“Progress, not perfection… progress, not perfection…” Taking deep breaths I repeated this mantra over and over in my head. I convinced myself, If I could get myself started, I would be fine. I had enough supplies to make ten puppets. I could afford to mess up. It was time to make mistakes, to make progress.
The ½” Seafoam green foam laid before me on the dining room table. I looked at it intensely, hoping a puppet would magically form. No such luck. I took a deep breath, grabbed the black permanent marker and starting tracing. Before I had a moment to think, I took my somewhat dull scissors and starting cutting. The jagged edges reminded me how unprepared I was for all of this.
I started with the head pattern. I knew if I could get this right, I could do anything. I cut out two equal head patterns. They reminded me of bumpy mushrooms that you would find growing near a mossy hill. I put on gloves and pried the contact cement open. A wall of astringent vapors came barreling out of the tin. I quickly opened the window to usher out the fumes. I didn’t want to pass out before I created my first piece.
I took my paintbrush and painted on the adhesive to the sides of the head pieces. It had to sit for fifteen minutes for the contact cement to work. So far, so good. I was feeling more confident, so I grabbed the body pattern. The instructions said, “foam-cut 2.” Easy Peasy. Two toast shapes, coming right up!
Ten minutes in, I thought I’d get a head start on assembling the head pieces. What could another five minutes do? Instructions were only a guide, right? Nope. Definitely not ready. The foam sides were slipping and sliding everywhere. I dropped the pieces and waited the extra five minutes.
I reached the fifteen minute mark. The contact cement was now tacky, exactly how it should be. I put my gloves back on in shame. Carefully following Adam Kreutinger’s YouTube video, I pressed both mushroom heads together. They were sticking! It looked like a head. Well, actually, it looked more like a helmet or suit of armor, than a head but I digress.
One after another I assembled the body, the nose, and cut out the hands. Instead of having one rectangular sheet of Seafoam green foam, I had the first pieces of my puppet. And I was proud, albeit a little smug.
I cleaned up my materials. The scrap foam went in a bag for later. I put away the scissors and markers. All I had to do was close up the contact cement and clean the brush. I took the screwdriver I used to open the can and started bashing it into the tin lid. No more fumes coming from you, sir. I grabbed the paint brush and tried to clean it off. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I got contact cement ALL over my hands. No amount of soap and water could get it off. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day trying to peel off adhesive off of my skin. Take it from me, DO NOT get contact cement on your hands.
Life has a funny way of bringing you back down to earth when you need it most.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s episode on felt sewing! In the meantime, enjoy some photographs and videos from our day of foam fun!