Here's a flyer with the details about a Puppet Camp I'll be leading this July at our artists' collective shop, Artfish42, in the Walnut Beach section of Milford, CT. If you know of anyone who'd be interested in participating, please feel free to share this with them and thank you!
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.
Since I work with tweens and teenagers at the very end of their long school day, I've found it real important to show samples (my own and online references) that will entice them to dig in and make stuff.
(The above devil has faux fur for eyebrows and goatee, and a balloon for a nose. Arms are made in three parts and are jointed with brads.)
I brought in a wide variety of supplies for them -- brown and colored bags (party stores are a good source), yarn, felt, paper, googly eyes, etc. I was influenced by Fandango's unconventional items being used for hair, so I also brought in some ancient, uncooked twisty pasta that I found here at the Manse.
WORD OF CAUTION: Tweens and Teenagers will EAT ancient, uncooked twisty pasta, especially if they're trying to impress a love interest. So maybe don't bring in ancient pasta for them to use. THINGS I'VE LEARNED I SHARE WITH YOU NOW!
Last year I got to make a variety of puppets with the middle school kids in the after school program. I was stoked to be able to do this, as even before getting this job, I'd been creating a massive notebook full of all types of puppets and puppet theaters, and had already been working on samples. I'd started this self-inflicted project with the thought that it'd be good discipline for me and I thought I'd be able to shape a class from it. Isn't it just SOooo serendipitous that I was primed and ready to do just that a couple of months later?
After hemming and hawing at first as to whether spoon puppets are too "babyish" for this age group, I decided they aren't. My benchmark is usually, "Do I still want to make ______?" and if the answer is YES, then the decision is that there's still something to be gained from the venture. I scoured the house for any and all plastic spoons, then on to Party City for a wide variety of colors that I felt sure would trigger the kids' imaginations.
To counterbalance this "babyish" notion, at least for myself, I made KISS puppets, 1. because I had white spoons, and 2. because this age group leans a little too heavily in ONE DIRECTION (if you know what I mean) and I felt I needed to counterbalance that as well. (I figured none of the kids would even know who or what KISS was, but they did -- their PARENTS like them... funny. One girl set to work straightaway on working on her own KISS puppets.)
I've decided that Mondays will be centered around miniature-making -- the ones I'm crafting, the mini-makers that inspire me, minis I made when I was a kid, that sort of thing.
Today I bring you another installment of "This Week on Big & Little" -- a semi-regular post I'm returning to. (I've done baskets, saxophones, abacuses, crafting tools, cola bottles, Mr. Potato Head, etc.)
I've shown this pin cushion before, as it's one of the minis I made as part of my scene for the 2013 Wee Faerie Village in the Land of Oz exhibit at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT. Since I now have a regular-sized pin cushion of the same ilk, well it was just TIME for another Big & Little photo shoot.
In my teaching life at an after-school art program for middle-schoolers, this year I decided to have them make stuffed toys of their own design. So this has meant: SEWING! And for some of them, not only has this been the first time they've ever sewed by hand, but it's been the first time they've ever pinned two pieces of fabric together. So as the teacher that requires that I had to be a little more fundamental in how I approached the project. Which I am so OK with -- the fact that these kids are sitting there sewing their own toys makes me happy on a very basic level. (Of course when they're sticking pins through the skin on their fingertips I'm a little less-than-thrilled, but that's to be expected...) I will admit that it was kind of puzzling that they didn't know how to thread a needle, how to make a knot. But I suppose that's mostly puzzling for me because I grew up in a house where my mother always had a project going on, the majority of which involved sewing.
I'll be teaching a 6-hour "intensive" called "Drawing Space Fantasy" on Sunday, October 7th, as part of RISD's continuing ed program. There's still room in the class for your teen! Registration link here.
The kids will be drawing/designing their own fantastic space heroes, sidekicks and villains; space vehicles and weapons (or communication devices); environments and homes for their characters; a robot/mutant/cyborg "double" for one of their main characters AND will be developing their characters' histories and storylines. It should be a really good time; I'm looking forward to it!
Another 6-hour intensive workshop I'll be teaching next month is Drawing Space Fantasy. In my prep for that class, since I'll need to talk about how SILHOUETTES are an important element in character design, I made a page of some famous ROBOTS from TV and movies and comics, to test the kids' SPACE FANTASY ACUMEN.
So, because I am getting all the projects together for this Cartooning Critters class I'm teaching on October 8th, I figured I would make a sample page of just ANIMALS (since that IS the theme of the class) to show the kids (and YOU) what cartoon characters can be inspired by just letterforms.
Above are 3 "blank" pages of letter and number forms for you to cartoon on/around/over/under. Click on images for a larger version, print out, and get cartoonin'!
I'm teaching "Cartooning Critters" on Monday, October 8th, 2012, as part
of RISD's Continuing Education youth program. There's still time to
sign up -- here's a link to registration: Cartooning Critters!