A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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Posts Tagged ‘reflector material’

Whirligigs in the Wind

Posted by lindamartinandersen on June 3, 2013

“Whirligigs in the Wind” by Linda Martin Andersen 

.A Writer's Playground Fotosearch_u17996074Thanks for visiting “A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

“A Writer’s Playground” would like to spotlight the whirligigs of Vollis Simpson, a celebrated whirligig artist, who recently died at age 94.   Last month, thanks to spectacular creations by this artist, whirligigs were named the official folk art of North Carolina.

Although Vollis Simpson of Lucama, North Carolina never received formal art training, he created whirligigs that caught the attention of museums in Baltimore, New York, the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and people all around the world. Wilson County will open the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in November 2013 in Wilson, North Carolina.  Restored whirligigs by Simpson will be on display. 

How did Simpson get started building whirligigs?

When  Simpson first began building whirligigs, he built one to power a washing machine and years later he designed one to power a heating system.  Once he retired, he created whirligigs for pleasure–inspired by his interests and memories.  For example, some whirligigs remind viewers of World War II and airplanes.  Fortunately Simpson’s influence will live on thanks to folklorist Jefferson Currie who has spent several years recording stories about Simpson’s life and art. 

Interesting trivia about the whirligigs: 

Vollis Simpson’s whirligigs are made of air conditioning parts, motor fans, cotton spindles.  Some are 50 feet tall and weigh up to 3 tons.  Many have 100s of moving parts.  Tiny pieces of reflector material enhance the whirligigs when lights shine on them.

What do we know about Vollis Simpson’s life? 

Vollis Simpson worked several jobs in his life.  He farmed, moved houses, operated a machine shop, and after retiring, he turned his business location into a whirligig shop.  Some thought Vollis Simpson was crazy to build such big whirligigs.  What do you think?  Please leave a comment below.

Check these sites for more information:







Please leave a comment about a favorite whirligig. 

Name something creative you have made.  Did anyone ever call you crazy for spending time making it?  How did you handle that?  What if Vollis Simpson had quit when he was first told he was crazy? 

Thank you for visiting “A Writer’s Playground.” Please come again soon.  Bring a friend. 

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

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