Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bunny Threats, Art Undertakings and Rambling...

I'm sure that those of you who don't know me in real life (come for a visit- I'd love to meet you!) probably have guessed I'm pretty crafty. I don't mean wily or sneaky...I'm frankly terrible at that- but I mean I love to make stuff- cooking, arts, crafts, and so forth. And if ever anyone asks me "is there *anything* you can't do?" I answer them honestly..."yes, I can't make bread turn out right and I can't do calculus." Someday soon I'm going to take another crack at bread. Calculus I'm going to leave to the professionals. But if anyone ever asks me what my favorite art media is I can guarantee you that paper mache won't make the list.

This all started with the Victory Garden- my heroic attempt at feeding my hubby and I (and the pets too, if they'll have any of it), making our yard give something back, and developing a more personal relationship with our food. But aside from the fact that my victory gardens of years past have been colossal failures, there was one HUMONGOUS stumbling block to garden success this year: bunnies. Our yard is positively overrun with them. They are EVERYWHERE. So I was pretty sure that they'd be a considerable threat to the garden. As such, I took quite a few steps to thwart them preemptively. I built my garden in raised beds- sure, it was more for convenience, but it helps. I planted marigolds (I have since read that bunnies don't like potatoes, onions or squash, but I'm not buying it. I've grown potatoes in the past that the bunnies nibbled to nubs) And, after considerable search of 3 stores, I added two plastic snakes to each bed. The snakes fooled the birds (who wouldn't land near my beds), the bunnies (who stay away and nibble clover in the corner of the yard), the neighbor (who came after one with a shovel) and even a handyman (attack with a hammer). I don't have a very good picture of the garter snake (handsome little devil, my favorite), but one is all I got. So all was relative bliss until....

The neighbors' grandkids stole my snakes. What were the kids doing in my garden you ask? Trespassing, that's what. And stealing. And I was LIVID. (for point of reference the kids are 10 and 13, that's definitely old enough to know better) And the neighbors, their kids, their grandkids...didn't care one whit. Now, for point of reference, if my neighbors had come to my parents or grandparents and said that they suspected I had liberated *anything* out of their garden, I'd have had to give the item back, apologize, and probably spend the day helping them out in their garden for a day as repayment for their trouble. *I* was lucky enough to get so angry I got a terrible headache. And no recourse. grumble grumble. As I have no funds with which to buy MORE snakes (not to mention how dang hard they are to find)...I had to get creative.

I had no hose to cut up to make fake snakes, but have had two wonderful generous friends since offer hoses, so hopefully my issues of snakelessness will be short lived. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to make them so adorable that a cottage industry will spring up. D made me a lovely little snake from a bit of tubing and some baling wire- it's adorable all coiled and reared up to attack...I will give that one a paint job or some snake clothes and a fun name.

I bought a package of streamer topped noisemakers from the dollar store (fer a dollar) that I'm in the process of strapping to chopsticks and paint stirrers to stick in the garden, as I've been told that bunnies don't like sparkly. With my luck I'll scare the bunnies only to become inundated by crows :P I repaired an eagle statue my cats broke and will stick him out in the garden as well.

But my big brilliant idea was to make a hawk. I'm sure you can buy them at the hardware store... some carry owls at least. But they're not cheap, and being me, of course I figured I'd make it. And what do you make a hawk out of? Well, at first I thought of making it from a juice bottle and a milk bottle cut to be wings, but D was out of pop rivets and I couldn't figure out how to hold it together without them. So I decided on paper mache. (ah, now the beginning of the blog makes sense!) I think I have only ever had one prior experience with paper mache. I remember as a girl scout that we made "hot air balloons" from a balloon covered in paper mache, then pop it and hang a sort of basket from it. That was easy enough. Heck I was probably in 4th grade. So how horrible can it be?

So I used the juice bottle for the body, formed some bailing wire into wings, and used news paper and masking tape to give it some shape. A form if you will.

A momentary pause to contemplate bailing wire. Used to be everywhere, and I suppose if you still have horses or livestock, you probably have a ready source of it. But regardless of where you live, on a farm or in the city, you NEED a reel of bailing wire. It's almost universally useful. You can obviously use it to help make a bird, D uses it for all sorts of things in the garage, has used it to rig a headlight to stay in place, to hold a cabinet door shut...brilliant. Get some. Nuff said.

So after you've got your basic bird form, use wads, rolls, and sheets of newspaper to flesh it out. The closer you get to the final form you want BEFORE you start applying the paper mache, the better. Now you're ready to mix up your paper mache. First you'll need a heap of newspaper. Ask everyone you know. I'd guess for my overambitious (as usual) hawk project, I'll wind up using at least 2 Sunday editions. And you'll need some extra to lay out on the floor so you don't make a huge mess on the floor. Cut as much newspaper into about 1 inch x 10 inch strips as you can bear. You'll need about 140,000. Ok, you won't need anywhere near that many. But unless you can convince your kid, your friend's kid, or your kid sister to cut them up for you, it may very well FEEL like that many.

Then you need to mix up your paste. Just use about 1/2 cup of flour (I used some old stuff I didn't want to use for cooking that I happened upon), and some hot water. You want a sort of thin paste, or thick liquid. Too thick is gloppy, too thin and it won't stick. Once you've got your paste, just pull your paper strips through the paste, use your fingers to slip off the excess and apply it to your form. It's an easy process, refreshingly mindless, and if you are able to work quickly and uninterrupted, you will not have to deal with the unpleasantness of cold paste. The idea is to overlap the pieces just slightly and cover your whole form.

Once the whole form is covered, let it dry. Then repeat. You'll need to do several layers, but be sure to let it dry inbetween layers. You'll know when it's done when it seems sturdy to you. Then, you can paint it (which I will do with my nameless hawk once its finished). I also plan to put some sort of weatherseal on the hawk, so he doesn't get destroyed hanging outside. And scaring the bajeezus out of bunnies.

Here's the hawk with a few more layers of paper mache applied. After the first paper was put on, I curved his beak a bit so he didn't look so much like a seagull. Also, when I was adding the second layer of paper mache, I added carefully placed strips of paper to widen his wings to make him appear more hawk-like (and less seagull-like). Once your basic "form" is done, you can make a LOT of detail adjustments with the paper mache- that's the whole idea in fact. The form is just the base shape that you work from.

I am currently considering making a few more paper mache critters for the garden- maybe a little garden gnome with a hunting rifle, or weasels or foxes or a skunk- something that eats bunnies. Could be fun.

I still need to find a way to keep undisciplined children out of my yard. I personally liked the idea of the exploding dye packs they use for bank heists, but that makes me sound curmudgeony and where do you find exploding dye packs anyway? Besides, I'd wind up covered in dye. So I will have to comfort myself by making some "No Trespassing" signs, and dream of electric fences and people who teach their kids that stealing is wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment