Monday, February 18, 2013

Shadow Puppet Theater

I joined Pinterest a few days ago. My friend Leah, who organizes our homeschool playgroup, sold me on it as a way to help you remember all those cool projects and fun ideas that you come across but that often slip through the cracks of the ole brain. As soon as I got the hang of it--and I'm not fully there yet--I started looking for examples of shadow puppet theaters. I've been wanting to make one of these for a long time, but hadn't yet gotten around to it. I wasn't disappointed. There were links galore to really terrific examples, so I picked and chose among them, adapted to what materials I had on hand, and cleared off the table to work on it today.

First, I made the puppets. I freehanded some ocean creatures using a web search for "ocean creatures sillhouettes." This gave me lots to work with. Woody helped with the sharks, and Fox had some keen ideas about the starfish. But this part was a bit tedious, so I worked on it mostly solo while they did other things.

When it was time to cut out, I wished I had an Exacto knife and cutting mat. It was tough to work around all those tiny curves. Also, I accidentally made all the creatures facing the same direction, so some of the white lines showed when I attempted to correct this by gluing the sticks so that they'd vary which way they faced. 

I used stripped cotton swabs from our tiny cupid bow and arrow sets, but if I were to do it again, I'd definitely raid the Starbucks for a handful of coffee stirring sticks. I needed something exactly this thin (the Popsicle sticks were too thick), but longer and preferably a bit flat. 

The theater itself was the top of a box of copy paper. We taped kelp and a cave to the front of the box as a setting for a story based on the Three Billy Goats Gruff, but with our sea animals. We set the box-top on a chair, and mounted a reading lamp behind it.

You can see there, too, a little sea turtle with colored tissue paper or a middle. The colored tissue paper for puppets was a Pinterest idea, and I thought it was really neat. But, unless you really mash the puppet right up against the vellum paper, you can't see the color much. Still, the turtle was a good one to try it on because the color ended up looking like a geometric pattern on his shell. 

We ate our pizza while the glue dried on the puppets. Everybody was impatient to start the shows, and the pizza helped us focus on something else for a while. Plus, Fox hasn't been all that interested in food other than bread and milk lately, so at least this way, I get some garlic, tomatoes, and olive oil in him, too. 

Yep, that's a toilet on the right next to my little one's head. The only room in our house that isn't flooded with window light is the tiny half-bath off the bedroom. 

We made up stories and borrowed stories, and because Woody and I saw a Purim spiel at church on Sunday, we boo'ed and hissed at the bad guys in our stories just like people boo and hiss at the villainous Haman. And then, after a while, the boys just played pretend with it, partial stories and set-ups and circumstances that meandered around in the land of what-if.