Recently I posted on my other blog
some photos of the Steiff animal diorama taken at Teatrino di Norimberga, in the Citta della Domenica park outside Perugia, Italy.
One reason I found the display so fascinating is that as child I collected a large number of Steiff animals, played with them constantly, and wrote stories about them. They all had names and distinctive personalities of course, and "backstories."
Recently I decided to take some portraits of them, as though they were people, which as far as my childish mind went, was in fact the case. I wanted to showcase their faces, so much more uniquely expressive than dolls'.
Here are a few. Take your time, look into their eyes. They will tell you something.
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Mike the Airedale was named by my father for his own childhood pet. He was one of the first Steiff animals I was given. He was well-loved, but unfortunately spent an unintentional winter in a backyard flowerbed, hence his disheveled state and somewhat reproachful gaze.
Christopher Smart was, I think my first Steiff. He was named, again by my English professor father, this time for an old English poet. Perhaps it was Christopher Smart's (never just "Christopher") pensive expression that seemed to indicate a beatific namesake. He is a very small bear, easily fitting a pocket, especially the raincoat pocket in which Steiff animals typically arrived at our house. Her was always cheerful, but reserved.
Meet Hedgehog. Rapt of attention, rotund and flatfooted, always a bit sceptical. A good fellow but not quite furry enough to pet wholeheartedly
Here is Leo the Lion. His moniker would of course be no surprise except I believe he is actually named for a hamburger joint and soda fountain in Seattle's University District where my father ate lunch between classes. Leo the Lion always had a large reservoir of patience, as you may be able to tell, and never roared.
An Easter present, Lamby still wears his (why not her? I don't know) pinkish ribbon and bell. Lamby is always a bit wistful. Perhaps because he will never grow up to be a sheep.
These two mice bookend my Steiff life. The older, visibly knackered one (earless, tailless, pawless) had a fairly long life as "Supermouse." His cohort was "Supercoon," a raccoon who, alas, has vanished along the way somewhere along with his silk handkerchief cape of pale blue. Super adventures aplenty befell, you may be sure. Supermouse was supplanted (none too soon) by "French Mouse," who, along with my transition from the adoration of superheroes and cowboys to superspies in my preteens, was a debonair (French, naturally) adventurer. He typically drove a pink and lavender-striped Jeep beach buggy that had a fringed canopy, if that is any indication of his panache.
Skunky (my naming choices were often rather pragmatic) was, if you'll pardon the pun, a little stinker. He was typically in a foul mood, rather like Templeton the Rat in Charlotte's Web. But you could rely on him in a tight situation, and of course he had an excellent built-in defense mechanism.
This squirrel was, as far as I can recall, named Squirrelly. He was a bit useless, as he kept falling over. Here he leans on a giant pinecone.
Piggie made an excellent sidekick for whoever was leading the current adventure. Quick of foot, and sharp of eye. And once upon a time, twirly of tail. It is now rather limp and mangy.
Polarbear wore a handsome collar and bell. I can understand a ribbon on a lamb, but why a bell on a polar bear? Anyway he was always sagacious and stolid and good to have on your side.
Rhinosorussy (not sure how to spell that...perhaps Rhinocerous-y) was the good-natured sergeant-at-arms. He was always casting an eye at you. Slightly belligerent but, after all, fuzzy. His horn was fuzzy too, though generously proportioned.
I'll post some more soon...