If you go shopping for a mahlstick, you may notice that some can be rather expensive, but I made one for around $6.00, using a wooden dowel and a finger puppet.

“What’s a mahlstick?” you might ask. Well, let me tell you! A mahlstick can sometimes be spelt maulstick, and it’s name comes from the Dutch word “maalstock,” which means painter’s stick. It’s typically a light weight stick with a padded leather ball at one end, or in my case a finger puppet. It’s used to support and steady the hand that’s holding a brush, pencil, or other drawing media.

You might also ask, “How is a mahlstick used?” A mahlstick can be held close to the work that is being produced by an artist or sign painter, with the padded end  placed against a portion of the easel, or the edge of a drawing board or stretched canvas, or even on an area of the artwork where there are no marks to smudge or where the paint is dry. You can also lean the side of the stick against the edge of an easel, stretched canvas, or drawing board, but with caution, since the side of the stick has no grip and could easily slip if you lean too heavily on it.

And because you might ask, “how did you make your mahlstick?” Here’s how:

  1. First I purchased a 5/8-inch x 36-inch round wooden dowel, that can be found at most hardware stores or craft stores, and a set of Animal Farm Finger Puppets from Walmart, which includes five animals (cow, pig, chicken, horse, and sheep). Only one finger puppet is needed to make a mahlstick, but having more makes them interchangeable — I can exchanging one for another any time I like! If you decide to shop for a finger puppet elsewhere, just be sure to choose one that fits snugly onto the dowel, and is made of a nonslip material.
  2. Next I chose one of the puppets from the set, placed it on the dowel, and voilà! My very own Mahlstick!

Childish? Maybe, but who cares — having a cute animal puppet at the top of my mahlstick makes me smile. And if it makes you smile too, I might ask, “why not make one for yourself?”