I Need A (Leather) Snake
March 25, 2011
A while back, I picked up a book from the thrift store that has become a favourite story around our house. It's called, I Need a Snake, by Lynne Jonell and is illustrated by Petra Mathers. I'm not quite willing to call it a classic, but it's a perfect book for a three year old boy. The illustrations are fun, and the interaction between the mother and son is spot on.
The basic premise of the book, is that the boy really wants a snake. The mother tries to appease him by first reading books about snakes, then taking him to see stuffed snakes at the museum, and finally to a pet store to visit real live snakes. When she tells him he will have to wait until he "is all grown up" and "has a house of his own" before he can have his own snake, he decides to find one around the house. I completely empathize with the mother that is not interested in getting a pet snake, despite her son's protest. Luckily, he finds a sparkly green snake (skipping rope), wiggly white snakes (shoe lace) and dangerous black snake with a gold head (belt).
Last year our town held a sweet harvest festival in a local farm turned park. There were lots of booths, crafts, farm animals, but the real hit was the snakes. The local high school Reptile Club volunteered to bring their animal collection to show to the community. They had tons of snakes, a few turtles, and lizards, and they were all kept in clear Rubbermaid bins in a fairly small room. It was a little crazy, and a bit creepy, but my son loved it. One of the teenagers from church is in the club, and helped my three year old hold this pretty little red snake.
Since we had read, I Need a Snake, about a million times, and he actually got to hold a real snake, my son REALLY wanted a snake. Lucky for him, I have a huge bag of leather scraps just waiting for a project like this, and even the right colours to replicate his favourite red snake.
This project would also work well with fleece or felt (basically anything that won't fray since I didn't finish the edges of the stripes).
I started by cutting out several strips from red leather for the front of the snake. I cut pieces that were 2 3/4" wide, and pieced them together until my strip was 32 1/2" long. I didn't want my finished snake to be long enough to be a choking hazard, but still wanted it to look real.
For the stripes, I cut pieces of white and gold that were about 1 1/4" wide, and lots of smaller black pieces that were about 3/8" wide. I didn't worry about making anything perfect since it was just going to be a child's toy, but I did use a rotary cutter for most of my cutting because it makes straight lines, and is faster than scissors.
From start to finish, this took me about 2 hours. Keep in mind I was also helping to make lego spaceships, getting snacks, changing diapers, and reading a few short books. You could make your own snake faster if you have some time to work without interruptions.
After we took these pictures, my darling boy proceeded to whip his snake around, and slapped me on the leg with it. Maybe a leather snake wasn't my best idea after all? But then again, he has brought it with him to preschool, and on several playdates already, so I'm happy I made something he loves.
I like to think that if Mr. Snake got the wish of his heart, he would be outside basking in the warm sun.
But, since we had several inches of fresh snow on the ground this morning, he might do better inside. The bathtub might be just the place for a nice little snake...
...or maybe he might like the freedom to slither around on the floor.
Whichever place he likes best, I'm just glad he is only made of leather and not a real snake.