Sunday, June 24, 2012

Paper Mache Fish - Step 3 - Attaching Front to Back

In this step, I'm attaching the front pieces of the fish body and tail to the back pieces of the fish body and tail.  I've been lax in posting this because I realized my fish has a design flaw, and I'm worried I won't be able to compensate for it.  You see, I should have made the body and tail as one piece - i.e., body/tail front, body/tail back.  By making the tail separately from the body, I'm most likely making the area that connects the body to the tail a weak point.  I've come up with a few ideas for  remedying this situation, but if you're just reading and contemplating making a fish, do what I didn't do and connect the tail to the body right from the start.

So to begin this step, I assembled my basic pieces - I also used a few very large rubber bands and a small cardboard box to aid in the assembly that are not pictured here - you'll see how I use them later on.

First, trim the rough edges so they more closely resemble the shape you want.  This is not a precise operation, you just want to make sure they will fit together as nicely as possible.  Do this for both the tail pieces and the body pieces (or, if you are the type that reads directions BEFORE assembly, you will have just one front piece and one back piece - hurray for you, you overachiever!)

This is where my extra large rubber band came in SO handy...  you don't want your two pieces slipping and sliding around after you begin putting the gluey paper mache strips on them...  that would be a great, big YIKES.

 I put a wadded paper napkin in between the two pieces where I wanted there to be some separation - in this case, where the tail will attach to the fish.  You can use the same idea in any location where the pieces aren't laying flush with each other, or if you need to elevate a section.  

Now, begin adding connecting strips of paper mache around the edges...

Make them as smooth as you can to avoid fixing the bumps later on.

I worked for as long as possible with the rubber band on - it helped to keep everything in place.

I kept this end open so that I could slide this over one end of the fish, but as you know, on any future fish, I would make it all one piece...

Walla.....  time to dry.

For the fish body, after trimming excess paper off the edge, I bent the wires around the edges to attach the front to the back.   I added this craft wire with another layer of paper mache after the first layer had dried.  I'm not really sure this was necessary, but what the heck.

This time I found an appropriately sized box that I could stand my fish in while I was working on it.  I didn't have a rubber band large enough for this piece.

It was a little difficult to get the wire bent extremely flat, but I think it will still help make it stronger in the end.

Next stage of fish production:  attaching the tail to the body.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why I Hate Deer...

Today's breakfast menu for discerning deer - Stella Doro Day Lilies  

This is a nice patch of Stella Doro day lilies in my backyard.  Oh, you only see one flower there?  What?  You want to know what all those stalky looking things are?  They're the STEMS of my day lilies.     I say STEMS because the damn neighborhood deer ate the heads off the flowers. 

I hate deer.  

My day lilies should look like this right now...

When we first moved into this house, the driveway was lined with small boxwood hedges.  The neighbors told us how they used to watch the deer eat the hedges when the previous owners lived here.  They used to look out their windows and laugh - oh how cute the deer were, and too bad they had a taste for boxwoods.  

I thought it was funny myself, not caring much for the boxwood hedge (it was a driveway, not a knot garden in the Queen's backyard) and not yet understanding the futility of fighting with the deer.  

Now, I get it.  

I love plants, and yet, I hate babying them.  I like to plant them, water them a bit, and be done with it.  Since this is my gardening style, plants like roses do not typically make their way into my yard.  I also have extremely sandy soil, lots of shade and no sprinkler system.  I have discovered certain plants that just love my style of gardening (the fend for yourself style):  day lilies, hostas, hydrangeas.  

Salad bar selections for deer.

As the years have gone by, I've tried: 

1. spraying the plants with Deer Off (expensive stuff, necessitating a do-over whenever it rains), 

2. hanging shiny things amongst the plants (my deer are to smart for that crap - either that, or they are also part Italian, and instead of fearing it, they just appreciate a little bling in their surroundings)  

3. sprinkling the garden with garlic powder and/or cayenne pepper or, in a pinch, Taco seasoning (with minimal success, although it sure does overpower the smell of flowers!)

4. placing tufts of dog hair around the garden (they must be laughing at me behind my back when I do this... maybe we're talking about wild deer?  Mine are surely jaded suburbanites)

5. chasing after them, waving long sticks

6. throwing rocks at them to scare them off (again, is that deer laughter?)

7. fencing the yard (I recently proposed to my husband that we top off the 4 foot split rail fence with another 4 feet of fencing on top so the deer won't be able to jump over it.  He asked me if I was crazy.)

I thought about getting one of those motion sensor water jet items, but it's somewhere in the range of 100.00, and I'd need a bunch of them - along with a bunch of hoses, and it seems ironic that I would spend that much effort thwarting the deer when I'm unwilling to put in that much effort to water the plants.  

The only thing that works reliably is this:

... fencing that completely covers the plant the deer like...

Although, if your fence does not COMPLETELY cover that plant, you may get this:

nibbled portions of my Lady in Red Hydrangea I discovered this morning.  

Every month or two, when I'm up getting ready for work and the sun is just coming up, I'll spot a deer in the yard eating my plants and it makes me absolutely nuts.  When our old dog was still alive, I would rip open the back door and tell him, "Get the deer, Nyles, GET THE DEER!!"  He would tear out after them, chasing them to the back fence where they would easily hop over and stand just a few yards off in the woods and stare at him.  If I spot them and they're close, I'll chase after them myself, but it's mostly out of rage rather than a true hope of catching and giving them a good swat.  If my dog can't catch them, I haven't got a prayer.  

About eight years ago, I had a spectacular vegetable garden.  I had planted a whole host of things in it, and my husband was watering it every day. Knowing our deer problem, we had surrounded the whole garden with "deer fencing," which is a heavy netting we stretched across poles we had placed around the perimeter.  

Around 11:00 one night in early August, when the corn was growing high, the tomatoes were ripening and the watermelon was growing to be a nice size, I happened to hear something out in the garden.  I shined a flashlight out the window of the second floor and saw three pairs of glowing eyeballs peering at me from deer-head height in the center of the garden.  I stuck my head out the window...


They had the audacity to just stand there and stare at me.

I was FURIOUS.  I ran outside in my pajamas, waving a stick in my hand. 

"HEY!  SHOO!!!" I shouted again.  

They ran a few yards away, back through the ripped garden fence and just over the backyard fence.  I thought I might have won the battle that night.

I went back in the house and 15 minutes later, I checked out the window again.  The same three sets of eyes peered up at me from the garden again, but this time, when I ran outside waving my sick, they actually SNORTED at me, as if to say, 

EXCUSE me, can't you see that we're EATING?

I threw the stick end over end like a throwing ax, and they sprinted a couple of steps away, as if saying, 

Hey, lady, it's dark out, and we know you're going back inside any minute...

I threw a couple of rocks at them, which accomplished absolutely nothing, since I'm pretty awful at sports.  

I went back in the house, defeated. 

The next morning, I inspected the damage.  The garden looked like Mount St. Helen's after the volcano erupted - nothing horizontal was left at all - just the vertical stalks of the corn, and stems of the tomatoes.  Somehow they had discovered if they stood on their hind legs, they could rip the plastic fencing with their hooves, and so they had managed to get in.  

You may have won that battle, deer, but I'll be back...  

I'll be back... 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Paper Maché Fish - Step 2 - Covering the Armature and Making the Tail

After covering each of my wire fish sides with a layer of dry paper toweling, I then covered each of them with a layer of wet paper maché.  Even though I live in a fairly humid climate, our damp, humid late-spring days have been intermingling nicely with dry breezy days, and those are perfect for drying paper maché.  When I run into a soggy day, I place my newly covered pieces in the basement on a wire rack right next to the dehumidifier. It's been working perfectly.  

As you can see in the pieces above, the large grid wire showed through the first layer of paper somewhat - I remedied this by folding up appropriately sized small squares of paper toweling and placing them neatly into the low spots before I added on my second coat.  Next time I'll use my good old friend the chicken wire to cover the rough shape.

For the fish tail, I cut up a 1 gallon plastic milk container and applied a layer of paper maché to the inside of one piece in a triangle shape.  

Just a note about this, though.  I decided to make two molds of the tail so I can attach them together to give the tail some depth so it's not completely flat.  The first layer came off easily, even though I didn't coat the plastic with anything prior to starting, however, the second layer not only stuck, but it didn't seem to dry as nicely.   In light of that, don't cheap out - use a fresh container every time.

In anticipation of attaching the two sides together, when I put on the second layer, I added a edging of thin, craft wire in a spiral to one of the sides.  I am hoping this will give some strength to the seam.  Now that the second layer is dry it seems to be pretty secure, but initially I wasn't sure it would work. 

After it was completely dry, detaching the paper maché from the armature was easy.  I just pulled off the tape that was holding the piece of dry toweling over the edges, and then pulled gently...

Ah... success!

The next step will be putting these two sides of the fish together, along with the two sides of the tail...  I'm not sure if I'm doing that in two separate steps or one, great big step where I enlist the help of one of the kids (as I did in this picture) to hold it together while I apply the paper maché strips. 

Oh, and my girl wants the two of us to make her teacher a paper maché mermaid as an end of the year gift.  

We dream big!

Stay tuned!!