Friday, 8 July 2011

Gizmos & Whatchamacallits: Paper Toys, Models and Craft

Paper toys: do-it-yourself packs, kits and other publications:

Some five years ago I happened upon a rabbit hole, the descent down which brought me to an entirely new, fascinating world, a place entirely of paper. My travels around this new found land began with toy theatres, learning of the traditional toy's evolution from boys best-seller to wares coveted by enthusiasts ad collectors; pieces beyond the toy theatre itself, but also associated 'sheets': penny plain, twopence coloured, scenery, characters, prosceniums, plays and complete sets of all mentioned. There now exists a plethora of paraphernalia relating to toy theatres, largely, perhaps, because the articles one can acquire herald from a breadth of decades and sources, the products of the different, competitive toy theatre publishing companies whom operated, in some instances, until some 50 years hence. 

In a contemporary context designers and illustrators who wish to create paper goods, may they be toys, models, curiosities and the like, most generally do so through personal publication and on a low-key scale. A perfect example is Marilyn Scott-Waters (otherwise known as The Toymaker). Together with J. H. Everett, Marilyn Scott-Waters is the co-creator of the middle grade non-fiction series Haunted Histories, forthcoming from Henry Holt. Her recent works include the series The Search for Vile Things (Scholastic, Fall '08), and the paper engineering for Pop & Sniff Fruit (Piggy Toes Press, Spring '08). Her paper toy book series, The Toymaker's Christmas and The Toymaker's Workshop, is now available from Sterling publishing. Marilyn's award winning website receives 3000 to 7000 visitors each day, who have downloaded more than five million of her easy-to-make paper toys.

The Toymaker: the paper toys of Marilyn Scott-Waters:


'The Toymaker: Folding Paper Toys That You Can Make Yourself: Paper Toys to Amuse and Delight' (2004) - see online HERE

'The Toymaker's Christmas' (2010) - see online HERE

Discovering paper toys:

A 'Puppet Theatre' model, as found in Marilyn Scott Water's 2004 collection
Going through the process with the Panda Palace: a particularly fun dimension to The Toymaker website is the impressive selection of free paper toys that you can make yourself. With simplicity in mind, an effective tool in introducing paper model making to novices of any age, all that needs to be done is select the toy that seems most appealing (and here one is truly spoilt for choice, with no less than 6 distinct categories of paper toy, such as  'Gifts & Boxes') and print. Simple. It is no wonder more than SEVEN MILLION free paper toys have been downloaded thus far!
Having a fondness for pandas, I was thrilled to discover a panda themed freebie: the Panda Palace. Below I have included the free toy as presented by The Toymaker and my final product.  

Intended final product
The panda characters who take residence in the Palace
My paper toy
My paper toy, different angle

EXPLORING OTHER NOTABLE GIZMOS AND WHATCHAMACALLITS: 

1) The Peep Show:

video
A short video displaying my efforts at constructing a The Toymaker designed 'Peep Show' (entitled A Dream Theater, formulating part of the initial, 2004 publication). 

The Peep Show, a children's toy and scientific curiosity, usually consisting of a box with an eyehole, through which the viewer sees a miniature scene or stage setting, painted or constructed in perspective. Peep shows of an earlier time are often the only accurate representation of the stage design and scenery of the period.
The earliest known peep shows are the perspective views said to have been painted in transparent colours on glass and lighted from behind for various effects, from sunshine to moonlight, by Leon Battista Alberti in 1437.
Later models (some preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna) have designs that are apparently patterned on Renaissance court masques and pageants, such as that of the discovery of Diana by Actaeon, with fully modelled figures set against a background painted in careful perspective.
In the 17th century, peep shows in their cabinets were often exhibited in the streets by itinerant showmen, and the device became a popular children's toy. Some, equipped with movable scenery and wooden or cardboard figures, developed into the juvenile [toy] theatres of the 19th century.
The peep show was also the precursor of many types of optical toys, including the stereoscope and the magic lantern. [Above information taken from HERE]

'Peepshows: a visual history', Richard Balzer (Harry N. Abrams, Inc, 1998) - to buy HERE
 "Path of Destiny Peep Show " 

Set off on a journey through uncharted territory in this layered look at the stages of life. Based on a popular 18th century phenomena showing perspectives of the world, this peep show brings together the thoughts of Shakespeare to modern philosophers. Where are you going? Look through the peep hole to find out! Check this product out at the source HERE!







Why build a model? 

"This model is an externalization of an internal model of the mind that exists only in the imagination. Building this model will aid in exercising your flabby visualization muscle. This model sits in the subconscious along with other things that effect the way we perceive and act in the world. The subconscious is like a black hole - an area of infinite density where time and space don't exist but where everything gets absorbed and is eventually spewed out again. Building this model will allow you to enter this dimension. 

This model deals specifically with the dimension of time. Each little scene depicts three different aspects of evolution. 1) The figures represent our physical growth. 2) Associated with these stages are our inner developmental stages. 3) The surrounding environments in each scene represent the world at different stages of our cultural evolution. 

The time spent constructing the model can be used as a meditation of this evolution. Properly proceeding through each dimension, as the model takes form, might even get you to the fifth dimension of transcendence! At least it should be useful in momentarily taking your mind off the usual day-to-day worries and cares and in the end you'll have a swell little knick-knack to gather dust on your shelf. Show it off to your friends and family , who will wonder why you built it in the first place!" [Directly quoted from the Model Kit 'Instructions & Reference Guide'] 

2) The Toy Theatre:

"MUSE*A*UM"
Now you can be the curator! Just add an artifact to complete this authentic shrine to wonder. This beautifully designed model uses tricks of perspective similar to those of Samuel van Hoogstraten. Check this product out at the source HERE!




Why build a model? 

"This model is an externalization of an internal model of the mind that exists only in the imagination. Building this model will aid in exercising your flabby visualization muscle. This model sits in the subconscious along with other things that effect the way we perceive and act in the world. The subconscious is like a black hole - an area of infinite density where time and space don't exist but where everything gets absorbed and is eventually spewed out again. Building this model will allow you to enter this dimension. 

The model itself is from Tibetan Mandala paintings. Most of the mandalas you see are actually two-dimensional views of three-dimensional buildings. They are created as visualization aids for meditation, where one projects the mandala into the third dimension in the imagination. Each mandala is representative of a special realm or dimension. Once the structure is built, one enters this world and explores. 

The time spent progressing through the words, pictures, and the construction of the model is like a meditation, and will useful in taking your mind off the cursory day-to-day worries, allowing you to suspend doubt and anxiety. When you're finished, you'll also have a swell little knick-knack to gather dust on your shelf. Show it to your family and friends, who will wonder why you built it in the first place!" [Directly quoted from the Model Kit 'Instructions & Reference Guide'] 


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