Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oscar, Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?

Ding dong! You're wrong! –Oscar the Grouch

Oscar is Sesame Street's resident grouch. He lives in a trash can between the 123 Sesame Street building and Big Bird's nest. He detests kindness, cleanliness and sweetness. He is especially annoyed by children who play in front of his trash can. Oscar is the ultimate pessimist — he's only happy when he's miserable. He enjoys yelling at people to go away, but is unsatisfied when they do because there's nobody left to yell at.

Oscar the Grouch was inspired by a grumpy waiter who served Jim Henson and former Sesame Street director Jon Stone at a New York restaurant called Oscar's Tavern. The waiter was so grouchy that Jim and Jon actually found him amusing and this waiter's attitude was the basis for Oscar the Grouch. Another unwitting New Yorker also helped to make Oscar who he is. On his way to the first day of performing Oscar, a Bronx cab driver asked Caroll Spinney, "Where to, Mac?" His gruff, gravelly voice helped Caroll to develop Oscar's voice.

More Grouchy Oscar Facts:
Birthday: February 3
Age: 43
Favorite song: “I Wanna Hold Your Trash”
Favorite expression: “Scram!”
Pets: Slimey the worm and Fluffy the elephant
Favorite food: anchovy milkshakes
Likes: collecting junk, standing in line, arguing, rainy days
Dislikes: rainbows, candy, niceness

How Oscar Came to Be

Part I: Oscar Abandoned
After waking up with a Sesame Street quilt in my head almost two weeks ago, I pulled out my stash of Moda Marbles and got to work {see also, Elmo}. I love the slight texture and color variations in the fabrics, which is more interesting than a solid fabric and less overwhelming to the design of these blocks than a print would be. In addition to about a dozen half-yard cuts in bright, cheerful colors, I had left about half of the jelly roll I used for my Grandpa's quilt, which had jewel and earth tones in it. In those left-overs was the perfect Oscar-the-Grouch-green. I had two strips, which is just a smidge more than an eighth of a yard and it contrasted perfectly with the pale lavender background fabric I'd picked.

Things were going swimmingly and I finished 7 out of 10 of the pieces last Friday and had them all together when it was time to stop for bed. Saturday morning while I was getting ready for the day, I decided that I'd better measure to make sure the block was the right size because in thinking of the completed Elmo block and the Oscar black, he seemed smaller. And he was. He was a full inch smaller than he should have been.

I knew that I absolutely did not have enough left of the green that I was using to make another block. I considered adding a little a border out of the background fabric all the way around the block to make it the right size. But I knew that it would look like I'd made the block too small and then added the border to make it the right size, so that plan was out almost before it was even considered. I thought about cutting away as much green fabric as possible from the too small block to make a larger block, but I knew that wouldn't work either. It was back to the drawing board.

Part II: Oscar Reborn
I looked up pictures of Oscar to really get his color in my head and then I weighed my options. OK. I obsessed. A lot. The Sesame Street Style Guide, which I had come across when searching for images of the characters, is very specific about which colors should be used for each character when they are represented in works of art. Oscar is supposed to be bright green. But that perfect, dark Oscar-the-Grouch-green was stuck in my head. I loved how it contrasted with the background fabric. And I loved the subtle variations in the color which reminded me of Oscar's fur. It was exactly the shade of the real live Oscar.

Frustrated, I compared my bright green Moda Marbles to the style guide. Bright green Oscar was just not working for me. I wanted to find some more of the exact shade of darker green I'd been using. I browsed on-line to see if I could figure out which green Marble I had so I could order more, but lacked confidence that the colors on my screen were the colors I'd be getting in the mail. I paced up and down in front of the same two shelves at the quilt shop for 30 minutes, willing one of the bolts of Marbles they carry to turn to the right color. I found something similar and took it home, but it didn't look as good with the lavender background. Unwilling to give in to bright green Oscar, I experimented with different background colors. I couldn't find anything I liked. Oscar in true-to-life green was not working out. I relented. Bright green Oscar it was. And I made sure to make him at the right size.

Part III: Oscar in the Quilt
When I started blocks for this quilt, I had the general layout planned in my head. But as I finished up Oscar, with his deep purple background, I realized that I needed a virtual layout so that I could put the blocks in their spots to see how everything was working together. It wasn't until I had Oscar in his spot that I stopped obsessing over true-to-life green Oscar and embraced bright green Oscar. The darker green with the pale background would not have fit quite right in the quilt. Bright green Oscar's more vibrant fur and background fit perfectly. Thank you Sesame Street Style Guide.

Pattern by Michelle Thompson
Piece Count: 99
Block Size: 10"
Moda Marbles: Chameleon, Passion Purple, Paper Bag & Flag Red
Kona Cotton: Snow & Black


Christine M said...

Oscar and Elmo look great Elizabeth.

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

LOVE it! How cool is that. You should design your own paper piecing patterns.

Julie said...

Who is this quilt for? It looks like it will be great!

Diane N said...

Oh my gosh...Elmo and Oscar are AWESOME! You have done a great job!

Paulette said...

Wow, your piecing is incredible! Did you create that PP pattern? What a fun quilt this is going to be! I can't wait to see the other ones as you create them.

Cherie said...

looks like it's going to be a great quilt! Can't believe he's that old! =D

Shay said...

I want this quilt ! You're so talented. I couldnt paper piece my way round this one even with instructions!

Jill said...

I was thinking that I liked the half finished Oscar better, too. But the bigger/brighter one looks great next to Elmo.
Oscar is one of my favorites.
Maybe you should still finish the darker Oscar and do something else with it--like sew it onto a fabric bag or something! That would be cute! He's too good to throw out.