As a kid, I remember making bird marionette puppets with my mother. Upon more specific recollection, I actually remember watching while my mother made them. And I remember a lot of tangled strings. And now I know why.
Because these things aren’t for kids.
I’ve been eager to make these bird puppets with Amelia, so much that we ran out and bought Styrofoam balls and feathers and I looked for simple instructions on Pinterest, something that wouldn’t involve needles and fishing wire. I found this version. A pom pom head, body and feet, linked by mardi gras beads and decorated with feathers. How deceptively simple. We replaced the pom poms with Styrofoam balls, since we had some.
We began by following the directions. We laid out all the parts, cut the mardi gras beads into leg and neck lengths, and then realized that the next few steps would involve me operating a hot glue gun and Amelia waiting. I suppose you could use craft glue to connect the bird parts, but that would require an even longer waiting period, so we went with the hot glue gun. Which resulted in a minor burn for me, and some melted Styrofoam for the bird, because Styrofoam balls and hot glue really aren’t made for one another.
But finally we had a bird. Amelia decorated the head and stuck feathers into the Styrofoam parts while I figured out how to attach the strings, which involved more hot glue linking the feet, body and head to a pair of crossed dowel sticks.
Within seconds of getting the finished puppet into her hands, Amelia learned about the tangling. And she had a solution.
Who says a marionette needs strings? All it really needs is a stick, glued right onto the head. We cut off the strings, glued on a stick, and voila! Dancing bird.
Now THIS is for kids.
A few lessons learned:
• The strings, of course, are unnecessary. For young kids, just a stick is sufficient.
• We made the legs and neck about a foot long. This makes the bird funny and tall, but provides a few extra inches of potential tangling. Shorter limbs would be fine.
• Feathers are a mess! They are fun and fluffy and stick right into the Styrofoam, but you’ll be finding them days later.
• Washers glued onto the bottom of the feet give the bird a little weight and really help with the tap dancing!