Trashcan Trio

I am in the midst of gathering gifts for my niece Grace. I’m trying to buy as little as possible, not because I am a tightwad (although I am) but as a matter of principle. I’m disheartened by how much our society purchases and how little we actually make. William Morris had concerns that the Industrial Revolution would destroy the craft spirit and I fear he was, once again,  right on target. What is particularly perverse was my instinct to run to the local craft store to BUY craft materials in order to make home-made toys.  Madness.

I did succumb (thus far) to one purchased gift, a book (actually several, but books are exempt from my embrace of stoicism).

It is a charming book , called The Art Room, it’s meant for children my niece’s age, kindergarten through 1st and 2nd grade. Lots of funny craft ideas such as making your own throne *(everyone needs a throne), imaginative button crafts and refashioning  junk shop frames into gilded masterpieces.

What I loved was that most projects started with materials culled from the trash bin and the recycling can. I wanted to make sure Grace would  have as  little trouble as possible  following the instructions so I tested some of the projects in my studio, mostly wooden spoon/junk drawer puppets and what the authors called Portrait Plates-chipped chinaware tarted up with paint and glitter and silliness.

The following are the three puppets I made for Grace, The Trashcan Trio:


The point of the puppets was to use only what I could find in the jumble of my garage and studio, I rummaged through my fabric box, my toolbox, my holiday wrapping center and the garden shed. Fortunately I have a lot of crap and was able to rather quickly cobble together this trio. I think they are funny and I hope Grace gets a kick out of them. More importantly I hope she is inspired to make her own.

Persephone misc junk, lids, spool, printer's rag, holiday ornament, spit and glue.
misc junk, lids, spool, printer’s rag, holiday ornament, spit and glue.
Gerome the Gnomewooden spoon, old boxers, plastic spoons, paint, florist moss
Gerome the Gnome
wooden spoon, old boxers, plastic spoons, paint, florist moss
Aphroditewooden spoon, shredded crepe paper, button, old fabric from my friend Loreen.
wooden spoon, shredded crepe paper, button, old fabric from my friend Loreen.

I also followed directions for a portrait plate, the authors were channeling Picasso’s wonderful ceramics and I’m going to pop a small volume of the master’s work into my niece’s gift box. Never to young to meet Pablo.

Neptunechipped plate, paint, florist moss, varnish.
chipped plate, paint, florist moss, varnish.

This is a lot of silliness, but I hope Grace has fun with it.

She is quite the budding artist, my sister Kat is drowning in her “masterpieces”- that is what my niece very immodestly calls everything she makes. I envy her hubris.

My thought was if Grace had actual examples she might be inclined to craft her own. I hope so.

I will be shipping it all out at the end of the week to Philadelphia, I wish I could be there and have craft time with her personally. This will have to suffice.


I have , after taking Clive’s lead, carved a bookplate for Grace. I will run an imprint in the a.m., eager to see the result.

Until next time,

take care,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

11 thoughts on “Trashcan Trio”

  1. Great post, Leonard. What a lucky little niece, to have such a creative Santa for an uncle. Those puppets will delight.

    I’d like to see more glove-puppets from you, maybe channeling Paul Klee’s knack for finding faces in unlikely objects, like discarded electric plugs. I know you’ve seen the link I’m adding below… you left a message there… but I’m sending it to remind you anyway, because it might prompt more puppet-making. You can never have too many puppets!!!

    1. I know and love the Klee puppets; I had just heard of them through a review in the NYT and then-flash- I meet them again through your site. A love confirmed.

      1. I hadn’t realized that was my first visit to your site, my introduction through puppets. how perfect is that!

    1. looking at this post again, I realize on some level I was channeling Klee, the smudgy studio rag was made into a marvelous puppet by Klee;far better than my own, yet clearly I was inspired by it. I’m going to have to start revisiting puppet making.

  2. Oh wow, I want you as an uncle! These made me quite literally laugh out loud. They remind me of a session of junk modelling when I was teacher training; a friend made a wooden spoon puppet sticking one yellow dried flower and one blue one on as eyes and called it David Bowie.

    I’ve just laughed again at Jerome’s robe made from old boxers!

    1. I’m happy.
      i love how a simple spoon is so easily transformed into Bowie or whoever/whatever you desire.
      The use of old boxer briefs is funny when you think about it; I had just thought it was handsome fabric; happier that it is funny.

    1. I hope she likes them, kids can be funny, store-bought toys have more flash. I always fear my gifts may look like a boxful of trash-which of course is what it is! Her crazy uncle in California sending junk across the country.
      My sister will surely like them though, so that makes me happy.

  3. What a brilliant gift! The puppets will be great fun to play with, and she has a blueprint so she can add any puppets to the cast that she can dream up… that’s really wonderful. And I would think that a Picasso book can’t ever go amiss.
    And thank you and Clive too, because I hadn’t seen the Klee puppets before!

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