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These puppets are home-baked.

Whimsical puppets, molded easily and quickly from plastic modeling clay, offer their young creators theatrical and artistic diversion.

You can find materials at art supply or hobby stores. The foil ball keeps the puppet's head a manageable weight. The chopstick keeps it upright.

For each puppet, you'll need:

* I yard heavy-duty foil

* Plastic modeling clay (don't buy nonhardening clay) in different colors, about $5.50 per 16-ounce block, $1.60 for 2 1/2 ounces

* Chopstick or 1/2 -inch dowel

* A 10- by 16-inch piece of fabric or felt

Optional materials: * A puppet platform made from a wood scrap with holes drilled in it, or a 2-inchthick,8-inch-diameter styrene foam disk (to accommodate chopstick supports)

* Acrylic paints, $3 to $7 per 2-ounce tube, and brushes

* Clear polyurethane Other tools and materials include thread, craft glue, rolling pin, knife, sewing machine, baking pan, and foil to line it.

Preparing the clay

To make the clay malleable, knead the amount you plan to use (a chunk about the size of a golf ball) until it's soft and pliant, about 10 minutes. For a marbled effect (we did this for a tabby cat's stripes), twist different-colored strands of kneaded clay together. Modeling the clay

Preheat the oven to 2500 (2750 if you're using only dark-colored clays; at 2750, pale colors tend to scorch). Beginning with step 1, mold the foil into a 2-inch-diameter ball, rolling it over a hard surface until ball is round and smooth; to hold the chopstick support, punch a hole into the base with a screwdriver. If your puppet has a human head, mold a small lump of kneaded clay and put it where the nose should be.

For the head, flatten clay with a rolling pin into a 1/4-inch-thick circle. Center circle over the "face," then cover the foil ball, bunching clay around the chopstick and the back of the head. Pinch off excess clay, smooth, then flare out clay at the base of neck to form a small platform. The platform allows the head to stand upright during baking and will keep fabric from slipping off the neck; make it to fit the dress opening.

For the facial features - hair, beard, eyes, snout - shape small pieces of kneaded, contrasting-colored clay, then secure to the head, pressing them down and smoothing into place.

For hands and paws, mold kneaded clay into mitten shapes, then score deeply with a knife.

Remove the chopstick. Set head an hands on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool (clay hardens when completely cool). Reinsert chopstick and glue it in place.

After clay cools, you can add details, such as whiskers or rosy cheeks, with acrylic paints. For a glossy finish, seal clay with clear polyurethane.

Making the body

Following the diagram below, cut two fabric pieces and sew them right sides together, leaving a 1/4-inch seam. For paws or hands, leave an opening at colored lines; for duck wings, sew all the way around. Turn fabric body inside out.

To insert head and hands or paws, fold clipped fabric at neck or arms under 1/4 inch. Glue fabric around clay.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:plastic modeling clay crafts
Date:Nov 1, 1988
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