Sunday, October 21, 2012

Recreating Punch articles published

My posting has been so occasional as to be almost non-existent. However, that does not mean I have not been busy.

The second part of my article on recreating the 18th century Punch and (originally Joan, her name became Judy by the 19th century) has been published in The Journal of the Early Americas.

Punch at Grand Portage Minnesota
A number of puppeteers have expressed interest in this article and wanted to buy a copy of the journals for Parts I and II.
By arrangement with the editor/publisher, if you are not a subscriber and would like to purchase a copy of the two issues (Part I and Part II) contact me at and I can mail you both issues at cover rate plus mailing.

Otter and Death at Madeline Island

Puppeteer or history buff the Journal of the Early Americas has some really cool articles on, well, early history of North America. If you're not a subscriber, check out the issue preview at The Journal of the Early Americas and I think you will be convinced to become one.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Recreating an 18th Century Punch show

One of the projects crowding my "to-do" list is creating new heads for the characters in my Punch show.

Currently, made of non-period materials, I want wooden heads to match the period puppets for my show. The heads are patterned after Cruikshank drawings and I want to reproduce the same look in wood.

This is the start of the process and I'll update progress on this project from time to time here as well as on the Woodland Puppets News blog. I hope the heads will be done sometime this summer so that all future shows will be totally period correct to the 18th century.

I will also post about the process of building the show, stage, and other aspects, too. I am writing a longer article for publication in the Journal of Early America and possibly the Puppeteers of America's Journal.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some things never change--"hunting the squirrel"

Well, it seems time has passed quickly and over a year has passed since my last post. Life, as they say, intrudes on life.

All the raging stampede in the stores this past weekend, not to mention the tear-gassing taking place in many venues for many reasons, reminded me of another kind of rage and riot that also has not changed. And you may be surprised at this.

In Liza Picard's "Dr. Johnson's London" (p. 31) we find that life then as now had a certain outrageous flavor:

Riding a coach had its own set of dangers, what with abysmal roads, wide carter wagons, and bad suspensions, "If the coachman was wicked, he would follow a 'one horse chaise . . .passing so close to it so as to brush the wheel, and by other means terrifying any person that may be in it.' This incitement to road rage was know as 'hunting the squirrel'." (taken from Francis Grose's "A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue", London 1785).

On a different note: check out the latest NAVC Gathering in Winnipeg.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eagle River Clerk's Report

The following is an excerpt from the journal kept for the post at Riviere d'Aigle in the fall of the year:

Sept. 29 Wednesday Rainy cool weather. Arrived riviere d'Aigle in the late afternoon   as the house is already built we Moved our goods and other supplies inside and Readied for trade. Mr. Oakes being yet upon the Portage I expect him tonight  We shall greet him with a fire, a pip, and a toast to our Safe journeys here.

Mr Oakes & co arrived some time later while still light  But two more upon the trail did not arrive until Late

30th Thursday Sky clear temp 44 Heavy dew  We were up early lighting a fire and awaiting the arrival of the local band of Sauteur The post was occupied all day with comings and goings though Without much trade activities.  old A-- brought in some castorum and a few musquach  the Night was passed quietly until the Men got into a keg of HW.

Fri Oct 1 Cool 36 degrees at dawn the Post was comfortable at 50 degrees A fire was laid in preparation of the day. Piere des Auniers accused one of the men of stealing his Cassette we discovered a keg full of water upon a shelf, this after much desire of water but none willing to fetch it.

Soon we were busy with many Natives arriving to trade and Look over our goods. The day which had been overcast became Rainy shortly after noon Many of our visitors came I believe mainly for the warmth of our fire Mr Oakes exhorted them to trade with us and bring us their Furrs and meat.

Sat the 2nd Cool 37 degrees Parly cloudy Last nights Regale has made for a quiet morning A-- a local free trader came by this morning and shared the meat he had taken this morning.  Passed the day giving credits to 3 families that came on their way to Winter camp. Sun later but quite cold.

The text ends abruptly in torn pages. Perhaps the rest will come to light upon investigation. In the meantime, your Obt Clerk is obliged to return to the accountbooks.

North American Voyageurs Council Fall Gathering a month away

The North America Voyageurs' Council annual Fall Gathering is just a month away. For those of you who have attended, you know the wide range of workshops available, not only on the fur trade but relating to 18th century living, Native peoples, and so on. For those of you who have not attended before, this is a chance to meet interpreters and reenactors from all over the Midwest and Canada (and Alaska and New York, you get the idea), and discover the rich resources of talent and knowledge NAVC gathers each year.

And at a cost of $85 (which includes a $10 yearly membership) that includes your food, lodging, all this knowledge (a few workshops with hands on "take away" projects have minimal materials fees), you can't go wrong!

Sign up today. Visit the NAVC Fall Gathering web page for more information.

Monday, September 27, 2010

North American Voyageurs Council Fall Gathering

We're just a month away from one of the country's best educational programs for reenactors and interpreters, especially those involved with the fur trade of North America.

The North American Voyageurs Council presents Fall Gathering 2010 the first weekend in November. This year we are meeting at the Forts Folle Avoine near Danbury Wisconsin. Folle Avoine is the site of two fur posts, the North West Company and the XY Company, which have been reconstructed on the original footprint. Attendees will be able to sleep right on the same earth that Michel Curot, John Sayers, and George Nelson, amongst others lived.

Some exceptional workshops this year, plus an appearance by none other than Punch and his 18th century coterie of mayhem.

Click on the Fall Gathering link above to get more information and download a registration form. More info needed, contact

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

One post to another

Not much to report of late since moving from one event to another over the past 8 months has meant equipment repair and preparation, not to mention also working.

Last weekend was the Fall Gathering at the Snake River fur post in Pine City which was great--good weather, better friends!

Coming at the end of September/first weekend of October is the Living History Event in Eagle River, WI. This event used to be in February (-40, as seen below). Should be be much warmer and, I hope, drier than it has been the past few days.

 I'll post some pix of the trade goods I've prepared for this year's event--packages and fabric bolts. Between my goods, Karl Koster's, and Dave Klessig's I think we'll have a very full trading post.

Haven't had a chance to get out to gather oak gall due to weather and other commitments. I hope to get out next week or the first week in October.

I will be processing the oak galls at Eagle River in preparation to make more ink to dehydrate for powder (batch number 5; batch number 4 was small but very nice and for sale along with a couple of batch 3 left).