Author: katkins

Illustration Daily – Day 153: May Day

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'”.

153MayDay

May Day, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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Illustration Daily – Day 152: Tricycle

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.

152Tricycle

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

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Illustration Daily – Day 151: Ball

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.

151Ball

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

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Illustration Daily – Day 150: Rattle

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.

150Rattle

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

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Illustration Daily – Day 149: Jack in the Box

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.

149JackintheBox

Jack in the Box, 5″x5″, ink and watercolor on illustration board

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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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