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Freshwater Pearls:
Puppetry from the Waters

What's in a name?


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How We Began

Audiences often ask us how we chose the name "Freshwater Pearls Puppetry." It was the result of a
Mississippi River freshwater pearls
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chance inspiration.

In 1985 Diane lived in a little rented house on a bluff above Lake Pepin, a beautiful expansion of the Mississippi River in southern Minnesota. She endured long daily commutes to a miserable job, spent her few free moments making puppets, and dreamed of making puppetry her livelihood.

One day, while reading a local newspaper, Diane learned that Lake Pepin once supported a flourishing industry based on the harvest of freshwater pearls. She thought of the process that produces a precious pearl: a freshwater mussel is troubled by a grain of sand under its shell. In reaction to the discomfort it feels, the mussel coats the irritant with layer after layer of pearly lacquer. Eventually, a thing of beauty is born: a pearl.

So it is with many forms of art, and so it was for Diane. A kernel of hardship was the seed for the gem which she created. Now, so many years later, the hardship is gone, but the pearl remains: Freshwater Pearls Puppetry.

Lake Pepin
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