Monday, February 28, 2005 8:34 PM

Birthday puppets! These three charmers were made for Sophie, Peter, and Angela's birthdays. Handmade from chenille socks, felt, polar fleece, and very thin foam rubber - because your first puppet should be very special, and above all, baby-proof. :) Sophie's already fed her monkey (plastic) bananas. So what do you need to make these guys for yourself? Socks, thin foam (get at your craft store), and lots and lots of patience. I also can't recommend the book "Puppet Mania" enough (by Henson alum John Kennedy) for showing a straightforward and simple explanation to making a sock puppet cool. His instructions call for glue; I sewed and stitched and reinforced like crazy since I knew they'd get chewed on. And of course, I played with them a lot! Making the arms floppy and long makes for great gestures; a little flip of the hand makes those arms flail around like crazy. Making these puppets for me was especially poignant because I hadn't made any puppets for years. In the past, I'd taken classes and even auditioned (and got in) for a pilot for a new cable tv show with puppets. The pilot sadly never got made, and I hung my dreams of working with the Henson company up on the shelf and got a real job. I hoped that I'd be able to make the switch someday when I was ready. Then I fell in love, got married, had kids - and I literally couldn't make puppets for a very long time; because there was no inbetween for me - it was either travel the world as a puppeteer or nothing. And one day it occurred to me that it was the joy of making puppets, and operating them, that was what was vital to me. I could do it in my living room with my kids. I could someday start a troupe and do a show now and again at the local library. It could be fun, it could be art, and it could be on my terms. Sounds really stupid, to allow your own self to keep you away from something you loved so vitally, but there it is. So now we have new puppets to play with, and I can't wait to make some more. For me. As a contribution for February's Month of Softies Alice-In-Wonderland-themed project, these characters strike a pose as the three gardeners painting flowers to appease the mad Queen.

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