Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vintage Puppets: Handmade Sesame Street Characters

I'm a puppetmaker, not a businessman.  That might explain why my "business strategy" (such as it is) for selling on Etsy doesn't make any sense.  I blog about other people's puppets I buy, I discuss characters in TV shows and movies that I have no intention of making into puppets to sell, and -- strangest of all -- I made a Team on Etsy, called Puppetsy, with the sole purpose of showing and promoting everyone else's puppets that are being sold on Etsy.

Am I goofy?  Well, the truth is, I just like vintage/handmade/weird puppets.  More often than not, I like other people's puppets better than my own.  I notice all the little imperfections in my own puppets that I don't  notice in others'.  Ideas for puppets that have struck other people seem way more creative than my own ideas.  This all leads to the magical formula that operates in theoretical PayPal money: I send people a puppet or two when they put money into a PayPal account which is used to order puppets from other people.  (The same thing happens with "Spoondollars" in my Spoonflower account; I refer to this imaginary money as "Chuck E. Cheese tokens.")

This is all a prelude to the story of a puppet-purchase that got me remarkably jazzed recently.


I happened to see the above image while surfing Etsy; the Listing was titled:

Vintage 1980's Sesame Street inspired character puppets (one per price)


Nice!  These puppets were vintage, handmade, and sufficiently off-model enough to be called "weird."  I bought three of them.  As of today, I see that someone else has also bought Ernie.  If you'd like to own Bert, Cookie Monster, Grover, or Big Bird -- each one a handmade brother to the ones I now own -- you'd better click on the above link as soon as you can!

So, here's some photos of the three I bought.


First of all we have Kermit, who must have been made earlier than later in this puppetmaker's Sesame Street project.  He's a wee bit too small -- he'd work really well as Robin.  I like the simplicity of his styrofoam eyes.



A neat feature of each of these puppets is the shoulder-pad sewn into the head.  This might be something I have to try with my own puppets.

Next: Oscar the Grouch!



This super-70's shaggy green fur fabric is totes cool.  These puppets were listed as "1980's," but I suspect a late 70's creation date.  This barf green fur is way too hirsute to be readily available in the clean-cut 80's.  I'm also intrigued by Kermit being considered a Sesame Street character.  Sure, he had the News Flash segments all throughout the 80's, but Kermit sitting on the steps of 123 Sesame Street became a rare occurence after The Muppet Show became popular.



Last but certainly not least, this puppetmaker's piece de resistance: Count von Count.


Even in the jumbled-up pile of puppets in the Etsy Listing photo, I could tell that this Count puppet was going to be something special.  No level of detail was too much for the puppetmaker to attempt: the fangs, the widow's peak and goatee, the monocle...



The bow tie, the satin-y shirt with yellow and red stripes, the cape... my God, the cape!



Awesome.  Be sure to check out the Etsy Listing to see if any more of the characters are available.  Let me know if you are now the proud owner of a handmade Sesame Street puppet or two!



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