"I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.
Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Last April I was asked by Stephanie to make her a needle felt creature, and out of all the sketches I produced, she picked the monkey on the right, a kind of Steiff style model. So far so good. I had all kinds of wild plans for this chap - he would have a music box inside him, a ruff, a waistcoat, a fez...he would be the most elaborate toy monkey in the history of toy monkey-dom.
Little did I know what folly I was about to commit. I made the head - which was almost as large as one of my normal toys. Then I lost interest. That was a bit of a shock, as I tend to get obsessed with everything I make and work all hours until it is finished. Months later I made the effort and got the body together. It was about the size of a large aubergine. By now it was beginning to dawn on me that this was really not right. I was beginning to hate it. I stuffed it deep inside my big sack of wool supplies where its grinning face would cease to reproach me. The knife twisted when Andy remarked that it was 'the most unloved toy ever'. At last, just before Christmas, I had a stroke of common sense and realised that I was never going to finish that particular monkey, or if I did, I would take no pleasure in it. The darned thing was simply too big and I loathed the colour scheme. So I started again, the day after Boxing Day. (I was bored witless anyway, as I am not very good at doing nothing). Almost at once, it felt 'right'. The magic was there; it was coming alive under my fingers.
Compare and contrast...
It was a hard lesson learned, for I have been having huge guilt pangs at dragging this project out, even though my lovely client has been terribly sweet about it. But in the end I finished ''Jocko' in a mere five days. He is thread jointed, and his limbs and head swivel pleasingly.
Unwittingly, I formed his tail into an 'S', for Stephanie. Nowadays I make my tails without central support (eg, wire or pipe cleaners) which takes a lot of patient and careful stabbing. This one took roughly 4 hours working time. I did make him a little fez, but Andy suggested he didn't need one...and nor he did. Or a music box, or a ruff, or a waistcoat. He just seems right au naturel.
I can start the New Year with a sense of relief, and Jocko is off to warmer climes. He's going to miss British TV though.