Do you remember your first taste of chocolate? That warm, deliciously melting, heaven-on-your-tongue? The delight of this new marvel in its shiney silver wrapper? The desire for more? … That’s how I felt at my first puppet festival, Puppet Rampage, Minneapolis 2007. I was like a kid in a candy store. Never before had I seen so many beautiful puppets, and such variety! Never had I spent such a glorious time, wrapped in the warm, welcoming arms of the big happy family that is the PofA.
On the flight back from the US, with a cosy feeling in my tummy and a satisfied smile on my face, I had an irrepressible desire to share all I’d learnt with people in the UK – but where was the liquid papier mache I’d seen Bill Lorenzon use in our sculpture class? Where was the liquid neoprene that some of the exhibit puppets were made of? And as for antron (muppet) fleece – couldn’t find it anywhere! So I started buying myself presents from the US and before I knew it people were asking me where I’d found it, could they have some, and what else did I have?
I opened my online business in June 2009 with a handful of different supplies. With virtually no marketing I was soon inundated with orders from amateurs and professionals, not just from the UK, but from France, Italy, Lithuania, Ireland.. I’ve grown to love the trip to the sorting office to pick up my big box of fleece or my crate of liquache. I even look forward to those little blue and red envelopes asking me to pay up for the import duty! All my christmasses come at once.
This year, we made our first profit. Ok I won’t be giving up the day job or buying that chocolate factory (lets face it, it will barely keep me in the style of maltersers I’ve become accustomed) but it has given me something exquisitely priceless. Instead of standing knee deep in snow, nose pressed up against the cold glass of the sweet shop window, whistfully longing for a quarter of sherbet lemons, I have an open invitation into the largest candy store this side of the Atlantic – The World of UK Puppetry.. and its raining hundreds and thousands.