After much research and obsessing about the state of the Borneo rainforest, I started drawing the characters I loved the most in them. The illustrations turned into designs for wooden shadow puppets that I got lasercut from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified bamboo which does not require fertiliser and self-regenerates from its own roots, so it doesn’t need to be replanted. FSC certified products support selective logging and reforested wildlife corridors.
They are made to fit small hands. You can hold them with one hand and move a small torch or use a mobile phone in the other. You can move the source of light around to make the shadow puppet change size and move.
I also started experimenting with shadow play screens. I hand painted the screens with natural dyes onto a 278gsm blend of unbleached hemp and organic cotton fabric with the batik method using soy wax. The heavier cloth makes it more durable. Hemp is an environmentally friendly crop which requires no pesticides or herbicides when grown, returns nutrients to the soil and requires very little water compared to cotton. There are also no hazardous pesticides used in the production of organic cotton.
I have strung the screens up in a park and our doorway but they can pretty much be strung up anywhere inside or outside where you can tie the twine to. The setting sun makes the dyes glow and highlights the little specks in the unbleached fabric but you can also use lamps or large torch lights to light the whole screen. I’ve started using the puppets as decorations when they are not performing 😉
You can read my blog post about shadow play with my kids in the park and how I setup a shadow play booth at the 2017 Coburg Night Market.
I also wrote two tales of child who grew up on the border of an oil palm plantation and a rainforest.