This has been a tough one… the blog, not the bug. It’s always difficult to tear myself away from the clay to sit in front of the computer and the week I decided to begin THIS post was the same week Robin Williams died AND the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. My boat tends to stay fairly steady in the wake of death, but this time was unusual. I’m not entirely sure why it impacted me so deeply other than the fact that I grew up watching and admiring Robin Williams. Clearly I’m not the only one who felt this way considering the tidal wave of emotions expressed by… well… everyone. So instead, I chose to reflect privately and found my unease to stem from the unknown: Why did Robin Williams kill himself? I’ve searched the web and found all sorts of suppositions, but I’m not interested in why anyone THINKS Robin Williams killed himself, I want to know REALLY REALLY why he did it – I want to understand. I’m also curious if it was due to the endless stream of negative world news lately: so much killing and cruelty in the spotlight.
With regards to the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, there is also no shortage of suppositions. I ‘d prefer to hear what REALLY happened specifically so we can assure this situation won’t repeat. So far, all I’ve seen is finger pointing, and both political parties wasted no time branding their stance on what MIGHT have happened and why I should be outraged by the other viewpoint. From what I’ve read there are no concrete reliable answers, and from what I’ve experienced there very well may never be. With so many unknowns plus my physical distance from these events, it seems only right to keep my opinions out of the fray. People deserve their privacy and I deserve my mental health… AND YET it is everywhere; there’s nowhere to hide from the endless stream of speculations!
Wanting to neither add to the waves of emotional speculation nor the frustration of others, I’ve made an effort to keep my thoughts to myself. I’ve tried to work on my art, blog, business, and home, but no distraction keeps the unease at bay for long. The fighting just continues with more violence on the horizon, and the solutions floating around seem to suggest more fighting to end the fighting, “Fight to fight the fighting!” I can’t be the only person who sees the error in that logic. It feels very unbalanced… and endless. As I struggle with what I personally can do, I go outside and prod about in my backyard. Usually the sweat and exhaustion of yard-work helps clear my mind.
Until very recently, even yard-work wasn’t enough to distract me properly. The other day, as I reflected on the sense of unbalance that’s been troubling me, I was in the process of de-weeveling a tree. To keep from using a pesticide on our Starfruit tree, I pick the weevils off by hand and kill them. If I just left it alone the weevils would eat all the leaves off of the tree. It seems like a shame to just kill them… but they are invasive. Another invasive species in my backyard is the Curly-tailed Lizards. On a whim, I set a weevil down near a lizard thinking, “he likes to eat bugs, right?” The lizard saw it and instantly gobbled it down. I brought more weevils over and the lizard hungrily ate them all. This little experience may have been the tipping point that helped get my yard-work meditation back on track. Becoming aware of this type of symbiosis right under my nose helped to calm my disheartened sense of unbalance in the world. It’s a real live in-yo-face sense of balance which, in my opinion, trumps hearsay any day. So maybe things aren’t great, but to have a sense of hope that they still can be, really helps in promoting an overall sense of peace.
Now, in good conscience I can get to why we’re REALLY here: my hand crafted Conscience, Jiminy Cricket. While searching the web for inspiration on making a top hat for my previous sculpture: a mechanical steampunk ant, I came across a few pictures of Jiminy Cricket. I assumed there just had to be a steampunked version of him, but after some more digging I discovered that, in fact, there are very few versions of him. There’s the Disney version and then the awful digital version from the recent TV show Once Upon A Time. I knew I just had to make a Steampunk Jiminy Cricket (who wears a top hat), so that’s why I decided to sculpt a bowler cap for the ant, no need to be redundant.
The design and posture for J. Cricket didn’t change much from the original concept sketch. I did experiment with a smaller head, and for a while I even thought I liked it. Luckily, I decided to ask around- turns out EVERYONE liked the larger head better. After carefully reweighing my options, I decided the smaller head did make him look a little too… cockroachy. His final color scheme was based on the Disney Jiminy Cricket. Right up until the very end I knew I DIDN’T want to paint him in the Disney color-scheme… but here it is. Since he was sculpted so different from existing renditions of the character, I thought it would behoove me to paint him such that he’d be more recognizable. Wouldn’t it be cool to just be able to buy a conscience? It seems like there’s a huge untapped market of people in need of a conscience (or a muzzle); the question is, would they even buy one if they could? Maybe if it came in a hot assortment of colors! For the time being, this Jiminy Cricket is one of a kind.
The original Adventures of Pinocchio was written in 1880 by Carlo Collodi. I was surprised to see that it was written as a series and published in an Italian newspaper for children. It seems a little dark considering early on in the story, Pinocchio kills Jiminy with a boot and then the series ends with Pinocchio dead, hanged for his misdeeds. Two years later, The Adventures of Pinocchio was published as a novel after Carlo Collido wrote a second half to the story that included Pinocchios revival, redemption and transformation into a real boy. Since the initial release in 1883, Pinocchio has been translated into over 240 different languages making it the most translated and read non-religious book of all time. The Disney film, released in 1940, used groundbreaking techniques in it’s animation effects and Jiminy was even given a larger role. Apparently it was initially a box office flop but then became the first animated film to win an Academy Award. Today it’s in the US Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”
As you may or may not have noticed and may or may not care, the little umbrella is made from toothpicks, wire, string and paper. I currently haven’t made a top hat that I’m happy with…I’ll keep trying.
Because I’d rather keep sculpting than pull out the computer for a little blog-de-bla, before I even began this post, I sculpted a mechanical Steampunk Damselfly. I got the idea and just banged it out real quick. Then as I sat down to write, the “crazy current events” occurred. Now, as I try to finish this post, I’ve stalled by making some little robot ants (10 so far). I’ll do posts on them sooner or later. Hopefully sooner… but maybe later.