When Melissa Nasby goes to work she is surrounded by bright staring eyeballs, bushy eyebrows, florescent hair of all kinds, fuzzy colourful noses, and wide happy toothless smiles. After eight months in the manufacturing process, the Mixed-Uppets mobile business made its debut at the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues.
“It was fantastic,” says Nasby. “It was a great weekend.”
Mixed-Uppets is a new concept in art, a mobile, do-it-yourself (DIY) character building studio that gives everybody the opportunity to design their own puppet.
“I had a million ideas but this one kept growing and getting bigger. The idea for a mobile was percolating for about a year. I decided to invest in it and I stopped all my art and decided to commit a year to it.”
In that year Nasby, a fibre artist and professional puppeteer, had to focus on the little things.
“My hands were on the individual components, so it was appeasing my need to create. I was passing it onto the public in the DIY kits. So I have manufactured 80 per cent of the product.”
Because Nasby doesn’t sew, some pieces are done by others. But most of the manufacturing takes place in Salmon Arm, and that makes her very proud.
“To me it’s a big deal that this is something unique, hands-on made by artists in Salmon Arm. There’s no plastic, no store-bought anything, every single piece is made by human hands.”
Nasby’s husband, Mike Zwicker, converted the 1986 Grumman truck into the mobile with all the shelving inside.
“I don’t believe this has been done,” says Nasby referring to the mobility aspect of the business. The Mixed-Uppets mobile will be at the Armstrong IPE and at the Salmon Arm Fall Fair. After that, she will launch the next phase.
“Birthday parties. Come early October you can book online. I deliver the puppets and the kits to your birthday party. So this is something fun and special for the birthday child. I come with music like the one on the ice cream truck.”
Nasby has a magnetic board where the children (or adults) can design their own character.
“They can do it in 2D before they order it in 3D.”
Once Nasby gives them the character kit, people go on to her website for a puppet-making tutorial.
“The actual building of it takes place at home. It’s not just a child thing and it’s harder than people think. It definitely needs adult supervision.”
Nasby says what’s really great about the concept is that it brings art to children.
“It encourages kids to use their hands and creativity. It’s not just a thing, it’s a character they can bring to life, a playmate, a toy. Or they might be inspired to learn puppeteering.”
The puppet characters range in price from $25 to $65, but there are other items starting at $10.
For more information visit www.mixed-uppets.com