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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Maker House is a home for life-sized puppets

    Grace Pierson
    Grace Pierson/The Daily Wildcat Jhon(sic) Sanders, with Many Mouths, One Stomache organization, makes a giant snake at the Maker House on Saturday Morning with his volunteer assistant Jana McConnell.

    With its aroma of organic coffee beans and plethora of vintage arcade games, the Maker House is a haven for creativity. This hipster-paradise hosts people such as Jhon Sanders and Jana McConnell who use the property as a workshop for their giant life-size puppets.

    Meeting regularly every Saturday in the courtyard of Maker House, the puppet masters invite people from off the street to come help them construct one of their 20-foot paper mache works of art.

    “I can never predict what the end product will be,” said Sanders, who is associated with Many Mouths One Stomach, the organization responsible for hosting the annual All Souls Procession parade in November. Sanders said that he enjoys the impromptu process of puppet building and that he doesn’t like to begin his projects with a concrete idea.

    Sanders’ latest endeavor is a 22-foot-long snake puppet that he said he envisions as being enshrouded with patchwork fabric and pieces of glued-on shards of broken CDs, which give the impression of scales. Sanders and McConnell began building the interior of the snake this past Saturday with chicken wire and rubber tubing.

    The snake is meant to symbolize the start of springtime in the desert, as the all the reptiles begin to creep from the depths of hibernation and return to the Tucson landscape. Sanders also said that the snake contrasts with the morbid skull-puppets he is using to construct for the All Souls Procession, as the start of spring represents the dawn of new life.

    Sanders added she anticipates the snake to make its debut at The Return of Spring Circus event on April 26. The day of music, dancing and acrobats will be staged at the Valley of the Moon.

    “I have an interest with perpetuating festal culture,” said Sanders, echoing the mission statement of the Many Mouths One Stomach organization. By constructing these puppets openly at the Maker House, Sanders said that it invites opportunities for people to freely express themselves.

    “There’s such a creative vibe here,” said McConnell when commenting on Maker House’s hospitality. As a mother of suburban Tucson, McConnell never saw herself ever making giant puppets. She now assists with the production of multiple puppet projects, some of which are incorporated into the All Souls Procession.

    Since its unveiling in October 2013, the Maker House has been a playground for creative collaboration. Inviting all sorts of local talent to use its 10,000 square foot residence as an open drawing board, the house counteracts the isolationism of a private art studio.

    Vanessa Ford, the executive director of Maker House, said she takes pride in establishing an arts-focused making space. In addition to having giant puppets built in the backyard, Ford allows everyone from robotics engineers to a knitting group named the “Fiber Fondlers” to use the house for whatever suits the person’s creativity.

    The Maker House will be hosting a series of camps for children starting this summer. One course will focus specifically on puppet design, while another introduces kids to concepts of musical design, which teaches the complexity of where sounds originate.
    “We’ll evolve as the community evolves,” Ford said. “We’d like to see people to take our concept and take it to other places.”

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