A Day at the Circus (Capsule)

“There is no greater picture than that of 10,000 smiling children. No brighter music than their clear-ringing laughter. That I, with my small amusements, have created such precious art is my life’s proudest achievement.”  PT Barnum, (1810-1891)

Under the striped tent: Balloons, the silly taunting music of the calliope, the very air scented with a sickening mixture of cotton candy and dung, clowns are mocking in opaque make-up. A thousand children laugh and shriek. Wedged between my parents, I am certain that the world will come violently apart at any moment, there will be no turning back and I will be forever twirling/spinning, jerked from high to low by invisible strings, my soul growing small, finally disappearing. I try hard not to cry. My perplexed & loving parents, having bought the magic–and very expensive tickets–frown and scold. The colors! The sparkle-spangle of the flying acrobats, the razzle-dazzle of the Ring Master’s top hat & tails, the animals so festively costumed, so very clever! The truly delicious (with slight chemical aftertaste) sticky spun-sugar in pastel hues!

And thus, we present one more attempt to reconcile (and wear) beauty + ugliness, happiness + sorrow, chaos + order. You know, in a playful way. Or, maybe it’s just a fun necklace.

The Details:

Modular. Each OOAK necklace (6 total, 4 remain) is approx. 45–46″ long. Can be worn singled (anywhere on the body), or doubled, with a button & loop fastener. Most of the objects can be removed, reordered, reaffixed (lovely rusty safety pins) or left off all together, providing a gorgeous textile-only necklace and a little pile of wearable object/toys. One pompom is a hairclip. Fasten charms to the bracelets and wear them or pin them to your clothing. Note: We do not advise wearing the animals separately due to fragility.

Materials. Textile base: a kinetic length of intuitive free-form scrap-yarn crochet and magic. Pompoms: handmade, scrap yarn. Widgets: Viewmaster reel from A Day at The Circus, a series, released in 1957  (the technology and Metaverse of its day), Free the Circus Animals badge, handmade. Colorful plastic bracelets (one filled with beads!), vintage plastic skull and whistle charms. Celluloid, blow-mold, handpainted circus animals, made in Post-war Japan, mid-century. At 70+ years old, these dearest antique creatures are survivors of who-knows-what at the hands of small humans, and need to be handled with care (could break if dropped or banged). Most show wear–a small crack, a dent, a missing ear–all are stable in this context and still have loads of love to give.

Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum did not enter the circus business until he was 60 years old. He established “P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome” in Delavan, Wisconsin, in 1870 with William Cameron Coup–a traveling circus, menagerie, and museum of freaks.

Click the photos below to view & purchase the pieces in this capsule collection.