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The Tale

What follows is a very detailed explanation of my creative process for this fly.  For a more abridged version with more images and less text, begin with The Final Assembly and view the subsequent three pages.


The Brothers Grimm fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin begins with a poor man who meets the king of his land and wants to appear important.  He lies to the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold.  The king, in his greed, has the girl confined in his castle in a room full of straw, ordering her to spin it into gold or die.  Once alone, the girl, who has no such ability, begins to sob.  Suddenly, a little man appears and asks why she’s crying.  After learning of her predicament, he tells her that he will spin the straw into gold for her in exchange for her necklace.  She agrees, and he performs the task for her.

Hookpoint MacroIn the morning, the king is impressed, but the sight of all the gold only makes him greedier.  The next night, he confines her to a bigger room with more straw in it than the first, and again threatens her with death if she cannot spin it into gold.  Again, she sobs, again the little man appears, and again he agrees to spin the straw into gold for her, this time in exchange for her ring.  (What a man who can spin straw into gold wants with a necklace and a ring is left for the reader to wonder.)

In the morning, the king is again impressed, and this time makes the girl one last, more attractive, deal – spin an even larger roomful of straw into gold and become his queen.  Lest the king be thought suddenly benevolent, however, the authors explain that the king only wants her as his wife because of the wealth she would provide him.  Again, she sobs, again the little man appears, and again he offers to spin the straw into gold for her.  This time, however, she has nothing to give him in return.  So the little man makes her promise to give him her firstborn child after she becomes queen.  Seeing no alternative, she agrees.

A year later, now the queen, she gives birth to a child.  The little man, long since forgotten, suddenly appears to claim the child.  The queen is horrified and begins to weep so much that the little man feels sorry for her.  He tells her that if she can guess his name within three days, she may keep her child.  She spends the night trying to think of as many names as possible, and even sends a servant out to the townspeople to make a list of every name he can.  The next day, she guesses every name on her list, but none of them are right.  That night, she sends out more servants to more remote areas to search for more names.  The second day, she guesses the strangest, most unusual names, but none of them are correct.  On the third day, a servant returns and reports that, while he hasn’t found any more names, in his travels he came to the top of a mountain, where he found a cottage with a fire burning in front of it.  Around the fire danced a curious little man, screeching:

            Today I’ll brew, tomorrow I’ll bake.

            Soon I’ll have the queen’s namesake.

            Oh, how hard it is to play my game,

            For Rumpelstiltskin is my name!

When the little man comes before the queen on the third day expecting to claim his prize, the queen instead correctly guesses his name, sending Rumpelstiltskin into a rage.  He gets so mad he rips himself in two.


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