Making Heads. And a big blue tail.

mowillemsExperiential learning has such far reaching consequences. Which is why we are primed as human beings to do nothing but in our formative years.I am not about to go on about metacognitive aspects or why experiential learning is considered the most student centric, how pragmatism is a worthy study, why William James is a great read, why Rudolf Steiner was not just an esoteric freak. Instead, I just want to focus on how making giant paper heads has taught me to be a better project manager and parent. And it is a great exercise for librarians and students that they need to engage (you don’t have to make giant heads, but you can make other costume items and cosplay pieces).

Mask making and clothing/costuming are accessible amenable and so filled with play and satisfaction. And it shouldn’t be just for events and celebration like Halloween. Taking on characters and characteristics (role modeling by any other name) is always a teaching experience. Getting things to fit, experiencing frustration, making decisions that have all sorts of consequences, and more. It is like any other artistic expression in its need for passion,craft, practice, discipline, but you get to wander around your neighborhood in it.

What can you learn, what can you think about?

  • Proportion – how big is the head (in this case, Pigeon)?
  • weight – how much can you wear on your neck and head?
  • comfort – does it need to be lined, can you see, does it restrict, is it too tall?
  • materials – chicken wire or paper skeletons? recycled materials and/or new, what kind of paint?
  • plans – make it in sections or one whole piece? get all materials together first before starting or stage the buying of materials?
  • cost – do you have to save to make it or can you get it done well for less or?
  • time- whatever you do, don’t rush,
  • process – some parts are kid friendly, some are for adults only, do you have to make a demo version first, how much do you supervise, how much do you stand back?
  • tolerance – make room for things to not turn out as planned,
  • perseverance – don’t start a project and abandon it,
  • detail – which ones make the item “real”,
  • weather – have you prepared for your item to get drenched? go back and look at materials! And so on.

Don’t skip on putting these items in an order and trying it out. After a few attempts, you will know what order suits all involved and will inherently understand that different materials take different time, have different costs, can be adapted for different occasions and a hundred other variables.

Heads like these take a few weeks if you use wheat paste and glue; plan on a few sessions at least. For groups, coordinating storage or advising on transport is necessary because you can crush these if you are not careful. The most expensive items are, of course, paint that is worth a damn. If you are expecting to have prolonged use out of them, modge podge is a good idea even if you used expensive acrylics. $50 – $70 will make a lot of heads assuming you can get newspaper for free.

And, yes, it is an obsession and I will be posting all the heads we make from now on.

It is not often that you get to go as Pigeon in disguise as a bus driver, but if you get that opportunity then you should take it!! Thanks, Mo Willems!