Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Meet the Floppits

This is the bonus material perk for the February 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl meeting the $300 level.

In Terramagne, Tim Henson makes Floppits and launched a television show called Semolina Lane. One thing that distinguishes Floppits from Muppets is that Floppits are soft puppets (like Kermit, but unlike Bert) who can scrunch their faces, and they also have a very particular gesture of scrunching down so that the sleeve wrinkles, the way a human would slouch or cringe. They use foam in different degrees of stiffness to provide structure, with skin made from another material such as fleece or fake fur. They can be human, humanoid, anthropomorphic, or animal in shape. (There are also regular actors on the show.) A few of the larger Floppits require more than one puppeteer to manipulate.

There are tips on how to choose a puppet maker, how to build a quality puppet or muppet or a fraggle style puppet, and some general resources. Watch a video of Jim Henson that shows puppet making and characterization.

A few of the following Floppits have already appeared in poems or stories. Others may appear in future writing. These are some ideas that I and a few friends have come up with.

Bennet, a musician Floppit who is good friends with Thea, teaches piano
and guitar at the local community center. He and his roommate, Rory
started off as long term partners.... and at the end of 2014, got married
on the show. His coloration ranges from rust to burgundy, and he wears the
classic blues man suit, always neatly pressed.
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Chef Chevonne is tall and elegant. She has the short, gray-blue fur that's the default “race neutral” for Floppits, with her dark hair in a bun.
[Character concept by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Courageous Gus is a chinchilla Floppit with bright purple fur.
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Dr. Dee is a veterinarian. She has the short, gray-blue fur that's the default “race neutral” for Floppits with short black hair.
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Ekaterin is a small Floppit, even for one of the preschool-age ones. Her first language is Ukranian, and her adoptive parents are an Hispanic and African-American couple. Her fur is cheerful, African-daisy color combinations, and her clothing is tomboyish-tee shirt and overalls in solid colors, but she loves to put bows in her hair. She's struggling a lot with language and culture barriers, and is a little afraid of starting school next year. (When the show airs in the Ukraine, she speaks a Rom dialect, to keep the displaced effect.)
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

The Emerald Serpent of the Sea is so big that he requires six puppeteers! He resembles a Chinese dragon, but with filmy fins ending in webbed gloves instead of feet. His long body is made of fabric with big iridescent green scales, edged with gold fringe to hide the legs of the puppeteers. His face is a combination of green snakeskin fabric and metallic gold fabric. He lives in the deep sea, but he can travel anywhere there is enough water. He is a friend of the Mystical Mermaid and sometimes visits her in the park lake. Often people ask him questions. If they're polite, he dispenses Pearls of Wisdom -- actually advice accompanied by a ping-pong ball -- but you have to believe in it in order for it to work. Children love the slapstick humor of dropping the balls and having to chase them. The Emerald Serpent represents the virtue of wisdom.

Gertie and Bea are a lesbian couple. Gertie is tall and thin with a long oval face; she has orange fleece skin and long straight blonde hair. Bea is short and plump with a round face; she has yellow fleece skin and short curly brown hair. They teach about family life, from cooperation to arguing and making up.

Greedygut is very round and has curly fur of variegated apple-green all over. He is known for devouring everything in sight, especially food but sometimes wildly inappropriate things; it's a way to teach children what is edible and what isn't. Sometimes this makes him sick. He represents the vice of gluttony.

Hotspot has a triangular face and wild fire-colored fur. His vice is anger. When things begin to go wrong, he always loses his temper. Then someone else has to remind him to talk things out.

Lloyd writes for a small, online news service, but likes writing stories with the kids when he's away from his desk. He's a bright orange pile of shaggy fur, topped with a tuft of lime green hair, and he's terribly, terribly shy—big Floppit hands cover his hair, rather than his face, when he's nervous or startled. Some of the older kids are teaching the younger kids that you can't just rush up to Lloyd, it hurts his feelings. He's got a newspaper holder on his door, marked “Semolina News” where the kids leave him drawings and little notes (depending on their ages). Lloyd reads them and translates (think of a parent or caregiver “reading” a two-year-old's story drawing). He loves helping kids express themselves with words and pictures.
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Lyn has almond-brown short fur, chocolate eyes, and a shock of bright turquoise hair in wild, random spikes. The heart-shaped face is noticeably androgynous, even for a puppet. Lyn won't tell anyone, anywhere whether zie is a boy or a girl. Because zie is obsessed with everything being fair, and boys and girls being treated differently isn't fair. Zie has OCD and wants to count everything.
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, introduced in the story "Salvaging" ]

Mechanic Mik has brown fleece skin and short nappy brown hair. This Floppit is not obviously male or female, and a mentor of the younger Lyn.
[Character concept by [personal profile] siliconshaman ]

Mr. Smiley is a sabertoothed cat and one of the biggest Floppits, requiring a crew of two people to perform. He has shaggy peach-colored fur with darker stripes, similar in coloring to a golden tiger.

The Mystical Mermaid lives in the lake in the park. She has blue-green eyes, and hair like seaweed made from silk ribbon studded with sequins. Her human half is made of pale blue fleece and her fish half is made of iridescent blue scales. She represents mystery, awe, and wonder.

is a florist, perfectly expressed in her green fur and flowered
dress, contrasted by her steel gray hair. She wears a plain beige apron
with her work tools in it almost all the time, and is a grandmother
fostering several Floppits of varying ages.

(Children who make guest appearances often /want/ to be one of Nancy's
Kids, and there is a club of the same name which began when foster parents
grouped together to help their kids see positive examples of foster
families. Tim and his wife got word about it backchannel, and
enthusiastically endorsed the club, though it doesn't limit membership
only to foster kids.)
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Policeman Paul has a square face and sturdy build, covered in short, pale blue fur and a navy blue uniform. He teaches a lot about safety rules -- not just what the rules are, but why they are important and how people decide what they should be. He represents the virtue of civility.

Rain is actually TWO puppets making up a single personality, each operated by a separate puppeteer. The first is humanoid with a rectangular face, blue eyes, and a long body covered in shaggy gray fur. The second is a stormcloud made of curly charcoal plush, with long gray fringe to represent a downpour (which also hides the puppeteer's arm). Rain is always sad and mopey. His friends Sunny and Waggle frequently invite him to walk in the park or play games, but they understand why he says no sometimes. Once in a while when he is with them, a rainbow appears!

Ranger Rick is a Floppit who keeps getting attacked by wild animals.
[Character concept by [personal profile] siliconshaman , introduced in the story "Atomic"]

Rory is a mechanic, typically in coveralls, rarely in white tee and plain v-neck sweater over black jeans instead of slacks. He's got the short, gray-blue fur that's the default “race neutral” for Floppits, but wears his dark hair in dreads, implying that he's biracial. He loves taking things apart and tinkering, and often helps kids tune up their bikes and trikes, teaching them the skills at the same time.
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Rudy has a round face and a loose body. He is a deep fusty blue, and has a tuft of almost black hair that keeps falling in his eyes. Rather than being a curmudgeon like Oscar the Grouch, Rudy is younger and says awful things out of sheer thoughtlessness, a subtly different type of negative example.
[Character concept by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Taggert the Toad is among the most famous, originally voiced by Tim Henson himself. He is made of fleece which is green with small black spots. His head is kind of a rounded triangle with a pointy muzzle like a toad. His eyes stick up above his head, half covered with green fleece, and like a real toad they blink by retracting down into his head.
[Introduced in "Friendship Is Important" ]

Thea, who works at the record store, is fully blind. She wears classic black sunglasses and pins a sky-blue base scarf with white paisley around her 'hair' with a pentagram. Her fur is a deep amber color, shaggy, with light, ashy colored streaks, and her clothing is always shades of grey, so she only needs help selecting it, rather than day-to-day matching.
[Character design by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer ]

Shimmerie is tall and thin; she has a diamond-shaped face with strong, wide cheekbones. She is a soup, but she doesn't have any special powers; she just looks different, with beautiful iridescent fur. At first she feels self-conscious and insecure about her appearance. Soon she makes new friends, such as Sunny, who help her feel more confident. Shimmerie accepts everyone for who they are, embodying the virtue of tolerance. She was introduced around the time when school-age children started manifesting superpowers and there was an extended battle over whether they could attend school.

Sunny has hazel eyes in a pear-shaped face and shaggy yellow fur. She embodies the virtue of happiness. She makes a lot of the plans and motivates people to do things like play games or take a picnic to the park. Sunny is friends with many people including Shimmerie, Waggle, and Rain.

Waggle loves everyone. She has a heart-shaped face of beige fleece skin with long straight rainbow hair and a matching rainbow tail. She represents the virtue of lovingkindness.

The related show to Semolina Lane is The Water Department, which has a nonviolent superhera character. The fictitious Honey Bea has wings for Flight. She produces a translucent waxy substance which is slippery on a floor or can be used to make an enclosed cell for containing the bad guys or smaller objects. Her tagline for this is, "Honey says stop and think!" Another substance resembles honey; when applied to another character, it changes their mindset from negative to positive. Her tagline for it is, "Honey says sweeten up!" The foreign language taught through the show is French, with influence both from Canadian French in the Detroit area and from Cajun French in the Easy City metroplex.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, entertainment, fantasy, fishbowl, poetry, reading, writing

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