Stacey Gordon, of Phoenix, got her first puppet—a little black lamb crocheted by her aunt—when she was just a baby. She still has the puppet, which she never named, but her puppet collection has grown significantly since then. In 2006, Gordon started a small business in Phoenix called Puppet Pie, now located in a historic building called Bragg’s Pie Factory.
Puppet Pie is a working studio where Gordon makes and sells several styles of puppets and offers puppet workshops for children and adults. Earlier this year, she relocated her business from home to the Phoenix location and says her husband is happy that colorful fur from puppet crafts no longer follows them into the bedroom.
Gordon says she caught the puppet bug in preschool, during a field trip to see a puppet show presented by Children’s Fairyland, a storybook theme park in Oakland, California, where Frank Oz, one of the original Sesame Street puppeteers, got his start. “I remember being mesmerized and enthralled,” she says of seeing that first show.
But Gordon had plenty of family influences, too. Her mother collected porcelain dolls and teddy bears; her grandfather carved marionettes. Gordon recalls growing up in a house filled with creativity and play: “I had the kind of mom who was willing to [give us] a giant chunk of clay and let us take over the kitchen for a week.”
During high school, Gordon volunteered her mom to make puppets for the church puppet group. Mother and daughter spent countless hours making all sorts of puppets together.
After marrying and moving to Phoenix, Gordon got involved with the local puppet scene, doing adult puppet slams and serving as a teaching artist with the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix.
Gordon describes puppets as “an amazing stress relief” for children and adults, but says that for kids it’s all about discovery, learning and imagination. “How would we ever discover anything new if we didn’t imagine it?” asks Gordon. “To imagine, you have to play and let loose.”
Upcoming Puppet Pie workshops
- Beginning Puppeteering. Ages 8-17. 1pm Tues Dec 29. $35.
- Moving Mouth Puppets. Ages 5-12. 2pm Sat Jan 9. $10.
- Creative Creatures. Ages 10 & up. 2pm Jan 16. $25.
- Puppets & Pie. Adults. 7pm Jan 30. $30.
- Marvelous Marionettes. Ages 12 & up. 2pm Sat Feb 20. $18.
- Beginning Puppeteering. Adults. 7pm Sat Feb 20. $40.
To register or learn more, call 602-842-9433 or visit puppetpie.com.
More puppet play
- Find additional puppet-related resources in the December issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine.
- Read RAK’s “5 easy ways to make your own puppets.”
- Listen to RAK’s podcast with Nancy Smith, founder of Great Arizona Puppet Theater.
- Find puppet shows and other family-friendly performance on the Raising Arizona Kids calendar.