I love it when someone can give whimsy a physical shape and feel. It’s literally one of my favorite things. I love whimsy; I despise cutesy. There’s a difference between the two that I imagine is entirely subjective. I mean, what may be whimsy to one may be cutesy to another and vice versa. But for me, cutesy is self-conscious. Cutesy is trying SO hard to be cute that it sails completely past cute and splats dead all over cutesy and nausea and even horror. For me, cutesy is born when cute is the only goal, not creation, not self-expression, but rather the push of some sick inner mantra blaring “I will make something cuuuute!!” No, Peaches, no, you won’t. Because you won’t be creating from your SELF, you will be creating from your sense of what everyone else thinks is cute. You’ll be creating from inside that little prison of expectations where it’s dull and grey and stifling. The end result will have no choice but to be gross and eminently hateable. It’s vague — maybe I’m being vague — because I’m trying to think this out as I write.
I just hate the craftsy group-think of what’s cuuuute or adorable. I hate the whole “kit” mentality. The whole country-craftsy, let’s-draw-stuff-with-puff-pens mindset. It gives rise to woodworked bunnies with googly eyes and quilted tea cozies in the shape of roosters and isn’t that oh-so-CLEVER?? No. No, it’s NOT! Dammit all, anyway! And if someone is telling you it’s good, she’s either lying through her crafty teeth or she’s your blind lonely gammie who — frankly — is probably lying too, because maybe she’s blind, but she ain’t stupid, and what the hell is this quilted rooster-shaped monstrosity you just plopped in her blind wrinkled lap? SHEESH!
Okay. I’ve gotten myself all worked up.
Here. Pictures will tell the misguided tale of cutesy so much better:
The blue one in the middle with the cloudy bulging cataract eyes. I’m shuddering with horror. And what’s with the one on the right? Is it some kind of Breast Cancer Awareness rodent? Ugh. Shiver.
Ah, acid trips.
Lord. Let’s not forget the flavor that OAK adds to the appalling goulash of cutesy:
The oak is a hardy, beautiful tree. Look:
It deserves so much better than to die an ignominious death pasted over with faux brass numbers and a mincing little piggy going to market. Better to take your oak and give it to the bums in the alley to burn in their trash cans than insist it hang on your kitchen wall in perpetual porcine humiliation. Oak crap is all over my parents’ house and whenever I’m there, it cries out to me in a righteous, pleading rage: “Burn me! Burn me!! Burrrrnnn meeeeeeeeeeeee!!” Someday I will.
I don’t get it. Cook something wretched for your family and they probably won’t eat too much of it. Leftovers — and there’ll be lots of ’em — will languish in the fridge. And that’s your hint, Peaches: This did not taste good. But create something wretched with oak or googly eyes, and then what? It’s allowed to hang unopposed on your wall until you die or your daughter has to wear it to school and have kids laugh at how the reindeer eyes jiggle every time she heaves a sob? No, I say! That is how cutesy warps and ruins lives.
But whimsy. Ah, whimsy!
Whimsy, I think, comes from a place deep inside. It comes freely, unpackaged, unself-conscious. Things that I call whimsical always have something slightly off, a little wonky about them. Just like people. Someone who can make whimsy in a physical form creates from a solid sense of self. From an eye that knows how to please itself first. Someone who makes whimsy doesn’t listen to — or maybe doesn’t even hear — the chorus of people’s expectations or tastes, because there’s a stronger, louder inner voice that defies constraints. It’s a voice that says, “I will make something I like.” With that, comes a freedom to experiment and invent and discover something that may be just a little bit weird. Wonky. Not perfect, but beautiful. Whimsical.
From hop skip jump:
From papeis por todo o lado
From petite collage:
From angry chicken:
I love this one — a fabric design — because the designer herself says of it: I’m all about the ugly, I can’t help it. Give me some little lines (I see them as hairs) and some mildly creepy biomorphic shapes, and I am all set.
See? Not cutesy. Not self-conscious or coy or trying too hard. She says she’s all about the ugly, for God’s sake! And so it’s weird. Wonky. Whimsical.
And I love whimsy.