Ancestor Stories

Exploring Story & Myth Through Sculpture

with Puppeteer & Maskmaker Sherron Burns

"Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths." - Joseph Campbell

What are the stories of your ancestors that make you sit up and listen? Mythology and history combine and entwine as we explore stories and create characters through sculpture. Bring your stories – both real and imagined – into animated form, working with mixed media, found materials from the forest and emblamatic objects you bring from home.

This workshop will focus on the world of make believe – bringing your personal ancestor stories, your roots, and crossing between both real and imagined worlds. Who are the people who give you your character, your strength? What are the stories of your childhood? We will discover dream images, mythologies, and invented creatures who connect to the land, the river, the forest or the sky and realize them through sculpture. Using papier mache, emblamatic pieces from home, found objects, mixed media and elements gleaned from the forest, we will create the characters from our stories. Puppet, mask, doll or creature – these are forms you can explore through the workshop process.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Sharing a story of your ancestor(s) & connecting to other mythologies & dreams.
  • Seeing potential in found objects, seeing the animate in the forest & the object.
  • Developing skills for building with mixed media materials & found objects
  • Understanding of human form & elements for creating movement for animation of object
  • Examining movement, joints & hinges.
  • Sculpture & papier mache techniques
  • Bringing a story to life – what is the essence?

Openness to imaginative play & storytelling. We will incorporate sculpting, painting, emblematic objects and collecting from the forest.

Date: Tues., August 6th – Fri., August 9th, 2019

Price: $470

  • Early Bird Course Price $445
  • 20 Hours of Course Time
  • Material & Equipment Fee of $25
  • Daily “Boreal Bites”  
  • Morning Yoga
  • An unforgettable experience

Inclusive Price: $470 – $920

Inclusive Price varies based on chosen meal plan & accommodation during your time at forestART

Contact Us
We are happy to help answer any questions you have about forestART!

Phone: 306 480 9010
Email: nesscreekforestart@gmail.com

Your Instructor : Sherron Burns

Sherron Burns is an artist and arts educator who combines play, movement and curiosity into all aspects of her life.  Whether working with puppets and shadows, dancing or painting, she is interested in work that evokes a story, piques a memory or startles the imagination. She invites the audience to come close, observe, engage and make a personal connection to the object and the story it evokes. The creative process is discovery through play  – whether working alone or in collaboration with others to build a performance. Starting out in painting and sculpting, her work has evolved primarily into Bunraku style, table top puppets made with papier-mâché and found objects. She brought “Sedna: a Creation Story” to the Ness Creek Music Festival, “Darlin’ Corey” to the Bluegrass Festival, and “The Moon She Glows” with “Stories We Tell” to the International Festival of Animated Objects in Calgary. She has performed in Yellowknife, Calgary, Saskatoon and North Battleford. Sherron has facilitated dozens of workshops with mixed media, sculpture, mask and puppetry. Recent work include a Cranky Theatre pieces, Ptarmigan Stories and a constant preoccupation with transformation stories, featuring hybrids of the mythical/real world. See more of Sherron’s work HERE.


“Where there is a creative will there is a creative way, and when one gets involved in work/playing with Sherron it will be found! Her wonder full sense of joyous equanimity opens the way for exploration and discovery. Viva la Sherron Burns!

Oriol Dancer
Fellow Artist & Collaborator
Sherron’s process of creation arrives organically from keen observations of nature and personal histories. I am always impressed by her endless curiosity and capacity to balance play with skill and creative rigor. She is uniquely able to create a learning environment that feels productive and safe while asking pertinent questions and challenging the participant to push boundaries.
Ashley Johnson
Dance artist & educator
"Sherron is masterful teacher and artist, creating a safe, engaging, playful spaces for all to explore, learn and create. I think, as an artist, Sherron’s springboard is her curiosity about life, her sense of play, and her ability to make connections with matter and especially people. I have partnered with Sherron in artistic projects and have attended her workshops—whether she leads, partners or follows, Sherron makes it possible to walk arm-in-arm into an artistic sunset: she is always clear, genuine and compassionate and such a brilliant collaborator."
Natalie Labossière
Puppeteer & Teacher
“Sherron Burns was a co-creator on our 2017 puppet show 'Broken Sugar Bowl'. She brought to our collaborative an outpouring of ideas, determination and creativity. Her presence both on and off the stage brought an incredible sense of calm and a wealth of experience. She is an invaluable artist/performer and person."
Juanita and Monica
Puppeteers & Collaborators


FAQ & More Info

The urge to illustrate the human condition in the form of puppets, dolls, and figures cab be traced back about 25,000 B.C.E., as early as the Cro Magnon period. They have been used in ceremony, as entertainment, to teach lessons in humility and keep traditions alive. They tell our old stories, interpret our dreams and invent possibilities. Sometimes they scold us and warn us of our folly – especially politically and socially – saying things to the King that no one else can say. They break the laws that govern, extend belief to a place where anything can happen. They excite the imagination with their low-tech ingenuity, inviting the viewer to step into the world of make believe.

I think that the most important prerequisites for this work is curiosity, an open mind and a willingness to play, to invent. If we look at objects and the environment with fresh eyes, we see possibilities, we access the potential as we create. There are techniques, skills and tricks that bring a little magic that can be easily learned in the workshop. We will learn from one another.

No, that is not necessary, but you will want to consider things such as: family stories, your roots, and/or mythologies that click for you. You will want to look around and collect items, materials, found objects, images that could be used as you “find your story” during the workshop. Each of us will interpret this in our own way. Some may have a full story in mind, while others may be working from small notions, and unconnected bits looking for a common thread. The process will help you through this.

“Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


When we tell our stories we share a piece of ourselves. The words make it real, gives life to thought. Thinking about your story helps you consider what to keep and what to discard, what to honour and cherish. Lee Maracle says storytelling gives us a chance to mend what was broken, heal what was hurt and to write our own endings.

“To acknowledge our ancestors means we are aware that we did not make ourselves, that the line stretches all the way back, perhaps, to God; or to Gods. We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love, and die. The grace with which we embrace life, in spite of the pain, the sorrows, is always a measure of what has gone before.” – Alice Walker, “In These Dissenting Times” from Revolutionary Petunias: And Other Poems, 1973

You need to bring along the following:

  • Emblamatic objects to represent your roots, ancestors or family. Consider items to help with sharing your story and pieces that might be incorporated into the sculpture, such as fabric or clothing that can be re-purposed, wigs, leather, buttons, photos, maps, hats, reading glasses, beads, copies of records and certificates, and symbolic or fanciful pieces, etc.
  • A journal, pen/pencil/crayon (whatever you like for journaling)
  • If possible, bring a knife and or carving tools (there will be some tools available to share)

 Supplied by Instructor and covered by the $25 Material & Equipment fee.

  • Papier mâché materials, glue, twine, wire, dowels
  • Carving tools, files, saw, drill
  • Assorted fabric, hair, ribbon and clothing
  • Acrylic paint, gel medium and brushes
  • Modelling material

Tuesday 1pm:           Official Start / Group Orientation

Tuesday Afternoon             

  •  Story sharing, dream collecting
  • Emblamatic objects: show & tell.
  • Forest gleaning: show & tell, seeing possibilities, trying things out.
  • Taking inventory of materials & tools to use & share.         
  • Character ideas, journalling & drawing.             


  • Warming up with a collaborative giant sculpture – exploring how we breathe, move, have intentions, what is the story? What is the essense of the object or puppet? How do we give it life?
  •  Putting pieces together – experimenting with human/animal form, structures that move and making body joints
  • Collecting objects and materials, taking inventory, gathering ideas
  • Sculpting the head and other bits, papier mache and clay
  • Journaling, drawing, storytelling


  • Checking in – dream stories, mythologies and imaginings
  • Building and papier mache continues
  • Surfaces: skin, scales, feathers, leather
  • Hair and other features
  • Journaling, drawing, storytelling
  • Finishing touches to the sculpture


  • Building a setting or habitat
  • Bringing your character to life, movement and story, how to offer to audience to engage them for interactions


  • Optional yoga prior to breakfast
  • Journaling and drawing, forest walks 


  • Early evening
    Palette Cleanse social hour with complimentary boreal bites, an opportunity to socialize and interact with all the other art course participants to be inspired and make connections!
  • Optional sauna, camp fire time, storytelling, walks, swimming, etc.

It’s choose your own adventure, with options to suit every budget! You can cook all your own meals, pay for lunches only, or get the full meal deal. You can camp with or without power, bunk in with some fellow artists in shared accommodation, or rent a private cabin. 

Full Details on our Food & Accommodation Options can be found on the main forestART page or when you go to register!

Are You Joining Us??

 We look forward to seeing you in Ancestor Stories with Sherron Burns!

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