plastic boxes fishermen use, the wheels were taked apart and put on the axle of a peda;l, and then the pedal cranks bolted onto he box, this method worked well as it can be done without using electricty, which was handy as we didn't have any electricity on site, the problems started with the second kind of trailer, a metal frame one which used normal wheels but needed welding, so it was difficult to get people involved as i couldn't teach welding in such a short time, so i basically had to make it with other people watching, which i felt was a bit disempowering, and dificult, so we decided the following day which was about making bicycle powered machines, would be entirely electricity free, apart from what we generated with the machines, to be super low impact, but also using only hand tools made it a super accesable day, were anyone young and old could get involved, and after a breif talk about the technicalities possibilities of bike machines we went about making three bike generators, it was a bright sunny day, an there was a wonderful atmosphere of playfullness an invention amoung the participants who all went away very happy, i was buzzing after that day, and it inspired me to organise a non-toxic machines space in the green crafts field of the electric picnic.

Mushrooms, Metal and bikes

Ok here are some more images, first off, some gratuitous action shots of me on the forge in me workshop, then a surprise, when the glen studio's semi-collective returned from our outing at the electric picnic (where non-toxic machines bike crew had there first event fotos soon_) we'd only been gone a week, but upon returning wehen i went to use my anvil, there where mushrooms growing from it!!, well actually from close ispection, they wern't growing from it, but from the beech stump i put it om months before, it must have had some fungus in it, at first i thought it was really cool, but then i looked them up, an i think they are destroying angel mushrooms, some of the deadliest around!, and when ever i pivcked them, the next day there would be more!, they've finally subsided but i expect they'll be back next year, a foto with bikes in it? oh yeh that was from a workshop, me and my friend fergal did in the hollies, a centre for perectical sustainability in west cork. more to follow

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A long time since my last confession

Its been a long time since my last blog, and alots happened since then, so i will not attempt to catch up all at once but i'll do it in installments, i spose one of the most exciting things for me was setting up the Glen Studios with friends Sean Og and Donal, its a studio space which primarily focus's on sustainable art forms, i've got a forge there and lots of tools to play with, its also significant in a life changing way, as to set it up i had to decide where i wanted to be for a good few years, which i've never consciously done, so I feel thats a big step forward, its in a place called kinsale, which is a little seaside town on the south coast of Ireland, there could be alot worse places to be. It was the first transition town, which means it aims to leave behind its dependancy on oil over time, more about this later. It also has a small college which teaches the only full time permaculture course in Europe, so this brings interesting people from all over the world, and alot of them settle here, making it culturally alot more exciting than many small towns in Ireland.. any way to the pictures.. The first one is Paddy Bloomers 'Skary-Go-Round' which he brought down to cork for the cycling festival there. I had the pleasure of working with Paddy at the electric picnic this year, in a bike recycling space i organised called Non-Toxic Machines.... photo's will follow.
The next picture is Sean Og, Donal and me around our burner in the studio's, then me on a bike generator at the entrance to the studio's at our first event, a performance and film screening.

Next is Brendan Power, pyrographer using a bike generator I designed and made, so he can pyrography without mains electricity. His website: and the Glen Studios website (still in construction) thanks for your attention and i will upload more images shortly. Thanx. Rob