In my last two posts about puppet-making with middle schoolers, we crafted spoon puppets and bag puppets. Next up: FINGER PUPPETS!
The sample finger puppets I made (above) were crafted from the simple patterns (below). Feel free to use the patterns for your own puppet-crafting session!
I loaded up the supply table with craft felt and felt scraps, sewing thread, pins, needles, googly eyes, ribbons, faux fur, pom poms, feathers, paper (construction, etc.). Just go through your stash of crafting supplies and pull out anything that might remotely work. You'll also need the usual: scissors, glue, hot glue, etc.
I recommend using craft felt with kids because:
It's inexpensive and kids can learn and perfect crafting techniques without breaking the bank
There are SO many colors and patterns (ladybug, zebra, tiger) and textures (cobblestone) that are sure to spark some captivating characters
I had the kids cut out the pattern of their choice and pin it to two pieces of felt (or a folded piece), so that they could cut out the front and back of the puppet in ONE FELL SWOOP. School scissors being what they are, this isn't always the easiest of tasks.
TIP: Invest in a bunch of good sewing scissors of varying sizes (kids' hands at this age range from little-kid-esque to full-blown adult size). The expense will pay for itself in decreasing the kids' frustration in not being able to cut, and will save YOU time in having to cut the shapes out for them.
If pinning isn't going well, have your kids trace around the pattern piece with a pencil or chalk. Sharpie markers are not the way to go for this task. Many of my students used them, and Sharpies, while permanent on most surfaces, don't do such a hot job on craft felt. Smeary & messy.
ANOTHER TIP: For decorating, instead of using Sharpies, try using fabric pens or the fabric paint that comes in easy-to-apply containers, where the nozzle serves double-duty as the applicator. (Remember to factor in Dry Time for these paints.)
I wanted to give the kids an opportunity to see what other finger puppets could be, so I showed them a puppet short, Mister Pink & Horsy, and brought in a couple of examples.
I've talked in the earlier puppet-making blog posts about wanting to come up with projects for the middle-schoolers that didn't seem too "babyish", and that held true for this lesson too. I can make "cute" exemplars, and those are great for many of the girls, but I can't count on tween and teen boys getting into that. SO, for another variation on what a finger puppet can be, I created a Killer Clown.
Regular clowns: Lame. Killer clowns: Way more interesting. And all you really need to do is add hostile eyebrows and some fangs!
In mocking this up, it became apparent that the legs needed to be longer to make the scale make sense. HENCE: Finger/Leg extensions. These were just quickly made, and really could be explored much further.
I'm a part of an artists' collective and we've been working so hard getting ready for the opening of our shop, ArtFish42. Tomorrow's the day!
In addition to crafting minis and finger puppets, toys, pillows, and cozies, I've been busy packaging and creating the display for my Slice of Retail Heaven.
This framed pegboard display for my miniatures came together like a dream, and how often does THAT happen? I'd gotten some inspiration and tips from poking around on Pinterest. I found this large frame at Hobby Lobby, and it was very accommodating with its color, its size and the fact that it came sans glass. I got the pegboard at Home Depot. They cut it down for me and were SO HELPFUL with application ideas. I went with a wood glue and glazier points tag-team. Beautiful, baby! The metal holders also came from Home Depot.
I'm in the throes of making miniatures for sale and this past week I made a series of PIZZAS and PERSONAL PAN PIZZAS. After I made the pizzas my Inner Child let me know how much CUTER it would be if I included a MINI PIZZA BOX in the package. Naturally I indulged her, because not only does my Inner Child know her toys, I also trust her business sense. Design inspiration for the box came from Luigi, the Italian chef finger puppet who owns a restaurant in my small town, Beetlegrass.
I designed the pizza boxes in my usual manner which includes graph paper prototypes (I'm old-fashioned and tactile), then using Photoshop for final layout and typography. Luigi has been learning about how important BRANDING is for his business, so he suggested that his checkered pants become a central part of the logo design. I love when my clients pitch in with ideas!
The boxes were printed on white cardstock. I spray-mounted brown lunch bag paper to the reverse side to make the interior of the box look more realistic. I used two sizes of paper punches to create an opening tab and ventilation holes.
The exhibit I'm working on will have a total of six scenes, one of which will feature my dog finger puppets. In asking around for input re: themes for dogs -- because I don't want to have a reprise of the dogs celebrating their birthdays like I'd done for the exhibit at Providence Children's Museum -- "doghouses" were offered up. Bushels of ideas came from that suggestion, and I'll show you how the doghouses are coming along in another blogpost. But for this blogpost, I thought I'd show you the beds and linens I've made for the houses.
I made a fairly simple, straightforward pattern for the bed, making it from cardstock that doubled back on itself for extra stability. I added half-circles of cardstock for the head and footboards, trimmed those down, then added lengths of coffee-stirrers for the bedposts, which got painted white. I added bones to the footboards (a double thickness of cardstock) for a little canine pizzazz... and so some other characters don't pretend these beds are THEIRS.
I made the bed linens using patterned cottons with white flannel. I'd never used flannel before with my miniatures, but I sure will use it more in the future. It's soft and it drapes far better than using any sort of felt I may have gravitated towards. The wee pillows were stuffed with lengths of quilt batting that I'd folded into thirds. The mattress is stuffed with a single layer of quilt batting. The "braided" rugs were made by gluing DMC's variegated Craft Thread onto cardstock ovals. A bit time-consuming considering the width of the craft thread, but worth it, I think, given the results.
I'd already established colorways with these characters (red, blue, green), so I'm continuing in that vein.
So I made a slew of miniature 3-D movie glasses yesterday, as I am prepping another little exhibit. (More on that in an upcoming blogpost.)
These glasses were fairly easy to make, albeit a bit time-consuming.
I found a template for the glasses online, and messed around with it a bit on Photoshop for sizing AND to put a billion on a page.
Printed off a sheet of glasses onto white card stock and cut them out, even cutting out the lenses. Did I have to do this? Could I have just let the printed colors of blue and red suffice? Yeah, I could have. But then you don't get the transparent quality, and you can't see the puppets' eyeballs behind the frames, and you HAVE to have that.
So, to achieve that: a piece of Scotch tape on the backside of the glasses -- trimming was necessary.
THEN: coloring (on the non-sticky part of the tape) the lenses using ultra fine point Sharpies in aqua and red.
I made some miniature sodas today, so I decided to provide a short tutorial, in case you wanted to make some too! Here's François the French Bulldog to show you what we'll be making:
Below are the things you'll need. Click on the image to make it BIGGER.
I save things that I think would make good components for miniatures. Usually when I save these items, I have no idea what they'll be used for, but I know SOMETHING will crop up. Such was the case with the Lego pieces. They were spacers in a Lego pen that I have, and since I don't play with that pen 12x a day, there didn't seem much sense in saving allll the wardrobe possibilities. These translucent caps are great because you can sort of see through them (to see the "soda"), and the ridges guide the Sharpie while drawing lines.
The only extra thing I would add regarding the above is: at Step 2, tamp down the clay with the end of your ballpoint pen. Doing so makes the blackness of the clay more visible through the cup. Then use the pen end to make sure the level of the soda is even all the way around.
Here's all the sodas I made today, with popcorn buckets I made awhile back, using toothpaste caps and polymer clay.
Babycakes Jr. had been making mewling baby noises about getting in on the Food Truck craze and establishing some visibility in the sectors of his community where his brick-and-mortar store ISN'T, so to that end, I did his bidding by gussying up some super inexpensive plastic baby buggies, the sort that are typically used at baby showers for little candies and whatnot.
This post will be less of a step-by-step how-to and more like a here's-what-I-started-with and here's-the-end-product type of thing. So I bought a package of 2 blue plastic baby buggies at the dollar store for $1.29. Why they don't call it the "$1.29 Store" is another Mystery for the Ages, but there ya go.
Here they are, above, as I bought them. As you can see, I was able to pop the parts out. Well, I wasn't able to pop the wheels off. I probably could have, but I didn't want to risk breaking my oh-so-expensive purchase.
I basically added fabric and painted the buggies. (Click on the image for a larger view.)
- flannel fabric for interiors - felt mattress with coordinating flannel fabric for mattress - lace (gathered and glued) around buggy - lace in interior of buggy "bonnet" (bonnet remains removable) - polka-dotty ribbon as trim - painted undercarriages and handles silver - wheels painted - bit of fabric wrapped & glued around handles
So I'm saying to my dad that I'd like to have a whole fleet of these food trucks for Babycakes Jr. Dad asks, "Does he have anyone else helping him?" I say, no, that he has parents, but I haven't made them yet. Dad says, "Well, for one guy, 2 food trucks is probably all he could manage." I say, "Well I was thinking that he could just leave the food trucks unmanned in various parts of town, and rely on Good Faith payments from his customers." Dad's response to that was UNSATISFACTORY. But I love that we are discussing the business dealings of a finger puppet with something that approaches seriousness.