Durban – Dawn Booth expresses her passion for craft work, recycling, the environment and education in a wonderland centred around two mice, Wally and Molly.
The homes of Wally and Molly are shining examples of recycling, which is a major part of her craft work.
The mice are also characters in Forest Hill resident Booth’s series of children’s books she wrote to encourage good values, expand vocabulary, encourage children to think for themselves and introduce veggie gardening and environmental awareness.
The mice’s homes are designed specially to exhibit how gardening can attract wildlife, how veggies can be planted and a multi-storey house with a waterwheel shows how power can be generated from moving water. Still to come on to the roof of the building that looks like an elf house are solar panels.
“If Wally and Molly can make a difference to the environment, any human beings can,” said Booth, who had just started taking her books and displays to schools before lockdown and now plans to resume.
Added to the package will be a visit to her garden, part of which is under wild grass that is consistent with the hilltop parts of the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, has a veggie garden divided into two sections – one for plants in a monkey-proof enclosure she built during lockdown and another, more exposed, for edibles that don’t interest our little primate cousins.
In one of her Wally and Molly books, which she illustrated with her paintings, are footnotes explaining things like how to make compost and the purpose of using mulch.
“It’s a gardening book with a difference.”
Characters other than mice include pompous buffoon Old Hamish the Hamster, and the kind and giving Mr Wagtail.
“People have to be careful around me,” Booth joked.
“I weave them into stories.”
Her books are targeted at 5 to 9 year olds.
Stories, illustrations and messages aside, Booth’s attention to detail has made it possible for her to furnish Wally and Molly’s doll house-style homes.
Bed linen is made from old wet wipes, tiny suitcases are made from little blocks of wood, the wiring around the lid of a champagne cork has become a Weber braai, cardboard from old egg trays have been made into wall tiles and biscuit packaging with a section of plastic through which consumers can see the sweet treats they may buy has made windows and frames.
“I don’t use a lot of natural stuff,” said Booth. “I don’t want to pull things off the trees in the garden.”
That ethic is evident outside, on her lemon tree, which has the parasite indigenous mistletoe growing on it.
“It’s adding more biodiversity to the environment,” she said, picking a lemon.
“Lemon trees are, after all, two a penny.”
Her displays will be included in the Indigenous Open Gardens in the Highway area on the weekend of June 5 and 6 through Booth’s project’s association with the Kloof Conservancy.
For further information, visit https://www.facebook.com/dawnboothbooks/
The Independent on Saturday