Classes #12-13: Plastic Bag Monsters (Stan Winston School Diary #10)

Did you watch Men in Black 2 wondering, “What. Is. That. Comical thing!?” when Will Smith passes by a rainbow puffy alien? That alien was a plastic bag creation by Bill Bryan. Mr. Bryan, or “Billy,” as he goes, has two classes up for offer within the Puppet Basics pathway: Plastic Bag Technology and How to Make a Hand Puppet: Plastic Bag Monster.

Once you get past the first three foam puppet classes, everything else within these learning tools has an attitude of, “Do something we don’t tell you how with a pattern. Learn for yourself. Learn by doing!” Yes, you could watch every class and/or participate in live classes. You don’t learn anything until you try it for yourself.

For my plastic bag creature, and this gentleman might be insulted if you called him a monster, I made a jellyfish inspired by the real jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The real fellows light up pink in one photo. And, notice their tentacles and oral arms. As a scientist doing research daily at the aquarium, I am–

OK, I am not a scientist. I found the following jellyfish anatomy chart on Animal Corner learning a very ewwwwww fact: “jellyfish have an incomplete digestive system whereby they have no intestines, liver or pancreas which are important in the digestion of food in most animals. The absence of these organs means that the same orifice is used for both food intake and waste depositing.”

My tip to young people out there: share that fact if ever you go on a bad date you want to leave the dinner table sooner. Tell your date he/she reminds you of a jellyfish eating!

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Tools I used:

• scissors

• several Target bags for the oral arms

• 1 plastic bag from a supermarket loaf of bread

• pink string for the tentacles

I trimmed the empty bread bag into a tidy jellyfish shape. With the scissors, I cut tiny holes about 1.5-2 inches above the end of where I cut off the bag, weaving string and bangs of chopped Target bags without the red on them for the jellyfish body parts dangling below.

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I crunched everything up nicely for the Target tendrils dangling. The pink string needed some convincing. The solution: getting a perm. My jellyfish went to the aquatic hairdo salon for an hour with its tentacles braided.

One perm later, my jellyfish took a swim with my underwater camera from a million years ago that somehow works today, the waterproof Kodak PlaySport.

The instructor on these lessons, Mr. Bryan, was absolutely right! When you set these plastic bag creations into water or fill them with air, they take on lives of their own.

My jellyfish’s dip in the water is pretty convincing for a cheaply made plastic bag creature. See for yourself! If you overlaid Weta Workshop caliber FX crew onto this, they could whip out an elaborate creature with my basic plastic bag form, probably having it turn out better because my camera captured authentic underwater movements.