12" 18" Black Ink Drawing on 5 Panels of Bristol Board
 Each November I create an ink drawing while my high school students are studying and working on a large scale ink piece.  I reproduce this drawing on small adhesive labels and personalize them as bookplates for family, friends and coworkers.

These drawings are usually reminiscent of something in my life over the past year but this year I decided to create my drawing about my favorite Shakespeare comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream."  I have been dreaming myself of directing this magical show but had to face the sad fact, I really can't take on the task.  I've directed and performed in lots of shows and love live theater but i think it's time to focus on other things.
A Victorian Toy Theater
Over the past few months I have discovered and become a little obsessed with Victorian, Toy Theaters.  These miniature stages are like doll houses but instead of a home, they are created with elaborate backdrops, scenery and characters which in some cases, can be swapped and changed.  I am hoping to create my own toy theater sometime soon and knew this was my inspiration for this year's bookplate ink drawing.

One of the reasons I fell in love with this project is a childhood toy I once had and lost years ago.  My parents recognized my love of live theater when I was small and purchased me a Barbie Theater complete with scenery and elegant costumes for Barbie and Ken.  I still have many of the original costumes but sadly, the theater itself was left behind in the old country school house I attended as a child.  That country school has long been vacant and is falling down.  I have searched for this toy online and at antique shops.  Some sprout up from time to time on the internet at ridiculous prices.

Starting my first panel layout
I knew I wanted to create a dimensional drawing this year with a similar feel of a Toy Theater.  I did quite a few experiments with different types of paper that would accept ink well and be stiff enough to hold it's shape with large sections cut away.  I settled on Bristol Paper.
Building the upper arch of my proscenium 
I decided to draw 5 separate panels to create my theater, set and characters.  My first panel is an ornate proscenium which is the front of a stage.  When seeing Broadway shows in New York, each theater's proscenium is unique and gorgeous often with carved designs.  I have to admit this was not my favorite panel to create since it required symmetry and careful measurements to make it look balanced.  I included a few family members as carved gargoyles and created my grandson as my favorite character, Puck, high above the arch.
Cutting out portions of the proscenium
 Before I finished the first panel, I did some measuring and cutting to guarantee my dimensional approach was going to work.  I also had to plan how each panel might overlap the other in places so I was constantly cutting, drawing and piecing it together.

The second panel curtains with Titania and Bottom
 The grand curtain was so much fun to create and I decided to place Titania (Queen of the Fairies) with her new love, Bottom in this section.  I had her King, Oberon already set on the first panel.

Creating the scenery trees and stage for the Rude Mechnicals
 I knew I wanted lots of lace-like, cutout trees in my third panel.  I also decided to create my Rude Mechnicals who are a passionate but comedic twist in the play within a play of Midsummer's.  I also cast a few friends and family in these roles.  By now, however, the panels were limited in space and in order to provide perspective, the characters were getting really tiny.

The moon backdrop
The 4th and 5th panels were much smaller drawings.  For the 4th I created the elegant home of the Duke and placed my 4 lovers together.  For the 5th panel, I created a little town and a giant moon as a final backdrop.
The 5 cutout panels for my toy theater
 As I continually built my panels, I discovered I needed to extend the drawings a little larger than the cutout around them.  When I built up the dimensions using adhesive, foam strips the viewer could see into the wings so each drawing needed to be slightly larger than the window in front of it.

This was a amazingly fun creation and I'm more determined than ever to create myself a wooden, toy theater with backdrops, scenery and characters from lots of special plays.

This is typically my last, major creation for the year so I'd like to thank everyone who follows my random posts, my Pinterest and Etsy sites, travels to see me at art shows and all of you who support Flying Shoes Art Studio


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