Issue 7 of Puncture is the result of a collaboration with storyteller and puppeteer Milissa Orzolek.
She has a fascination with memory. How does a memory work when you're telling it for the first time? For the 15th time? Does the story change? She likes to ask people questions that dig up "pristine" memories - those that haven't been retold yet.
To begin our collaboration, she asked me to tell her several stories, and the one we worked with was from when I was 7. My family relocated to southern France for a Rotary convention for several weeks.
One day we toured the Fragonard perfume factory, and my sister and I were inspired to make some fragrance of our own. We plucked the petals from roses in our yard and put them into little jars with water, sealing them and leaving them for a week to soak up the rosy smell. When we returned to our bottles to check our work, we found that instead of perfume we had created a smelly collection of mold colonies.
The zine's shape was inspired by ViHart's Hexaflexagon YouTube video. The opening and revealing motion felt right for this collaboration about storytelling and memory.
A conversation with Milissa:
What's your favorite snowball flavor so far in life? (warmup question)
M: too hard. how about spearmint is my favorite toothpaste flavor?
What's the worst road to ride your bike down in New Orleans? (other warmup question)
M: Galvez between Elysian Fields and Franklin
Can you tell us a bit about your craft? What kind of creative work do you make?
M: I'm a puppeteer, but I like to make lots of stuff, from screen prints to audio stories. I've been lucky in life to surround myself with incredibly talented friends who work with food, fabrics, electronics, wood, puppets, words, etc. They have been my school, my inspiration and my collaborators.
Do you collect any consistent type of inspiration when you're developing a show? If so, how do you collect it?
M: That's a practice that I should start. But I do love listening to stories. Stories about life are always a source of inspiration.
I hear you love when people go on tangents...true?
M: True. Tangents are the brain's spotlights. They lead you to places you didn't realize were important.
I also hear you really like Spongebob...also true?
M: I'm not sure if I'd say I really like Spongebob Squarepants. I do absolutely love one episode that depicts Spongebob's brain has a giant office with file cabinets full of memories. Sometimes cartoons are genius. (Spongebob episode in question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRHL5drAkOE)
How did you and Cat get to know each other?
M: We met while working on Wayne White's giant puppet parade in Shreveport, Louisiana last summer.
Did you have a structure for the collaboration or a seed idea?
M: I wanted Cat to tell me a story. I guess, for me, everything really starts with a story. Even if it is only the story of how someone started using a certain material.
What do you think your creative processes have in common? What do you think differs?
M: I think we're both open to seeing what happens. This is important because flexibility and openness to possibility is so important to collaborations. We both get excited about playing with new materials and processes. I think Cat has a lot of confidence in the skills she has and the methods she uses and it's great to see that confidence play out in her creative process. I'm still working on that.
Did the collaboration inspire anything new for you?
M: Cat loves to play as part of the creative process and I want to incorporate that into my work!
What's your favorite part about the zine?
M: My favorite part of the zine is how it brings up so many questions: how is it made? what's a hexaflexigon? what's the story behind the zine? how did you meet? etc.