Illustration Daily – Day 148: Scooter

Originally created by children, of just roller-skate wheels and spare boards the kick scooter has come a long way. Modern versions are used for fun, sports and extreme riding. Some versions of the kick scooter have even been motorized, expanding the distance that can be traveled on one. But Daniel Nielsen didn’t need a motor when he set his record for crossing the US on a kick scooter. Nielsen undertook the journey as a fundraiser for the Red Cross and traveled the 2,378 miles in just 21 days, 9 hours, and 57 minutes.

148Scooter

Scooter, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 147: Puppet

There are so many types of puppets, and puppetry and they have such a long history that it was hard to pick out just what to write about. So, if you want to learn more about puppets you could always check out an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum or the Center for Puppetry Arts. If you’re really committed to puppets though, you could invest in your education and pursue a MA or MFA in Puppetry at the University of Connecticut. 

147Puppet

Puppet, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 146: Rocking Horse

Rocking horses have been around for ages. In the Victoria era, though, the classic rocking horse design was really perfected. Because earlier models of the horse had a tendency to tip over, woodworkers extended the curved bow rockers, and most importantly made the horse hollow. This change lowered the center of gravity and created a new feature . . . a hidden compartment.  

146RockingHorse

Rocking Horse, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 145: Wagon

Toy wagons are classically red, and the most famous of those red wagons is the Radio Flyer, it’s even been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. The Radio Flyer was originally hand carved out of wood, but the with demand exceeding what his small company could supply the creator, Antonio Pasin, quickly adapted his design to steel. The Radio Flyer was named for what Pasin considered to be two of humanity’s greatest achievements: the radio, and human flight.

145Wagon

Wagon, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 144: Jigsaw Puzzle

The jigsaw puzzle is generally credited to John Spilsbury, and the first versions were learning tools, maps, which makes sense as Spilsbury was also a cartographer. Some amazing examples of these early map puzzles can viewed through the Library of Congress’ website. If you like puzzles and a challenge, you can check out artist Clemens Habicht‘s series of color puzzles which come in 100, 1000, and 5000 piece versions. The puzzle pieces all feature a slightly different solid color which must be assembled in color order. 

144JigsawPuzzle

Jigsaw Puzzle, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 143: Sock Monkey

Stuffed animals made of socks became popular shortly after the automatic knitting machine made socks much cheaper for the consumer. The sock monkey became extremely popular during the Depression era when Nelson Knitting company and Sears & Roebuck began sending patterns to customers featuring the famous-red heel as the mouth of the monkey. Just last year the record for the largest sock monkey was claimed by Jodi Lewis who created a monkey that’s 10ft 5.5in and weighs just over 35 pounds. 

143SockMonkey

Sock Monkey, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 142: Cup & Ball

The cup and ball (or bilboquet) is another one of those toys that appears across many cultures. India, Greece, Spain, France and England all had periods in which the cup and ball was extremely popular. Eskimos even played cup and ball as a ritual that was intended to quicken the return of the sun. The cup and ball enjoyed exceptional popularity in Europe from the 16th century into the late 19th century. Notables figures of this period that enjoyed the toy include King Henry III of France, Queen Elizabeth I,  Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Queen Victoria

142CupandBall

Cup & Ball, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 141: Squirt Gun

Squirt guns have been around for a good long while, and while for most of us a water pistol is a novelty some of the early uses of squirt guns were for actual defense. One early model was marketed under the claim that it would, “stop the most vicious dog (or man) without permanent injury”. But the best early application of the squirt gun was led by Squire Boone (Daniel Boone’s brother). While under siege by Shawnees, Boone fashioned rifles into squirt guns to extinguish their torches, effectively preventing the Shawnees from burning down the fort. Dorothy here seems to have taken a page out of Boone’s book in dealing with the Wicked Witch of the West. 

141SquirtGun

Squirt Gun, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 140: Tea Set

The tea set is one of those toys that allows children to play at being grown-ups, and perhaps because it is so classic I wasn’t able to turn up a lot of interesting information about the miniature tea sets designed for kids. However, I did come across a really unusual tea set that is 3-D printed entirely out of tea. Based on the what has become a standard reference object in 3D design (the Utah or Newell teapot) the designers of this tea set used a base of tea powder and sweetener to create the pot, cups, and spoons. Sadly, you can’t use this set to make or hold tea, because adding water would turn the tea pot into simply: tea. 

140TeaSet

Tea Set, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 139: Marbles

Marbles are as much a collectible as they are a toy. Before mass production of marbles began in late 1880s, a single marble would cost about a penny. However, the introduction of efficient manufacturing allowed children to purchase a bag of 30 marbles for the same price. Collectors today will pay considerably more than a penny for a marble today, if it’s special enough. Some of the rarest marbles have sold for up to $40,000. And while marbles have existed for centuries, the modern marble’s American home might well be Akron, Ohio where Samuel C. Dyke first began mass-producing marbles in both clay and glass. Since 1881 Akron has been home to multiple factories that produce marbles (including Dyke’s), and in 2002 a former factory site became home to the American Toy Marble Museum

139Marbles

Marbles, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 138: Pogo Stick

The pogo stick was patented in 1918 by George Hansburg who shortly after its invention introduced the device to Florenz Ziegfield who developed a popular routine featuring pogo sticks in the famous Ziegfield Follies. The routine was so well received that pogo sticks quickly became a full-fledged fad. Pogo enthusiasts today have taken the stick to new heights (figuratively and literally), with Xpogo, which sponsors pogo competitions for both professionals and amateurs. 

138PogoStick

Pogo Stick, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 137: Yo-Yo

I’ve done a lot of toys this month that have been around for centuries. I would not have guessed how long yo-yos been around though. The earliest evidence of the yo-yo comes from a Greek urn that dates to around 400-500 BC. Yo-yos were even used by Napoleon and his troops as a form of stress relief. But when it comes to true educational value about yo-yos, nothing can beat the Twirl King Champions (which is a perfectly cromulent Simpsons reference, for those that are less nerdy than I). 

137YoYo

Yo-Yo, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 136: Pull Train

This month is focused on toys. Sadly, the pull train doesn’t have a whole lot of interesting factoids floating around about it. (Seriously, the most interesting thing I could find was article about Prince George’s toy train being included in the Royal Christmas card last year.) So, how about a different type of pull train? A 260.8-tonnes (574,964 lbs) train to be exact. In 2003, Velu Rathakrishnan set the record for pulling a train 4.2 meters (13 ft 9 in) with his teeth. He set the world-record, but I’m just left with so many questions. How do you practice for that? Why, of all the world-records, is that the one you attempt? And most importantly, what kind of toothpaste does he use?   

136PullTrain

Pull Train, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 135: Crayons

I love crayons. I still have a huge collection (I use them mostly for figure drawing). And let’s be clear, when I talk crayons, I mean Crayola. I’m not usually brand devotee, but Crayola makes amazing crayons and no one else come close (Seriously, get it together, RoseArt). If you want to learn more about the history of crayons I suggest you head over to Crayoncollecting.com it’s obsessively informative. Or, if you want to get seriously nostalgic, you can check out the time that Mr. Rogers showed us how crayons are made. 

135Crayons

Crayons, 5″x5″, ink, colored pencils, and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 134: Army Men

Green Army Men have been a staple toy since the early 1950s. I’m sure other kids did things like playing battles with their army men, but everyone I know (myself included) melted them. Adults are still melting Army Men, you can make a pretty cool little bowl by melting them together, a soldier in the Middle East melted them to resemble modern soldiers (complete with tiny cell phones made from plastic utensils), and melting the classic figures was a important step in creating the quirky Yoga Joes (little green army men doing yoga). If you want to destroy Army Men without the toxic fumes that come through melting, there is an option: Gummy Army Guys (they’re apple-flavored).  

134ArmyMen

Army Men, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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