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Colorado, United States

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Big Reveal!

Some of you may remember last January when I - nervously and excitably - announced I had signed on as an indie designer on a special project.  But I couldn't talk about it. And boy did it kill me not to be able to talk about it because I was pretty stoked! Because the people I was working with were - well - kind of a big deal. But I signed a confidentiality agreement and I honored that. 

Today I chatted with the creators of the project and they said "please let people know about your beautiful work!! We couldn't have made it all so great without your talents." 

So humbly - and with gratitude - here's the scoop:

Have you ever heard of a little thing called Baby Einstein? The creator - and creative mind behind Baby Einstein - (I discovered) lives in Aurora.  Just a few miles from me. And 10 years ago sold Baby Einstein to the Disney corporation for $40 million dollars.

Yeah, them. That's who I was working with.

You may wonder - why me? I sure did. Here's the story...

Last December we did something unconventional for Christmas and took a three day trip to Las Vegas. Upon returning as our plane was taxiing to the terminal I turned on my phone to check messages and emails - you know, like you do. The first email (thru Etsy) was from Julie Clark - who at the time was unknown to me. She said simply, "Hi Cindi - I'm the founder of Baby Einstein... I saw your products on display at the airport and am interested in talking with you about designing some puppets for a new project I'm working on... Please drop me an email if you're interested in talking."

I looked at The Mister and we discussed - not having a clue at the time what the project was and omg - how huge this would end up being. Of course the first thing I said was, "Puppets - I've never made a puppet before..."  The Mister said,"Just talk to her."

Once home of course the research began immediately. I viewed Baby Einstein videos and man - they were cute.

Long story short, I met with Julie and her husband Bill and bingo, bango - I'm hired. With absolutely no puppet-making experience. I was nervous, excited and so thrilled to have been chosen.

That all quickly dissolved into panic. Because they were very specific about what they wanted (which is good!). I would be working off an artist's drawings and create 8 different characters. I could use the same basic pattern for each, but each would have very detailed features to make them unique. The characters were all chickens but based on famous people in art, literature and music (there would eventually be a cultural teaching component). 

The fabric - which no one could recall the name of or what it was composed of - was very specific as well. It was pliable but firm. And then there was the time frame  I had six weeks in which to do this. (Luckily that was extended by another 3 weeks or so - but still tight deadlines.)

We finally determined that the fabric was vellux. And very difficult to find. So I bought several king-sized off white vellux blankets and went to work hand-dying the fabric for the various colors I would need for each puppet.

One thing I forgot... I had 8 original designs to make - but also needed to make 2 back-up identical puppets for each character for a total of 24 puppets. Lesson learned - dye enough fabric for the back-ups. Oops.  And don't hand over the original 8 before you match the color dye lots. I dyed A LOT of fabric to make everything match. Whew. Probably the most challenging part of the project...

Once the original 8 were complete, I sat in on a filming session with the puppets. Because you see -- an iPad app was in the works. And it was a brilliant idea! But my work was not finished. Working with the puppeteer we discovered I needed to tweak a few things internally on the puppets to make his job a little easier. He and his assistant and I put our heads together and I went back to the studio to tweak.

A few days later we met again and yay - problem solved. Hugs all around and I'm off to make the back-ups.

So what did they look like?  Meet the puppets of Puppet Play - an adorable iPad App that will entertain kids and adults alike. Remember they are all birds and have clever names playing on the real names (Julie and her family are responsible for the names).  

Bantam of the Opera

Emily Chickenson

Charles Darwing

Jane Austen

Leonardo deFinci

Ludwig Von Beekhoven

Marco Pollo

Sir Isaac Hooten

And here is the whole crew.
Well, almost the whole crew.
This is the back-up crew.
The Originals were filming. 

So get thee to iTunes and download to see them in action!  The App is FREE for a limited time only!

It was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life.  It was challenging, invigorating, fun, scary, nerve-wracking... but in the end so rewarding! I loved working with Julie and Bill and Mark and I learned SO much. I stretched my abilities in ways I never, ever thought I could. I worked extremely long hours and faced one surprise after another but - wow - I am so glad they took a chance on me. I'll never forget it.

And now I'm off to buy an early birthday present - a mini iPad so I can see my "kids" in action!  ha!