Behind the scenes making puppet clothes with costumer Kim Crossley
Cutter/costumer Kim Crossley built the dress for Mary, the main character in our next film Through the Looking Glass. Here she answers a few questions about her background and creating clothes for puppets.
How did you get started making clothing for puppets?
My puppet costuming began in 1987 in Calgary when I met and began to work with master puppeteer, Ronnie Burkett. My first projects with him included creating a dinner jacket for a large muppet-style hand puppet of a bull, and a tutu for a large bird mascot he was building for a charity. From there, I moved on to smaller hand puppets, and ultimately his marionettes.
Can you tell us about some of the puppet clothing you have made?
Over 27 years and 11 Theatre of Marionette productions, most of them averaging about 36 costumes per show, it’s covered quite a range – three-piece suits, white tie and tails, jeans and t-shirts, leather bustiers, lingerie, negligees, vintage designer dresses, beaded/sequinned/feathered gowns, long-johns, onesies, tutus, cardigans, suede jackets, overcoats, pajamas, bathrobes, clown suits, armour… the list goes on.
Does any one project stand out in particular and if so why?
I suppose the most interesting and challenging projects have been costumes that “became” other things – a paniered gown that opened to reveal miniature puppets performing within the skirt, and a skirt that pulled up and transformed into a hot-air balloon.
What do you enjoy about making clothing for puppets versus humans?
Relatively unlimited access to the bodies for fitting, and usually not having to worry about closures and laundering since the clothes are generally sewn onto the bodies and do not come off (except for the strippers…).
What did you need in order to make the dress for Mary for Through the Looking Glass?
The designer Leo Wieser chose the style of the dress and the fabrics it was to be made of. All I needed in addition was a model of the puppet and some idea of what it needed to do.
Is there anything different about how you approach the making of clothing for puppets for a film versus for theatre?
Not really. I always try to create pieces with fine finishing and meticulous detail so that they may be examined at close range, and show well at a distance – hopefully, this comes across for both media.