This second guest post is from Madrone D'Ardenne of Tiny House Theatre.
Madrone's profession is nature inspired puppetry and storytelling arts. She's a wonderful needle felter and storyteller and puppet maker, and she is currently building a vardo... a traveling tiny house (complete with solar powered fridge) which will be her home as well as a puppetry performance space, so that she can travel and share her stories around the U.S!
her amazing Baker's Daughter rod puppet
from Puppet Boot Camp
Madrone and I met at Suzanne Down's Puppet Boot Camp in Boulder CO this past summer, working with Steiner's 12 Archetypal Professions. I asked her to share something about the importance of puppetry with young children. She writes:
Making Magic with Puppets
by Madrone D’Ardenne
Recently I was listening to a YouTube talk with the late Joan Almon, co-founder of the Alliance for Childhood:
At the end of her talk, 46:30, Joan got two questions, both about puppets. What is the magic of puppets? How can I learn about puppets, the questioners wanted to know.
Like Joan, I have often pondered the “magic” of puppets. When I looked up the definition of magic, this one from Merriam-Webster stood out— “Extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source.” And supernatural, also from Merriam-Webster, can be defined as “an order of existence beyond the visible, observable universe.”
Three years ago I started my business, Tiny House Theater, Nature-inspired Puppetry and Storytelling Arts. Each week I go to schools here in Santa Cruz CA, performing with my puppets in classrooms and teaching after school classes, offering adult-child story circles, summer camps, and classes for children and adults in my studio, as well performing at public and private special events.
On a daily basis, I experience the “magic” of puppets, witnessing their extraordinary power to connect with children and adults, and inspire their imaginations with an energy and presence beyond their small and deceptively simple forms. You can read the Grimm’s tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, and you can tell the same story with puppets and the effect is much more potent! The children are, in the words of parents and teachers who observe them during the puppet shows, “enchanted,” “entranced,” “captivated,” “absorbed,” “reverent,” “in a magical experience.”
Joan quotes Rudolf Steiner, “Puppetry is a cure for the ills of civilization.” My puppetry teacher, Suzanne Down, at Juniper Tree Puppets, has also shared this quote, telling us that one of the powers of a puppet to elevate us is that the puppet has no ego. Because of this, we are able to freely connect our soul presence with the ensouled puppet, and this connection has the power to lift us from the ordinary into the extraordinary and the imagination, where literally anything is possible!
Puppets permit us to suspend our normal way of thinking, feeling and being and give ourselves fully to the story. They allow us to step outside the structure of our egos into something beyond and greater than ourselves. Puppets show us “an order of existence beyond the visible, observable universe.” What this looks like to me when I bring out my puppets and they tell a story is that our hearts open. We experience joy, trust, and pure, unconditional love. We can feel the world is a good and safe place. For me, this is the essence of the magic puppets create— hope, trust, and love.
To make your own puppet magic, start simple and grow your puppet skills and collection one puppet, song, poem and story at a time.
Make one or a couple of lady bugs out of felt with the instructions and pattern below.
Here is a simple song to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.”
i’m a little lady bug, black and red
i’ve got lots of polka dots toes to head
i’m a garden friend busy as can be
there’s lots of work for me, you see
i’m a lady beetle, red and black
look at all the polka dots on my back
i’m a garden friend so fine and true
there’s always lots for me to do
lady bugs and beetles are your friends
all your pretty garden plants we will tend
working together, our job’s well done
now we’re off to have some fun!
You can make a green leaf pocket for them to live in when they are not telling stories with you by cutting out two leaf shapes from green felt big enough for both ladybugs to fit in. Stitch all around, leaving an opening for them to crawl in.
I will post a short video on my Facebook page, singing with my ladybugs!
felt ladybug finger puppet by madrone d’ardenne
[download pattern as a PDF here from the waldorfcurriculum.com website]
materials needed— cut out pattern pieces, red and black felt, red and black thread, scissors, pins and a needle, batting or roving for stuffing
1— cut circle #1 of red felt
2— cut circle #2 and legs piece #3 of black felt and cut 6 small polka dots of black felt
3— snip red felt circle at lines and sew 3 black polka dots evenly on each side of the snips with black thread.
4— overlap felt about 1/4” and stitch down for both snipped sides with red thread— this will create a gentle dome for the ladybug’s back
5— stitch red circle onto black felt circle #2 with red thread, leaving an opening at one end and stuff enough to round out the dome, then stitch closed
6— stitch above piece onto legs piece #3 with black thread, aligning polka dots evenly on each side above legs, leaving an opening between the back legs so you can stick your finger in to move the puppet.
7— optional— cut a thin piece of black felt about one inch long— secure to ladybug head close to body to form antennae
8— enjoy making magic with your puppet and creating lots of fun stories!