I’m Margaret J. Nelson; I’ve been making puppets since 1979 and have taught puppet making to kids and adults since 1984. I teach my students to make puppets using the same materials and methods that I use myself. Working with felt and my ZOOMORPH design, children age 5 and up can follow their imaginations to make unique and durable puppets. Working with cloth and papier-mâché, students ages 8-teen create lively hand puppet playmates. Using the same materials and methods, adult students with craft experience can make exquisitely detailed art objects.
I teach the making of three kinds of puppets: felt ZOOMORPH animal puppets, Punch-style hand puppets, and life-sized cloth and papier-mâché Parade Puppets.
The ZOOMORPH workshop is suitable for students ages 5 through adult.
Students lace together pre-cut basic felt puppets, then choose, mark, cut out, and assemble felt animal costumes for their ZOOMORPHs. Optimal class size and number of sessions depend on the ages of the kids in the class and on the availability of adult helpers. Click here for more details.
In these workshops, suitable for ages 8 through adult, students make Punch-style hand puppets with papier-mâché heads and fabric bodies.
The basic workshop (for weekend camps or festivals) needs two three-hour sessions, with at least twelve hours drying time between sessions. The extended mâché puppet workshop needs three sessions. In the four sessions of the Little Hand, Big Hand workshop, students learn to make both ZOOMORPH puppets and mâché hand puppets. Click here for more details.
These rod puppets are BIG—five to six feet tall on their stands, six to seven feet tall on the hip of an average adult. They are LIGHT—roughly 10 pounds total, including center pole and carrying rig. They make EYE-ATTRACTING, mobile billboards for painted banners.
Parade Puppets can be completed in five 2-hour sessions, with drying time and costume sewing between sessions. Click here for more details.
I also make hand puppets, which I have displayed at four Chicago-area gallery shows and three Illinois Artisan Art Sprees at the James Thompson center. My puppet characters, however fantastic, are based on perception: the shape of an eye socket or angle of a nose seen in passing. Click here for more information, or view my arts resume (pdf).