childrens’ handpuppet workshop UPDATE

you may remember the post where the brainstorm for the kids’ handpuppet workshop occurred (and if you don’t, you may want to look at that as a refresher). we sure were excited when we received a box of leather tongues from virginia — in fact, it’s what could only be called an ENDOWMENT of tongues. a LEGACY of tongues. there could be five years’ worth of tongues there. (or, you know, we are good sharers here. we would share tongues, now or in the future. just ask.)

but we are gonna need more of the kind of generosity that cat and bomber from virginia (our tongue patrons) showed us, to get this workshop up and running in early december. along with needing the generosity of crafters who can de-centralize our maker burden by creating eyes, horns, or ears for kids to choose from for their krampusse — we are gonna need help creating the puppet “blanks”.

here’s a “blank” krampus handpuppet, as i wish to present to children at the workshop. then eyes, horns, tongue may be chosen and added — stitched, with help — and the child will then have his or her own krampus who is put aside until the event itself.

give me features and i’ll come and live with you!

to make exemplars, i purchased two yards of antron fleece and three large bottles of RIT dye in black. (antron fleece, the stuff muppets are covered with, is available through very few sources, comes in extremely limited colors and is expected in most cases to be custom-dyed by purchasers.) i bought a pattern and instructions from project puppet, and off i went.

it wasn’t hard sewing or involved sewing. it was fun sewing. (the dyeing of the fleece, eh. i’d have happily let someone else do that.) it is, however, fairly time intensive if only one person is doing this part. the more people who are interested in having their kids make a puppet, the more help i’m gonna need.

the “help” i need is not just the “i want my kid to make a puppet! tell me when the workshop is and i’ll come!” kind. i’ll need the kind where:

someone else dyes some fleece.
someone else cuts some puppet pieces.
someone else sews some puppet blanks together on a sewing machine.

perhaps not all the same someone else’s or at the same time. but WITHOUT that kind of help, what i forsee is that MY kids — and a few of their core posse — will have really cool krampus puppets. and that’s it.

so why not spread it out a bit? i honestly could not forsee a LARGER phalanx of these puppets than maybe… fifteen? (i mean, i could be wrong, but ultimately knowing what our numbers looked like last year, a workshop of ten to fifteen puppet-makers seems good to me.) in any case, the more blanks there were, the more kids would get puppets. (by the time i use up these two yards of fleece making blanks, i will also have an idea of what the materials fee for making these puppets will be for participants. this fee will be kept to just the cost of fleece and dye, not any of the other stuff.)

and yes! the need for eyes and horns, maybe ears, teeth, (really, we’re good on EXCELLENT-quality tongues!) and maybe just fur bits for sewing on, that still exists. again, refresh with my initial post to understand the idea behind this. if you are a crafter and can make us ONE well-stitched pair of eyes or horns — and tell a friend who’s also a good stitcher — i could not, and would not, ask for more.

here’s one of our completed exemplars. i made the bits for this guy — sewed the eyes, knitted the horns, wet- and needle-felted the ears and chin hair. i wanted to use as many different modalities as i could (is “modalities” the word i want here? i’m not sure) to demonstrate that various “bits” made by varied people will make a great cohesive puppet.

the assembly process revealed to me just how many adult helpers at the workshop are going to have their hands in puppets while their children stab them blindly with sewing needles: all of them. if anyone has some darning eggs to lend, maybe that’d help. but it’s not painfully slow, nor is it a done-in-a-second craft; it feels good.

it is just sad when you are trying to get one or two pictures of a handpuppet and it’s being too active to give you the shots you want.

it should be noted that each of those eyes measures 1.75″ at its longest point. the horns are INCHES tall. the tongues are 8″ long, and the width of the puppet’s head, from corner of mouth to corner of mouth, is about 5.75″. i think that should give any crafter who is planning to sew or knit or crochet us a few features enough of a measurement to go on, yeah?

button eyes, crochet or knitted or small stuffed eyes, horns teeth… i’m sure we’ll do SOME gluing but my goal is to be doing more stitching than gluing… stitching is more rewarding and i think it’ll be the first time some kids use a needle and thread/yarn (with help), which is exciting.

this project added another book to our krampuslauf librarypaul klee’s hand puppets. claude checked it out this afternoon while working on her knitting.

i’m happy for people to e mail me if they want to help, using my personal e mail, do period the period ripley AT gmail DOT com. i am DEFINITELY looking for people to commit to help, and even come by and pick up some materials to make blanks with or to just start on some bits. let’s have at it folks!