Thursday, 26 July 2012

Childhood Games

Did you have a favourite game when you were a kid?  I did. There was one game that I played consistently through out my childhood and then, I'll admit, a bit beyond my childhood too! (I was slow to grow up!)

It all started when I read Jacqueline Wilson's 'The Suitcase Kid.'  I think it was my 7th or 8th birthday that I got that book. It was about a little girl (can't remember her name now) who lived between her two divorced parents.  That part of the book didn't interest me so much. What interested me was the fact that this little girl had a 'mascot' called Radish.

Radish was a little sylvanian rabbit and this little girl would take it everywhere with her. She would take it boating on the pond and make it little outfits and take it swimming in the bath and adventuring in the garden.  It all sounded so fun to me  and as soon as I finished 'The Suitcase Kid' I wanted a mascot too!  The idea of it just just totally caught my imagination- I think partly because I have always been obsessed with miniature things.  However, 'The Suitcase Kid' was just the catalyst. The game of mascots soon took on a life of it's own and became very much my game and the game of all my friends I introduced it to.

The reason I wanted to write about this on my blog is because having a mascot was a huge creative outlet for me when I was a child.  I also believe that it is the reason why I often make my illustrations in the way I do (3d style) and why I find it quite easy to create them in that way.  It's because of all those years I spent making tiny things for mascots when I was younger!  And I literally did spend ALL my time making these things! For years!

Here are some of the things we did with our 'mascots.'

1- We had Rules. The most important rule was that everything had to be REAL.  To us the mascots to real so everything they did had to be real too.  For example we always gave them proper food- not fake dollhouse food. We always gave them actual baths and we wouldn't buy any miniature thing unless it properly worked.  So for example we would never put a fake dollhouse TV in their little house we would always sit them infront of our real human sized TV. We would never buy an miniature bicycle unless it was a proper miniature bicycle that would actually be possible to ride if you were a miniature person.  Of course we never found a real working miniature bicycle (how cool would that be though!) but you get the idea!

This is a picture of an early mascot that I had who was actually a sylvanian ginger cat.  Here she is eating her breakfast. It would have been real food taken from my plate and her cup would have been full of real juice.

And another more blurry picture of Fleur at Easter time. I gave her one of those miniature foil wrapped eggs you can get as her big Easter Egg. I think it was a milky way egg but it's hard to tell from this photo!

This is a miniature food spread from one of the mascot parties we held.  As you can see all the food is real.  We use to make tiny sandwiches by pressing down white bread so that it was really thin and cutting it into tiny triangles and then putting a filling between the bread.  We also made miniature pizzas buy cutting out circles of pressed down bread and spreading them with tomato puree and then putting pepperami slices on the top and maybe tiny bits of mushroom and cheese etc. Then we would bake the pizzas int eh oven and they actually came out like pretty realistic miniature pizzas! We also used to like baking miniature cookies for our mascots.  They only took like two minutes in the oven! I used to have a really cute tiny dollshouse size gingerbread man cutter but I don't know where its gone now...

We also used to scour the supermarkets for any tiny foods. At that time (it must have been early 2000's or even the 1990's actually) there was a craze where loads of miniature versions of food was coming into the shops.  Do you remember miniature polos? And miniature smarties? They came in those triangular packets.  Loads of companies were making miniature versions of their foods.  Oh an miniature hula hoops! I guess it was the novelty of it. Anyway, it was perfect for us. If we had a mascot party- which we had a few of- we would buy all these things and put them in miniature bowls made of silver foil for the mascots to eat. I think in the picture above you are able to see mini smarties, some mini sandwiches we made, some iced gems without the biscuit part, a slice of mini pizza and some nik naks broken up into smaller pieces.

Also if there was a mascot party we would always make a miniature cake!  It was usually made by baking a normal size cupcake and then shaving it down so that it was less cupcake shaped and more cake shaped. Then we would add filling and icing on the top and decorations and probably a stub of candle. I don't have any pictures of the cakes we made sadly.  Sometimes we would buy a miniature cake because they do those miniature ones in Clinton Cards. Also at Christmas in Thorntons they sell those miniature Christmas puddings and chocolate logs which are meant to be chocolates but they were perfectly mascot sized!

Another example of something that had to be real is books!  If we gave our mascot a miniature book it had to have real miniature writing in it!  Also pencils and crayons had to be real too. We took the leads out of colouring pencils and our mascots used them as crayons.

2- Made them little houses.  It was always very important to us that our little mascots had somewhere to sleep and a nice room of their own.  We would spend hours making tiny rooms in shoeboxes or dollshouses. 

This was one of the earlier houses I remember making. The wires are there because I managed to rig up a light on the ceiling using one of those circuit kits you use at school.  The mascot in this picture was called Fleur and was one of my earlier mascots. She was a ginger sylvanian cat.

This was a slightly later house I decorated. There is wrapping paper stuck onto the walls. I made a lot of the stuff in this little house.  I made the blue armchair, I cross stitched the cushion, I made the patchwork quilt on the bed, I made the shelf, a lot of the books and the calendar and picture on the wall.

This is a scene from a mascot Christmas party that we held.  There are tiny mascot presents wrapped up under the tree, christmassy curtains, and little chairs for the mascots to sit on during the party.  In this photo I can spot five mascots all owned by different friends. 

3- Magazines. Every so often I would make a magazine for all my friends who had mascots. I think it started out as 'Mascot Monthly' and ended up as 'Mascot Mad.'

Cover of the very first mascot magazine I made.
Another early one. This was a Halloween issue.
A later issue.I had started using the computer more!
I used to adore making these magazines. I look back on them now and they are so cheesy but cute. I always featured a mascot on the front. As you can see these three examples all feature a green bear.  This was Emerald.  She was the mascot of my best friend Henrietta (I hope she won't mind me saying her name here!) and lasted throughout all the years we played this game for.  Henrietta was a very loyal mascot owner unlike me who changed mascots all the time depending on what my favourite animal was at the time.

Inside the magazines there was generally a story and a photo corner and a competition and a quiz.  Sometimes I would put an 'interview' in there or a page for 'mascot gossip.' Haha.

Here's a page from one of the magazines- it must have been a later one after I had learnt to use computers- where I did an article on how to make a miniature patchwork quilt. I used to love making patchwork quilts when I was young.  The three examples are all ones I had made myself over the years and scanned into the computer.  The one with the mouse sleeping under it is actually the forst one I ever made. I still have it today. It's tiny.

And here's one I did about how to make a miniature fleece. I was so excited when I discovered how to make fleeces and I made them all the time for a while! What especially excited me was that I got some miniature buttons for christmas one year and I was able to sew them onto the tiny clothes.

There was usually a page for fashion in the magazines.  This extract below is from the first magazine I made.  My mascot at that time was a black cat called Mittens.  She was probably my favourite actually and lasted for quite a while.  She was about 4 inches tall and made of black and white velvet.  The problem was that her seams kept splitting open and I had to keep sewing them up until she looked rather messy.  Also I think she balded a bit.  It probably didn't help that one of our favourite things to do wit our mascots was bath them so they were constantly getting sopping wet and then not drying properly!

I am quite fond of this picture- it shows my early love for line drawing!
 Here's an early article I wrote on how to make a miniature mascot toothbrush using a cocktail stick and a tiny piece of velcro.  I wrote 'It may not look like a proper one but it will work which is the most important thing because there isn't a dentist small enough to mend their teeth if they rot.'

Another thing I loved doing back at that time was use Microsoft Paint!  I used to spend hours on it drawing tiny little pictures to make into miniature cards and also to put in the magazine.

I drew some of my friends mascots on Paint!
Here's more of a scene with the mascots in.

I drew this snakes and ladders board and box on Paint for the magazine.
Oh how I loved paint! I kind of miss it. I loved the way everything was pixalated.

4- We LOVED making outfits for our mascots! Well, I did especially. I used to spend so much of my time sewing when I was young. My bedroom was always covered in scraps of material. 

Here below is Mousey (one of my many mascots, who I am quite proud to say I made myself!) and Fudge who was Henrietta's other mascot.  I seem to remember that Fudge and Mousey were best friends. We made them matching pyjamas.  

This is a tiny little jumper that my grandmother knitted for Mousey. I got very excited when I learnt how to knit my own mini jumpers and went about knitting a lot of them!  I remember we also managed to get our friend Rebecca to write to her grandmother asking her to knit some miniature jumpers for us.

Here are Fudge and Mousey wearing tutus that I made.  The sequins were stuck on using a gluegun.

We always got very excited if we came across clothes in shops that were the right sizes for our mascots. I remember buying small bears or dolls sometimes simply to take their clothes off and use them for my mascot.  Below you can see that 'Mittens' is wearing a lilac jumper.  We went into the wool shop in town and managed to get the lady in there to knit us some mini jumpers. She charged us 50p! And she made four of them! 'Emerald' is wearing a blue and red jumper with a white star on it.  This was from the dollshouse shop in town which has sadly closed down now.  It was such a great shop!  Henrietta and I used to walk down there nearly every week to go and look at all the stuff and see if there was anything we could afford for our mascots.  We bought a lot of stuff from that shop.  In the end the lady who owned it actually allowed me to make some things to sell in the shop myself.  She was a nice lady, kind of scary at first but when we got to know her I think she liked us.  She died which is why the shop was closed down.It was especially sad because it was such an interesting shop. It didn't just have the generic kind of dollshouse stuff in it, it had unique things in it made by local people.

the lilac jumper

We loved to make party dresses a lot.  Mainly because they looked pretty and were easy.  All you need to make a mini party dress like we did is a length of wide sparkly ribbon.  We made SO many party dresses or best occasion dresses.  Our mascots would wear them to parties and also on special occasions such as Christmas etc...

This looks like it was an everyday kind of outfit. A skirt and a top. I think the skirt was originally a sylvanian family skirt.  They were good for pilfering clothes off too! This mascot was called Opal and was someone elses but I won't mention her name here in case she gets embarrassed!

5- We wrote diaries.  I wrote a lot of mascot diaries over the years.  I know Hnerietta kept one too for a bit too.  I think I just love documenting stuff! I'm glad I did now though because they are nice to look over.

This would have been an earlier one.
This one was a much later one as you can see from the handwriting!

We had parties.  I have mentioned this already a bit above but I will write about them in a bit more detail here.  I can't remember exactly how many parties we had in the end but it was definitely quite a few.  By the last party there were at least 9 of us there with our mascots!

I know I held the first party. It was quite early on and my mascot was a black and white cat called Mittens.  It was a fancy dress party and I made Mittens a mini rabbit outfit to wear.  I remember we had to whole mini food thing as I have already explained above and a treasure hunt and probably a mini pass the parcel.  We also had balloon rides.  We had a mini hot air balloon made out of paper mache with a little basket on the bottom. We rigged it up so that it could be pulled from the top floor of my house to the bottom floor and the mascots all had a ride in it. I can't remember what else happened at that party but I know all the other mascots brought miniature presents and cards for Mittens.  At the time Clintons Cards were selling these absolutely miniature cards and envelopes (for novelty purposes I'm guessing- I wish they still sold them!) and we sometimes bought those.  I still have all the ones my mascot was given.

Another party we had was a fairy party where all the mascots had to be dressed as fairies.  I think they had fairy flying races attached to pieces of string. I remember that being  quite an extravagant party and Henrietta and I spent weeks preparing for it! In fact, now I think about it I remember that it was a surprise birthday party for Rebecca's mascot Abigail.  Rebecca didn't know about it either so it was a big surprise for both of them!  Abigail got loads of tiny presents from the other mascots.  She got a miniature fishing net, windmill, game of Ludo (all bought from the dollshouse shop) and a mini sunhat and I can't remember what else...

These were some of the fairy costumes we made for our mascots. I can't remember what exactly they all were but I know that Mousey was a flower fairy. 

Another quite extravagant party we held was the Christmas party.  I say extravagant because a LOT of time and effort went into it! This was was in honour of Fudge's birthday as well.  We covered the room in fairylights and tinsel and had Christmas music playing.  All the mascots wore Christmas party dresses.  I remember that Mousey's dress was red with gold stars on it, made from a ribbon. We had a miniature pass the parcel where the prize was a tiny teddy bear. After that there was a birthday tea with tiny sandwiches, pizza, crisps. fizzy drinks, sweets and of course normal sized food for us as well! Then there was a treasure hunt which ended up at a miniature Santas grotto which was actually just a bigger teddybear dressed in a santa suit and surrounded by cotton wool, a couple of very small Christmas trees and some weird sort of polystyrene box thing.  In this picture you can see Buttons who was Betsy-Ann's mascot sitting on Santa's lap.  To the left in the polystyrene box thing (I don't know where I got that from but I thought it looked like shelves made of ice or snow or something) are lots of little boxes.  each box had a mascot's name on it and contained a miniature doll that I had made from fimo.

To get to Santa's grotto the mascots got to ride in this sleigh led by a fake horse. I say fake because we never pretended the horse was real. The sleigh was made from smarties boxes covered in white fur and velvet and also pipecleaners for the runners.  It had gems stuck all over it too.

Mousey riding in the sleigh
Opal riding in the sleigh.
During this party we opened a mascot shop called 'Mascots r Us' where things (mainly made by me) could be bought. In the shop were miniature outfits, dressing gowns, blankets and other such things.  I know quite a few things were bought from this 'shop' during the party though I don't think I ever charged more than 50p for anything in there!

At the end of the Christmas party there was a present opening ceremony because every mascot got a little gift to go home with (boy did we put a lot of effort into this party!) Some mascots got clothes, Emerald got a fancy dress mermaid tail, one mascot got a miniature snowstorm.

Christmas with mascots was always so fun!  Henrietta and I would prepare for weeks before hand gathering up tiny little presents for our mascots Christmas Stockings.  We would also put up a mini tree. There was this one time that we found a string of battery operated multicoloured fairylights at the dollshouse shop which was very exciting for us!  

Emerald and Fudge pulling a cracker. Of course there was something real inside it!
It wasn't just me that threw the parties.  Rebecca and Henrietta also had one! Rebecca's was a beach party. On the day it actually rained so the whole party had to take place indoors. The mascots all had to come in their swimming costumes and there was an 'indoor pool' and a sandpit and a water island, obstacle courses and food. Henrietta's party was a Halloween one.

There was one other party worth mentioning which took place whilst we were all camping.  Most of my friend's who had mascots had parents who were friends with my parents and every year all the families used to go camping for a weekend.  On one occasion Louise's mascot 'Hunny' had a birthday so her party took place on the camping weekend.

Above you can see all the mascots sitting round a little campfire.  Their tent is behind them. I made the tent from an old fly cover for food.  It was the perfect shape.

For Hunny's party all the mascots went swimming and boating in a paddling pool that was obviously the equivelant of a huge swimming pool to them.  Then in the evening we lit a miniature fire and they all sat round it on pebbles for seats and toasted bits of bread and marshmallows on long pieces of wire. They had little paper plates (bought from the dollshouse shop) and in the picture you can see that they each have a marshmallow on their plate!

7- Holidays! Taking our mascots on holiday with us was always very exciting!  There were miniature swimming costumes to make and miniature beach towels to pack and all manner of boat-like contraptions.  Putting our mascots in little boats and floating them down streams and over rock pools was always one of my favourite things to do. Hours of fun! I also liked to build sandcastles for the mascots.

This is a later mascot I had called Mottie standing on top of a sandcastle.
Mottie sitting by a rockpool and also with her bucket and spade and fishing net and toy boat.
Mottie in her sleeping bag in Cornwall. I made the sleeping bag from an old sock.
Mottie in the car on the way to Cornwall.
Boats were always mine and Henrietta's favourite I think.  There was one time when we discovered these PERFECT miniature blow up boats with REAL battery operated engines attached to them in Wilkinson's for only about 2 or 3 pounds!!! We both bought one and took them with us when we went on holiday together to Cornwall.  We spent so much time putting our mascots in the boats and floating them down the stream.

This is the boat but I think this one was taken whilst on holiday with Rebecca in Scotland.
and here's a drawing I did. I loved that boat so much!
Mottie floating down the stream in a chocolate box. I made her tiny red goggles and a matching red swimming costume.

Putting our mascots down waterfalls was another favourite thing to do.  You know those small waterfalls you get on beaches that go over the rocks. Those were the ones! We thought they were like miniature slides!

A drawing of Abigail and Mottie whizzing down a waterfall on a Scottish beach.
We used to go to Scotland a lot when I was younger. This is a picture of Mousey in a swing in Scotland one of the years.  It was supposed to be a rustic sort of swing so I made it out of twigs and sellotape and attached it to a tree with fishing wire.

And here's a much older picture of one of my first mascots Fleur. I was going on the school skiing trip so I made her a little skiing coat and skis made from lollysticks. 

Similar to the blow up boat I used to get so excited by any contraption that ACTUALLY WORKED!  This was probably much to the annoyance of my brother. If he got a remote controlled car or plane or whatever I always wanted to put my mascot on it for a ride! I don't think he liked it at all!  There was this one time he got a plane that if you attach it to something with a piece of string it flew round and round which was pretty cool.

Emerald having a ride.
8- Bekonskot model village.  During the time I had a mascot I went to Bekonskot model village twice.  It was like mascot heaven!  We had so much fun taking our mascots round a village that was the perfect size for them.  There was even a little train that trundled around the village and we liked to drop our mascots into the carriages and then run faster than the train to collect them before they went through a tunnel or something.  I don't think that was really allowed at Bekonscot, you're not really supposed to touch anything I don't think but anyway...

Mousey and Fudge in the train.
Mousey Fudge and Emerald sitting by the stream at Bekonscot.
Mousey sitting in a car at Bekonscot.
Hunny, Emerald, Mousey, Fudge and Abigail sitting outside a bread shop.
Mousey sitting on an elephant!
The fairground at Benkonscot.
From an earlier time at Bekonscot. Mittens and Emerald.
Mittens and Emerald on a miniature street at Bekonscot.
Wow this has turned into a loooong blog post! Well done if you've managed to actually make it to the end!  I just wanted to record down some of my memories of my favourite childhood game really. And there was so much stuff we did! I only just scraped the surface of it.  I wish I had more photos but a lot of them were lost on my old computer.  That's why I just have bad quality printed scans.

There are two more memories I just want to write down.  The first one is the mascot play.  I made a miniature theatre out of a shoebox and we put on a mascot play for all our parents and brothers and sisters. We spent months rehearsing with our mascots and making their costumes.  The play was Cinderella.  It was actually really good and one of my best mascot memories.  For some reason we took NO photos of it though! 

Secondly when Henrietta and I went on bike rides we made these little attachable seats for our mascots to sit it.  We attached them to the front of our bikes so that the mascot could come on the ride too!  Again no photos...

Right well I'm sure you've heard quite enough about this game for now. I will leave you with a few last snapshops!

Emerald, Mittens and Abigail. Taken in a photobooth.
Mousey ice skating on a frozen tub of water.
Mittens and Abigail.
Emerald, Fudge, Mousey and Mittens. Taken on a canal boat on a rainy day.
Fleur again.
The End!