Thursday, February 12, 2015

What are Dust Bunnies?

A Dust Bunny sits atop a pile of teeth and candies. Sculpture.
This guy doesn't want you to touch his candy and tooth pile.

On several occasions recently, I've found myself in the position of really exploring what makes my characters who they are, as a whole  (What are they? What do they do? How do they feel? Do they feel at all?) ...and I thought it would be a good exercise to try and loosely "define" what makes the Dust Bunnies, the Dust Bunnies.  Of course they exist only in the realm of puppets, sculpture, and drawings, but even inanimate objects have a story behind them, and this is what I imagine the character sketch is like.

So if you've ever wondered just what the heck my intentions are with these creatures from my imagination, here you go.

First and foremost, Dust Bunnies are not very bright. If they manage to do anything clever or helpful, it's usually either dumb luck, coincidence, or fate.  Some of them can draw or read (badly), but that is like genius level for them. 

Dust Bunnies are innocent. They are never mean or spiteful. They can get annoyed and super cranky, and may throw tantrums (if you take food/lint/bottle caps away from them), but would never be violent - it's just not in their mental wiring to be mean.

Dust Bunnies are curious about everything. Buttons, boxes, your shoelaces, flowers, used toothpicks, dead bugs, cereal crumbs on the kitchen floor - it's all interesting, and all potential fodder for their habit of integrating their surroundings into their lives. They collect bits and bobs like magpies do, and often adorn themselves in clothing scraps and whatever they've found, mimicking what they see around them. 

They can grunt, sniffle, and mumble, but rarely use actual words. Sometimes they mimic, but don't necessarily know the meanings of the words they say.

They are always hungry.  Always.

If they were actually alive and you kept them as pets, they would utterly destroy your house. You'd be better off with a family of raccoons.

They make the best of what they have. They have no concept of jealousy or pride. A hat made out of a handkerchief and an old key is every bit as beautiful as a beat-up party hat with a fork tied to it. They don't know they are strange-looking. They exist almost entirely in the present moment. 

They don't really get hurt...mostly because I can't bear the thought of it. I think of them like animate bags of flour; they sort of plop and bounce, or tip over, but nothing harms them.

It kind of makes me wonder, too, why I imagine them being this way. I think in a lot of ways, I'm creating objects that are inherently sympathetic, and are designed to coax empathy out of the viewer. I'm an intensely empathetic person (often to my own detriment), and I often have a hard time understanding how a lot of people seem to lack that trait. Perhaps these little lost-looking creatures are an attempt on my part to ignite feelings of empathy and care - you want to take care of them, because they are small, vulnerable, and confused.

A startled yellow and grey Dust Bunny with bright eyes. Sculpture.
Wait. What!?
I like the fact that their faces show very little emotion. They aren't totally blank canvases at all - their emotions are just subtle. There's a lot of difference between them, if you really look. Some look  impish, some look like they just did something you will NOT approve of. Some look confused, while others look a little startled or sad.  But all of these things can be interpreted different ways, and I want the viewer who sees them to sort of use them as a reflector for their own emotional experiences.

I've always been a bit of a misfit. It was hard fitting in when I was growing up (I still have a hard time feeling like I'm fitting in, honestly). I liked art, science, fantasy books, and always thought the villains looked WAY cooler than the good guys, in pretty much everything. I wore head-to-toe costumes around the neighborhood and when I got older, dressed in a dark "alternative" fashion. I was the archetype of the "weird kid", but I wasn't rebellious or crass or mean. I just liked what I liked. I think these creatures are kind of autobiographical in a way - they don't do what they do for the satisfaction of others around them, they just like to wear paperclips, or chew on table legs, or wrap themselves in old grocery store receipts like a coat. They are weird because they just are, and though others would see it as creepy or strange, they revel in the fabulous things we discard.

Two Pipsqueaks play hide and seek in teacups.
Hanging out in a child's tea set.

I am, at my core, an idealist. I want to see the world as a fascinating, new place, full of possibilities, every day.  It's not always possible to do that, but I think my Dust Bunnies can.  Sure, they don't have arms and have sawdust for brains, but they're able to take in the world in wide-eyed wonder, one moment at a time without worry of the future, and act on their creative impulses in a way that I only wish I could a lot of the time. They're bumbling, imperfect, dirty, and strange, but they deserve to be loved and understood, just like we all do.


  1. perfect. absolutely perfect...
    all the reasons i love them and then some <3

    1. Thank you! Glad I was able to capture it in words :)

  2. You state it so well. And yes, the wearing of oddments and the subtle suggestion of emotion on their faces makes me love them, too.

  3. Very interesting story about dusty bunnies!
    It was always wondering what they do, what eat and what should temper. Now everything is clear! It's so cute!))

  4. Wonderful.
    Explained and worded so well.
    Loved it.
    Thank you :o)
    P.S Happy Friday 13th!

  5. The world is a better place for having dust bunnies in it! Thank you!

  6. You are perfect just the way you are. I believe that every person makes a difference every day and you do that so well with your art and this blog. I will have a great day today thanks to you and your description of the dust bunnies. You, and the dust bunnies, are AWESOME.

  7. This is why Luna Lovegood has always been my favorite character from the Harry Potter series. (Incidentally, if you don't already have it, I highly recommend the audio book version narrated by Stephen's truly a great way to entertain yourself while working in your studio.) Your dust bunny description is reminiscent of Luna. She is eccentric and an outcast, but empathetic, good-hearted, and imaginative. (What dust bunnies lack in intelligence, they make up for in loveable charm. ;-) )

    I had a best friend growing up who was very much like you and Luna; she was truly my creative muse and inspired me tremendously. She gave me courage to be myself--also a shy misfit and a social outcast. When she moved away in middle school, I was deprived of her company during those tumultuous years, and was forced to be "the weird kid" all alone.

    Thank you for articulating these complexities through your art and your words. You inspire me as a fellow artist, and it's good to know that the "weird kids" can make it and have a place in this world, afterall.

  8. They are awesome!!! You are Genius, Amanda! I love them :)

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