“This week we made puppet shoes. We had to use clay, it was beautiful. All our shoes were pretty. M used butterflies on her shoes. K made BIG welly boots, P wasn’t there but we made him Crocs ( he likes to wear crocks without socks even in winter) and K missed P. We put the zip ties into the shoes so they would be the legs. We used slip clay as glue.
C used his puppet to make shoes. I got some legs for the puppet shoes I got some laces to put on the puppet shoes, rolled it like a big fat sausage.
J used a picture of Hello Kitty Boots.
A used a screw driver to decorate the shoes and put the logo and everything on it and laces on it too.
M decorated her shoes. Next week we will papier maché the legs onto the puppet. We wrote this all together in the classroom.”
Although I wouldn’t usually do so, I decided to make the puppet feet from clay as I know the children have a lot of experience in it, as it is the primary medium of the art room and of their teacher. I thought it might allow them more independence than the papier maché alternative. They can be baked in the school kiln and as they are chunky, should be strong enough and the weight of them should help their operation – they will be rod puppets operated from above so the feet will stand on the floor, so we should be able to use gravity and the floor to move them. I chose this form of rod as it will also allow the children the opportunity of painting scenery. I am looking forward to seeing them do more work in paint after the relish of their painted portraits, and it will give them a chance to paint collaboratively which might be an interesting challenge for them.
We began the session with a sample puppet of mine asking the children what they needed to do next to their puppets. Like theirs he had no legs yet, but as he had rods attached, he was able to give them an understanding of how their finished puppets would be operated and help them imagine how his feet would stand on the floor. We then looked at some images of shoes, most of them from Andy Warhol, with the children choosing their favorites as inspiration. I also brought some puppet shoes artist Fiona Dowling had made for one of my shows, which they enjoyed handling.
Then Carmel gave a demonstration, as she is so experienced in working with clay. She suggested a few things I wouldn’t have thought of, like using a damp sponge to smoothen the clay, and rolling the clay against the board to shape the front of the shoe. She also provided a clay slip which the children were familiar with.
At the end we strung them onto cable ties to create holes for them after they are fired, wiggling them a bit to allow for shrinkage, but we removed these to allow for firing.
Back in the classroom, we put the Dlr Primary Arts website up on the whiteboard and were able to use it to reflect back on the past 5 week’s work. Then they dictated to me what they wished to say about this week’s session. I was pleased to see they had an understanding too of the next step we were going to take with the puppets next week.
I also gave them an invitation to a work in progress performance of my own work to take place in the Lexicon at the end of the month which they will bring home to their parents. Hopefully some of them will be able to come along.