|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.
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.
|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.