I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 11, 2009

Traditions and Memories

Noah's Ark & Other Treasures....

Today I took a break from my usual Santa's Workshop projects (driftwood wreath! a disaster!---more on that another time! yeesh!) and set up my beloved Noah's Ark. The Ark arrives before Christmas and stays up all winter until I switch to seashells and summery things in May. My folk-art Noah's Ark is one of my most cherished possessions. The ship and most of the 20 plus original pairs of animals were made years ago by my father. He actually began with a few old German Erzgebirge wooden putz or ark animals that he had as a little boy---I think he had an antique farm set... (a putz is a toy scene or village), then he carved the rest by hand, including matching mates for the old German horse, cow and sheep.

        antique 'putz'animals

He and my mother both painted the animals, referring to an ancient (c.1910?) Natural History of the World book they got at the Cape Cod Dump swap shop, always a treasure trove of good things.
One of the neatest things about the Ark is that I found my dad's original sketches and keep them in the box he also made to store the animals. I also kept the funky old reference book.

Every Christmas, a tiny gift box would come with a few new pairs of creatures! Such a thrill! Though finally Daddy did refuse to make any more...I suppose he thought 20-odd pairs was enough.
Over the years family and friends who are enchanted by my Ark have added to the menagerie and they all come out for Christmas. No matter how oddball or strange they may seem, all are welcomed and cherished: a baby giraffe and a pair of leopards brought from Africa! Little birds from Germany, big fishes from Mystic, Conn; tiny colorful Swedish horses, an oddball group of non-paired wooden creatures from my mother, from Peru---another swap shop find. Wooden reindeer with bells no bigger than a pinhead and a polar bear. A kangaroo and a Scottie dog found on the beach! A pair of glass ladybugs from Sandwich Glass in Cape Cod.

And recently I added two antique German putz sheep with carved faces and real wool bodies. Boy, are these guys expensive!
                               new antique putz sheep standing with the giraffes
And a hand carved purple dinosaur, yep, my Ark has a Barney, though not a Mrs. Barney, thank goodness. One of my neighbors, an elderly lady, had a sometimes-driver who'd chauffeur her around to appointments; he carved little animals during the long waits and gifted us with the dinosaur...hmmm, I was hoping for a pair of his cats or whales or....but, no, so Barney reigns in the Ark's prow each year.

And at Christmas Mr. and Mrs. Noah are joined by antique Italian and German angels from my grandma and a tiny Swedish Santa! Oh and of course, since this is the Beach--instead of white doves, Daddy made a pair of seagulls! [note them, left prow and left
point of roof!

And Barney is hiding there too--hint of purple if you zoom in?---behind the big spotted cow, poor thing.] Igf you click on any photo, it will go to full page so you can really enjoy all the itty-bitty details! Be sure to look!

                                       an exceptional c.1880-1900? German Ark on eBay. $$$$!


Happy holidays!