A little surreal with this one. Now, back to the drawing table . . . literally.
Balloon Festival, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
Forgive me for skipping the trivia today. I’m focusing on catching up on the illustrations so my writing may take a hit for the next few posts. So, here we are, continuing with May’s theme of events, with Independence Day.
Independence Day, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
How about some world record holding babies? So just for scale an average newborn is 7.5lbs. and around 20in. long. The heaviest baby to ever be born weighed in at 22lbs 8oz while the lightest documented infant weighed a mere 9.17oz. The longest baby on record was 28 inches long (making him taller than some of the shortest people in the world.) The record for shortest baby is a paltry 9.44in who was born 108 day premature. But one of the strangest records for infants is for having the most teeth at birth. The record is heald by Sean Keaney who was born with 12 teeth, which were extracted to prevent problems with feeding, however, Keaney grew a second full set of teeth at 18 months.
New Baby, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
Still playing catch-up. I expect to be back on track by the end of the weekend. So, finally I’m getting the May’s theme: Events. And to start the month we have May Day and a May Queen. The day is both a day of day of celebration (yay – summer!) and protest (yay – worker’s rights!). However, the holiday May Day and the distress signal, “mayday” have nothing to do with one another. The later is actually rooted in the French “venez m’aider” or “come help me'”.
May Day, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
The tricycle actually pre-dates the bicycle with the first version being a hand-cranked model invented by the watchmaker Stephan Farffler in 1655, this trike is also considered to be the first self-propelled wheel-chair as Farffler, who was unable to walk, developed it in order to improve his mobility. Since then trikes have been improved and redesigned for both adults and children and a bevy of other uses. (I have especially fond memories of my Big Wheel.) But artist Sergio Garcia turned tricycle design to the surreal with his show ‘Infinite Chapters’ in 2014. Garcia’s tricycles bend and twist into knots, hearts, and circles and are delightfully curious to look at.
Tricycle, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
One of the most ubiquitous playthings, the ball is one of the most versatile toys around. And the only thing better than playing with ball with a friend is playing in a ball pit. The first ball pit (or ball crawl) was designed by Eric McMillan and installed at the San Diego Sea World in 1976. It is possible that McMillan took his inspiration from a therapeutic device for children with physical disabilities but no matter where the idea came from, the ball pit has become a fixture of the childhood experience.
Ball, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
Rattles have been used to soothe and entertain infants since antiquity. Rattles can simple, like a clay pillow filled with small balls, found in an 2500-year-old burial site in Poland. Then there are more elaborate rattles, status symbols like the $45,000 diamond, sapphire, and ruby encrusted rattle designed for Princess Charlotte. But if you need a rattle in pinch you can always download one of the many rattle-apps to your phone.
Rattle, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
The legendary inspiration for the Jack in the Box comes from the 14th century rector John Schorne who reportably was able to cast the devil into a boot. Some believe that depictions of Schorne holding a boot with the devil’s head poking was the muse that inspired the first toymakers. The first documentation of a Jack in the Box comes from quite a bit later, the early 16th century, when a German clockmaker created one for a local prince. The toy was so popular with the nobility, that soon it was was in great demand. You may have noticed I’m running a few days behind. Sorry about that, it’s been a crazy month. I’m working hard to catch up, so in the next few days I’ll be back on track to start the new month’s theme: Events.
Jack in the Box, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
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.
Scooter, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
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.
Puppet, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
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.
Rocking Horse, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
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.
Wagon, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
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.
Jigsaw Puzzle, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
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.
Sock Monkey, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board
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.
Cup & Ball, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board