A few weeks ago, our school had its Holiday Fair. One of the things the Early Childhood teachers do every year is to present a puppet play. It is such a joy to work on these plays with my dear colleagues. We make our own puppets, sometimes marionettes, sometimes stand up puppets.. This year, we did the story of “The Snow Maiden” from A Lifetime of Joy by Bronja Zahlingen. We presented this puppet play a few years ago and had the silk marionettes we had made then for the human characters, with some help from Suzanne Down, who had come to do some work with us. We didn’t have time to make any animal puppets the last time, so we used what we had on hand. But when we decided to do this story again, I wanted to make sure we had animal marionettes, too, so I decided to make them. I was going to make them from knitted squares, but a friend suggested making them from felted sweaters, and I thought that was a great idea. I wanted to capture the essence of these animals, not make a lifelike representation of them. I looked at photos of the animals and I looked at a book I have called Knit a Square and Make a Toy. Although I didn’t use the patterns, this book helped me figure out how to construct the animals from squares.
I had a lot of fun making these–a wolf, a fox, a bear, a dog and a chicken. They aren’t as ethereal as the silk marionettes, but since they are animals, I figured they could be more earthy. The heads were a little too wobbly on some, but other than that, they worked pretty well and were fun to make and use. They are mostly made out of squares and shaped with needle and thread.