Arts and Crafts

Room for Recollection: The Miniature World of Alice Steele

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.

Color Me Happy

I never ran short of things to do as a kid, and rarely felt bored. Beyond the puzzles, games, and toys that I enjoyed, I had one activity that I truly cherished—coloring.

And the Winner Is…

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.

Fore-Edge Paintings: Hidden Treasures

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.

The Squirrel Says “Go Fish”

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.