16.3.11

Thoroughly Modern Milly



Some designs take a long time to hatch - I've been meaning to work out a mole design for two years, but what with my book jobs and things, I've only just got round to it. Luckily I had made a little sketch at the time - in *shock horror* the back of a picture book...




I absolutely do not condone drawing in books, but this was an old battered ex-library copy which I picked up from a charity shop after a trip to the dentists, two bus rides away from the village. Happily my bus home stopped right outside a pub, so I popped in for a pint while I was waiting for it and read my book. It is an old favourite and I hadn't got a copy. It's the most beautiful story for children, dealing with bereavement and not at all mawkish or pro-religion of any kind.


Here, Mole is passing on the gift of making paper chain moles, which Badger in turn taught him. And finding myself with pencil but without sketch book, I drew a mole of my own on the endpaper and called her Milly.





In real life, moles are not at all the sweetly shy characters they are often portrayed as; they are quite fierce and territorial. It's rare to see one alive or dead, but I did find the skull of one last year. It is tiny.




See how sharp the teeth are? All the better for killing worms with.



The dark patches are, I am afraid, dried skin and flesh.




So Milly, although only 6 inches tall, is practically life sized.




And like so many of my little people, she will soon be making the long trip across the pond to someone in America. But I get to keep her for a few weeks longer - which is nice.




35 comments:

gilfling said...

Aah Gretel she is wonderful - so full of character as are all your 'people'. I hadn't realised moles were so small! That skull is tiny and a real treasure find. x

Natasha said...

Shouldn't she be thoroughly modern Moley?
xx

Cristina | Positively Beauty said...

She's a cute one!
I didn't realise moles were so tiny, but looking at that skull...

Mike Woodcock said...

I love the little beads on her jacket! I'm one of the lucky few who've seen a live mole (as well as a couple of ex-moles) and I was also amazed at just how small they are.

BIKY said...

i love her She is atrue lady

janet said...

OMGosh...Gretel when I pulled up your blog and saw your Mole..I nearly keeled over!!!

My middle name is Mildred (Milly) and my nickname for my son Sean when he was small was Mole!!!

If you EVER recreate her, please let me know.
My jaw drops everytime you debut a new 'friend'

You are the neddlefelting QUEEN!

Janet xox

Suze said...

Oh Gretel....Milly is going to break hearts! Those fingers of yours are so talented.

I have lots of evidence of moles all over my garden, but have never seen one here. I was presented with one at our previous house by our cat...very proud he was of his tiny sleek prize.

Soozcat said...

We love Milly. (V's reaction, on spotting her, was to squeal "MoooOOooOoole!" in a high voice. It's probably just as well you didn't hear this...)

Frances said...

Hello Gretel, little Milly is a great translation of all things mole-ish. Interesting to see that she might have begun her creation thanks to a visit to a dentist, etc., but also obviously has benefitted from your close observations of actual moles, and knowledge of their infrastructure.

Wow! Milly is a true star. And again I see how your country life gives space for creative incubation. xo

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

She would have turned Mr. Mole's head for certain!
She's adorable!

Claire said...

Hey Gretel, had to laugh at the picture of you stopping at the pub for a pint after visiting the dentist and reading that lovely book. I take it you never had a filling and half your mouth was numb at the time.........

Had I seen that book in an op shop the Badger along would've been enough for me to buy it.

Love Milly and her gorgeous red beaded dress. She's going to be much loved in her hew home, I'm sure.

How tiny is that skull? I imagined them to be slightly smaller than bunny size.

Enjoy the rest of the week,

Claire :)

Charlotte said...

She is just gorgeous; and thoroughly modern!

How lucky of you to have found the skull, they are a nightmare to clean. I have a fox skull in my classroom (found at the bottom of our garden) which I put through the dishwasher, to sterilise it.
Sadly it yellowed the bone slightly.

Kids love it though.

Yarrow said...

Milly is so beautiful and I'd have trouble parting with her if I were you (but you gotta eat, haha!). I love the tiny mole skull, so delicate and slightly macabre. I just love bones and skeletal bits that I find. Weird huh?

Take care.xxx

rachel said...

Very exciting - black wool! (Am I allowed to mention black wool???)

rachel said...

Although... when I look again, is Milly more of a black-brown?

alan.98 said...

What amazing creatures they are — a few years ago I was cycling to work and came across a mole in the gutter, desperately scrabbling along the tarmac. I carefully shepherded it with my foot towards a gap in the kerb and as soon as it found itself on bare earth it disappeared underground as easily as if it were diving into water. Seeing those teeth, I am glad I didn't try to pick it up.

Magpie Magic said...

My favourite character in winds in the willow was always mole, so this is perfect! xo

Alison said...

As ever Gretel
he is just perfect:-)
Take care,
Alison

Sarah Treanor said...

I love her - she is stylin! I love how you shared the little skull you found too. I found a sea gull skull on the beach many years back that I still have.

Have you considered soaking it in bleach for a day or two? Will help remove all the icky stuff and leave you with a pristine, white little beauty! =)

Jill said...

I have seen a (just)live mole in a shoe box, brought to school years ago, before 'elth an' safety - there is something endearing about them, and they are somewhat under represented in children's literature, apart from Kenneth Grahame of course. I suppose that although we see the evidence of their presence the culprit of all those mounds of earth is rarely seen. Hopefully lovely Milly will help balance adjust the balance.

Tonia said...

Oh Badger's Parting Gifts: this story makes me absolutely howl. Used to read it to my daughter and manage to get half way through before choking up and having to stop.
Loved moles ever since Wind in the Willows and Milly looks like the right sort of girl Moley.

frayedattheedge said...

She is beautiful! I was very sad one morning last year to find a dead mole when I was out for a walk. It was lying on the road, as if it were asleep. There was no obvious sign of injury - it certainly hadn't been run over. Like you, I was surprised at how small it was.

Twiglet said...

Yes, a lovely story and a beautiful little mole. I saw one rootling across my front lawn last year - I think it lives near my cosy compost heap in the winter!

Cissie said...

Hi Gretel, I so love your creatures. Are they just commissioned or do they sometimes find their way into you shops?
Such fine workmanship, and they're so endearing.

Cissie

ellen said...

I think that Milly is lovely.
When I first saw the book many years ago, I was a bit "put off" thinking how dare someone add to the original. I did read it and became an absolute convert.
Some day I will have to write about the really, truly mole I found in my kitchen years ago. They are such exquisite creatures.

rossichka said...

What a strange story! I had the feeling I'm in a movie...:))
Well, it's not "good" to draw in books, but you did the only possible thing in the certain circumstances! Inspiration is your apology!:) Milly is wonderful, she looks really sweet. I like her coquettish dress and am sure she'll be loved in her new home!)

ted and bunny said...

hi- I just came over to say thankyou for following my blog, and have sat with my cuppa just looking at you header because I think it's downright lovely!

Then I moved on to Millie, who's comrades are, as we speak, moving swiftly up the front drive and the cat is waiting at the gate, not sure whether to pounce on a pile of earth and lose face or simply find something else more important that "needs doing".

Our only trip to Burford found us having teacakes in a shop with a skip outside and while Ted cringed and buried his face in the newspaper I dived in and pulled out two pine meatsafes!
I always wanted to go back but he was stranegly reticent!

Hope to chat again xx

sab said...

the favorite story of my son. Magnificent skeleton, so small

louise said...

she is so sweet and i adore her red dress. i can't bear parting with my creations too soon so happy to hear you can spend time together!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

The summer we put our tent up in a small French campsite , only to dicover that we could hear moley noises all night sprang to mind .
Svelte little Millie , in her chic frock , is no doubt a relation .
She's gorgeous !

Lrc said...

I love the story of Millie's creation complete with the pics of the mole skull--amazing creatures and I too grew up with Wind in the Willows. She has such a nice sense of movement too!

Caroline B said...

If the back of a book is the only paper to hand, you are excused!
Love the little mole - I've only ever seen a poor drowned one after fields flooded here, although there are hundred of mole hills round and about. I'm afraid I keep them out of my garden with a buried noise-maker - at least it's humane!

Aurora Dora Crafts said...

oh i just love her she has so much personality and character :)

Traceyr said...

She is so cute - but wow aren't moles teeth sharp blighters? lol

:)

Boxoftrix said...

Milly is beautiful beautifully felted wow!