If someone were to ask what children's book influenced me the most, "The Velveteen Rabbit", would have to be in the top 3. It's a book that I think about almost daily in the studio. The idea of "nursery magic" and what makes a toy "real" occupies my mind when I am making things for klt:works. One of my biggest joys is to know that a child has made one of my creations "real".
From the Velveteen Rabbit:
"Real isn't how you are made" said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with , but REALLY loves you, then you become Real....Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.
Another book that I recently discovered and think about often, is "Dirty WOW WOW and other love stories". This book tells the stories of 50 transitional love objects. The pictures are great and the stories are really touching. The title page writes, "A tribute to the threadbare companions of childhood". Here are a few of my favorites.
I tend to like to surround myself with well loved things in the studio. I'm sort of mystified as to what sort of qualities a plush or doll needs to acquire such adoration. I like to think of myself as an elf, making toys or plush for children, pouring in as much magical love dust in as possible. Sayer is my only child study right now, along with remembering what I responded to when I was small. But I watch and take mental notes, hoping that I might get the formula right. Here are some of the well loved, or "real" characters that are in our home right now.
This is my mom's doll from when she was a little girl. It has a mark of red lipstick on the arm from where my mom pretended to give her a shot when she was playing nurse. This doll has always been in my various studios.
This is my old Snoopy doll that I loved. It is one of the only stuffed animals that I still have. I found it stashed away for my "someday child". I need to mend the armpit.... before I give it to Sayer.
And here is Murphy. Our friend Pam gave him to us when she found out about my love of ventriloquist dolls. Murphy has been through a lot and is very real. He hangs out on the bench in our hall.
Gunk gunk, which is now Conk, is my favorite of the bunch. This little slug goes everywhere with Sayer. It was the first slug lovey that I ever made and Sayer has had it now since he was 10 months old. Conk has been through about 100 wash cycles and is definitely as real as it gets. Did you have a threadbare companion?