Monday, February 9, 2009

Dancing Dan

I've always focused on Mom's art here. I think it's time to show you a little of my Dad's work too.

He was a bricklayer by trade, a hardworking man until he retired. It drove Mom crazy sometimes, with him underfoot all the time. When it got to be too much, she would tell him to "Go downstairs!". He would head off, laughing as he went. He didn't mind it one bit. For one thing, it was the warmest place in the house, since they heated with a little woodstove in the basement. He appreciated the warmth, I think, after all those years working out in the elements. He found things to keep himself busy down there.

One of his favorite things was whittling these little dancing men out of pieces of kindling.

No two were exactly alike.


This one was tall and thin, and had non-jointed arms. I like that there is still a bend at the elbow though.


This one was short and fat, with jointed arms.


They both have jointed knees.

You can see the nails sticking out of the tops of their heads. They were designed to be tied to a stick (which he also whittled), then you could make them dance. Their legs and arms would fly wildly. Very entertaining.

Dad made them and put them together, but Mom painted the faces.

They are among my most prized possessions.

10 comments:

Annette said...

Those are great! You are lucky to have them. If you look at my blog you will find two posts about "Jig Dolls"- one from January about the Little Man and one from October about Limberjill. My husband made one for me after I saw them for the first time this fall at a folk festival.

rilera said...

Those are so special. I'm glad that you have a piece of your dad.

Annie said...

Annette, to be honest, it was your blogpost that made me think of doing a post about them. They sit on the shelf over my window, but I never thought to tell their story. Somewhere in the family home, is the one my grampa made for my dad, which inspired him to make them to begin with.

Thanks, Robyn. They are very special to me.

Mare said...

They are very cool! Especially because your Dad made them... I have been working on clothespin and peg dollies these last few days to give to my granddaughter Lola to play with. Old time toys are the best...

Mama Pea said...

I can remember having one or two of these 'dancing dolls' when I was very small but they weren't substantial or homemade. Probably just something as flimsy as balsa wood even. At any rate, they never lasted too long!

What a treasure to have these that your dad made. Thanks for sharing.

Mary said...

What special treasures!

cornbread hell said...

is that the first time i've heard your mom speak? "go downstairs!"

do you have the knife he whittled with? just curious.

your dad's carvings are very, very cool. or maybe i should say, "warm."

Annie said...

Rick, I've told lots of stories about things Mom has said. Is that what you mean?

My Dad's stuff is still in the family home, including several of the knives he made, and his pocket knives. Which one he actually used to do the whittling, I'm not sure, but I'm sure it is still in our possession.

Cindy said...

What wonderful whittling. Your art talent came from both sides, girl. I love the jig dolls your dad carved. And, of course you cherish them. Another wonderful collaboration from your Mom and your Dad.

cornbread hell said...

boy do i feel unobservant... for some reason i have had this image of your mom as very very quiet, almost mute even. i will try to pay better attention.