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Crafting Essence: A Puppet-Maker’s Challenge

Jesse Mooney- Bullock | TEDxCincy

Jesse Mooney-Bullock makes puppets. But not the kind that you might first think
of when you hear that word. They are not usually very soft or bright. They definitely
do not have googly eyes. They are figures carved out of wood, complete with
joints that operate via levers and triggers. He is fascinated by the way living things
move and how they are “built”, and he strives to emulate natural form and function
in his artwork.

He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he
collaborated with fellow students to create puppet-infused art that they performed
around the Windy City. Then his schooling extended into the studio of puppeteer
Blair Thomas, who taught him much about building puppets and their stages.
While still in Chicago, Jesse created near life-sized wooden puppets for a
Redmoon Theater production which earned him a Jeff Award. He continues to
design and build for these two companies from his home-studio in Northside. He
has been a recipient of the City of Cincinnati Artist Grant and every now and then
gets to perform his own work here in town.

In addition to being an artist, Jesse is a full-time father. He and his wife have
two young boys, and Dad stays home. For Mooney-Bullock and Sons, building
and art-making are everyday activities, and each puppet that comes out of the
workshop undergoes complete testing by the junior members of the family.