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Puppety Opinion Please

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Puppetplanet, Aug 23, 2003.

  1. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Hello fellow puppet makers! :excited:

    I was wondering if I could get your oppinion on something.

    As some of you may know, I sell a few of the puppets I build on ebay. I get a lot of people asking me about "how" I did a certain something for the construction of my puppets. I don't want to be rude to potential buyers, but do you give away building secrets or anything like that? I just figure that it has taken years for me to figure out how to do some things and get my method just right.... I just feel funny about giving away my hard work.

    I've got someone asking me to teach them how I built the mechanisim to hold the rods inside my puppets hands. I don't quite know what to say and wondered how other puppet builders handle those kind of questions.

    I know that I have posted diagrams of how I constructed this exact thing here, but we are all here with the same desire to build quality puppets and you guys are more like kindrid spirits or family to me. ...... ebay just feels different.

    What is your out look on this? Am I being stingy?
    -Michele
  2. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter New Member

    Even Henson keeps secrets from people. "The Henson Stitch" for example, has only been revealed to a few individuals outside the company. It's okay if you don't want to tell people how you do it. Just explain that it took a lot of hard work for you to make it, that it DID take years to dlearn how to do so, and you'd prefer not to reveal the methods. If that's really the way you feel...
  3. Baby Animal

    Baby Animal New Member

    I would agree with Scooter (welcome back by the way.) There are certain things you want to keep to yourself when it comes to making the puppets. Maybe you should get a patent and everything, that way if you sell it to someone else, they can't deconstruct it and find out how you did it, only to patent it themselves and make you be out of luck. At least mail yourself the design and never open it until it's absolutely necessary. If you're making money off of it, it's yours. Gotta keep your breadmaker safe.

    So how do you keep the rodarms inside the hands now? :p

    j/k
  4. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Baby Animal..... I have a link to the diagram posted in the Arm Rod Thread if you would like to see it. :excited:
  5. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Alot of people may disagree with this, but I think if you (and here I am discussing anyone in general and not you in particular Michele) benefits from a forum like this where you can ask questions and enjoy the knowledge of other puppeteers it's hypocritical to not answer someone's questions. If you've learned alot from other people you really should be willing to "give back" by at some point helping others who were starting out just like you were once.

    I hate it when people are jerks and foolishly hoarde general puppetry knowledge from others. It's selfish. A young, but fairly prominent puppeteer up here once complained to me that none of his colleagues would tell him where he could buy antron fleece. We all know that this information is readily available everywhere on the Web, but despite that these other puppeteers absolutely refused to tell this fellow him where he could get it for himself (they did offer to give him some though). I thought that this was the most rediculous thing I had ever heard! And yes, I gave him the information. Absolute silliness.

    Now that said, there are some special or original techniques that puppeteers or builders can spend years developing and I think those people are are well within their rights to keep those techniques to themselves because they spent years developing them. They didn't come out of a book or off the `net, they were the product of years of experience and hard work.

    This can get tricky. I started out working for a black light puppet company. Now they are one of the best companies in the world at what they do and (because they have had their work shamelessly ripped off before) they are incredibly paranoid about people giving away their "secrets." I think they made me sign away my firstborn in the non-disclosure agreement I had to sign!

    The trouble with this was that most of what they do they didn't actually invent so it's not really a "secret". There's actually only three specific things in their work that they came up with themselves so when I'm asked questions about black light puppetry I willingly share everything I know except those three specific things (I wouldn't use them in my own work either) because they are unqiue, original and I respect that. The rest of it can be found in a book and it's general knowledge as far as I am concerned. All I am doing by telling someone is saving them a trip to library.

    What you have to be prepared for though is that someone you share with will likely turn around and rip off your work. That is, they'll just copy what you do rather than invent their own way of doing things. That's OK. We've all done it. But be prepared for this and don't take it too personally if it happens. You didn't invent puppetry and neither did the person you learned from. All art is built on what has been done before.

    My general rule of thumb is that anything in your work that you can find in a book at the library or online isn't a secret and probably wasn't your idea in the first place so you really shouldn't have any issues with sharing that knowledge with someone else like it was shared with you. If you do have a truly special, unique or "secret" way of doing things and you don't want people to know or use, then just politely decline to talk about it.

    I wouldn't worry too much about people copying you on ebay or elsewhere online either. The fact is that virtually all of the puppets (professional or otherwise) offered on the net for under $100-$150 aren't really that "professional" anyways. Anyone with a copy of the foam book, a few basic sewing skills and a little practice could make them. It's like cars. Everyone can find out how to make one. Not everyone can build a Porsche. What will really set you apart out there is your creativity. Thankfully, no one can rip that off.
  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Puppet-Planet builds great puppets, but I think there is very little there that is original enough to patent. Just my opinion though.

    I'm not a patent lawyer, but if you do want to protect something this won't help. Patents go to whoever files them first. If someone else beats you do it you're out of luck...even if you invented it first.
  7. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Thank you for the well thought out reply Buck-Beaver. I totally agree and would never try to hide typical information that could be found on the internet or other sources that I have learned from. What I get protective about is something that I have come up with and is all of my own work and time put into getting it just right.

    For exapmle, My patterns are not patterns that I purchased somewhere. Although I learned the basic construction techniques of building a puppet I designed a pattern that worked best for me from what I have learned.

    What I did do for this specific person was offer all my knowledge for resources where they could go to learn more about puppet contruction. I included all of the links that I saved from here (inlcuding yours Buck), some diagrams that I found on the web, links to patterns and instructional videos that people on here have sworn by, and a simple puppet pattern e-book that I purchased elsewhere (with the owners permission of course.)

    And NO! I did not keep the source of Antron fleece a secret! Thats just silly! *laughing* I sent them Kathy's e-mail info. ;)

    Thanks again Buck!

    By-The-Way....... I know my puppets are not top quality "professional" type puppets. It's a working progress.... but they do have some qualities that put them above those "others" if I do say so myself. *laughing*
  8. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Exactly. Oh, and don't ever give out patterns. There are sooo many unfortunate stories about people who have done that.

    You know the wedge thing? I use that all the time as a basis for patterns. I'm not going to post patterns because let's face it, someone somewhere would probably use them and I don't really want that. But explaining the wedge thing points people in the right direction. That's all you're getting out of me though lol ... people can figure the rest out for themselves!! :zany:

    Remember, I said I was addressing the issue in general, and not responding to you in particular, but see...you are already sharing more than certain quasi-Muppet folk who shall remain nameless lol.

    Actually, that's not fair. Truth is, whether I like it or not alot of people are reluctant to give out info because they have been burned by unscrupulous people who just want to rip them off. It's shame. Still not a good excuse for not helping/sharing, but I get where these people are coming from too.

    Again, I was just speaking generally Michele. But I do agree they are much, much better and more original than many of the puppets I see on the web. :)

    Now what I would like to see is everyone break out of the Muppet style cartoon hand rod puppets (myself included). Do something really original. We should run a contest. What does everyone think?
  9. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Oh no Buck... I wasn't taking anything personally. I actually welcome and often ask for criticism, especially when it comes to my work because it helps me put more effort into building better puppets. :excited:

    Just so long as no one tells me that my bird looks like feathered poo-poo or something. *laughing* By-The-Way....... the birdie currently on ebay is using the wedge method (I think thats what your refering too but I wont go into details since you seem to want to keep that secret) ;) No one seems to like the poor guy though, no bids with him sitting at $20. :cry: I personally wasn't happy with the wings and though I should have put hands instead, but those were the hubby's idea.

    Ah well, thats what happens sometimes. He sold once before but had to be relisted because some schmuck didn't pay.:mad:

    OH! I did wanna ask why giving out patterns would cause ya to run into problems? They are home made patterns designed by someone, but I got permission before forwarding it...... thats bad? It's just a simple puppet that you stuff with poly fill, nothing that anyone is going to get rich off of.


    So...... what kind of contest.... just a unique something? That would be fun Buck, maybe you should post a new thread and see if we get any responces. Mention if there are restrictions in size, type, and date when everyone should be complete... etc. FUN! FUN! FUN!
  10. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Well, what I meant was that it is probably a very bad idea to give away original patterns. I know of a puppet builder who once was kind enough to teach someone who approached her everything she knew and he turned around and started selling exactly the same puppets! He actually built a small, but reasonably successful business off her years of work. :boo: Not nice. On the bright side, she ended up completely changing her work and it is better than ever now! :)
  11. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    There are ways to give full information without giving the full information. I found that my best knowledge came from research, and that's what I always suggest people to do: research. Sometimes, it ocmes in the form of reading these posts, but other times it comes from digging through library books or more.

    I don't mind giving information when there is a direct question asked of me, and the reason is that in the past I've had a need to ask (when research didn't pan out) and was rejected the answer. It's my duty to teach the information I have to those who do not have it yet, and if it's definitely something that I feel will ultimately infringe on my characters I try to find another answer for the inquisitives.

    As Buck says, I wouldn't dare give out my personal patterns, but patterns which are readily available online or in books I will direct folks to those.

    Kev
  12. Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Member

    I finally have a name picked out for my company. I have a new design for my puppets but I need to find out how to go about registering my business name . Also a patent for my puppet design. Do I even need a patent on a pattern? I did a serch of the forum and found nothing on this.
  13. Iokitek

    Iokitek New Member

    interresting thread :) I was wondering about these things myself.

    Thanks for putting tutorials on your site Michelle. The Blue Boy pattern has been very helpfull to start off with. And so was the eye tutorial. I made my own version out of transparent spoons though. Once I get access to my ISP again I'll see if I can post a tutorial.

    Right now I am in the process of designing, selecting and testing building materials for a 2 person rodpuppet system that should allow me to do all these things 'at the same time' :

    - Move the puppet itself, ofcourse, but weight distribution is very important
    - Move the head in all directions
    - Move the arms and being able to control all fingers seperately
    - Move the mouth in 2 different positions and being able to open wide or close it entirely while remaining in position
    - Move the eyes in all directions
    - Make the eyelids blink seperately or together and being able to keep their position
    - frown the eyebrows

    I'm really exited about this whole project because it allows me to do so much at once using only 2 puppeteers. And without the use of animatronics. Although I might use some household electronics for certain parts eventually though. I just don't know that much about electronics so I'm trying to work it all out the oldfashioned way. I'm actually building this out of wood and pvc pipes etc.

    The more I work on this the more I realize that although every individual mechanic isn't that original, the way I put it together is, as far as I can tell anyway. After reading this thread I have decided that when I have worked out the details it's best to apply for a patent and then I'll see if it is really that original.

    But I do seem to be succeeding quite well in designing multi functional low-budget puppets so far :) even if I won't be able to get all the details in there in the end, only a few of them would already be more than most rod puppets have as far as I can tell. I'm just trying to go for the gold before I settle for silver :p
  14. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    my only thought on this is that learning something for yourself, instead of being told is much more important in the long run , it trains your mind to think, and expand, and to find new solutions for things,

    if you are just told how to do something i dont think u are really learning.

    but that just my humble opinion
  15. FISH'N'WOLFE

    FISH'N'WOLFE New Member

    Absolutely, I feel the same way. I've learned best by teaching myself, it allows for all sorts of creative inventions.
  16. Woofus

    Woofus New Member

    If I may toss my two cents in here.... I don't mind when people ask me questions about something I know, or do. My biggest problem is when they don't have the gumption to do a little research on their own, first. I'm in the process of making my very first puppet. (Yay me!) I have a TON of questions. But, I would feel kind of bad, or even lazy to go to some of you and just ask you to "Show me everything you did to make ____". I've done a bunch of reading, searching the web, checking out books etc. I feel that I have a good basic grasp of how to do it. Now, this doesn't mean that I may not come along with a question or two later on, but I feel I have enough knowledge and creativeness to go at it by myself.

    Of course we'll have to see how the first puppet turns out. ;)

    Woofus!
  17. PaulyPuppets

    PaulyPuppets New Member

    Come on, Buck. That's not fair to say. I mean what defines "professional"? If a sock puppet was used to represent a Pet Store Company, it becomes a professional puppet regardless of the materials it's made of. I've said truthfully before, that I build all my puppets out of affordable materials, so that the average puppet buyer can afford them. Most are ministries, but many are professional puppeteers. Puppetplanets' puppets, mine, and several others out there, are considered professional enough for folks to keep buying them over and over and over again. Now I admit, I just skimmed through the posts here, so maybe you didn't mean PuppetPlanets work, or mine for that matter. But I still need to voice my opinion. Building affordable puppets is solely how I've supported my family for 3 years now. Not many builders can say this. We must be doing something right. My feeling is, give the customer what they want, make them happy, and your product will be considered professional, regardless of how much you sell them for.
    As far as sharing ideas (what this thread is really about), I prefer to share my ideas with other pro puppet builders, rather than with customers willing to buy my work. But only if the other pro puppeteers are willing to share their ideas with me. Business is business. Even The Henson Company as you know, has declared the invisible triangle method to be a trade secret. There's got to be limits and rules to sharing. Just one guys thoughts. ​
    www.puppetsnstuff.com
    http://stores.ebay.com/PUPPETSNSTUFF-PUPPETS
  18. Yahnke

    Yahnke Member

    I agress with buck in the fact that I don't think anyone should feel the need to share secret they have developed on their own- ESPECIALLY if those secrets are essentail to their lively hood. If you are supporting your family by building puppets then i wouldn't be disappointed if you didn't tell me how to build a puppet- although i also would blame anyone for asking, for you'll never know if you don't ask. It's like a mechanic. Most people could fix their own cars if they knew what tools to use and how to do it- yet a mechanic won't guide you through it because that is how he supports himself.

    I do have one issue though with buck's comments- Who decides what quality makes a puppet "PROFESSIONAL." I would call many of the puppets for sale professional. I would certainly call puppet-planets professional. Certainly more professional than puppets from one way street- not to say that OWS are not to be considered professional.
  19. PaulyPuppets

    PaulyPuppets New Member

    I agree 100%.
  20. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I believe that patterns cannot be patented; patents are only issued for original inventions. Patterns are covered by copyright. You can double check this with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. They have a web site at http://www.uspto.gov

    I think to register a business name in most U.S. states you simply file a DBA or "Doing Business As" through your city or county.


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