Oak Park native Victoria Cross majored in art but got into puppetry by accident after she turned an old sock, a few buttons, and some other odds and ends into a gift for a nephew. The way the materials determined the character of the puppet fascinated her. "It's a collaboration," she says now of Los de los suenos (The Ones of the Dreams), the hand puppets she makes from recycled materials. "As I put them together, they tell me who and what they are." Cross's puppets have tubular bodies, flipper arms, a little Frankensteinian stitching, and names like Buttonhead and Keymouth. She says they not only draw their essence from the objects they're made of but also reflect the personalities of their former owners: "When I had a chance to make them out of new socks, I found they didn't emanate the same energy." She'll conduct a puppet-making workshop this weekend sponsored by the West Suburban Artists Guild. It's not difficult, she says, but for best results bring several old socks and bits of meaningful junk--stuff that's lived with you long enough to absorb your essence. And be warned: after years of facilitating this transfer, Cross, who's also a dancer, found herself yearning to become a puppet herself. Now she also makes masks and costumes out of the same materials, using them in her dance performances. The workshop starts at 8 PM on Friday, February 21, in the Triton College Art Gallery (building F, room 107), 2000 Fifth Ave. in River Grove. It's free; call 708-865-1845 for more information.