Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paper mache face mask - reconstructive surgery

When I last showed you my paper mache mask, it was still pretty crooked here and there - larger cheek on one side, more sunken eye, no upper lip.... basically, his facial symmetry was a mess, so this weekend I did a little reconstructive surgery.  Last night in the kitchen, I applied scrunched up table napkins to the hollows of the face and then added my friend, Bounty paper towels, to smooth it all out.  While I was doing this, my huband passed through the kitchen on his way our of the garage.

"What are you doing?"  What was he getting at, exactly?  He's seen me up to my elbows in flour and water from before we even went on our first date.

"Making a mask."

"For what?"

"For the hell of it," I said.

"Ah, cause you've got to much free time to kill?"

"Yes, exactly, I have too much free time on my hands." 

When I was done, I put a load of laundry in the dryer, and put Mr. Mask on top.  In the winter, when it's dry enough in the house to crack your skin, this works really well, but in the fall, when it's raining like Noah is planning to take his ark out for another spin, it's not such an effective method. Mr. Mask was pretty much dry today, except for his rather large nose.  If you paint before your item is completely dry, you risk a cave in or worse, MOLD, so today I put him in the oven for a while on WARM with the door open.  I put the heat on for about 3 minutes, and then turned it off for about 10 to 15 minutes.  After about an hour there was much improvement.  I gave Mr. Mask a white base coat tonight, you know, with all the free time I have, and maybe tomorrow, after trick-or treating, I may begin his paint job. But you know, I don't like to fill up all my free time with too many activities, so it may have to wait till Tuesday night. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paper Mache Face Mask

In celebration of Halloween, I'm showing you a picture of a paper mache face mask I've been working on.  It looks a little flat from this angle, but it's not as flat as it looks. Looks a bit like a Stonehenge face, doesn't it? (It was not my intention.) It's been so damp outside I'm having a devil of a time getting it to dry. In this picture, it's still damp.  I last worked on this two days ago, and as of this morning, the cheeks were STILL not dry, so I put it on top of the dryer in the basement and dried a load of socks (I also have a dehumidifier down there, so I'm sure that helped.  Magically, this morning, it was dry.  I'm going to work some more on this over the weekend, and for the next one, I'm going to use a technique I saw on youtube - the guy covered a bunch of balloons of varying sizes and then after they were dry he cut them apart and had some very nicely rounded sections - even dupicates for opposing body parts, such as shoulders, or in this case, cheekbones. 

I'll keep you posted.   

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Worry, Stress and a Crisis of Confidence

I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting I was a worrier from the day I was born… ‘When is my next meal coming? My diaper is wet!  Where’s mom?  Am I crying enough?  Am I crying too much?’  My worry and stress are circular things – each both causes and results in the other, and after the two of them do the dog-chasing-tail routine long enough, it almost invariable leads to a crisis of confidence.
Everyone has their moments of worry and stress but mine seem to be the creation clay of my personal nemesis, who aims her arrows with unfailing accuracy at my unique Achilles heels (yes, I have more than one) – no matter how miniscule.  I am, in short, my own harshest critic.  As a kid, I had looked forward to being because I thought I would finally have it all figured out.  Well, I am an adult, but I do NOT have it all figured out.  Still, I’m working on my nemesis.  We do battle at least a couple of times a week and I guess you could say I’m making slow, steady progress.   It’s just a fact, however, that there are those of us who punish ourselves for our failings more than society does, and then there are those of us you couldn’t beat the confidence out of with a big, wooden stick (…and there are those out there on whom I’d love to try out this theory).  I am convinced that strength of confidence is more nature than nurture. 
Why, if it’s not a huge chunk genetic, do I see my kids struggling through the same battles? Shouldn’t they at least have the advantage of starting with the confidence level that I’ve struggled so hard to achieve throughout my life?  I’ve been told by many people that I’m a calm, laid back sort of mom so I don’t think their struggles are a reaction to my demands.  They are so sensitive – their feelings are so easily hurt.  “Why didn’t I make the chorus, Mom?”  “Mom, I can’t spell in English, how am I going to spell in Italian?” I try to calm them down, and bolster them up.  I try to get them to see things as they really are, instead of how they look through in the harsh-critic mirror.  I'd prefer to don some armor and slash through armies for them like Joan of Arc, but all I can do is support their efforts and wait for their skins to toughen. 
It sure would make me feel better to beat one of those confident guys with a stick, though. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Good Chores (vs. bad chores)

There are certain chores that are more fun than the others.  This weekend, my son discovered that driving the tractor is one of them.  We had a HUGE pile of logs in the backyard that needed to be split for use in the wood stove this winter, and this was the weekend we picked to split them.  Now, at first thought, you might be tempted to say that sitting on the couch watching reruns of The Real Houswives of New Jersey might be more fun than stacking a monstrous pile of wood, but if you did, you'd be wrong.  There is something pleasantly satisfying about seeing the woodshed go from empty to full in the space of an afternoon...  something pleasantly monotonous about splitting the wood...

loading it into the wagon on the back of the tractor...

...and driving the tractor around to the front of the house where you or someone else then unloads it and stacks it in the woodshed.  It is what I believe, and I know it is what my son believes as well.  How do I know this?

Because I heard him singing several rounds of "Home, Home on the Range" at the top of his lungs as he drove around back for another load.

Hope you weekend was a good one, too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The return of the Halloween Idiot

So now that it's October, of course, I'm wondering, what should I be for Halloween?  Nevermind the kids - they like to dress up for Halloween, but they prefer to look through a catalogue and know exactly what their costumes are going to look like.  Me, I like to dream big, and dangerously.

Actually, I start obsessing about a costume some time during the summer.  I never actually start making one then cause I am a procrastinator at heart, but I do start scanning the horizons, looking for ideas that appeal to me.  Last year, I thought I might want to be Poison Ivy from the Batman franchise (Played by Uma Thurman in the movie...  I really wanted to make those crazy leaf eyebrows...) but now, the thought of wearing all green from top to bottom and possibly looking like the jolly green giant... I wore a green suit to school one day when I was teaching and one of my ninth graders said I looked like the jolly green giant...  Did I?  and more to the point, do I want to again? Anyway, that was one idea, and then I thought of Mother Nature. Somewhat timely with the hurricane, I thought, but then I run the very real risk of no one knowing what the heck I am.  Nah, I'll pass on that.

The other day I saw a commercial with a Chinese New Year Dragon costume in it, and I thought, hey, GREAT idea.  I could make a giant paper mache head, decorate it like crazy, and attach a long sheet with semi-circular wire forms on sticks to form the body, and it would look AWESOME.  The problems with that are: 1.  I need some extra people to hold up the body for it to function like a Chinese New Year Dragon, 2. paper mache = time consuming, 3. takes up lots of space.  I'm not ruling it out, though.  Wouldn't it be so cool?

Oh, then there's this other problem.  My husband wants us to be Sonny and Cher.  I don't want to be Sonny and Cher.  Of course, the first time he suggested this, I thought he wanted to be Cher, and he wanted me to be Sonny. I guess was thinking of a former boss of mine and his wife, that boss whom I credit for encouraging my Halloween idiocy, and if anyone reading this used to work with me, you know exactly who I'm referring to.  Anyway, no, my husband was thinking of a more conventional Sonny and Cher, but I still told him that I am not dressing up in those ghastly 70's outfits - no way.

So today I went to the fabric store for some inspiration.  I thought I'd check out the fabrics and see if anything spoke to me.  I saw some great stuff.  I always go for the textured fabrics like crushed velvet, brocade, and other 10.00 a yard plus fabrics.  Check them out:

At first when I saw these I was thinking of the dragon costume.  There was some nice gold panne there that I could have made scales out of, but that material is a real pain to work with - I've used it before.

I just love this fabric.  It almost makes me want to make some kind of Asian costume just so I can use it. 

Then I saw this little group, the colors of which are not done justice by my crappy photo...  too much red in the photo - maybe if I had the black swatch in the photo it would have turned out better...?

Just for the heck of it, I went over and started leafing through the pattern books (14.00 a pattern -YIKES!).  This one looked fun, although, I'm not sure exactly what she's supposed to be.  I noticed that none of them have titles...  I guess it's supposed to be left to your imagination what you are?  It goes with all the opulent fabric, though, doesn't it?  Looks like she's a covered up belly dancer. 

And then I saw a costume for Red Riding Hood and I thought, oh, that would be fun...  I could use the red crushed velvet for the cape, and when I got home later and googled pictures from the most recent movie, they showed her wearing an off-white and/or light blue dress - perfect - I can use that stuff I loved in the picture above (that should be about 60.00 worth of fabric !)  or I can use that black and red stuff...   I tried to pitch being a wolf to my husband. 

decisions, decisions...

Oh yeah, and I have to find a party to wear it to.