Sandra Spieler: Hand Breathing Life: A Hand Puppet Immersion | January 5-9, 2020

Sandra Spieler: Hand Breathing Life: A Hand Puppet Immersion | January 5-9, 2020


Create Hand Puppet figures to enact a story where real life weaves with dreams. No experience needed, only an open heart and mind.

Check In: Sunday, January 5th, 2020 | Check Out: Thursday, January 9th, 2020
Tuition + Meals: $675 per person
With Shared Lodging Package: $1,175 per person
With Private Lodging Package: $1,595 per person

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A 5.5% tax on tuition/meals will be added to the retreat rates displayed online. Deposits will not include tax and will be applied to overall retreat registration fees. Guests making a deposit online will receive follow-up written communication showing applicable remaining fees, including taxes.

Full payment of any remaining fees is due at 60 days prior to the retreat start date. New registrations made less than 60 days prior to the retreat start date will require full payment of all retreat registration fees.

Do you have a companion who would like to join you for the Bayfield experience without attending the educational components?. Companion Rates are available for one companion over the age of 18 and one per registered retreat participant. Companion rates entitle the companion to lodging, all retreat package meals, and use of Wild Rice Retreat facilities.


Here in the deep winter, at the start of a new year, we will fashion figures to enact a story where real life weaves with dreams.

With bits of clay, paper and fabric, we will make hand-puppets, and with your eclectic hands, you will raise these figures to life.

Puppets hold uncanny lyric potential where even the most common thing is wonder-filled, and the most perplexing situation finds a path. You will be surprised by the poetic power of your very own hands to breath life into your figures as they find and enact a simple story.

No previous experience is needed, only an open heart and mind. We will work hard, share stories, and also have some good fun.

This class will focus on hand-puppet movement skills as well as building skills. This is also a chance for those with some experience to jumpstart a new idea, and to have a chance to work with an excellent movement coach. As a bonus Sandy Spieler will also share some of the history and current trends of this engrossing art form with video examples, articles and discussions about the vitality of this form.


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Participants do not need to bring anything except their own beautiful hands. However, here are some things that are most likely useful:

  • 4 old socks—not too bulky, not too tight

  • Small odd bits of things—left over ribbon, cloth, fur, skewer sticks, a thin paint brush to use, (only if you have one already!)

  • Don’t buy anything! One of the values of this class is that these hand-puppets rise from the stuff that is second hand, left behind, or recycled.


Sandy Spieler is a sculptor, painter, graphic artist, performer, theatre director, teacher and perpetual student. Her work includes tiny puppet shows performed in a suitcase, community collaborative performances, performance installations, main stage theater productions, permanent public art commissions, and streetscape designs, teacher of countless residencies in community settings and universities. She is one of the founders of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and served as its Artistic Director for 40 years. She is the director/midwife of the Annual Mayday Parade and Ceremony involving thousands of participants in her diverse urban home community in Minneapolis, USA and has also directed epic ritual performances in South Korea, Los Angeles, and the Dominican Republic, as well as sites throughout the state. For 30 years Sandy has created work about Water, including the on-going multi-faceted initiative “Invigorate The Common Well”. She is currently wondering what it means to enact a “theatre of inter-being.”

Sandy holds an MA of Cultural Performance from Bristol University England, studied puppetry arts at Bread and Puppet Theatre in Vermont, and Balinese masked dance at NYU. She is part of the International ECOARTS network. She is grateful for supportive awards over the years including the Bush Foundation’s Leadership and Artist Fellowships, the Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, and the McKnight Interdisciplinary Fellowship. She has received two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry Award, and was named the 2014 “Distinguished Artist of the Year” from the McKnight Foundation.

Sandy asks that Art waken us to the “Wonder!?” of our everyday lives.

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Lodging and Meal Rates & Info

All lodging costs listed are per person/per night costs. Due to the format of retreats, meal plans are required of all participants to maximize time with other students and instructors, while still providing time to explore Bayfield and the surrounding community. Please reference the cancellation policy as needed.