Crafting with Jessica: Red Panda
Learn about the fascinating life of Abraham Dee Bartlett and one of his favorite animals, the red panda. Bartlett, the subject of Cassandre Maxwell’s picture book biography Fur, Fins, and Feathers, is widely recognized as the father of the modern zoo.
- Wire cutters
- Pipe cleaners (orange, brown, white, and orange and yellow stripped)
- Googly eyes
(This craft may look a little trickier than it really is. If you think you’re stuck, just improvise until things look right. You’ll get the hang of it!)
Step 1: Using pliers, grab the very end of an orange pipe cleaner and wrap it around the end of the pliers. Then squeeze the end to flatten it. (This action will be useful throughout the craft to tuck in the sharp ends of the pipe cleaner and prevent scratches.)
Step 2: Make a 90 degree bend about two inches from the end of the pipe cleaner. Make another bend about ½ inch from the bend on the long end of the pipe cleaner and fold the pipe cleaner back onto itself. Fold the pipe cleaner back onto itself about 1 inch further down the pipe cleaner. This should create a T shape.
Step 3: Fold the pipe cleaner back and forth four more times, each time making a crease at the end of the top of the T shape. Then, holding all the layers you just made so that they line up, wrap the end of the pipe cleaner you have been working with around the back side of the T shape and feed it though the center of the all the layers. Pull the pipe cleaner tight and wrap it around the back side of the T shape, again feeding it though all of the layers. Repeat this process three or four more times to secure the shape and start making a tight ball in the center of the T.
Step 4: If you run out of length on your pipe cleaner, twist its end to another orange pipe cleaner to secure them together and keep going. (The top of the T shape will be the head of the red panda, and the long part of the T will be the neck.)
Step 5: Wrap a new orange pipe cleaner around the ball on the top of the T, pulling the pipe cleaner around the back side of the ball and wrapping around to the opposite side of the T. Then wrap the pipe cleaner around the neck and behind the top of the T again and around to the opposite side of the T. Repeat this process, adding more pipe cleaners as needed until you get the head to be the size and shape you want.
Step 6: Once you are happy with the head take the orange pipe cleaner and wrap it up and around the back side of the head. Make a small loop on one side of the back of the head and twist. Then weave the loose end of the pipe cleaner under a layer or two of pipe cleaners to secure the loop to the head. (This little loop will be one of the ears.) Weave the pipe cleaner in and out of the layers across the back of the head until you get to the opposite side. Then create another loop and attach it to the head as you did with the previous one. Once both ears are secured to the head, wrap the orange pipe cleaner around each ear to help securely attach them to the head.
Step 7: Wrap the remaining part of your orange pipe cleaner around the head toward the neck and then wrap the end around the neck. Let the tail of the orange pipe cleaner lie next to the pipe cleaner for the neck.
Step 8: Attach a brown pipe cleaner to the back of the head and pull it up to one of the ears, weaving it in and out to secure it to the head. On the back side of one of the ears make a small V that fits inside one of the ear loops. Repeat the same process behind the other ear. Then take the remaining length and wrap it down the back of the head and around the neck, letting it hang down with the neck pipe cleaner.
Step 9: Feed a white pipe cleaner under one of the strands towards the center of the face. Bend the very end of the white pipe cleaner up and twist it around itself to secure it in place. Then wrap the long end of the white pipe cleaner in a circle until almost the entire face is covered in white. To help hold the white pipe cleaner in place, occasionally weave it in and out of the orange strands.
Step 10: Once you have the white pipe cleaner attached to the face, wrap the white pipe cleaner down the chin of the red panda and around the neck, letting the end hang with the other neck pipe cleaners.
Step 11: Starting at the top of the head, in between the two ears, wrap a new orange pipe cleaner around the top of the white circle to create a break in the color. Weaving in and out along the way, follow the circle around until you get to the top of the cheek, then wrap the orange pipe cleaner around the edge of the white pipe cleaner again to create another dent. Once the dent is complete, continue weaving around the outside edge of the circle until you get to about the chin, and then wrap more orange around the white. This should be a larger dent in the white and it should extend from the bottom of one cheek to the bottom of the other. Then once again weave back and forth along the edge of the white until you get to the top of the second cheek, then make the last dent in the white. This dent should match the dent on the other side of the face.
Step 12: Once you have created all of the dents, take the orange pipe cleaner and wrap it around the muzzle to separate the dented sections from the main circle. You should end up with a circle in the center of the face and four white markings along the outside of the circle. The markings and the circle should be separated by a small strip of orange.
Step 13: Wrap the orange to the back side of the head and cover all of the brown pipe cleaner with orange pipe cleaner (including the back side of the ears). Creating two small loops on the back side of each ear works well to cover the brown. Then wrap the orange pipe cleaner down the back side of the head and around the neck to secure everything in place.
Step 14: Cut about 1 to ½ inch off the end of a brown pipe cleaner with some wire cutters. Take the small piece of pipe cleaner and wrap it around the end of your pliers to create a small circle. Attach this small circle to the center of the white circle by bending its ends around the white pipe cleaner. (This will be your red panda’s nose.) Adjust the pipe cleaners by bending, gently pulling, and pushing the pipe cleaners until you are happy with the way the nose looks.
Step 15: Set the head aside for a moment and create an X with two brown pipe cleaners. Twist the center of the pipe cleaners together until you get a twisted section in the middle that is between 2 and 2 ½ inches in length. Then grab one of the four long sections of pipe cleaner and fold it up to the center to create a loop. Repeat this process with the other three sections. (These will be the legs of the red panda.)
Step 16: Once you have the legs and general body shape done, grab the head and attach it to one end of the body by twisting the neck pipe cleaners onto the body.
Step 17: When you have the head attached to the body start adding brown pipe cleaners around the body to thicken it up. Wrap the pipe cleaners in a spiral motion around the center of the body. When you get to the end of the body, wrap the pipe cleaners around and over the top of one of the legs, then around to the chest, then up under the opposite leg. You should be making almost a figure eight motion around the red panda. On the end where the head is, stop the figure eight motion occasionally and wrap the pipe cleaner around the neck.
Step 18: Once the panda’s torso is about an inch wide, take a brown pipe cleaner and wrap it down one of the legs, leaving about ½ inch at the bottom of the loop un-wrapped. Repeat this process with each leg. Then pinch together the loops at the bottom of each leg just enough to fill the hole in the center of each loop and bend each loop up 90 degrees. (These will be the feet of the Red Panda.)
Step 19: Before you finish with the brown pipe cleaners, make sure to make a small loop with a brown pipe cleaner on the rear end of the red panda. The loop should be located where you want the base of the tail to be.
Step 20: Next, weave an take an orange pipe cleaner in and out along the sides of your red panda. Once you have an orange strip on each side, weave the pipe cleaner back and forth between the two orange strips, wrapping the pipe cleaner over and under each strip to secure the pipe cleaner to your red panda’s back. Make sure to cover the chest and read end of your red panda in orange. (I also wrapped orange pipe cleaner around each leg once to help secure the orange pipe cleaner to the back of the red panda.) Make sure also to cover the back of your red panda completely with orange pipe cleaners, but do not cover the stomach. (A red panda’s stomachs and legs are brown, but its back is red or orange.)
Step 21: Once you are happy with the orange on the back of your red panda, feed a yellow-and-orange striped pipe cleaner through the loop you made for the tail. (You could also use a yellow pipe cleaner and an orange pipe cleaner twisted together). Fold your pipe cleaner in half and twist it to secure it to the loop. Then fold the two ends of the pipe cleaner back up onto themselves and attach them to the loop at the base of the tail. At this point you should have two loops attached to the base of the tail.
Step 22: Feed another yellow-and-orange striped pipe cleaner though the loop at the base of the tail and twist in the center to attach the pipe cleaner to the base of the tail. Wrap each end around the base of the tail once or twice to hide the brown loop. Then weave one end of the striped pipe cleaner in and out of the two loops from the top of the tail to the end of the tail and then back up again. (This should feel similar to braiding.) This will attach the two loops together. Repeat this process with the other half of the pipe cleaner. Make sure to tuck in the ends and the tail is finished.
Step 23: Then take your googly eyes and place some glue on them. Attach the eyes right below the white marks on the top of the face. The eyes should sit between the white markings and the muzzle of your red panda. Once you have the eyes attached, your red panda is complete!