I use to be proud of the fact that every puppet I built I made by hand. Vacuum forming eyes, stripping feathers for individual hairs, cutting foam and dyeing fleece; I knew every square inch of that puppet before it was shipped. I had time …then I had kids.
Having kids totally changed my perception of puppet building. I have to be efficient, cost effective and schedule time wisely. Not to say I wasn’t doing all those things before my kids arrived, but now I am “hyper sensitive” to what I spend time on.
With three kids under the age of 6 I don’t have time for some of the practises I’ve adopted over the years. One being the dyeing of Antron Fleece.
When I dyed fleece I always felt like I was hand crafting something special. A piece of art that everyone took for granted and never noticed. I envisioned Don Sahlin and the rest of the Henson builders putting in hundreds of hours perfecting the dyeing method I now use. LOL However, I always had nightmares when dyeing fleece and no matter how well I planned, or how slow I took to come out with that perfectly dyed piece of fleece; it always never came out the way I intended.
Time and time again I would dye fleece before bed, hanging it up to dry overnight, then spending the rest of the night tossing and turning praying and hoping the dye job looked fine in the morning. The next day the fleece was never what I hoped it would be. It was patchy and/or two shades lighter/darker, it usually ended with me having to re-dye the fleece-or having to start over and dye a new piece of fleece. The whole time being frustrated with the process and wishing this task on someone else’s shoulders.
On one particular puppet rush build, I had decided I would forego personally dyeing fleece and called Puppet Pelts ; Laurie and Cindy were able to rush me the order. I worked on other aspects of the puppet while the shipment took a day (or two) to arrive here in Canada. The fleece was perfectly dyed! No stress, no mess, and it saved me hours of heartache that would have ultimately ended in wasted time and dye colour hands for weeks after. I completed the puppet and still had time (that day) to spent with my kids. That night I spent looking at the pros and cons of ordering fleece…
– You get consistent coloured fleece. Run out of a colour? No problem. Have to remake a character and need the same coloured Antron a year later? No problem. Re-order more and they match perfectly.
– The colour is perfectly even throughout. No patchiness, streaks or discolouration.
– No need to buy dye.
– No mess- no dyed wooden spoons, clothes, counters and hands.
– You get the colour you want.
– One less thing to worry about. You can focus on other aspects of the puppet instead of the dye process.
– Cost- Some may argue this point, but if you add up the amount you’d spend on actual dye, utensils, huge pots or bins, the cost of white fleece, plus the time it takes to dye and dry. The price is somewhat comparable or a tad higher.
– Send the customer to the Puppet Pelts website. I had a customer that was particular when it came to the colours they wanted for their character. Having the customer go to the website and choose the colours they want is so convenient. It saves time from having to going back and fourth with swatches and/or try to match what colour they pick from a Rite Dye website.
– Puppet Pelts has a huge selection of colours.
– Shipping. Depending on where you live and the time of year, it could take some time for the fleece to get to you.
– Cost. Why would I make this a con if I had it as a pro? Because in some instances it may be more expensive for some people- shipping, exchange rate and customs charges could be factors as to the final cost.
– You have some control over what colour you get if you DIY.
– If you’re like me you already have white fleece on standby. Why spend $ on fleece when I already have it?
After coming up with this list it was quite clear to me that I was no longer going to dye fleece ever again. Sure the cost is a factor, but it is well worth it in the end for me. Time with my kids is worth the $20 I would ultimately (may) save in the end if I dyed the fleece myself. I know some of you are great at dyeing fleece and it makes more practical sense in doing it yourself but for me and my family I just can’t justify it. We all have to make decisions and for me this was pretty easy.