Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Few of Our Favorite Things: Thaumatropes

I just love these little ornaments. Reminiscient of Victorian childhoods, of summer crafts and holiday creations meant to amuse small fingers and grown-up minds alike, the thaumatrope is far more creative than a simple circle or standard "bird and cage" design.

My first acquaintence with them was the "Addy" American Girl doll, which features the thaumatrope design as a popular toy for Addy and other girls her age. While the story features the most basic design, more complex creations were equally as common in post-Civil War and Victorian America. The opening monage to Masterpiece Theater's Little Dorrit features a series of creative thaumatrope designs, spinning to reveal their two pictures joined in harmony.

The steps for creating one are simple: two matching pieces of paper, glue, a small hole punch (optional) and a bit of thread or ribbon for the cord. Tips on making one are linked HERE and to the side under our Featured Article button, including free images for unique thaumatropes and holiday designs.

In our shop, you'll find sheets available with unique thaumatrope images, pre-printed and ready to cut with different size-and-shape templates included -- both all-season images and holiday designs. We'll be adding Halloween sheets soon, perfect for Halloween kids' projects, craft activities, and trick-or-treat designs (cords and glue not included).

Try drawing your own for something new or personalized -- with a sailor and boat, for instance, or a knight and dragon. You can "draw" them using Paintbrush or a computer graphics program or color them by hand with pencils or markers -- just make sure to cut out the images and position them so when the thaumatrope "spins" the two sides form a single picture.

To test any thaumatrope's size and alignment before gluing, fasten the sides together temporarily with a tiny daub of glue or nonpermanent adhesive and spin. Make any necessary trimming or adjustments afterwards before permanently assembling the thaumatrope.

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