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Tag Archives: Marty Allen
  • Posted on January 15, 2015

    So you think you're a skateboarder?

    Today we have some skateboard-style entertainment for you, in case you’re twiddling your thumbs at work or just love to skate! We start at the miniature end of the skating spectrum with a project from Build your own Fingerboard Skatepark. All you’ll need is a box, a pair of scissors and some tape, and you can be a tiny Tony Hawks or Nyjah Hustons, soaring through your own diminutive dreams in no time!

    We then have a hilarious characterisation of that mythical guy from the skatepark… You know, the one that everyone talks about because he does the most insane tricks, but hasn’t actually been seen for months… Head down towards the bottom of the blog post to have a read!


    How to build a very simple quarter pipe using just a box, scissors & tape

    This lesson is the simplest in the book, but in many ways it is also the coolest, because you can have a ton of fun with this little ramp, and anyone can make it in minutes. Once you have the basic idea down you’ll see that there are a lot of potential variations on this ramp, and using this system you can set up a sweet little bunch of chained ramps very quickly.

    You will need:

    Cereal box


    Tape (packing tape or duct tape is best, scotch tape could work)

    Extra stuff that helps:

    Maybe a pen or marker

    Maybe a ruler if you want to be fancy

    1. Find a big empty cereal box and remove all of its contents, either by eating or simply by putting the cereal somewhere else. The bigger the box, the bigger the ramp. With the box open, remove the extra flaps (the stuff that is used to open and close the box) on the open side only. While not completely necessary, I prefer the ramp not to have this extra stuff. Make sure you keep the pre-sealed “bottom” sealed.

    2. Lay the box down flat. It doesn’t matter whether the front or back is showing, but if you like the idea of a big cereal logo on your ramp, use the front. We’ll call whichever one you’ve chosen the ramp face. Measure 13/4in. (4.5cm) down from the closed end of the box at the fold and mark it (see diagram). Repeat this step on the other side. You can experiment with this measurement, but you’ll see after you’ve made one that this measurement affects the size of the flat and how sloped the ramp is. Take your scissors and cut down each side up to the mark.

    3. Now push the loose ramp face in, forming a curve. Put a strip of tape along the bottom, and a strip along either side. You can shape the flat more if you want to, adding a harder fold there for little slides and plants, or you can keep the curve to have a more fluid slope to ride. It’s all up to you, ramp-builder!

    4. Now you should have a cool little ramp! In addition to taping the ramp face in place, I usually tape the whole ramp down to a stable surface, too, so that it doesn’t move around and so that transitions are smooth. You could also push it against a wall to give yourself a little vert wall to play off.

    Build your own Fingerboard Skatepark by Marty Allen is available here.


    The Myth

    Sasquatch, leprechauns, unicorns, the Loch Ness Monster, a world free from kids on scooters... all these things share one glaringly obvious trait: they don’t exist. The Myth is a bit more of a gray area. He is definitely a real person, because your friend’s friend once met him and that friend knows this one thing the Myth did must be true because his friend said so. Make sense? Good.

    Every town and every city has one local skateboarder who has achieved mythical status through his skateboarding.

    “I heard he did this insane trick at the spot.”

    “No way man, I heard he did it switch.”

    “I heard he did it after being hit by a car.”

    “I heard he did it naked!”

    Mixing the Chinese-whisper effect that younger skateboarders create during their junk-food fueled conversations with the murky, beer-fueled memories of the reminiscing older generation easily can create a make-believe memory of a skateboarder, one that can be at least 50 percent fiction. The person may have existed, but exactly what he did or didn’t do may have been somewhat altered.

    Usually this mythical beast will have dropped off the scene due to some career-shortening, never-heard-of-before injury, or he simply disappeared into the ether after allegedly doing some mind-bending super stunt. This kind of exit from the skateboard game means this ethereal creature’s spirit is destined to live on in infamy. The drab reality is that this apparition, this distant memory probably just got older and had to join the rat-race and accept the responsibilities of real life. He probably had a kid, got a 9-5, and just ended up skating less.

    Regardless of the actual truth behind the stories, the enhancing of the Myth’s abilities, and truth-bending surrounding his stunt work, this guy is probably the most important person to figure in the formation of a young skater’s life. The mysteries and fables only serve to make a kid aspirational about what is possible on a skateboard. Without these fantastical stories, kids might think some things are just not humanly possible, and one of the most amazing things about skateboarding is how it continues to progress beyond what seemed possible in the years preceding it. Without knowing it, the Myth is the person we learn from, the one who teaches us lessons, inspires us, and makes us believe the impossible is possible. The Myth might not know it, but he is.

    Next time someone tells you a tale about the time the local legend did such and such, don’t question it and wonder about the validity of the statement; embellish it and relay it to someone else. It’s the only way to ensure things move forward. And it’s fun to mess with people’s heads, too.

    So you think you're a skateboarder? by Alex Irvine is available here. More craft related books also on offer here.


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with Marty Allen, skateboarding, 2014, humour, tutorial

  • Posted on February 21, 2013

    And the winner is... YOU!

    We all know who’s going to clear up at the Oscars. Two words. Actually one word. Lincoln.

    The epic biopic of one of the USA’s most legendary presidents – Mr Abraham Lincoln… and here’s Mr Marty Allen on how you can make a sock puppet of the aforementioned great man and impress your friends and amaze your enemies once the inevitable happens on Sunday night…

    Sock puppet Abraham Lincoln is similar in most ways to his human counterpart. He was the 16th Sock Puppet President of the Sock Puppet USA, serving from March 4, 1861 until his assassination. A noteworthy difference is that sock puppets are invincible unless completely destroyed, so he recovered nicely and moved to a llama farm. Unlike his human counterpart, he is also super good at making paper planes and throwing huge theme parties.

    Abraham Lincoln is one of the first famous people I made as a puppet; his design is simple and he holds a special place in my heart.


    Gray sock


    Green sticky felt

    Squares of yellow, white, and black craft foam

    Gray fur

    Black marker

    Head fluff

    1 Prep the sock utilizing the “cardboard mouth” technique #. I recommend a LARGE oval.

    Once the sock is reversed, add the oval of green sticky felt for the mouth interior, cut slightly smaller than the cardboard oval, and put a medium amount of head fluff in the top for structure.

    2 EYES: Lincoln’s eyes are two small, lidded almonds. Using white craft foam, cut out two  1/2 in (13 mm) ovals. Using a black marker, add a black dot in the center of each. Cut out two small brown lids, about half the size of the eyeball.

    Attach the lid to the eyeball, being careful not to cover over the eye dot—nobody wants a sleepy president. Glue each eye 1⁄8 in (3 mm) up from the mouth, and 1/4 in (6 mm) apart.

    3 NOSE: Mr. Lincoln commanded the respect of the nation, and he had a big old nose! Using yellow craft foam, cut out a 1 in (2.5 cm) long tapered triangle, ½ in (13 mm) wide at the base. Glue it tucked tightly between the eyes, slightly overhanging the edge of the mouth.

    4 BEARD: Cut out a rectangle of gray fur about 3 in (7.5 cm) long x 2 in (5 cm) wide. Glue along the edge of the bottom of the mouth, letting the remainder hang forward over his body.

    5 HAIR: Using more gray fur, cut out a small rectangle about 1½ in (4 cm) x 1 in (2.5 cm). Glue it about 1½ in (4 cm) back from the eyes, slightly to the left, in order to leave room for his mighty hat.

    6 MIGHTY HAT: Is it the hat that makes the man or the man that makes the hat? Here, the two details are nearly inseparable, and no Lincoln is complete without his stove-top hat. It’s what makes him so Lincoln-y! Using black craft foam, cut out one 2 1/2 x 3 in (6 x 7.5 cm) rectangle for the base and one 2 1/2 x 5 in (6 x 12.5 cm) rectangle for the stove-pipe. Roll the stove-pipe piece in on itself to form a cylinder, and glue along its overlapping seam to keep it together. Now glue that to the center of the hat base, applying glue along its open circumference.

    7 Using another scrap of black craft foam, add a circle to size at the top of the hat (unless you’d like something comical to pop out)—the opening should be about 1 1/2 in (4 cm).

    8 Glue the hat to the top of the head, perching slightly to the right so that the hair is showing. And now enjoy a rousing paper airplane-building lesson while prepping for a toga party with one of history’s great sock puppet luminaries.

    # “cardboard mouth” technique

    Here it is, the Super Secret Secret that really separates my sock puppets and yours from the rest of the proverbial pile. The MIGHTY Cardboard Mouth. Understand, this is Serious Business, and I impart this knowledge to you with the implication of your promise. A promise to use this information responsibly.

    Repeat after me:

    “I (insert name here), do solemnly swear to use The Super Secret Secret of The MIGHTY Cardboard Mouth responsibly, and for the Power of Good. And awesomeness. And Fun.”

    Though it isn’t essential to build your sock puppet with a cardboard mouth, it is highly recommended (and way cooler), as you suddenly go from a floppity sock mouth to a stiff, expressive, and much more convincingly puppeteered mouth.

    It also acts as a great surface for TEETH! If you do go for it, it should be your first step, as you’ll build the rest of your puppet around the mouth and head.

    The oval o’ cardboard

    A stiff cardboard mouth makes all the difference with your sock puppetfriend, and it’s as easy as cutting an oval out of cardboard, turning your sock inside out, gluing it in, letting it dry, and then turning it outside-in. Sometimes I call for a sock to end up inside out, in which case you’d start by just gluing the oval to the regular outside of the sock.

    Once again, the heel is the BACK of the head. You are gluing the oval on to the exact opposite side. Generally the oval gets hot-glued and firmly pressed down just before the tip of the sock. I encourage you to experiment with this placement and see how it affects various puppets—small changes can yield big differences.

    At the beginning of each lesson, I suggest whether the puppet’s mouth should be:

    SMALL (around 2 x 1 1/2 in/5 x 4 cm—but if it’s a teeny-tiny sock, you could even take it down 1/2 in (13 mm) further with either dimension;

    MEDIUM (around 3 x 1 3/4 in/7.5 x 4.5 cm);

    LARGE (around 3 1/4 x 2 in/8 x 5 cm—again with about 1/2 in (13 mm) of stretch room upward.

    These measurements and the diagrams are a guide, but always take into account the relative size of your sock. The size and shape of your oval will make a big difference as to the character of the puppet, too, so experimentation there is also encouraged.


     Sock Puppet Madness by Marty Allen is published by CICO Books and is out NOW!

    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Book Reviews, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, Marty Allen

  • Posted on January 21, 2013

    5 Reasons to feel a little less blue this Monday…

    Today is officially Blue Monday and apparently the blue feeling is set to last for the whole week.  After a very cold Monday morning awakening and a snowy commute to work, who could blame us?

    So, here is our Blue Monday survival guide, which promises to brighten up your Monday and your week!

    1. Stroke your pet: the ultimate comfort!

    For years psychologists have been telling of the benefits of spending some quality time with the much beloved family pet, as the repetition of stroking your pampered pooch or furry feline has been shown to have a calming effect.  If you find yourself pet-less fear not, delve into the surreal but hilarious world of Gemma Correll in A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette and we promise you’ll want to hug-a-pug!

    2.  Love your home: enjoy your surroundings.

    Sprucing up your home will make you feel proud of your surroundings and can give a great sense of satisfaction.  Try out some of the projects from Junk Genius and make your junk into unique and beautiful items to be enjoyed by all.

    3.  Get crafting: make yourself a super-cute companion.

    Crafting will make you feel productive and proactive and at the end you will have your own little keepsake.  We recommend trying out a project from Sock Puppet Madness by Marty Allen(a sneak peak of some of his projects can be found on our blog!)

     4.  Take a trip down memory lane: delight in the good old days.

    There is nothing better than taking a few minutes out of your day to indulge in the memories of yesteryear.  Learn how to style your flea market finds with Living Retro by Andrew Weaving and succumb to the joys of days gone by.

    5.  Bake a cake: savour every mouthful of your creation.Enjoy the process of putting something truly delicious together!  We recommend the sumptuous carrot cake from Guilt Free Gourmet, that will put a smile back on your face.  You can even share with friends, if you like.

    So, Blue Monday, your time is up.  We don’t feel so blue after all!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, US and was tagged with Guilt Free Gourmet, Marty Allen, Gemma Correll

  • Posted on January 17, 2013

    Peter Linz (aka Walter from The Muppets) on Marty Allen's new book...

    'Read it, Loved it.  Marty Allen has ... simplified and elevated the art of designing... sock puppets.' Peter Linz (Walter from the Muppets)


    Marty Allen is a Boston-born, Brooklyn-based puppet-maker, artist, writer, musician & liker of life. He's got a very cool website at martystuff.com and he's got an equally cool book coming out on sock puppets on Valentine's Day so we thought we'd let him take over our blog for a day ...so here's Marty!

    (Above: Abraham Lincoln the sock puppet which is featured in the book)

    People often ask, "Hey Marty, what inspired you to create all of these crazy characters out of sock puppets?" And while the answers "a wild ride with some bad sushi" or "a disgruntled leprechaun with a baseball bat" are always tempting, the truth is far less entertaining, and much more organic. (Author's note: stay away from back-alley sushi stands, regardless of your need for inspiration.)

    Let's start with the facts. For the last six years I have made and sold Sock Puppet Portraits for a living. Not Sock Puppets, but their portraits—up-close photographs of sock puppets with elaborate stories and (often internet-based) lives. And what inspired that? A few things actually:

    1 Silliness
    2 A love of weird knick knacks
    3 The desire to make an odd little object that I myself might find and say, "Huh? Well that's neat!"
    4 To establish an organic path that would lead me to understand my love of character and storytelling

    In a wonderfully roundabout fashion, the Sock Puppet Portraits were born over six years ago, shortly after I finished a series of Sock Puppet-making workshops in Boston's parks. After completing these workshops, I made a bunch of puppets from the leftovers (one a day for thirty days, as a matter of fact). In related news, I've always had a love for finding strange, small picture frames. One stray night at work, I shot some stark, simple, and up-close photos of the sock puppets just for fun.  I put these puppet pictures inside the little frames, and with little ceremony the Sock Puppet Portraits were born. I occasionally gave them to friends or hung them at shows here and there. I noticed that there was something oddly appealing about them. A kind of universal reaction of "Huh, that's neat," when people encountered them.
    When I moved to New York in 2006, I thought, "Maybe people would like these and buy these if I tried to sell them..." They did. Then it was my job. Sock Puppet Portrait Salesman. The only one in the world...to the best of my knowledge.

    In their earliest (and some might argue, purest) form, the Sock Puppet Portraits were all small photographs in ornate, Victorian frames, with just my signature on the back. They've now graduated to larger pieces, framed and now on VERY fancy stretched canvases, with ever-more-complex structural notions for the puppets themselves. But the real evolution has been in the form of building their characters and the narratives that surround them.
    I've always been a natural namer: Uncle Monsterface, Mozzarella Botticelli, Claudius Von Cudgel…

    (Above: Claudius Von Cudgel)

    Names fall out of my brain like Pez from a broken (or functioning) dispenser. So I gave them names: The Jazzclops, Terrycloth Green, The Fabulous Flying Zambinis. Then I gave them individual Myspace profiles pages (I told you this was six years ago. We'd just invented the printing press, too!).

    Myspace was a unique way to expand the characters in their own words. Sadly modern social networks don't lend themselves as well to this, as they are more based on moment-to-moment expressions as opposed to profiles that can interact. Nonetheless, the first thirty or so were firmly entrenched in that old timey social network, and they had started to expand beyond it, too. Soon, one of the Series 1 Portraits, Uncle Monsterface became the mascot for the touring and related rock band.  The nine from Series 2 each got their own individual bands and at least one song in the first person. Series 2.5 came along right as Facebook broke, so these characters became the subject of a Facebook quiz-related “Appreciation Society” Group, and one of the more popular characters, Spot, received a Facebook of his own. The organic growth continued as I kept on selling my art on the streets, in fairs, and at rock shows. As I talked to people, I got to know them (both the people AND the puppets), and my love of character-building flourished. "Does the Earclops like crossword puzzles?" Yes, yes he does. "Can Uncle Monsterface fly?" No, but he is a fly dresser. Then Terrycloth Green got a Twitter (he was already in a bunch of other loud-mouthed NSFW videos on Youtube, anyways). The Fabulous Flying Zambinis

    (above: Plim Zambini, one third of the Fabulous Flying Zambinis)

    were featured in a video. Others appeared in more videos, including an outrageous cover of Madonna’s Like A Prayer. Meanwhile, I secretly began work on a permanent social network home for the Sock Puppet Portraits: MONSTERFACEBOOK.

    Amidst this wonderful chaos, my love of character had evolved into a love of story.  Or my love of story had revealed itself from behind the safe cover of my love of character. My first great experiment was the Series 3 Sock Puppet Portraits, who would become the cast of the internet soap opera, Sock Puppet Manor. I wrote the script for an ambitious nine episode series detailing the torrid lives of The Lollybottoms and The Durtlingers, two powerful pickle-canning families. We produced six of the nine episodes, and eventually aired three of them. Yours to see over at Sock Puppet Manor, many of whom are yours to build in "Sock Puppet Madness." (Small word of caution, while I like for most of my work to put be appropriate for "small children of all ages", the soap opera leans slightly more towards the PG-13 crowd).

    After that dust had cleared, I focused a bit more on the puppet-making for a year or so, and I started to think more deeply about the larger story that I was telling, or seeing grow around me. I began to truly focus on the bigger universe that I'd been jotting down notes from and building without even knowing it for so many years now. I pushed a few other lines of artwork that were tied into the bigger mythology (The Automatons and The White Book) publicly and worked privately on a few others (The Case Files of The Magician Detective, The Power Patterns and The Doodlings of The Grid), all of which helped to solidify the story. I dug into the process of telling one epic tale from The Seven Layers of Space—that of a young boy named Theodore and his quest to find his friend, save the day, and find his place in the world that he feels so separate from. The Nine newest Sock Puppet Portraits, Series 4, are the cast of this novel, all of which was funded by a successful Kickstarter in June of 2012.

    I'm also working on new music with Uncle Monsterface, a conceptual album called "RISE of the LAVA MEN", which has its own set of ties to the larger story of The Seven Layers of Space. The first three songs, The Ninja,

    (Above: Ninja)

    Scuba Diver, and Sports Robot, will also have accompanying Sock Puppet Portraits and lessons in "Sock Puppet Madness." The first single was released August of 2012, "(don't fear the) NINJA." The second single was released in September , for  S.C.U.B.A. Diver.
    I'm fascinated with this idea of creating a body of artwork that acts as artefacts from a larger tale and extends throughout a strange array of media, and I'm excited to let the already-successful Sock Puppet Portraits act as a cornerstone for that universe. And now, thanks to the good folks at Cico Books, you can build your own versions of characters from my weird brain and world. Goodness knows what that will do to the storytelling, but I can't wait to see!

    Sock Puppet Madness (published by CICO Books on 14.02.13.)

    includes 35 of the most fun, outlandish, off-the-wall and enchanting characters on the planet, and by following the simple step-by-step instructions, you'll be able to put together your own puppet in no time.

    If you would like to be notified when the book is available just add the book to your cart and follow the instructions!

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    This post was posted in News, News, UK, US and was tagged with Marty Allen, Valentines Day, sushi

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