Check this out: Bethel library adds puppets to collection
Junior David Grudowski of White Oak tries to guide Dalton Shaffer, a junior from White Oak, to the correct piece to assemble a Lego Jeep during N-Vision, a Westinghouse Electric Co. engineering career workshop for juniors and seniors at Mckeesport High School March 1.
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The list of materials that libraries are lending continues to grow.
Bethel Park Public Library plans to start circulating puppets -- not the type you'd see in a Punch and Judy show, but giant puppets, large enough for a person to wear as a costume.
They're the handiwork of Pittsburgh artist Cheryl Capezzuti, who has created more than 200 puppet masks and accouterments, many for First Night celebrations during the past 15 years.
"My collection has been growing and growing to the point where I'm storing them in warehouses, and they weren't being used at all," she said.
In 2005, she started a lending program for community groups, and recently she approached the Allegheny County Library Association about offering puppets through its system.
The association, in turn, contacted the Bethel Park library about the possibility of a pilot project.
"We're known as innovative," said Christine McIntosh, library director. "Often when they have a project like this, they like to call us."
Some work needs to take place before the library starts lending puppets.
At the start, puppets will be available through the Bethel Park Public Library and the Braddock Carnegie Library.
"Our grand plan over the course of the next couple of years is to have five libraries in the Allegheny County region that have collections," Ms. Capezzuti said. "And anyone with a library card can go check out a puppet."
Bethel Park library currently is housing 15 puppets, with many of the "heads" on display in the program room: brightly colored images of friendly animals mixed with more fanciful creations, amply demonstrating Ms. Capezzuti's talents.
The artist often collaborates with others.
"Most of the puppets in my collection were made by many hands," she said, comparing the process to "kind of like pickup basketball for creative people."
Residents will have an opportunity to participate in such an exercise when the library is host to a puppet repair party May 18. Ms. Capezzuti will provide instruction on how to remedy signs of wear and tear, and a portion of the program will involve participants creating a brand-new puppet.
"It's really cool that the whole community will be a part of it," said Elaine Volpe, the library's head of youth services. "We'll get to create a puppet together that always will be a part of Bethel Park library."
Ms. McIntosh said this is just the beginning stage of the project, explaining that a major objective is to catalog all of Ms. Capezzuti's creations, complete with photos and descriptions so patrons can have a clear idea of what they're borrowing.
Ms. Capezzuti works primarily with papier-mache, while trying to incorporate plenty of recycled materials, such as plastic supermarket bags.
Ms. Capezzuti, a native of Hampton, also is a sculptor and painter. Among other educational positions, she is on the visual arts faculty at the Falk Laboratory School of the University of Pittsburgh.
First Published March 14, 2013 12:00 am