If someone placed a lump of clay in front of you, what would you do? Would you immediately be drawn to pick it up and shape it into something? Would you pass it from hand to hand, simply enjoying the tactile qualities? Perhaps you wouldn’t be inclined to touch it at all, maybe you find the idea of sculpting something daunting. Whatever your choice, in that lump of clay lies an important and undeniable quality: possibility.
Arts and Crafts
I was born and raised in a small rural town in Western New York. I lived near my mother’s childhood home where I enjoyed many happy hours in the company of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our families would often gather to play cards, bake, do laundry, or celebrate special occasions. I loved to sit quietly and listen to the grown-ups tell stories of times both present and past. The stories I recall don’t feature faraway places or extraordinary events. They are of ordinary people, of mischief and mishap, often humorous and sometimes sad.
Watching the Emmy Awards recently turned my thoughts to the upcoming 2012 induction of new toys into the National Toy Hall of Fame on November 15. Although our induction ceremony doesn’t boast television stars, glittery evening gowns, or tearful acceptance speeches, it nevertheless offers suspense leading up to bestowing a significant honor on two (or sometimes three) deserving winners. No one goes away with an impressive trophy for their mantel, but classic toys receive their moment in the spotlight.
The late Thomas Kinkade said of his 2003 rendering The Old Fishing Hole, "Perhaps the best thing about childhood is what we make of it in our memories. I suppose that in the living there were good times and bad, but in the memory, it's the good times that live on with a certain radiance.”
Recently, The Strong acquired a rare and important early printed book illustration. The image came to our attention when Gordon Burghardt used it to illustrate his article, “The Comparative Reach of Play and Brain: Perspective, Evidence, and Implications,” in the Winter 2010 issue of The Strong’s American Journal of Play.
How many times have you been told that “you can’t judge a book by its cover”? As a librarian, I fully endorse this sentiment. I would, however, like to create a related maxim: you can’t judge a closed book by its fore-edge. What’s a fore-edge, you ask? In book-speak, that’s the name for the edge opposite the spine. Hidden beneath the gilt or marbled covering on some books’ fore-edges, you just may discover a most exquisite watercolor.
Some 135 years ago, four squirrels romping merrily through the woods met an unfortunate end. But, fortunately for us, those squirrels found a place in a playful diorama in the museum’s collections. Situated in a well-decorated parlor, the four squirrels are now posed in an eternal game of cards. That made them a perfect illustration for the induction of playing cards into the National Toy Hall of Fame a month ago. But before the diorama could go out on exhibit, it required conservation treatment—cleaning and stabilization of the scene prior to photography and display.