Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Make your stories from the memories in your head and the wild dreams in your heart

On account of our Super Cool Books maker-friendly story projects — like this, this and this — I was recently invited to contribute a chapter to a book they're putting together for this year's Maker Faire Singapore (11 & 12 July). So I spent one quiet morning just sitting around and thinking about my earliest attempts to make stuff, and what came up really surprised me. It was so long ago that I had almost forgotten all about this. But I'm glad I have this chance to celebrate those young dreams all over again. Here's an excerpt from my contribution. I'll post more about the book when I can.


When I was in primary school, like so many other children my age, I was a big fan of Victor and Charlee. Victor Khoo was a famous local magician and ventriloquist, he passed away in 2014, and Charlee was his equally famous ventriloquist dummy. They even had their own radio show on Saturday mornings. That was the highlight of my weekend.

Victor’s performances with Charlee were always very funny and uplifting. I was completely spellbound. One day I found a book at the library about ventriloquism. I read the book many times, and practised diligently for months. The book also had a section on making your own dummy. Unfortunately, that required some wood and woodworking equipment. Which I didn’t have access to. So instead I started to borrow every other book I could find about making dolls and figurines, and I was determined to find a way to design my own moveable mouth. As part of my experiments I ended up creating rag dummies, cardboard dummies, sock dummies, paper mache dummies, and so on. 

That was quite an obsession for a while. I wasn’t just interested in making the dummy as a toy or prop. I wanted to create the whole experience of having this character come to life as part of a fun story experience. I wanted to be like Victor Khoo. That was my first experience as a maker, trying to combine craft and storytelling and a performance that made people go “wow!” 


Still on maker-friendly story projects. Last year we created some storyhacking workshops, especially this one with StoryCode Singapore where everyone made up short Captain Cardboard comic strips using little cardboard characters and props, around a simple story template. This coming weekend StoryCode Singapore will be holding yet another storyhacking session, this time using LEGO blocks. If you've seen one those awesome diy LEGO movies on YouTube, you already know how much fun this will be. It's happening at the Science Centre Singapore. Sign up quick and go have fun. Here are details:

Session: Story-coding with LEGO Education parts and Duck Learning
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Time: 2pm to 6pm
Venue: KidsSTOP, Science Centre Singapore, 21 Jurong Town Hall


Take it easy. Make up stories. Be brave. 

— D