The Puppetry Project is an initiative started by Associate Professor of Theatre, Trish Helsel, of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Michigan Technological University.      
 In the fall of 2017, Trish spent her sabbatical learning about puppets at the Center for Puppetry Arts, due (in large part) to encouragement from her artist friend, Andrea da Vinci Braun.  With knowledge and inspiration, Trish applied for and received a grant through the Research Excellence Fund (MTU).  The grant provided startup funding for the initiative including the completion of a special puppetry stage for touring, as well as materials and tools for construction of puppets.  The summer of 2018 was spent building puppets, experimenting with materials and processes, and developing a curriculum for a puppetry course.  Andrea, Trish, and Susanne produced several prototype puppets and set up a workshop.  A pilot class in Puppetry Construction and Manipulation was offered at Michigan Tech this spring (2019), co-taught by Trish Helsel and Susanne Kilpela, Senior Lecturer in Art. 
Ultimately, the goals of the Puppet Project are to expand the artistic offerings of Visual and Performing Arts curriculum and programming, and to provide outreach to the immediate community, eventually extending to a larger radius through potential touring grants.

Trish Helsel, with "Camille Saint-Saëns" - Our First Foam Puppet

Susanne Kilpela assembling a stick puppet.

Andrea da Vinci Braun gluing the top portion of "Camille's" head.

Andrea and Trish enjoying some down time in the shop.