I grew up with this psychedelic rocking camel, handmade in the late 60s/early 70s by B.C. artist/novelist Jim Willer. He called these “Bumpity Camels” and ours was one of a series—our cousins had one too. When we were kids it used to have a blue wooden knocker on a wire that hung inside and clip-clopped when you rocked (even though camels are silent), but the noise drove us crazy so we removed it, and so did our cousins. [Update; we found the knocker in April of 2013 and I’ve re-attached it.] As you can deduce from the small hole in the centre of the eye, Willer used a nail and string to make a simple compass with which he drew the concentric circles (they radiate out from the eye, quite accurately). The flanks, neck, head and rear are plwood, while all the rounded parts of the seat and rear are cedar. The rockers seem to be Douglas fir planks. The Flickr set is here is you want to see how it’s made. It’s forty years old and in amazing condition considering the abuse it suffered. Very well made.
Jim Willer, mainly a painter, also wrote a sci-fi novel titled Paramind which you can still sometimes find on Abebooks or Amazon. See the dust jacket below. From BC Bookworld: “A professional painter, Jim Willer’s anti-Utopian science fiction novel about ‘electric government’, Paramind, was a co-recipient of a $33,000 literary prize offered by the Imperial Tobacco Company for Canada’s centennial. Willer was born in Winnipeg [sic: actually born in England] in 1921, toured Western Canada on a painting expedition with Joe Plaskett and studied for two years in Europe under Bohemian conditions. He came to teach at the Vancouver School of Art at the invitation of painter Tak Tanabe in 1964.”
Thanks to my cousin-in-law David for transporting the camel from my mother’s house, where it had been taking up an entire closet for more than a decade. “Do you want Bumpity Camel? It’s going to your place or I’m putting out on the street.” So it’s at my place.
A friend said recently “this camel is the yardstick by which all other cool things must be measured.”
Tags: 1960s, 1970s, 60s, 70s, bumpety camel, Bumpity Camel, camel, Canadian, children, circles, geometric, Jim Willer, kids, literature, M&S, McClelland and Stewart, neo geo, novel, psychedelia, psychedelic, rocking horse, target, toy, utopian