from Things To See In Springtime
The Monkeys in the Tree Tops
We all love to go a-hunting; every one of us in some way; and it is only the dislike of cruelty and destruction that keeps most of us from hunting animals continually, as our forebears did.
Some of my best days were spent in hunting. The Arabs say, "Allah reckons not against a man's allotted span the days he spends in the chase."
I hope that I may help many of you to go a-hunting, and to get the good things of it, with the bad things left out.
Come! Now it is the spring of the year, and just the right time for a Monkey-hunt. We are going prowling along the brookside where we are pretty sure of finding our game. "See, there is a Monkey tree and it is full of the big Monkeys!"
"What! That pussy-willow?"
Yes, you think they are only pussy-willows, but wait until you see. We shall take home a band of the Monkeys, tree and all, and you will learn that a pussy-willow is only a baby Monkey half done.
Now let us get a branch of live elderberry and one or two limbs of the low red sumac. It is best to use sumac because it is the only handy wood that one can easily stick a pin through, or cut. The pieces should be five or six inches long and about half an inch to an inch thick. They should have as many odd features as possible, knots, bumps, fungus, moss, etc.; all of which add interest to the picture.
To these we must add a lot of odd bits of dry cane, dry grasses, old flower-stalks, moss, and gravel, etc., to use for background and foreground in the little jungle we are to make for our Monkeys to play in. It is delightful to find the new interest that all sorts of queer weeds take on, when we view them as canes or palms for our little jungle.
Now with the spoils of our hunt, let us go home and preserve the trophies.
Cut off about three inches of the elderberry wood and have it clear of knots; cut a flat ended ramrod so as just to fit the bore, and force out the pith with one clean sharp push: or else whittle away the surrounding wood. The latter way gives a better quality of pith.
Now take a piece of the pith about one-third the size of a big pussy-willow, use a very sharp knife and you will find it easy to whittle it into a Monkey's head about the shape of "a" and "b."
Use a very sharp-pointed, soft black pencil to make the eyes, nose, the line for the mouth and the shape of the ears; or else wait till the pith is quite dry, then use a fine pen with ink.
If you are skilful with the knife you may cut the ears so that they hang as in "d."
Stick an ordinary pin right down through the crown of the head into a big pussy-willow that will serve as a body (e). If you glue the head on it is harder to do, but it keeps the body from being mussed up. Cut two arms of the pith (ff) and two feet (gg), drawing the lines for the fingers and toes, with the sharp black pencil, or else ink as before.
Cut a long, straight pointed piece of pith for a tail, dip it in boiling water, then bend it to the right shape "h."
Cut a branch of the sumac so that it is about four inches high, and of the style for a tree; nail this on a block of wood to make it stand. Sometimes it is easier to bore a hole in the stand and wedge the branch into that.
Set the Monkey on the limb by driving the pin into it as at "i," or else glueing it on; and glue on the limbs and tail. Sometimes a little wad of willow-down on the Monkey's crown is a great help. It hides the pin.
Now set this away for the glue to harden.
Meanwhile take an ordinary cigar box about two inches deep, line it with white paper pasted in; or else paint it with water colour in Chinese white. Colour the upper part sky colour; the lower, shaded into green, getting very dark on the bottom. Lay a piece of glass or else a scrap of an old motor-car window-isinglass on the bottom, and set in a couple of tacks alongside to hold it; this is for a pool.
Make a mixture of liquid glue, one part; water, five parts; then stir in enough old plaster of Paris, whitening, or even fine loam to make a soft paste. Build banks of this paste around the pool and higher toward the back sides. Stick the tree, with its stand and its Monkeys, in this, to one side; dust powder or rotten wood over the ground to hide its whiteness; or paint it with water colours.
Use all the various dry grasses, etc., to form a jungle; sticking them in the paste, or glueing them on.
And your jungle with its Monkeys is complete.
Many other things may be used for Monkeys. I have seen good ones made of peanuts, with the features inked on, and a very young black birch catkin for tail. Beautiful birds also can be made by using a pith body and bright feathers or silks glued on for plumes. The pith itself is easily coloured with water colours.
You will be delighted to see what beautiful effects you can get by use of these simple wild materials, helped with a little imagination.
And the end of the Monkey-hunt will be that you have learned a new kind of hunting, with nothing but pleasant memories in it, and trophies to show for proof.
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