Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pipe Cleaner People

You know those furry little sticks your mom uses to clean twirly straws? The ones often found in a craft store aisle? The millions of soft, colored hairs sticking horizantally out of a pair of twisted wires, ready for bending? Yes, pipecleaners.
And it all started with a diorama...

Everyone should remember book reports. You read a book, then at the end of the month, you write a report, do a project, and present the book to the class. You see, back in sixth grade I read for my book report The Sword in the Stone. I had used all of the other project options on the page except for one... a diorama. Don't get me wrong, I am a very artistic person, but also very busy. The time and materials put into a diorama did not seem appealing to a fast-moving, pre-teen, elementary school kid. My mother is also a very crafty person, so I went to her for suggestions on how to do my diorama.

Neither of us could think of very good ideas for quite a while. She looked at me. I looked at her. She looked at me... I looked at her... Both of us brainstorming. Finally, she had an idea.
"Pipecleaner people!"
"Pipecleaner people." A smile formed on her face as she visualized the final diorama. A concerned frown formed on mine. I didn't know how to make pipecleaner people, let alone the fact I wasn't actually sure what a pipecleaner person was.
We started my lessons the following day. The moment my dear mother pulled out that plastic box, I knew this would be a long afternoon. How in the world would you make a person out of wires?!

We started with the head. My mom freely twisted the wire in cirlces, slowly but effortlessly moving it down to make a perfect sphere. I crumpled the wire into a small deformed ball and immediately wanted to give up. This obviously wasn't my expertice. I was a 2-D artist, not a sculpter.

Next came the legs. As my mother had perfectly even and porportunate legs, mine were uneven and bent up. The waist was too low and my poor person leaned to one side. As we continued add ing more pipecleaners, twisting, cutting, folding, and forming our smallish sculptures, Mine became more of a mess. With my fate resting in the palm of my hands, I knew was going to fail.

"Don't give up." and "It takes practice." were often heard from my mother, trying to stifle a laugh at the patheticness of my wimp of a person.

We made several more that afternoon, and every time I learned new, helpful techniques. I practiced and practiced for the rest of the week. Finally, It was time to present book reports. I was becoming more confident. In one corner of the diorama stood a wizard in robes with a pionted hat and a beard. On his shoulder was an owl, perched upright and confident. In the middle there was a boy holding a sword, with one foot on a large rock, and people bowing at his feet.

It was a work of art.

People stared in awe at the glorious site of my finished project. They all touched the characters, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the fine craftsmanship. I was very proud of my finished work, and wondered when I would make pipecleaner people again.

It turned out I did end up making some again for several other projects in sixth grade. Soon I had a lot of practice, and my people looked better and better every time. I started making them for fun, making up more exciting creatures.

I became more excited with the craft and started teaching my friends to make people.

So far I've now made a family of aliens, a royal family, a fairy, a pirate, a turtle, "Elf," Santa Claus, an Easter Bunny, an assorment of different people, a leprechaun, dancers, and even a harp.
After a while my obsession did die off, though I still enjoy looking at and perfecting former pipecleaner wonders.


  1. You have taken pipe cleaner creations to a whole new level!

  2. What a wonderful story! I love these pipe cleaner people and other things! It is very creative, good job to you and your mother!

  3. I enjoyed your story. I'm glad to see that you didn't give up. You've learned a new skill and I can see you one day, showing your frustrated 6th grade daughter, how to make pipecleaner people. She will look to you as an expert and feel like she can't make them as beautifully as you can and then you'll remember the day your loving Mother patiently encouraged and taught you. :-)

  4. By the way, I LOVE the pipecleaner bunny!! Sooo cute!

  5. Oh, thanks! I really liked the bunny, too. I will definately teach my kids. ;)


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