Peggy Lammers is finishing up a book and continues to make caricatures she calls foundlings out of antiques.
On a recent morning, Peggy Lammers picked up a handful of squirrel fur off the ground.
Most people would toss, or even kick it aside, but for Lammers it was inspiration.
Lammers takes items from antique shops, flea markets, the Lord’s Warehouse at Longboat Island Chapel and the outdoors and upcycles them into caricatures she calls foundlings. She can’t pinpoint one moment when the idea to do this came to her.
“It was probably by accident that I thought, ‘Oh that looks like a whatever,’ and then really the stories sort of drove them for awhile, but I’ve sort of gotten beyond that,” she said.
When Lammers first started making the caricatures, she would write stories to go along with them. One of her favorite stories was about a girl she named Little Patina.
Little Patina, Lammers said, fell in love with a ringmaster who wooed her like he had many others. He promised to marry her, but then the circus took off in the middle of the night and Little Patina was left alone. Little Patina, whose head was made of a gourd, rode her unicycle, which Lammers made out of a pulley, and followed the circus from town to town looking for the ringmaster. All the while, she was pulling a little wagon with a white wedding dress in it.
Lammers ended up selling Little Patina, as she has with other work, but she mostly makes them for herself.
Her favorite type of caricature to make is dogs. She said old cameras, which she can easily find at flea markets, make the perfect body for the dog. Sugar bowls are another staple she keeps around. Currently, she has an industrial-sized whisk she plans to make into a hot air balloon.
And sometimes, she picks up items without even knowing what she’ll make. She said certain things just call to her.
“It’s what it is, not what I want it to look like,” she said. “It’s what it’s going to be.”
Because she sometimes isn’t sure what the caricature will be, she works on them intermittently. She estimates she’s made about 50 caricatures.
When she isn’t working on the caricatures, Lammers writes.
She is getting ready to publish her first book, which began with an essay she wrote in her last semester of college.
As the book opens, the protagonist is standing at his wife’s graveside. Together, the two were pillars in their community, but the plot culminates as a revelation is made.
“I drew a lot of stories from my own small town background, and when I visualize them in their home or on the street, I visualize my hometown, but it’s not intended to represent anyone that lives there,” Lammers said.
Lammers drew inspiration from her favorite book, “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” by John Irving. She remembers reading the revelation at the end and wondering how she could have ever missed it, which is what she hopes to achieve with her readers, but she still has dropped some “red herrings” throughout the book to divert the reader.
She has an idea for a second book, but she said, like she did with her first book, she would have to put herself in a character, and she isn’t sure she can. She said it’s a tragic story, and the characters would be real people, so she wants to visit them first.
“In my first manuscript, there were some characters I created into it, but it is not their story,” she said. “They are models for what I made them and their life in small town Iowa, but then this one involves a tragedy, and I’m not really sure I have the heart to write it.”
For the meantime, she’ll continue working on the caricatures and searching for inspiration.