Small World can yield big ideas
Feb. 24, 2013 @ 03:23 PM

For Tommy Lee and Melissa Edwards, their family trip to Walt Disney World in January was a great way to celebrate his 40th birthday.

But for their home-schooled children, Henry and Scarlett, it also managed to provide opportunities for learning and inspiration.

Before taking a ride on Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom theme park, as an example, the kids learned about a dulcimer-like instrument called a khim, watched a demonstration on palm leaf weaving and saw their names written in Thai.

“There are teachable moments around every corner,” Melissa Edwards said. “This was just one little portion of one little park on one day.”

For Scarlett, a budding artist who thinks about art, design, merchandise, branding and costuming as possible career options, “the whole place is a gold mine,” her mother said.

“I learned lots about art direction,” Scarlett said. “I like on rides like Rockin’ Rollercoaster, they have street signs to make it like you’re speeding on a road. I like on Tower of Terror, they make you believe that you’re in a crumbling old hotel by adding cobwebs, old dusty furniture and broken things.”

After the trip, Scarlett kept thinking about the classic It’s A Small World ride at the Magic Kingdom and the art design of the late Mary Blair.

The blocks and angles of the architecture, the shades of blue and white – all common visual themes – helped inform Scarlett’s work in creating a doll wearing a colorful Small World-like dress.

“I looked at a pattern in a book, then made my own pattern based on the basic idea in the book,” Scarlett said. “I copied the pattern onto heavyweight duck material, cut it out, sewed it together, turned it inside out, painted the face, sewed the yarn hair on, and designed and made the dress with leftover fabric and ribbons.”

It’s hardly her first creation, but Scarlett considers each work an improvement over the last.

“I’ve made dolls like this for a long time and I think I’m getting better every time,” she said. “I did create a new way to make a wig and sew it on, and I think it worked out really well.”

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