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wonders never cease Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Tale of Love & Mess

Once upon a time, Lucy and I saw a fetching papier-mâché head with a crown of flowers on a favorite blog and fell in love. What a perfect spring break project, we thought! Maybe we could even sell them! According to the directions, we just ("just" would later echo in our minds as we wondered how many different interpretations of "just" there are in the world) ... we just needed some styrofoam heads. Then we would just papier-mâché them, spray paint them, cut out the top, insert a vase, paint whimsical faces, add flowers, and voila! 

OK, let's break it down.

Step 1. OBTAIN STYROFOAM HEADS. Not messy or difficult, but storing a bunch of heads in your shoebox-sized home for a few weeks until you're ready to craft is .. well, interesting. 

Step 2. PAPIER-Mâché. It sounds so poetic and somehow delicate. It is MESSY. We were prepared. We papered over our table and we had plenty of pap(i)er towels on hand. But, still. MESS-y. Oh, and the paste that our beloved House That Lars Built recommended: a disaster, in our humble experience. Stick with the tried-and-true glue and water, friends.

Step 3. GO TO BED, wake up with a new attitude, get back on the Papier-Mâché horse. 

Step 4. SPRAY PAINT the heads. Yeah, you "just" spray paint your slightly gloppy, lumpy heads with glossy spray paint on a super windy, damp spring day. The wind blows the spray paint back in your face and all about your clothing. And by "your," of course, I mean "Joe's." (Thank you, Joe.)

Step 5. WAIT A FEW DAYS to forget about the spray paint incident.

Step 6. JUST CARVE OUT THE TOP OF THE HEAD, making an opening for the vase. I wish, oh I wish, we had filmed this process. Picture trying to clean up packing peanuts -- how they stick to your hands, your clothes, your floor ... everything but the trash bag you're trying to scoop them into. Now: imagine that times a billion as you release the tiny shards of the inside of the styrofaom head. The styrofoam brains, if you will.

Step 7. HIDE THE HEADS (they scare visitors) and wait a few weeks to forget about the styrofoam incident. You won't be able to forget, but you will approach with ingenuity and protection.

Step 8. WEARING PROTECTIVE GEAR and aided by an assistant armed with a vacuum cleaner, nozzle pointed into the head, just carve out the tops of the remaining heads. Insert cups -- HTLB suggest glass, we went with three variations: a Solo cup, a clear plastic wine glass, and a strofoam coffee cup. Each worked well.

Step 9. MAKE UP your ladies. HTLB suggests acrylic paint. I realized our acrylic color selection was pretty limited, so we went with water-based markers, which allowed smudging and blending, kind of like water-based make up. This was the most fun of all, and, in the end, we really love our Heddies. They've gone to live in the shop window for a while, and we will miss them. Oh, and, btw, if you'd like to buy them, we've figured out that they will cost about $382 each, all told (supplies, labor, flashbacks & medication ... ). No, but really -- it was just a lot of fun, and we are actually looking forward to making more. In due time.


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wonders never cease