Over Christmas a few months ago, I had the opportunity to spend my free time designing (hooray!) One particular toy I'd been working to resolve was an idea of a kangaroo toy embroidered with stars. I had always loved the Australian Christmas song "Six White Boomers" and had long thought of the idea of the mythical kangaroos of the sky that came to help Santa on his hot Southern run.
Many of you might recall my close encounter with the grey Kangaroos on Mount Ainslie in Canberra on one of my poetry pilgrimages. From that time on I have always had a great fondness with the kangaroo. I wanted to bring into being a toy that captured this feeling and to give them an appropriate mythical linkage.
I made many drawing from photographs, I also made a wadding covered armature in 3d to get a sense of its bulk and made two very different toy prototypes in felt. But I wasn't happy with them. They seemed too ordinary, either too animal like or too strange cartoon-like. Then after a month or so I picked up my pencil and drew with one stroke the shapes that became Star Boomers. The rest fell neatly into place and I knew I had succeeded in bring into existence the toys that had teased me for so long.
Boomer is old Australian slang for an adult Kangaroo, its not used much today so I don't recommend using it casually the next time you speak to an Ozzie ;) The Star Boomer toy is a set, including both the mother Kangaroo and her joey. The hand embroidered stars on the front of each come together to form the Southern Cross constellation, which you can also find on the Australian Flag. The current fabric for Star Boomers is silver flecked wool suiting with a backing of wide-waled white corduroy. An interesting detail is the eyelashes of the mother Boomer, which are made using the selvage of the suiting fabric.
I hope that next time you look up into the night sky you might imagine a mob of Star Boomers traversing the heavens, bounding over the Milky Way in search of green starry pastures.