Thursday, May 28, 2009

DIY: Wedding Cake Topper

Husband and I got married three weeks after our "engagement". One thing I wish I could have done was a wedding cake topper that looked like us (have you ever noticed that the grooms NEVER have beards? I had to paint one on for him). So when it came time for my sister's wedding I offered to make a custom cake topper to look like the lovely couple. This took much more time and effort than I had imagined. I was lucky to find a friend of a friend who makes polymer clay dolls and who lend me some excellent books, including Katherine Dewey's "Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay" and Maureen Carlson's "Family and Friend's in Polymer Clay". Both good in their ways, Dewey's book much more life like and specific, Carlson's more playfool and less descriptive (in case you are looking for a review).

To demonstrate the scale I was working with, here are some eyeballs:

It is a good idea to make extras in case you loose them. I ended up using the ones without metal posts.

Next I made the heads. This took a really long time and I threw away quite a few of them before I figured out that I had to bake them with very new feature. Cheeks? Bake. Nose? Bake. Jaw? Bake. Eyelids. Bake. etc This way what you had been working so hard on did not get deformed by accident.

Then I added the torso. Same story, bake with every feature.


I made a whole in the woman's skirt to support the flowers. I also sheepishly added a hint of manhood to my future brother in law.

Here he is almost dressed.


My sister got some arms to hold the flowers. These came out really nice and had pretty fingers, which no one will be able to see.


Then my sister got a dress. I was very nervous about doing this because I had to match her actual wedding dress and because this was the most exciting part, in my opinion.

The last thing to be done were his arms and hands. Sadly I was so sick of these guys by now (over a month of almost daily work!!!) that when they didn't turn out so well I just didn't have it in me to fix them. So he is giant-hand-man. I did alter my sister's jaw line a bit at the last minute as you may be able to tell. I also painted them with acrylics to get rid of that slightly green color of the clay. The paint did not go on very smoothly, which was a disappointment to me. Nevertheless, I am pretty satisfied. They aren't perfect, nor do they look more than 70% like my sis and her fiance, but not bad for a first try.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Never a Dull Moment or Living with Husband

On my birthday I woke to find THIS in the bathroom:

It is a bucket, filled with water, sitting on a magnetic stirrer which is stirring the bubbling water while one of my nylons filled with manure hangs from a curtain rod. This is compost tea.

Our gardening plans are much more ambitious this year. We rent land from the university, $18 for about 500 square feet. This year we are renting three plots.

Husband converted our porch into a makeshift greenhouse, so seedlings were started indoors about two months ago.
Since the (hopefully) last frost was only yesterday, all our seedlings are still hanging out in our house. There is now very little room to maneuver.
You will notice, I think, a complete lack of cleanliness. While I initially tried to keep some kind of order in this household, I have since given up. I clean once a week, it is messy again within hours of me doing so. Oh and the Christmas tree is still up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cigarettes, Red Square and the Himalayas

Notes on recent Russian trip.
April 4th, 2009.
Saturday.

Mom and I both woke up at insane-o'clock (3am, 5am, that sort of thing). My aunt and uncle both smoke, which creates something of a gas chamber effect in the apartment. Whether because of the smoke, the travel or the lack of sleep I had a massive headache all day (and for the next three days). Not like the air outside was particularly fresh either - car exhaust, smog and just dirt in the air. My first impression of my motherland - it smells.

First rays of sunshine over Moscow (and they were promising rain and snow. ha!)

Went to the State Historical Museum, which is located on the Red Square. Was very impressed by the depth and breadth of Russian history, but I really wish we had had someone with us who could have given us a bit of a tour. One cool thing that sticks out in my memory - some of the earliest examples of Cyrillic writing are still intact on birch bark of all things. Also cool was a huge globe in which lands that were not yet explored where left blank, so you would see the occasional unattached shore line and then white space.


Had lunch at a cafeteria type restaurant called Moo Moo. The place was decorated a bit like a log cabin, and had a lot of ambiance.

Cathedral of Christ the Savior, built on donations, destroyed by the Soviets and replaced with a giant public outdoor heating pool, rebuilt by the Russian.

Then the Roerich Museum. Renowned for his spiritual philosophies and explorations of Asia, his artwork is most memorable for the strong presence (or source) of Light.

Guests from Overseas, 1901


Watch on the Himalayas, 1925 (my favorite, but doesn't seem to reproduce well)

I actually really enjoyed the portraits done by his son, Svetoslav, but I am having a much harder time finding examples of his work online.

Pundit Neru, 1942

Young woman in yellow headdress, 1930

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Explosive meds, Quantum of Silence and Kid with Anger Management Issues

Notes on recent trip to Russia.
April 2nd and 3rd

As I stated somewhere before, the actual business of traveling is way overrated. Since I was flying out of a tiny little airport I did not have to stand in line to check in, but then again there was no check in counter, nor an attendant to actually do any checking in. Security was in high form though. They took me and my Emetrol (4 oz!!! of anti-nausea meds) aside to get tested for explosives. I offered to take a little gulp but they just waved their little testing strips over it.

The first flight was packed with a retired people tour group going to Rome and the plane itself was making some very non-reassuring noises throughout the flight (a kind of random banging in the isle next to my seat. Any ideas? Even the other passengers noticed it.) It was also late, which was unfortunate because I had a very tight connection and the international flight was conveniently boarding at the completely opposite end of the terminal in DC. Fortunately my mother was already there, keeping the plane from taking off without me.

Even after I was on board the plane sat there for an hour waiting for "international documents", but I fully expect a plane to sit on the tarmac for at least an hour after it's scheduled departure time, so this was no biggy. And besides, the flight was an hour shorter than expected (only nine hours), and I got to watch "Quantum of Solace" without sound (thank you, United).

Mom and I both took 2 Tylenol PM each. She slept comfortably through most of the flight, I sat awake but dazed while a little kid behind me alternated pulling on my hair and punching me with his fists (until he fell down and split his lip, and then he bled on me for a change). Please, someone, invent the transporter already.

My aunt and cousin picked us up at the airport and drove us to their flat. Here then is my first view of Moscow.


After some snacking I passed out and slept for a few hours. I woke up in time for dinner. My other cousin got home by then, and so did my uncle. And that, of course, is the reason to endure all this traveling.