Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's Groundhog Day! Well, it is on this blog.

OK, so I meant to launch this little Wagner Handwork (Kunstlerschutz) animal website on Groundhog Day. But I saw my shadow and retreated to my burrow instead.

However, having gotten over the horror of the aforementioned shadow, I've crept back out, and despite what the calendar says I'm going to feature the Wagner version of a groundhog as the first critter.

He's known as a groundhog (or woodchuck, or whistlepig) here in the United States, though it's unlikely that his creators called him that: they probably called this piece a marmot.

North America and Europe are home to various species of marmots (which are ground squirrels). The groundhog is one of several marmot species found in the United States.

In Europe, hedgehogs were traditionally the weather forecasters, but immigrants to the United States didn't find those prickly creatures here, so they substituted the groundhog. 

Because Wagner animals were handmade, each individual animal has its own appearance (sometimes quite a quirky one). 

In many Wagner species, however, it's easy to see a general trend as the piece evolved over the decades. The groundhog, for example, seems to start out portly and over time got a bit taller and leaner.

I would say, "That's odd," except it's already pretty odd to be taking pictures of small flocked animals and comparing them, so I'm not one to talk. However, it is surprising that some of the marmots seem to have an important marmotty part missing:
"No fair! How come he's got whiskers, and I don't?"