I arrived in Canada at the ripe age of 19 with my new husband and very little experience of the world. I had no idea what to expect of Canada and not a clue what to do in the Winter months. We had moved to a small company village in Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron - a beautiful place, but awfully white and awfully cold in the winter. One day while I was staring out the window, pondering my new circumstance, a thoughtful neighbour rang my doorbell. She asked me if I had ever curled. "Well yes," I replied, "come on over and I'll do it for you any time you like". She shot me a perplexed expression and then realised that I had no clue what she was talking about. "Well, I don't mean hair', she said. "I'm referring to the sport - you know - the one they play on the ice where they throw rocks and sweep with brooms". This time it was my turn for the perplexed expression. What manner of country had I landed in where they throw rocks, expect to sweep them up with brooms and call it a sport?! Okay - long story short - it is a sport, and it's called "curling". I was willing to give it a go, and if nothing else, I met some great characters, but I learned that a curler, I was NOT!
Fast forward to many years later and I'd decided to make a series of characters of senior citizens enjoying their choice of recreation. My father-in-law used to have an expression, "Just because there's snow on the roof, don't mean the fire's out!" This provided the inspiration for this particular series. Around the same time, an artist acquaintance suggested I do an old-timer curler. He said he could get me in to Senior Men's Curling one Friday afternoon. Not to worry, he'd do the groundwork and all I had to do was show up with my camera. I'd be sure to find all the reference material I needed, he insisted.
So, show up I did, and sure enough, all the gentlemen curlers were expecting me. What a cast of characters! They were more than willing to explain the sport (I didn't want to spoil their fun by telling them that I was aware of the rules), show me their equipment & pose for photographs. I observed an assortment of styles, both in attire and in curling technique. Some of them used odd contraptions to to support themselves so that they wouldn't slip on the ice while throwing the rock. If a rock went seriously astray, the incident was usually met with good natured ribbing and while some of the old fellas had a bit of trouble keeping up with the rock moving along the ice, it was all in good sport and as much a social occasion as anything else.
Magoo is a composite of the Senior Men's Curlers. He's the Skip - the head of the team & the guy who tells his team-mates which way to spin the rock by holding a hand out to one side. He places his broom in the spot where he'd like the rock to be aimed. Magoo's eyesight is not what it used to be and he's got his fingers crossed because he's not totally convinced that he's making the right call.
The broom is made of wood & the rock is sculpted & painted. Magoo's glasses are handmade & the lenses (he wears bifocals) were created by carefully dipping the frames into clear varnish. The 'rink" has been scaled down in proportion to Magoo.
Footnote: I did take Magoo back to show the gents after he was completed. Each claimed he was the spitting image of so-and-so (several different candidates) and I, of course, agreed whole-heartedly and complimented them on their good eye!