Monday, December 3, 2018

Bjorn Wiinblad Head Vase Tutorial DIY

My cheaper version
The vase I missed out on! Anyhow, it looks top
heavy and would certainly be broken in Tootie
Pie's dance studio/my living room.
It was gone. I went to an estate sale where the Bjorn Wiinblad head vase I had so long coveted was being sold. I got there early, but not first, and a man had bought up most of the "good stuff", including my vase. My hate fire was strong, but I had already bought one of those ubiquitous FTD flower vases that were produced in the billions in the 80s and 90s. It was upside down when I saw it, and realized that it was the perfect shape for a head! So, here we go, it's my version of the vase!

This type of vase is available en masse
at your local charity shop! I'll stake my
thrifting reputation on it!
Step one
Since I needed to cut a hole in the bottom, this vase wouldn't be able to hold water, but I wanted to use Pampas grass since seeing it on my 50th birthday celebration in Block Island, so it wasn't a problem. If you want to put cut flowers, you'll need to line this with a real base, because mine is made of paper. So, I started with a base of papier mache, and then did a second coat. I usually do more with my pinatas, but the poor kids need a drill saw to open them, so I didn't go crazy. In retrospect, I should have sanded MORE at this stage, but I didn't, and I ended up doing more work later. So, sand it well now.

Step two
Then I cut a hole for the top of the vase. I had to cut through the plastic, since this was the bottom of the actual vase. I have a knife specifically for cutting through plastic, doesn't everyone! It gets burnt plastic gunk on it, so don't use a good knife!

Norwegiany is a word, yes?
Step 4 - Gesso
Then I got to the polymer clay. I burned the clay, but I love how it looked like terracotta! Unfortunately, I needed to cover this with white, so it wasn't a great thing for this project. I sculpted a nose and eyes, and, per some of the inspiration vases, flowers to make it look all Norwegian and crafty! I hot glued these onto the papier mache, and then got to the gesso. This step would not have been necessary had I just sanded, but I wanted to use my gesso. I coated and sanded and coated and sanded and coated and sanded. It got old. But, I persevered, and although I was sick and tired of the whole project at this stage (novelty worn off, full on grind mode), I stuck with it because surely each coat HAD to be the last. I lost count, I needed to. Finally, it was ready for the spray. I would make sure that it really is ready, though, because, although sanding spray paint is not a problem, reapplying spray paint to previously sprayed things yields a lovely craquelure finish, which is inappropriate on mid-century modern pottery! At this point it almost hit the trash, and if my attempt to save the project hadn't worked, it just might have. I had to cover it with school glue to kind of bind the edges of the paint to prevent whatever solvents were seeping under the finish and going rogue. The glossy finish took, finally, and I sprayed it with gloss, and I love it.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Mini Cardboard Dubrovnik

So cute! Tiny, tiny Croatian flags fly over the walled
city of Dubrovnik
That's a skeleton dunking a ball in the
center of the tie dye!
I had a good run, and I'm proud of myself. It seems that my teaching days are, if not over, then coming to a close. My favorite time of year would HAVE to be June, because observations are over and creativity can return. This year, my school decided on a world theme, and each academy got a continent. My academy got Europe, and I chose Croatia. It was the run-up to the World Cup, and
Croatia has been my soccer team since 1998, when I thought they looked like the 1996 Olympic Lithuanian basketball team, sponsored by Jerry Garcia. Those Croatian
Dubrovnik in place in front of my classroom celebrating all
9 of Croatia's contributions to society.
uniforms had to be donated by some third-rate graphic design team of the fledgling nation. Or, as it turns out, not. Those checkerboards were the heraldic symbol of Croatia, believe it or not! I love an underdog, so I was rooting for the new Lithuania: Croatia!

In any case, I chose Croatia, and we had so much fun. Thanks to the Croatian superstar, Luka Modric, my students recognized the flag (it features the checkerboard, so the branding works), and the centerpiece of our homage, a miniature Dubrovnik, was truly a group project. I gave the kids creative license to make a building, giving them an approximate size, and they went to town. We had painting and folding and sharpie-ing assembly lines, and I think the final product turned out amazing.

I will miss this type of thing. There is a lot that I will miss. There is also a lot I will not miss. But, now that I'm not in the trenches, I can forget about the pain and agony that went into my labor of love, and focus on the times that made me glad I tried my hand at teaching.

DIY Strawberry Costume

Trying on the dress for fit.
Another year, another costume. This year my Tootie Pie wanted to be a strawberry, and so I set to work on the design. We selected a dress from the local Salvation Army for, I think, $2.99. I wanted to buy a pair of brown leggings to go with it, but the price was unreasonable for something she would only wear a few times. I did some Pinterest searches and decided I would make a contrasting neck band, and some strawberry flowers on the head, and then did some template searches. I sized and printed on paper the leaves, seeds and flowers, and cut them out. I then traced the leaves and seeds onto thin cardboard from a cereal box, since I would be using those more than twice unlike the flowers. For the neck band, I used a t-shirt to attempt to get the sizing correct.

I used a t-shirt to get the neck
band around the right size.
Templates I used to cut the shapes
I made very fast progress on everything, until I got to the seeds. Something was daunting about this, but in the end it really didn't take that long. I tried to use fabric glue to attach the different shapes together, but the felt was absorbing it and it wouldn't stick correctly, so out came the glue gun. Tried and true. Since the dress was nice and I didn't want to ruin it, the seeds were pinned on, and the neck band was pinned on, as well. All in all, it was an easy DIY and I think it came out cute. It even won an award for "Most Creative Costume".

Friday, July 14, 2017

Revisiting History

Pixelated to protect Mr.
Wrong's identity.
Those of you in a relationship know that, oftentimes, your significant other will "rewrite history" during an argument. It's crazy making! If only things actually went down the way they say it did, there wouldn't have been a problem in the first place. Well, today, I decided to play that game, only I'm re-imagining my whole marriage. And I'm starting with the images.

So, there are many problems with my marriage photo. One, he's got his back to me. Two, he's not touching me. And, three, he's in the damn thing. I can't have that. So, I broke out the rusty Photoshop skills, and...

See, George Clooney was my man. For a looooooonnnnnggggg time. I think I watched this video enough times to recreate a shot-by-shot remake from memory alone. But, move over, Georgie, I got a new love! Chrissy-Chris-Chrisssssss! I adore his goofy nature, how excitable he can be over the smallest things, and, well, he's not bad to look at, either. And, guess what? We're married now, and the wedding photo is so much nicer! Am I concerned that, in the picture, his left arm is contorted grotesquely? No, because he would never say things like, "I said I'm sorry like a million times, and it wasn't good enough for you". Do I care that he has a greenish glow around him, as if he'd been exposed to an enormous amount of radiation? Heavens, no, because he got me the perfect engagement ring, AND bought me a pearl necklace to give me on the day we shared our nuptials, because he knew I was the best thing to happen to him, and he wanted to show his appreciation for my trust. No way would Chris say, 8 years after he promised me jewelry, "And what's in it for me?". Nuh-uh. Rich, funny, willing to do a pratt (get it?! a pratt!) fall to get a laugh. Ah, so much better!

Bring It!

I'm in the midst of a divorce, I'm struggling to keep my job, and my daughter's school is playing fast and loose and I'm taking them on, too.  I'm in a fighting mood, I tell you!  And I feel great, because I let myself get pushed around for too long.  I've turned the other cheek, now it's time to take an eye for an eye.

How do I stay positive when everything around me is coming down?  Well, there's my daughter, and I'd suffer any difficulty for her.  Plus, she's lovely, and brightens my days.  But, I can't look to an eight year old to bring me joy; that needs to come from within.

Regarding the battle I'm waging with my daughter's school, that is a no-lose situation for me, because the principal is not doing the right thing and knows it.  Easy to win.  Call the higher powers and things will get rectified.

On the relationship front, yes, day-to-day is pretty ugly, but I'm thinking long-term, and I know that in the end, I'll come out stronger and better. Just pulling off the band aid.

Now, for my job.  Ugh.  This will be the hardest of all.  I need to keep it, because I will soon become a single mother.  I have put out feelers to return to my old, more remunerative career, but giving up my summers is going to be a major sacrifice after 13 years with summers off.  I'm bit a lost here.  I don't know if being a teacher is worth fighting for.

But, in the end, my motto is "unreasonably happy", because, from one angle, there is very little reason to be in a good mood.  But, there's no dress rehearsal for life. This is it! And, I'm going to enjoy it, DAMMIT! So, C'mon! Who wants a piece? Because nothing's going to beat me!

EDITOR'S NOTE: I evidently wrote this post 2 years ago and never published it. I know this because Tootie Pie is now 10, and I've taught 15 years! But, still, this post is more applicable than ever!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Sweet George!


I'm still in shock. My lovely George Michael has, say it ain't so, DIED! A part of me has died as well.

This man, mmmmmmmmm, he could sing, he could move, and he was gorgeous. The Generation X equivalent of Elvis. And, in a similar fashion to the King, he did get a bit pudgy towards the end and, well, there could have been some drugs implicated, but, yeah, at their primes they could make the ladies swoon. Of course, the Boomers made a huge deal about their beautiful crooner. But we enjoyed ours without having to make him everything. But, he was everything. Everything smart, fun, emotional, and straddling the friendly/sexy line perfectly for a teen like me.

Yes, I miss Prince and his funkiness. Yes, Princess Leah was my style icon for a summer there. But they weren't MINE like George was mine. Perhaps there has always been a part of me that like the gay ones, even before they knew it, never mind. There will never be another. He was an angel - an imperfect angel - but as close to perfect as is possible to be, at least for me. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Paris vs. Beirut, All Lives Matter, Mais Nous Sommes Amis!

Merci pour votre amité, la France!
I'm not addressing the tragedy that occurred a week ago in Paris.  My love of Paris is fully documented, and the French people are the most lovely I have encountered.  No, there seems to be a petulant cry from some saying, what about our tragedy?  Why don't you care so much about us? Specifically, Beirut and Kenya.  It's because we're not white, right?  That's the only lens we see anything through, and so that's it.

The French people are, have been, and will continue to be our friends.  They have been our friends for a very long time; in fact, since before we were even a country.  They have been a long, true, dear friend of America, and friends are there for each other.  Because I am willing to sympathize with my close friends, does that mean I cannot empathize with acquaintances, or even people I do not know?  Of course not, but for our true friends, we will come over with a box of tissues and a patient ear.  And, so we sit and comfort our good friend, la France.

There is pain and suffering everywhere.  It is not that we don't care, but there is a term compassion burnout.  Well, if there isn't, there should be.  Close friends are there when we need them, as France was during 9/11, and we reciprocate now in their hour of grief.  It's what buddies do!


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