Fangirl Fridays – My Clowns

 My Clowns

I collect clowns. I’ve been collecting clown dolls for more than 30 years and really don’t remember what inspired me to start the collection. Maybe it was the first time I went to the circus as a child, watching these 2 “clumsy” clowns doing acrobatics, making the audience laugh.

The most ancient clowns have been found in the 5th dynasty of Egypt. Their role changed over time, but the art of clowning has existed for thousands of years.

I know that today a lot of people think clowns are scary. The blame rests with characters like Pennywise the clown from Stephen King’s book (and movie) It, or Twisty, that disgraced clown from the TV series American Horror Story, and the likes. But I refuse to think about those or acknowledge them.

I love the funny, smiling faces of clowns. I try to find the ones that have something extra for me, preferably artfully crafted. Their cheerfulness brightens my day and lightens my heart. I look for them everywhere, at every place I visit. I’d like to share with you just a few of my 250+ clowns, and tell you in a few words where and how I found them. I’ll also recommend a companion book that comes to mind as I reminisce about each one’s origin and unique personality. I guess it is also a kind of journey around the globe J.

Will you come with me for a peek?

This tiny clown is made of Swarovski crystal and gold. I bought it during my visit to Tirol, Austria, near the beautiful city of Innsbruck. My family and I visited the Swarovski visitor center there, which had a special feature at the entrance: the shape of a huge spouting head of an alpine giant, created by the Austrian artist, writer, and actor André Heller.

Book recommendation: The Third Man by Graham Greene. A story set in Vienna at the end of WW II, a mystery to solve.

The 3 stooges came from England. I found them in an antique fair in a village not far from London. It was my first time at such a fair, and I wandered between the stands with my eyes open wide and a delighted heart.

Book recommendation: Innumerable books to recommend, of course. Here is a short story by Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost, a ghost story full of humor. Ah, poor ghost...

This small, smiling pair came from a special place in France, a town called Rocamadour, which sits in dramatic scenery, on the edge of a cliff high above the Dordogne River. It’s a medieval village, built on the site of a shrine to the Madonna, famous for its healing powers — the place became an important pilgrimage destination many years ago. My duo came from a small porcelain shop in the town square.

Book recommendation: Chocolat by Joanne Harris. A beautiful romance about finding happiness in life, about tolerance with a pinch of magic. The book was made into an enchanting movie.

Prague, the Czech Republic capital, is known for delicious food, excellent beer, and outstanding post-medieval architecture, but it is also famous for its glass art. There are so many glass shops and galleries, it is difficult to choose a favorite. I found this round-belly clown in one of the many galleries around the city; he called my name with his happy face and bright colors.

Book recommendation: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Set during the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, a philosophical story about life, love, passion, and jealousy by an unconventional writer.

This handmade wooden clown was born in the Greek island of Rhodes. I found it in an enchanting handcraft shop in an alley inside the old City of Rhodes. This old city was the stronghold of the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem from 1309 to 1523. It subsequently came under Turkish and then Italian rule. The city is a vibrant example of the medieval world. In 1988, UNESCO designated the complex of these knights as a World Heritage Site.

Book recommendation: My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell is nonfiction, set on the Greek isle of Corfu, not Rhodes. It doesn’t really matter. Durrell’s account of his family life on the island is hilarious and spot on. A glimpse into human and animal behavior. One of my earliest favorites.

This Porcelain Figure clown is a surprising piece. I found it in a gallery restaurant north of Tel-Aviv, Israel, in a place that serves excellent food while selling antiques. One can dine there and then purchase the antique dishes and glasses used during the meal, as well as the cutlery and the tablecloth, the table and the chairs. This clown stood on a table across from me, and of course I couldn’t resist it. Being an antique enthusiastic, I checked its marks and signs. Turned out it is an antique piece, made by a famous Viennese manufacturing firm.

Book recommendation: Homesick by Nevo Eshkol (I found the Hebrew title more appropriate: 4 Homes and a Longing). The 90s in Israel, complex relations between families, between couples, and between Israelis and Palestinians, with no apparent solution.

A clown with a pizza in hand, two of my favorite things. This clown comes from one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, the Italian Amalfi coast. Superb view of sheer cliffs, small beaches with turquoise water, terraced vineyards and lemon groves, great Italian food and wines. Oh, this scenery is so romantic! I was walking through tiny alleys in Amalfi, looking inside small craft shops and Limoncello liquor stores, when I spotted a doll shop. Inside were many dolls of all kinds and shapes, hand crafted by the owner. My eyes fell on this clown made of clay, and the lovely lady explained that she sewed the clown clothes herself.

Book recommendation: Pompeii by Robert Harris. The end of Pompeii is well known. Here is a fictional story about the days before the devastating volcanic eruption. The author succeeds in making readers feel the atmosphere of the city and its people before the catastrophe.

I found this jester clown in New Orleans, when I visited the Crescent City last January. My fellow Wenches and I attended the fabulous Karen Marie Moning’s Feversong launch party there. Of course, a shop full of clown figurines beckoned me and I was powerless to resist. Now I’m the proud owner of this Mardi Gras colored Jester clown.

Book recommendation: Sentinels of New Orleans by Suzanne Johnson. A delightful urban fantasy series set in and around the Crescent City. Entertaining and fulfilling book series. Look for my series review on the blog soon!

Last, but not least, is this clown clock. I’m proud to tell you that my dear father made it from colored glass pieces. He made it for me as a birthday gift many years ago. Needless to say, this is my most precious one.

Book recommendation: Counter-Clock World by Philip K. Dick is a unique sci-fi story in his inimitable style. Due to a bizarre scientific event, time moves in reverse, dead people return to life and “grow” into childhood, back into a womb, and pregnancy is ended with sex. Though it’s not one of his finest, the story clearly shows the author’s depth and reckless imagination. Quick, crazy read, especially if you are a fan.

Dear Saucy Readers, I hope you had fun reading about cheerful clowns, traveling around the world, and maybe finding a new story to read. Collecting my clown companions has brought me much happiness over the years, and I feel that in these times, we all need some lighthearted, merry moments to brighten our days.


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