Now that spring has sprung here in San Francisco, it’s high time for a new Meadowlark puppet show.  The Meadowlark puppet show is always a special moment in our weekday morning music class.  The children sit on their parents laps as we all sing…  “Mother of a fairy tale, take me to your shining land…”  And then the handmade puppets emerge from their basket to help tell the story of a song.

This particular puppet show is momentous for me because this time, I’m trying a new kind of puppet.  Up until now, I’d always used needle felted figures like the ones used in Waldorf early childhood education.  If you follow my blog, you know that I love needle felting.  Needle felted figures have a wonderful softness and subtlety that is difficult to duplicate in any other medium.  Working with wool roving, as you do in needle felting, is the sculptural equivalent of chalk or watercolor.  It’s fluid, intuitive, smeary, always changing.  I love that.

However, as I bring the class to new venues, I’ve started to feel like another kind of puppet might serve us better– something larger and a little more touchable.  But I’m determined that it be no less magical!  So this week, I set out to create, for our next puppet show song, some hand puppets to help me tell the story of a Japanese folk song – Zousan (Elephant).

From creating patterns, to purchasing materials, to sewing the actual figures, a new puppet show means lots of activity around our house!  And now that Ember is four and a half, and actually able to help in some very real ways, it is truly a family affair.

Here are some glimpses into how we made them.  

Quick first sketch

On our way to Mendell’s on Haight to look for fabric! We decided to go for a nice, soft stretch jersey.

Trying out our pattern in muslin to work out any issues before making it in the grey jersey. (Ember is really into straight pins lately! And he’s actually doing really well with them… He has quite careful fingers and hasn’t stuck himself yet.)

 

 

 

Ready for the real fabric now!

 

 

The children are both fascinated by the sewing machine. Whenever I set it up, they want to sit close enough to see everything.

Starting the little doll. Here’s the head, which I managed to finish shaping while Peregrine busied herself with some crayons.

Checking the head against my body pattern, trying to get the size right.

The finished doll! Clothes are made out of too small baby clothes I was about to divest. My favorite source for fabric scraps these days!

The finished elephants!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Waldorf doll making, I highly recommend Sarah’s Dolls as a good first stop for patterns.  You can download them right away, so no waiting!  And they’re very affordable.  You won’t find the pattern I used here, since I made that one from scratch.  (Though I’d be happy to share it with you!)  But you will find many wonderful patterns there for dolls of all sizes.  I made Peregrine her first doll from one of Sarah’s patterns, and I found the directions incredibly thorough and easy to follow.  

I hope you enjoyed this little preview…  🙂  And if you’re raising little ones in the San Francisco Bay Area, come check out Meadowlark Music Class to meet them in person!