Good monkey fur fabric is hard to find! We were so excited to help our friends
at Paperhand Puppet Intervention print custom fabric suitable for the monkey costumes in this
year’s performance, Invisible Earth.
Paperhand Puppet Intervention has been entertaining, educating, and inspiring NC’s Triangle
since 1998. Co-founders Donovan Zimmerman and Jan Berger spend the summer working with
volunteers, interns, and performers in their Saxapahaw, North Carolina studio to create an annual Giant
Puppet Pageant that incorporates giant paper mache puppets, stilt walkers, and live music to
explore and celebrate the intricacies of life on earth. This year, “Monkeys of the Modern World”
will be leading the narrative of Invisible Earth, and we were thrilled to help dress them!
Unable to find the right shade of gray for their monkey costumes, Paperhand volunteer Brooke
suggested they design their own fabric to fit their vision. Jan whipped up a quick fur pattern on a
scrap of cardboard in the studio.
Brooke snapped a digital photo, and a friend “wise in the ways of Photoshop” uploaded the file
We printed a sample to see if the fur design would indeed make a suitable
monkey suit, and I was lucky enough to visit the Paperhand studio to see how the artists work!
While Jan and Donovan tested the Spoonflower monkey fur, the rest of the studio was abuzz
with interns and volunteers painting scenery and bringing the long extinct wooly mammoth back
Satisfied that the fur print would work for the monkeys, we were able to print the yardage
needed for the costumes in time for our sew-in in the Greenhouse!
Brooke, a Paperhand volunteer and frequent attendee to Greenhouse events, rounded up
materials and patterns, and we put out the call for volunteers to help sew through our Meetup
group. A couple of Sundays ago, we enjoyed a delightful afternoon in Greenhouse assembling animal
robes, cutting fabric for stilt-walker pants, and drafting patterns for monkey costumes. It was so
exciting to see everything come together!
Thanks so much to Paperhand Puppet Intervention and their awesome volunteers for letting us share this part of their creative process! If you find yourself in the Triangle this summer, be sure to check out Paperhand’s 14th Annual Giant Puppet Pageant, Invisible Earth! The show opens August 9th in Chapel Hill’s Forest Theatre, and performances run every weekend through September 8th. Check out www.paperhand.org for showtimes and information!
Becca McCoy spends her free time exploring Durham with her dog Clyde, planning craft projects and sometimes finishing them. Learning to quilt is her favorite new skill of 2013, which is really helping manage her ever-growing fabric stash.