Saturday, April 17, 2010

Toy Room Mural

Six years ago we moved from apartment life into our first house. One of the things I wanted to do was have a toy room for our two sons that was fun and colorful. Our new home had a small bedroom with a low ceiling that we wouldn't be needing for something else, so we decided that it could be the Toy Room.

After several years of "Trading Spaces" with no creative outlet for painting on walls, I was pretty confident that I could just whip something up that would be worthy of a Toy Room. In my head, it would be a big branching tree on a hillside, with favorite children's characters all coming to visit and play with the boys. That's pretty much how it turned out, so I guess it worked okay.

R2-D2, Tutter, Winnie the Pooh, Marlon, Nemo and Dory, Poky Little Puppy

The collection of characters ended up being a mix of the ones that I loved when I was a pup and the ones that my older son was already getting into. I painted the mural when my older son was about three years old, and my younger son was about six months old. Between the two of them, they did end up loving most of the characters there--and still do. Originally I think my idea was that I would add new characters to it over time, but once the mural was finished, I haven't gone back.

Snoopy, Elmo, Kermit the Frog
If I had gone back and added characters, they would probably include the boys' new favorites, like Thomas the Train and WALL-E and Lightning McQueen and Batman and Robin and Darth Vader...but we'd get into some bloody carnage at some point. So maybe it's best that we stayed in the safely preschool area.

Curious George
One of the things I'm glad I did was that I made the leaves of the tree from stencils I made of the boys' hands. At first I thought I would just dip their hands in paint and use them like stamps all over the tree...I'm glad I had the stencil idea instead. As they've grown, they like comparing their bigger hands to their younger versions, and it's been a warm reminder to us that they won't be that size forever.

Slimy the Worm and Woodstock

Luna from "Bear in the Big Blue House"

Super Grover and Buzz Lightyear

The entire mural
My seven year old turns eight next week, and he was just looking over my shoulder and saying, "the Poky Little Puppy is still my favorite! Sometimes I still play with him in my imagination...but soon you're going to take that down." And he's right. Soon we're going to paint over it and make a new Toy Room for them. The new version will have framed pictures of old fashioned toys, and I'm thinking a painted grouping of Pixar characters on a canvas, so I won't have to paint over it again. It's been a good room. It'll still be a good room. But I think I'll miss the mural.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lord of the Rings Fisher Price Little People

I've never been the biggest fan of Lord of the Rings. I acknowledge what a masterpiece the books by J.R.R. Tolkien are, and even the film series, but I just never fell for them the way so many other people have. Some of my bestest friends are in love with Middle Earth, and I respect them for it...I just haven't maintained my own Hobbit-hole there.

Even though I'm not huge on the world or the characters, I figured with all these Hobbitses running around, and all the spare Fisher Price Little People running around my house, it was inevitable that I at least made some foray into Lord of the Rings. When I first started, I'm sure I figured I would make sets for all three movies, but so far, it's just been Fellowship of the Ring.

Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin

Gimli and Legolas

Saruman and Gandalf

Boromir, Aragorn, and Galadriel

The whole Middle Earth Gang. Watch out for tagging in Elvish.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Muppet Batman: Commissioner Gordon and Alfred

Some of my favorite Batman characters aren't superheroes or supervillains--they're the "civilians" that help Batman in his war on crime. The two most important, and long-time favorites of mine, are Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth. Once I saw that Palisades Toys' Reporter Kermit came in a trenchcoat, and Rowlf in a tuxedo, it wasn't much of a jump to make two of Batman's greatest allies.

Kermit was a pretty easy makeover--a little white moustache made from Sculpey at the end of his nose (perhaps Salesman Grover sold it to him before selling him a moustache comb?), and that's it. I didn't repaint any of the rest of the figure, so he's a good enough Commissioner Gordon already.

I did make a little accessory for him from a broken Animal drumset and Muppet Show TV camera: the Batsignal. Because, as good a cop as Commissioner Gordon is, without the Batsignal, he's pretty much another cop in a deteriorating city bedeviled by costumed supervillains.

Commissioner Gordon ready to flip the switch, summoning Batman and Robin.

The Dynamic Duo--looks like Robin's getting a scolding. It's probably about the short shorts.
Rowlfred was even easier in some respects, because I didn't resculpt anything for him. The tux he was wearing was already perfect for Alfred Pennyworth's butlering, so I just painted the vest and pants a different color to make him a little more manservant and a little less grand pianist. I also put some gray in his fur to age him up a bit--Alfred's a nice surrogate father figure for Bruce Wayne. It helps if he's older. Maybe not Michael Caine old, but older.

Man's Best Friend and a Gentleman's Gentleman.

Cleaning the Batcave. There's probably some scolding here too. Guy can't catch a break.

Close up of those eye wrinkles and gray fur. He needs Just For Dogs.

The crime-fighting and Batcave-cleaning protectors of Gotham City.

Next up: the villains!