In Your Shoes - Deborah ChapmanAll members Prev: Elma Mackay Next: Leanne Carling
Hello there, I’m Deborah Chapman, Director of local Dundee social enterprise ‘How It Felt’. We provide supervised interactive puppet building, drama, and filmmaking workshops with the main theme of (but not limited to) mental health and well being. My main education is in the arts but I also have experience in my professional and personal life which has driven my passion surrounding mental health issues. Through the art of puppetry, I facilitate workshops relating to these themes where I combine and provide this art form as an expression by giving a voice to all ages. My 'In Your Shoes Blog' is a brief behind the scenes of what goes into a small creative business with some help with my fuzzy friend ‘Little Debz’.
Back to work planning and admin for the near futureMonday 12 November 2018
November can be a busy time for ‘How It Felt’ as it’s the time when Christmas events are on the horizon and the renewal of most of our services. This can involve renewing public liability insurance, updating our webmail hosting services and looking into renewing equipment (software, printers, filming equipment, scissors, hot glue guns, etc). I'm also getting on top of the admin, emailing event organisers, arranging meetings, social media posts, and planning future events for the New Year. When planning any upcoming events it involves ideas for stock to sell at local fairs and events and designing promotional materials such as flyers, badges, and prints for goodie bags.
Designing and ordering for Christmas eventsTuesday 13 November 2018
After catching up with contacts, local organisations and Christmas organisers it was time to get back into the best bits of being a creative business...the making part! Because of my education in the arts, this is my bread and butter and the skills I feel most confident adapting to my business. After the initial planning, this can involve note-taking and drawing illustrations on paper, we then take the drawings and scan them onto a computer and use Photoshop to turn them into fun and professional looking designs. This example is turning ‘Little Debz’ into a Christmas character for the holiday season.
This then can be transferred onto many promotional items and merchandise for our event stalls. This usually has to be designed and sized to fit correctly onto the right items for printing and sent away to the manufactures two to three weeks ahead of each event to be delivered back in time. Some of the items can be printed or created at home such as t-shirts and tote bags which I screen print myself. This is mostly the side parts of running the business compared to organising and facilitating the puppet building workshops which is what me and ‘Little Debz’ mainly do.
Out and About event and stall days saying hello!Wednesday 14 November 2018
When we are not making promotional items, merchandise, and prep for puppet building workshops, we are usually out in the field doing public events and stall days. These come up once a month or every other month, and involve promoting our services and engaging with the public, which is useful for PR. Having some merchandise for sale helps, as it provides another source of income, which we will use to create an online merchandise shop from. It’s also a chance to give the public information on How It Felt and the mental health and well being support from local services that are available. Little Debz will have many meet and greets with the local public, and it gets her out and about as she loves the attention and loves showing off the products.
Prepping and Making puppets in a workshopThursday 15 November 2018
The main service that ‘How It Felt’ is most well known for is our Puppet building, drama and film making workshops. This year has been our busiest year yet, as we have made nearly 200 puppets in total with our participants. Workshops are usually hosted at local venues or sometimes they are collaborations with other organisations such as mental health charities, schools, community centers, support services, etc. But our business is growing and our workshops have taken place in Fife, Montrose, Glasgow, and Aberdeenshire.
At the workshops children, adolescents and staff can make puppets of themselves (or a character they want) and learn to operate and puppeteer through them. This is always facilitated by myself and ‘Little Debz’ and any volunteers depending on how big the group is. This involves drama, team building exercises and relationship exercises on how to use these tools to break down barriers surrounding the stigma of mental health and helping the individual with their own personal issues or anything they wish. Other options can include creating a short scene/film about an issue that is important to them. The participants can keep their puppets and copies of films they have worked on.
Our workshops are always lots of fun and always remind me of why I’m doing this type of work. I love engaging and sharing creative experiences and skills with other people. Stories and jokes are told and shared across our messy work tables and our feedback is generally always positive. It’s very rewarding being able to provide a safe and expressive environment for others to feel comfortable in and seeing them tell their own new stories through their puppets.
Commission and collaborationsFriday 16 November 2018
Another part of ‘How It Felt’ is collaborating with other organisations and the ability to provide commissions. This can either be using puppets as a tool for expression/therapy by professionals, mascots, education purposes, entertainment and gifts. Most recently we worked with local Dundee Autism charity ‘Advocating Together’ which provides support and resources to those experiencing Autism. One part of their services is having ‘Communication Champions’ which proves communication support to Autistic service users and one way of this is having their champions who have passed their training courses. They wanted to design a physical version of their new mascot which we collaborated on to create ‘CC’ their alien communication champion friend. Since then ‘CC’ has become a valuable member of their team and usually travels with them to conventions and conferences.
The future for How It FeltSaturday 17 November 2018
This has been a small sneak peek into what one of ‘How It Felts’ working week is usually like. Sometimes there are other parts such as having meetings with clients, collaborators, media appearances, being guest speakers at mental health and well-being conferences and training courses. We have been having private one to one sessions with young people and working within secure units such as ‘Rossie Young People’s Trust’ which will be continued into the New Year. What’s on the horizon’s is expanding our team and board, some more market and tradeshow events, some special projects with local mental health charities, storytelling sessions, film work, and designing and testing out new hand puppet designs for younger people and abilities. We are always still learning about how to improve ourselves as a social enterprise, our mental health education and training, and our creative skills to pass on to others.
It’s been quite a journey with How It Felt, we have gotten to experience some really amazing events and opportunities. We have also been given the chance to meet some amazingly strong people. It’s been a privilege to be able to do the work we do, and to provide our services but also to talk and engage with everyone we have met along the way. The people we work with come from all walks of life and their stories always inspire me. It has been a great honour to provide them with the tools we have, to give them a voice. Let’s hope this continues into the New Year and maybe we’ll make it up to 300 puppets! Thank you for reading a small part of our story come and follow us on social media and maybe ‘Little Debz’ will get to meet you soon.