Monday, March 12, 2007

Sky Kangaroos = Star Boomers

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.


jude said...

as always, a beautiful story and exquisite visual interpretation. the star detail is so well thought out, and the use of the selvage, superb. i think the shapes that evolved are very kangaroo but have a hint of crescent moon. i like the way the corduroy forms a dot like halo around the figures. such loving care in every step.

Merlyn Gabriel said...

oh my, those are just wonderful, and remind me of something very special from my childhood. Long story won't bore you with it here but I might post on my blog.

I hope you are having an awesome day.

xxs and oos

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Another wonderful interpretation, Florence. Well made.

Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

I just love these boomers. Australiana with style like Rolf Harris himself!!
We used to sing the xmas song 6 white boomers but being new immigrants thought the words were "6 white bloomers". Mother was tres amused. No-one ever explained what a boomer was to us. I guess they are called boomers because of the booming noise made as they bound along on the hard baked plains. Have you heard the story of how the kangaroo got its name?

Shula said...

My head is bowed in reverence to your vision....


PG said...

Your toys have such elegance and are so unique, I love them.

shannon said...

You are so brilliant Florence. I love how you bring poetry and magic to Australian animals. I think the world of Australian art needs more interpretations like this, alternative stories of the bush and outback.

Florence said...

Jude, well spotted with the halo of dots. It is very appealing when seen in real life :) the cresent moon...I hadn't really thought about it until you mentioned it...very appropriate! thankyou.

Merly, I'll have to pop by and read about you story :D

Captain, thankyou.

Miss Wrecker, How on earth does six white bloomers help santa deliver presents to the southern hemisphere? after recently reading a selection of world folktales maybe I should be so surprised as that sort of thing seems to crop up quite a bit. as to the you mean the version on wikipedia or a aboriginal folktale?

Shula, so are so wonderful to me. God bless you!

PG, so wonderful of you to drop by :D thankyou for your kind words.

Shannon, I think its necessary to make these stories. The native Australians built rich layers of communion between the land and themselves. To be truely appart of ones environment one needs stories to relate to. Its a topic that I try to develop through my toys and stories. Thankyou for your kind words.

xxxs and ooos

shango tango said...

Hi Florence,

i thought the details for the adult & juvebile respectively were so good, i thought of those furry baby ferns, before they unscroll, any number of things actually.

I liked the first photograph. i think because it leads me to think that the white edge is just a stripe down the 'middle' between two brownish fur sides, though this white edge appears to continue to the 'backside' side as well, looking at some of the other photoes.


i wonder with joey's white filigree like edge if that kind of ornament in some manner could be continued x-ray like through joey completely...

perhaps i can request an enlarged scroll baby fern cushion as an accompnaiment, or similar flora..?? -

Friederike! said...

I´ll watch out for the boomers this night. They are gorgeous!

helle said...

Beautifully resolved design. I love the minimalism and suggestion of shape. Every detail as it should be. So special, Florence.

Florence said...

Shango Tango, the uncurling fern is a very beautiful poetic motive, especially in the Japanese tradtion were it represents the first thaw in spring and like-wise of ones emotions.

as to x-rays I have know idea what the insides of a joey might look like ;)

but the idea of making "plants" is an interesting one....

Friederike, did you see any? :)

Helle, thankyou your thoughts mean a lot to me.


Mel Robson said...

You are a girl after my own heart florence! I have a thing for kangaroos!

Florence said...

Ah, good! Thanks Mel :D