Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Peep at the World's Fair

What could be more wonderful than attending The World's Fair? Perhaps dreaming of going and having your own special book and souvenir toy to play with. This was the inspiration for Daisy's Library I. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but as I've discovered in the past, one toy naturally leads to another. At the dearest expense, I purchased an 1889 copy of Raphael Tuck's A Peep at the Worlds Fair. The antiquarian bookseller also had two other books I couldn't pass up and one of them was an early 1900's copy of Aladdin or His Wonderful Lamp. This was done with a Chinese theme, and with such gorgeous illustrations that I decided it belonged in my library, too. I knew I wanted to make miniature copies of both for Daisy, but I like things in three so I selected Kellogg's Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures as the third.

While faithfully reproducing the first two books, I was captured by Aladdin's princess on a palm fan on the cover of the book. Bing! A light went off in my head, so I made a little fan for Daisy of this image and backed it with gold paper. The split wood handle was a simple and wonderful bit to add for authenticity. Now Daisy could read her book and enjoy a toy to go with it.

As I struggled under the pressure of replicating a tiny flip page book in Funny Jungleland, I once again gained much respect and appreciation for the genius that not only goes into such silly illustrations, but the concept of being able to flip strips of illustrations back and forth to make hundreds of goofy looking critters. This little book came out marvelously, but naturally after several attempts. It became a toy within itself.

I sat there puzzling over A Peep at the World's Fair. This beautiful antiquarian book was reproduced with such exacting care. The front and back cover were paper boards (or cardboard) and the binding was black cloth tape. There was no wiggle room for mistakes, so with a steady paw and lots of breath holding, I put it together. Aladdin had an unusual binding itself. It was sewn together like a spiral notebook! I had to drill tiny holes down the edge through all the pages to be able to neatly sew the book together. It came out beautifully! I truly thought I was done with this collection, as I troubled over what I could possibly reproduce from A Peep that could be a toy for Daisy. One Thursday morning it struck me like lightening! I would make a monkey marionette and tambourine inspired by the Egyptian page. A street vendor was seated, shaking his tambourine while a little brown monkey danced with a stick, laced under his elbows behind his back. This was too precious! And, so the task began.

First I had to come up with a way to make the tambourine. Although I had 6" wood panels, I wanted a larger circle for the instrument. As it turns out, it was the perfect length for a small circlet of wood and I cut five spaces for tiny brass washers to use as the jingles. Honest to goodness this was NOT easy. At first I used a clear presentation paper for the "skin", but it bowed on me. Later I would use a real piece of pig skin over cardstock for strength, and this became the tambourine.

The monkey took me a slap six days to figure out. Oh, I'd made marionettes in the past, but this was as much a stuffed animal, and a full scuplted figure, as ever I'd done or not done before. The hands, feet and head were sculpted out of paper clay, or papier mache, as is tradition. The fur is fleece, but it took me several thinks and a bit of shopping to come up with this. Fitting the head with fur gave me the fits even though I knew instinctively what should be done. The tail was another matter, but a few stitches down the top end of the tail, and pulled tightly, completed a little curled tail look. He really came out just the way I envisioned! So now Daisy can read about going to The World's Fair, shake, shake, shake that tambourine and dance her monkey marionette!

This is one of the most favorite collections I've ever made. I love antique books and as a wee mouse, I always longed for the books to come alive so I could play with the items in them. Instead of agonizing over the position of so many photos (which I've never figured out on this blogsite), I would encourage you, and be delighted if you would take a look at this collection on my website. There are about fourteen photographs with detailed descriptions of all the items This is not a solicitation, but a chance for me to share this wonderful little toy with you. Look for it in the For Sale album.

And, now I'm onto other treasures while Daisy enjoys a quiet afternoon of play. I wish one for you as well.

Miss E. Mouse

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