ZOOMORPHs are soft, button-eyed, flat-tailed, non-threatening felt puppets. ZOOMORPH masks and costumes allow the basic puppet to become many animals. Margaret Nelson invented ZOOMORPH felt animal puppets in 2004 to extend puppet making into the lower grades at Dewey School, Evanston, Illinois.
ZOOMORPH Puppet Making Class
This three-session, four and a half hour puppet class lowers the age at which children can make a puppet they can really play with. Younger children (ages 5-7) who know how to lace can make durable ZOOMORPH felt hand puppets and interchangeable animal costumes for the ZOOMORPHs to wear. Twelve students maximum with single instructor; larger classes possible with adult volunteer assistance.
During the first session and part of the second session, pre-punched ZOOMORPH fronts and backs are laced together by young students using yarn and blunt needles. When students have sewn together the basic puppets, they choose an animal costume for their puppet to wear. Margaret’s cardboard patterns for ZOOMORPH costumes are easy to trace around with fine-point marker. Kindergarten kids will need grownups to help hold the patterns. First graders help each other. Second graders can do the holding and marking by themselves. Cut out costume pieces are hot glued together by the instructor. Popular animals include wolves, eagles, alligators, foxes, songbirds, rabbits, pigs, turtles, bears, manta rays, and sharks. Many other patterns are available.
The third session gives time for slower students to finish, and opportunity for all the students to do movement practice with their costumed ZOOMORPHs.
Skills the students use and improve in this class include lacing, costume choice, pattern placement, pattern marking, cutting cloth and puppet manipulation. Instructor provides tools, materials and supplies. For more information, contact me.
Little Hand, Big Hand: A Two Puppet Workshop
In this five session, 10 hour series students age 12 through adult make two hand puppets: one felt ZOOMORPH and one Punch-style hand puppet with papier mâché head.
My 6″ ZOOMORPH felt hand puppets can change their identity with interchangeable animal costumes. Skills used in making these puppets include pattern layout, pattern marking, cutting, basic hand sewing and use of a hot melt glue gun.
The 18″ hand puppets have papier mâché heads and cloth bodies. Making of these puppets uses and improves skill in drawing, armature building, sculpture, painting, sewing and fashion design.
Workshop participants who attend all sessions will go home with two durable, lively puppets. Hand puppets, whether felt or mache, are excellent for parent-child play sessions, because they naturally gather stories to themselves.
TWO FORMATS are possible for Little Hand, Big Hand:
As described above, for a group of individual puppet-makers age 12 and up, each person makes two puppets: a small felt ZOOMORPH and a larger Punch-style puppet with papier mâché head. The smaller puppet might become a gift for a younger sibling or grandchild; the two puppets can then interact, the puppeteers weaving a story and a relationship.
The workshop can be modified for a group of puppet-making duos (parent & child, for example). Each adult-child pair makes the two puppets collaboratively. The older member of the team can help with some of the finer motor tasks and help smooth the process; the younger team member can lace, paint, and consult on choice of animals/beings and their attributes. Beyond the making, the two puppets create an instant play situation that encourages imaginative and collaborative story-telling. This format is excellent for home school groups.
See Beaumont School letter of recommendation for a description of this class at a parochial school’s Summer Arts Camp for girls.