Saturday, September 28, 2013

Many kinds of pixie dust

Tinker Bell, the pots and pans fairy, has been envisioned by artists in more varied ways than Peter Pan himself. 

J.M. Barrie describes her as "exquisitely gowned in a skeleton leaf, cut low and square, through which her figure could be seen to best advantage. She was slightly inclined to embonpoint." The French term meaning that she was probably plump and definitely busty, and the description in total implying she is proud of her charms. Artists have interpreted her more or less accordingly, with this less-than-ethereal, utterly 1980s version by Regis Loisel an apt interpretation.

Regis Loisel, 1992

Perhaps his description seemed too adult for earlier illustrators.

Marjorie Torrey, 1957

Disney's Tinker Bell is suitably sparkly and bratty, and I like how her wings are animated. I've never been able to quite get my head around the ballerina bun and shoe pompons, but this version is actually not far from Barrie's description.

Disney, 1953

The omnipresence of Disney's Tink has not prevented artists from seeing her in guises from this lovely, if slender, portrayal

Trina Schart Hyman, 1980

to glamorous, ethereal versions

Anne Graham Johnstone, 1988

to modern depiction like this one from Zenescope. Not a traditional portrayal, to be sure, but not as far from Barrie as one might at first think.

Even before she became the de facto ambassador for Disneyland, Tinker Bell had traveled far from her beginnings as a spot of light projected about a stage.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reasons I love research

During the Victorian era, Rowland's Macassar Oil was popular for men's hair styles. So popular, in fact, that the antimacassar was created (and named) for the purpose of keeping it off furniture.

I associate mangoes with the Caribbean, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. But they originated in South Asia. They took so well to the climate of the Caribbean, and in fact the rest of the tropics, so long ago that they may as well be indigenous to the region (but they're not).

I am the only person on earth who doesn't like mangoes. But now my narrator doesn't either.

A two-foot-tall cat sculpture named Kaspar has been a regular dinner guest at London's Savoy Hotel since 1926, for parties that do not wish to have thirteen persons seated at their table.

James Hook has yellow blood, according to J. M. Barrie in his "Hook at Eton" speech, but he's not alone. Sea cucumbers have yellow blood too. This is due to a high concentration of a pigment called vanubin, which serves an uncertain purpose for the sea cucumber. For James too, I suppose.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Point of pride

This is my beloved Peter Pan collection and research trove. You may notice a lean to the bookcase and a bowing of the shelves. I believe these were issues before I designated the bookcase to my research, but I may be wrong. 

The first two shelves are various editions of Peter Pan with pictures by various illustrators, with a little space left for more additions plus a few books that wandered away before I took this picture. I may be creating a collection where individual items may not be of great monetary value individually, but which is significant as a whole. I'm not the only person to do this, of course (I'm not even the only person in Seattle-- more on that later), but I can't help taking some pride in watching it grow.

On the third shelf, the books to the left are other people's takes on Peter Pan, including those prequels that vex me so. And to the right, books that are inspired by the story, scholarly analyses of the play, the book, and children's literature in general, and a few non-Peter-related works by Barrie. The remaining two shelves are additional research materials, not just for The Stowaway, although a number of them are relevant--books on English history, tall ships, and the like.

And of course there are a few collectibles scattered throughout.

There is less space left on these shelves than I realized before I set out to write this. That third shelf in particular is going to have problems soon.

Two things I have learned from this process: One, it is not worth buying furniture made out of sawdust and glue, and I resolve never to do so again. The most dilapidated bookcase from the 1930s is going to serve its purpose far longer than a facsimile from Ikea.

And pop-up books should be purchased new. Used ones will have at least one pop-up that doesn't work, no matter how well they've been cared for, which is just disappointing.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Unbearable Art, Pt. 3

I know this is unfair, because marionettes can't help having features like this. But when I look at this alarming item, I being to understand why there are so many dark Peter Pan interpretations. It's especially funny that this was a Disney version.

I mean, look at Hook here. He's positively genial in comparison.

It doesn't help much seeing them side by side.

If you're interested in early-1900s antiques and toys, these links all go to worthwhile places. I had to spend some extra time with the last, Pastimes Quilt Design, for the furniture alone.