Sunday, January 27, 2008

Want Wings? 1.0

I have a thing about wings. As an animal not graced with the ability of flight, I am incredulous at the vast variety of flight apparatus so many other animals use with agility and ease. Everything from soaring eagles to house flys! I want 'em too. So, I've been on an odessy to aquire and fashion wings of all variety and uses.

As I say this now, I'm thinking back to my earliest yearnings and realize this is no short term whim. I even adorned my first dorm room with wire form cicada wings (still a favorite) that I spent too much time on considering I should have re-typed an essay or two. A friend gave me a little box with some real cicada wings like they were precious jewels. I have it still. That I used an actual typewritter tells that I've had it quite a while, decades in fact.

My first real experience as a costume designer was at a small ballet school in my neighborhood. All the little girls of our neighborhood became bugs and birds. I got to make several hundred pairs of wings, everything from bumble bees, butterflies, lady bugs, blue birds, cukoos and swans.

Since then I've apprenticed with several of artisans whose work appear in everything from broadway shows, ballet, opera, and Disney productions and am still making wings. I'm lucky that for my work I get to play with my wings and lots of little girls who want them.

But I noticed a clear rejection of wings at about five years old. At first I thought it was because they'd out grown them. Then I wondered about myself. If they'd moved on at five, what did this say about me? I considered whether something a bit odd about my fascination and set in for some serious study of the phenomenon.

I discovered that it was not that they'd out grown wings but they didn't want, well, childish wings. Their flights of fancy required something more than pantyhose streached on a coat hanger. I'd made butterfly wings of shimmering silver and gold shot pink and blue, but these too, didn't provide sufficient loft.

I began to look at what the kids just a bit older were reading and found a real wealth of material from picturebooks to young adult featuring faeries and re-worked fairytales, all featuring flight. I took home artwork popular with older girls and started to mess around with what I had at hand. I ended with a set of wings with feet in the natural world in form, but with their head decidedly in the clouds. And of course, they sparkled, shimmered, glimmered with promise of yet unthought adventures.

They were in the store for not even an hour before someone just had to try them on, someone older than five. Eurika! They had the wind for flight along, they just needed the right wings.

2 comments:

Faerin said...

I (being male) had a tougher time with my fascination with wings. In high school I came up with a science fiction story that took place on a moon around Jupiter for the sole purpose of giving the people who live there, genetically engineered wings. Today I have a deep fascination with faerie that I have learned to deal with but is an embarrassment to my family...

Anonymous said...

Im 15, and although its not necessarily wings that have fascinated me, my greatest possible dream since I could think has been to fly. People seem to find me rather odd for my daydreaming-ecstasy moments, I can just shut off the rest of the world and daydream for hours. But I think wings are probably what make flying beautiful, as well as incredible.