Ideas for a class Posted by Na on Oct 06, 2008
I've been asked to do a puppetry building workshop in November with some people who have mental illnesses. I've only got about 2 hours over 3 weeks with them, and I was thinking of doing something a little less traditional and more abstract, like doing papier mache abstract objects or something with blacklight. However I'm concerned that the papier mache will take too long to do in the time alloted; the organiser also told me that some of the participants have issues with shaking, etc. so I want to go with something that doesn't require precision but maximises the amount of creativity the participants can have in building the puppets. (Oh yeah, the participants are in their late teens/early twenties)

At the end of the class the organisers would like to do a short performance/showing of the puppets (not to other people, just within the classmates).

Anybody have any other suggestions for what I could pitch?... I was tempted to do a paper workshop, like what's offered by Gary Friedman, but I think it's unfair to try and steal his ideas 
Re: Ideas for a class Posted by miguel on Oct 06, 2008
Hi, Na! Good morning (I guess in Europe is afternoon or evening)

Why you don't try simple hand glove puppets with them! (Just have patterns ready, like those one that have the form of the hand, and you do separate the rest of the features). Using Foam or foamy glue (Easy to work, just 10 minutes).
To stitch the seam, maybe stapler, etc.

Re: Ideas for a class Posted by puppetlady on Oct 06, 2008
I was thinking the same as Miguel - hand glove puppets.  That's what I have my kids make.  You could eliminate the sewing by using glue or staples like Miguel said.  I hot glue the facial features (which you could pre-prepare) for them once they choose what they want.
dave w one eye monster puppet
Re: Ideas for a class Posted by Billy D. Fuller on Oct 06, 2008
I agree keep it very simple and remember with special needs children and adults although there issues may be different keep in mind that you want them to touch and feel. You could make a series of finger puppets with different shapes, sizes, textures, colors.................... anything that would stimulate there brain activity. Special needs persons can be challenging to some but I am sure you are going to find it very rewarding. I applaude you for doing this.

Billy D.
Re: Ideas for a class Posted by Jorge on Oct 06, 2008
Hello Na:
I like the papier mache idea, just one ideas of my own:

Think about using flour instead of glues. If you can spect that participants could eat the products, flour is not toxic (I apologize if anybody thinks I am too rude, I don't know the severity of the mental illnes. When working with little children or making papier mache for toys, non-toxic ingredients is a must in my opinion). The problem with flour is that moulds grow easily on it, you would have to ensure that it will dry fast
Re: Ideas for a class Posted by Jon on Oct 06, 2008
Na, talk to the organisers.  Ask them if they think paper mache would be a good idea for the group you'll be working with.  If they think its a good idea go for it.  However, if they think that would be too messy a paper mache looking option is to use pieces of masking tape in place of the newspaper and paste.  torn is small strips it can give a look similar to paper mache, only less messy.

I'd think that a rod puppet similar to a punch and judy puppet, you know, no moving parts to the head, would be a managable project.  when I was in middle school we made puppet head marracas with light bulbs, papermache and tempera paint.  It was a fun art project.
Re: Ideas for a class Posted by Na on Oct 07, 2008
Thanks everyone for the help.

I met with the organiser for the first time today, and we're thinking of doing a number of puppets (finger, glove or a pre-prepared muppet) across the three sessions. She did like the idea of having some materials and doing something free form, but when she saw some of my puppets she seemed more keen on the more structured build.

From what I could gather from her, all of the participants, while having mental illness issues, are going to be ones who are more capable than some of the other people that they support. I checked out their facilities - they have a whole house/building turned into an art facility - and they regularly offer painting, music and other art classes for the participants. Additionally, there will be a number of staff on hand to help out.

I'll keep in mind everything suggested: we've yet to work out a definite plan, but the idea is that we do a bit of history on puppets, build a finger puppet, and then the second week try something else, and the third week perform a bit. The organiser mentioned that the point isn't to finish the puppet necessarily (and that they'd support the participants to finish the puppet once the classes are over if they wish), but to have some art experience with a new medium. Additionally, it sounds like it's less about therapy and more about just being involved in art and being active in something enjoyable.
Re: Ideas for a class Posted by Jorge on Oct 07, 2008
It sounds very interesting, hard work, but very interesting. I would like to help you if you were in my city
Re: Ideas for a class Posted by Na on Oct 07, 2008
Thanks for offer; if you were here I'd take you up on it!  :D
Re: Ideas for a class Posted by Na on Nov 18, 2008
Just an update: it's official, I'm booked in for a class in December!! YAY!

It seems like things are coming together the last month or so.

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