Recently I was asked when my fascination with whimsy began. It’s a great question and one that really made me think. I quickly thought back to when I first started creating my party hats and birthday toppers 5 years ago but really my love of all things miniature dates way back to my childhood.
As a child I can still remember being in Mrs. Vlasik’s 3rd grade class at Meyler Street Elementary in Torrance, CA. Mrs. Vlasik loved to merge learning with art. Everything she taught had some type of art project attached to the end and to be perfectly honest, I loved it! So it was no surprise that when we studied California History and the Gold Rush, Mrs. V. assigned a diorama project as part of our grade. This was my very first diorama and I can still remember searching our house for the biggest shoebox I could find. I didn’t have one large enough to fit my “mini goldmine” so we used just a flat piece of cardboard.
My mother and I worked on it and I remember making the mountain out of wire and paper mache. We used clay for the land and stuck mini branches for trees around it. Matchboxes became coal mine carts with buttons for wheels. Bottle caps were instantly transformed into buckets. We painted pebbles with gold paint and piled it into little mounds. My mother poured Elmer’s glue around the mountain to form a meandering river and when it dried clear we painted it blue for water. I have been hooked ever since.
When I had my own children we created fairy gardens outside our back door near an old tree stump covered in moss and ferns. Sarah, my daughter was only 4 and Timmy 5. I told them if they built it they would come. Excited at the prospect of seeing fairies, who I told them were quite shy, they quickly went to work. We dug holes in the soil and filled them with water for a pond and canoes were fashioned from leaves and vines. Pieces of dead bark were tied together into homes for our fairies. Large leaves made made great umbrellas when poked in the center with a twig. We made soft beds out of green moss and tables and chairs out of flat stones and mini pinecones. Each morning they would check the garden in hopes of catching just a glimpse of a fairy. I finally explained that if a fairy does use the garden they would leave behind “fairy dust.” Early the next morning I sprinkled glitter all around, you can imagine their excitement when they awoke to the dust and the knowledge that fairies had actually come.
There is something magical about creating another world. A place where anything and everything is possible and the only limit is your imagination. Every time I create a hat, topper or birthday box I think about those days and those worlds we created.
Currently I am working on a new line of children’s birthday boxes inspired by those wondrous days of my youth and that of my own children. There will be paper boats, fairies, pink flamingos and white rabbits – just to name a few. It has been so fun sketching out my line and recalling those days when something as simple as a walnut shell could become a sailing ship.