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Puppets make a splash at Woodinville Library

  • Written by Deborah Stone
There’s always something interesting to look at in the exhibit case at the Woodinville Library, from scientific and historical displays to unique artwork and crafts.

This month, a colorful exhibit on puppetry is sure to catch your eye. There are puppets of varying types and styles, from the far reaches of the globe. All are from the collection of longtime Woodinville area resident Cheryl Hadley.

The local woman, who once worked at the Woodinville Library as a children’s librarian (and still subs there on occasion), has been enamored with puppets for many years. She started making them for a traveling puppet show when she lived in California and then later got involved with a regional guild of the Puppeteers of America, an organization dedicated to the art of puppetry.

Hadley has several hundred puppets in her collection. "I’ve never actually counted them, so I don’t know the exact number," she says. "I’ve been collecting them for a long time. I pick them up at fairs and festivals, or at different stores and also when I’m traveling. I’m always on the lookout for them."

Hadley particularly enjoys bringing puppets back with her from the many exotic locales she visits.

"I think they’re such great representatives of a culture," she adds.

Highlights from the display at the library include shadow puppets from Turkey and Indonesia, a two-faced puppet from Nepal, a demon puppet from Sri Lanka, animal finger puppets from Peru and a beautifully articulated marionette from Burma.

There are hand puppets from China, Sicilian marionettes decked out in armor, a rod puppet from Mali, pop-up puppets from the Czech Republic and two Inuit puppets from Canada, complete with fur-trimmed parkas.

The exhibit fits in well with the "One World, Many Stories" theme that King County Libraries has for its summer reading program.

"Puppets help bring stories to life," comments Hadley. "They animate the story. And since the use of puppetry is nearly universal, you can find the art form in most every country."

Hadley notes that puppetry goes back thousands of years and has its roots in Asia.

The local woman enjoys introducing kids to puppetry through workshops she holds at the various libraries in the area.

She shares some of her own puppets and then encourages children to make their own.

This summer, she will be at libraries in Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore, Kirkland and Shoreline.

"I’m going to teach kids to make sock puppets but they’re not just your standard sock puppets," explains Hadley. "They’re super sock puppets. And I have all sorts of materials like feathers, felt, fake fur and more that the children can use to provide texture, color and detail to their puppets."

She adds, "When they’re done, they leave with their own creations, which they can use to tell their own stories."

In explaining the allure of the art form, Hadley says, "Puppetry is like a miniature theater. It’s portable and accessible to all.

"Anything can be a puppet – a spoon, sock, spatula … And anybody can participate. You don’t need lots of people either. One person can do it all."

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