Homemade (Waldorf-y) Marionettes

Our little Waldorf inspired marionettes

Our little Waldorf inspired marionettes

Being a perfectionist and procrastinator with a fear of failure is a joyous combination that I’ve battled since being a teenager. Giving my all to a project then giving up right before the finish line. Leaving things to the last minute so if they don’t turn out like I’d hoped, I could always tell myself, “ah well, I didn’t have enough time….”

Luckily since discovering the benefits of simple living and minimalism, I don’t really have any half-finished projects taunting me from the shelves anymore. Apart from these dolls…. a glowing testament to my lack of confidence and faith in my own capabilities. These poor souls lay smushed up in a basket for the past year. Yep, since last December( ok pedantic people, NEARLY a year). I had created them from scratch having never done any form of doll making before and had managed to stumble my way towards charming little marionettes for Coppertop and I to put on plays with and tell stories. Except for the hair. Everything else was done and I was thrilled with them, then started reading how to do the hair, told myself it would be dreadfully complicated and I’d probably mess up all my hard work by ruining it at the last minute, so I’d finish them off after Christmas last year. There they lay forgotten and unloved for months as I put off completing them, always moving on to other more pressing jobs ( or so I told myself). But the more I simplify and clear out the things we don’t use , having a proper place for our belongings, there isn’t any space in my life for unfinished projects as I move further away from that mentality. So, I took a deep breath, bought the thread needed and got to work. They were finished two hours later. Lesson learned……….

I’d seen marionettes and dolls on lots of Waldorf sites and Pinterest (naturally, it’s a treasure trove for Waldorf education inspiration), so I fancied having a go myself. Luckily I already had the book Creative Play For Your Toddler which has lots of wonderful gentle natural open ended play ideas for young children including marionettes. I didn’t follow the instructions exactly, but expanded upon them with ideas I’d gleaned from Pinterest pictures and my own ideas. The hair instructions were from Making Waldorf Dolls , a great book with lots of details though I would’ve loved to see more actual photo instructions in it.

 

HOW I MADE MY MARIONETTES ( if I can remember back that far…)

 

Traditionally Waldorf use natural materials such as sheep’s wool, cotton, silk etc but I use cotton muslin and synthetic wool including synthetic stuffing for the dolls.

The beginning stages of the marionettes. Using string to create shape , stretching over the stockingette and using pins for eyes and mouth

The beginning stages of the marionettes. Using string to create shape , stretching over the stockingette and using pins for eyes and mouth

I started off by measuring out the cotton stretch fabric and filling them with wadding then sewing up the ends. I tied string round them to give them heads then used more string to create an indent for the eye line and neck. The little raised nose was made by sewing a running stitch in a circle, pulling in tight to raise it, then putting a small dab of glue over the top to harden.

The next stage was to tightly stretch skin tone stockingette fabric over the top and stitch up the back. Using pins to place the eyes and mouth , I then embroidered them. The clothes were measured and cut then sewn. Hands were made by stretching more stockingette fabric over pebbles then stitched in place on the sleeves. Then the hair………..

The girl’s hair was actually fairly straightforward, a pin at the hairline and one at the crown, lengths placed over the top and stitched first at the parting, then two more rows about an inch apart. The next layer was stitched and the parting plus one more row, then the final stitched only at the parting, giving a natural look to the shape of the hair. Why on earth I put that off for so long I’ll never know.

The finished girl marionette, three layers of stitched hair, muslin robes and lilac rose clasp

The finished girl marionette, three layers of stitched hair, muslin robes and lilac rose clasp

The boy however……oft………..one pin at the crown and layers stitched around it, which would probably have been a lot easier and better looking if I had thinner yarn but I was working with what I had so chunky hair it was! Then it was time to play hairdresser and trim to shape. I liked the look of pulling the girl’s hair back off her face with a Celtic style for now, though that will change depending on what story we are telling, she could wear a crown for a princess or a headscarf for an old woman etc. Who knows, lots of possibilities 🙂

Finished boy marionette ,next time I'd use thinner yarn for the hair but I actually love his wild mop of hair and ladybird clasp

Finished boy marionette ,next time I’d use thinner yarn for the hair but I actually love his wild mop of hair and ladybird clasp

I then used strong cotton thread to sew strings through each wrist and one through the top of the head , tied all three in a knot and created a hanging loop. I used dark red crayon to gently add blush to their cheeks. I finished them by sewing a little lilac rose clasp on the girl’s outfit and a ladybird on the boy. Extreme satisfaction from finally finishing them and Coppertop absolutely LOVES them, so funny hearing her using different voices and making up scenarios for them, well worth it!

The finished couple. The photo on the left shows his hair before I added the extra layer as the stitching was showing through too much. Lots of storytelling in our future :)

The finished couple. The photo on the left shows his hair before I added the extra layer as the stitching was showing through too much. Lots of storytelling in our future 🙂

Overall I’m really pleased with how they turned out, even if the boy’s hair is wildly unruly and if I could do it over I wouldn’t cheat with the clothes by using Wundaweb instead of hand sewing as it would be a softer look. The Wundaweb makes the edges look a bit stiff as they’re so small. The girl in particular I love as she is wearing my favourite colour, purple and has beautiful red curls just like Coppertop. Next on the agenda will be a story apron to help along our storytelling adventures! Let’s see how long it takes me to finish up THAT project……… 😉

As always I’d love to hear your feedback, feel free to comment below and subscribe via email so you don’t miss any of my blethering!

4 replies on “Homemade (Waldorf-y) Marionettes”

  1. Sarah Jane says:

    Well done 🙂 they look amazing and what a wonderful job you have done on the faces. I to are a perfectionist but slowly learning to let go. The beauty of hand made & Waldorf is the unique & earthy look/feel handmade with love. I’m sure your beautiful little copper rainbow will adore these even more special made by you

  2. Susan says:

    Those are so wonderful!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *