So, what's at the Warthers Museum? Ernest "Mooney" Warther was a carver. He made pliers out of wood as souvenirs for children (which I don't have any pictures of, oops) and started a company making knives. And later on he started carving some really extraordinary things, which happily I do have pictures of.
This is the lock on Mooney's workshop, I just liked the colors and textures here : )
And there's the original (tiny) workshop. The museum is built right alongside, and there's a window where you can see into the workshop but I don't think I looked.
Just because it's cute, the little decorations in front of the museum. The pumpkin says "Jens" on it; Jens is the cat who lives at the museum.
So, what did Mooney make other than knives and wooden pliers?
How about a model of the steel factory he used to work in. Click on the photo to see it bigger, it really is incredible. And it moves! The little dudes in front go back and forth, and there's a guy on a bench in the back (look under that person's hand, he's just below that) and he eats a sandwich. There's a guy who falls asleep on the job and another one who drinks from a bottle of "buttermilk" (yeah right, it's whiskey, I mean not actual whiskey because there's no liquid, but I bet the original dude in real life wasn't drinking buttermilk).
Mooney's wife was also an artist; she collected thousands of buttons and used them to make geometric designs on something kinda like foam board. There's a tiny little building that's all covered on the inside with her designs, I remember one that had horse shoes that was pretty. They kind of remind me of quilting patterns.
And because I am a stitcher, I had to go around the back of this one and see what the back of her pieces looked like.
Ok, so the steel factory was pretty cool (I mean, it was way cooler than it looks in that one single photo, I promise), but what I'm going to show you next is really, really cool.
Mooney carved the history of steam trains. And a lot of these, if not all, move as well. The website says he started out using walnut and bone for his designs, but later moved on to ebony, ivory (like piano keys), and pearl.
Here's a thought to really blow your mind: see the letters on the side of the train, and on the base? They're inlaid in the wood. So he carved the letters out of ivory or bone, and then he carved the same shape out of the wood and fitted the letters into it.
And on this one he did the letters IN CURSIVE.
Sorry there's a glare in the glass on this display case, but it's the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln. And if you can see in the tiny windows, the seats have red upholstery on them. Mooney took a nail and scraped fuzz off some velvet curtains that his wife had in the attic for winter and used that to make upholstery for the seats. Mrs. Mooney was not best pleased.
Some of the later trains he did completely out of ivory. They said the ivory was all "responsibly sourced" and that elephants weren't slaughtered just to get the ivory, supposedly it was harvested from elephants who expired of natural causes. Not sure I believe that, but I'm fairly sure Mooney wasn't gallivanting about Africa trying to shoot an elephant in his pajamas.*
The level of detail on these is just staggering. Our tour guide told us that engineers from real-life steam trains looked at them and everything that you can see is accurate down to the tiniest detail. Except they don't make trains out of ivory.
The tour ends at the knife factory and the gift shop, but we didn't buy any knives. Lee thought about it though, I think he picked up a catalog.
After we left the museum, we drove a little ways down the road to the wee town of Sugarcreek.
Home of the world's largest cuckoo clock, I kid you not. And lucky for us, we arrived just a few minutes before the hour so we got to see it in action.
But getting both of them at the same time wasn't a good picture. So anyway, Sugarcreek is quite tiny; we were hoping to get some lunch there but couldn't find any restaurants so back to the car we went. Basically this "tourist" area of Sugarcreek has the clock and then a half a block of buildings mocked up to look like an Alpine village, and that's it.
And also one weathered Coca-Cola sign. That's it for this edition of Snapdragon, cheers peeps!
*It's a Marx Brothers joke. Look it up, I ain't esplainin'.