Trumpster perfect for the Dumpster!

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Trumpster paperweight, made in America, is a true collectible for your political friends.

 

Right before my son, Scott, left for college he came up with idea that I should create a paper mache Trump figure.  Wacky Trumpster featured in this blog would make a great gift  for politicos from either major party.  Trumpster is a convenient paperweight to keep track of all those nasty receipts you need at your finger tips when you are audited by the IRS. If Trump had a Trumpster, we may have seen his tax returns by now. Remember Trumpster comes with real hair which you can wash and comb. If you are loosing your hair, here is your opportunity to style someone else’s hair to your heart’s content. Trumpster is made entirely of recyclable products when you grow tired of him just toss him in the Dumpster. Each Trumpser is unique and lovingly made with only the finest old, used products. Don’t wait to order yours!

More reasons that Trumpster is this Election’s trendiest gift.

Trump Supporters: Give them a Trumpster along with a carton of legos.  Trumpster is entirely made in American by a 6th generation American (me).  The legos are so your Right Wing friend and Trumpster can build walls to their hearts’ content at no cost to tax payers.

Trump Detractors.  Give them a Trumpster to help them work off anger and frustration with the current Congress:

  1. Made of paper, Trumpster  can serve as a bulletin board to remind you of key dates. For example, the Presidential election is Tuesday, November 8, 2016.    If Trump looses, political commentary won’t be near as much fun.
  2. If you have a ghoulish side you could just push pins in Trumpster any time you are upset. I don’t think Trumpster contains any voodoo magic but punching holes in a wind bag is bound to make your day better.

To Order your own Trumpster or Trumpster for your friends and loved ones message me on Facebook  or WordPress or go to:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/myprivateidahopm?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Background on Trumpster’s Build

I started working in paper mache this summer to create sellable items for a Christmas Bazaar where the funds go to charity. So far I have created assorted cats and woodland angels. These items have not proven very popular on Etsy or Facebook. I am beginning to have a craft room full of colorful  cats and flying nymphs made of paper, paint and paste.

My college son, Scott, is of the opinion that anything “Trump” no matter how bizarre will sell. Scott may have a point. Trump seems to hold a weird fascination even for his detractors. All across America we wait with baited breath to hear the next outrageous Twitter or giggle at Trump’s explanation of how Obama created ISIS only to learn that these wild statements are a new form of “sarcasm”.

I took Scott up on his challenge and created “Trumpster”. Paper mache Trump is functional which is more than can be said for his real-life counterpart. He is a paper weight. Mr. Trump sits on a replica of Trump tower, a raspberry box filled with rocks(I liked both the  symbolism of Trump perched on raspberries and his tower covered with a gold facade but really holding nothing but rocks like many of his failed real estate deals). Trump’s body is made from a recycled brew cup. We have lots of these from coffee every morning, might as well put them to good use.

As Scott noted, the only  things you need to denote Trump are big hair, pointing fingers and orange skin. The reality bar is quite low because Trump has made himself into his own reality TV character. The hardest part of the project was the hair. I finally  clipped hair off my Sheltie, Shani, and glued it on  a wig form. When I told Scott this, he worried that I had given Shani bare spots. Do not be alarmed, Shani has more hair at any one time than most dogs grow in a life-time. As you can see by the picture, Shani looks no different after providing Trump with his gilded hair than she did before my gentle clipping. Once the hair  was glued in place, the wig fell off the model into a cup of water. Not to worry, made from real hair, the wig dried out and remains perfectly groomed unaffected by this potential castrophy.

 

 

Creating art is in our DNA

The  Essence of Art:  man’s selective re-creation of reality (Ayn Rand)20160527_190313

Creating is in our DNA. The earliest documented art, found  in Indonesia, are carvings in a shell with a shark’s tooth dating back 540,000 years (pre Homo sapiens). Just this week, scientists in France dated elaborate stalagmite structures in a cave underground back to those supposed stupid, rude and untalented Neanderthals thriving over 150,000 years ago.

Pottery, objects made from fired clay, are the first synthetic objects made by humans. Since clay is found throughout the world, a variety of objects from many places have been found dating  about 30,000 years ago. Relatively, new in the scope of world affairs.

Man started making pottery when we evolved from a hunting and gathering into agricultural societies. That makes perfect sense to me.  Nomads chasing wildebeests with rough edged arrow heads, hand-carved from rock, would probably not be inclined to haul a lot of earthenware around with them. Crockery, the growing of grain, and cooking seem to all go together not only in man’s development but in my sense of the history.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”.  Since I retired in November, I have been awaking the inner child artist in me.  As regular readers of this blog know, several weeks back I have been busy with papier-mâché (see https://wordpress.com/post/julierobinsonblog.com/2549 ).  Starting in March, I took an 8-week beginning pottery class at our local community center.  The class met every Wednesday for three and half hours.  There were ten of us in the class. Most were seniors though we had one very talented younger woman, who had moved to Boise a year ago, and two young disabled male adults.  Several of the retired women had taken the beginner class previously and worked on their own projects instead of following the prescribed class instructions.

Our instructor, Chris, is coordinator of the arts at the community center. He is Irish with bright red hair, a quick smile, great patience and kindness.  He holds a degree in fine arts from Boise State and is a master potter, known in the region for some of his works.  He told us he couldn’t imagine getting through college until he discovered pottery in high school.

Our class began with learning how to throw pots on the wheel.  I found I was not good on the wheel.  My legs would shake and subsequently my hands, braced on my legs couldn’t find “center”. “Center” is a key beginning point of pulling a beautiful tall pot.  As a beginning class, most the wheel-thrown pots stayed at 4 or 5 inches and were shaped largely like coffee mugs.  But my pots were only about an inch and that was after great help from Chris.  I couldn’t find one of my pots to glaze but the one I did is glazed in my favorite blue.

Scott, my son, says it looks like an ash tray.  But I’m using it on my dressing table to hold earrings.  I love the color.

One of my thrown pots started to go off kilter. At about this time, Chris told us to start using our imagination to make our pots more whimsical.  He meant different heights and designs on the wheel.  But I took his directions to be an invitation to move into fantasy land. I pulled my thrown pot further off center.  I subsequently marked up the skin of the pot with wood imprints.  Once stained brown and green, I think of it as my “tree trunk” entry into Neverland and the lost boys.

I found I was in my element working with slabs of clay. The slabs are made by kneading the clay into bricks and then pulling the squares through a roller.  The resulting slab is about ¼ inch thick when appropriately rolled.  Our first slab assignment was a box with a lid.

The box is made by careful measuring, cutting with an exacto knife, piecing together the parts and then hitting the clay with flat wooden spatula to solidify the form for firing. My box has a Daisy on top. I had a grandmother named Daisy and my niece is named Daisy. The Daisy is also the symbol of PEO, a philanthropic organization that provides scholarships to women. My sister is the current state president of, Idaho PEO, an organization of over 3000 women.  My mother was the state president of PEO in Wyoming when I was in high school. On the front is a white calla lily.  My daughter, Kayla, is named after the calla lily which grows wild in China and Idaho (see https://wordpress.com/post/julierobinsonblog.com/1742).

I have my box sitting above my computer in my office, a reminder of how many strong women have supported me in my life. The colors are a little too greenish for my taste but this is the result of limited choices for our first glazing experience.  We had a choice of two whites, a non-shiny copper and the green iridescent.  I have learned while watching others glazing in class, glaze is not a precise science.  One has to put on the glaze and wait to see what emerges from the interaction of fire and paint.

My final product and probably my artistically best object is a pinch pot. The pinch pot is made by taking a clay in the shape and size of a baseball  and slowly pinching it into a pot.  As the class went on, we all became more experimental and creative.  I created stripes and circles on the pot with waxed paper coated on back with a sticky substance.  Areas covered with paper when dipped in the first glaze could be left to turn black, the result of no glaze. This can be seen on the black areas of the daisy and calla lily on the box.  I chose to pull off the paper and dip my pot again in the white bubble glaze.  This glaze provides texture and resulted in the copper accents where previously I had paper strips.  I have this pot proudly displayed in my living room on our bookcase of art objects.  It seems to fit right in.

A number of my classmates chose to enroll in another class right away. I love the summers in Boise and would prefer to be outside rather than in a class room. After eight weeks, I picked up my tools, my pots, and donated my left-over clay to the community center.

I may choose to take the beginning class again in the fall or winter.   If I choose to take it again, I will focus on the areas that gave me the most joy, i.e. the hand-crafted items.  By taking the beginning class and trying both throwing pots on the wheel and creating free-form, I have much more respect for the technical skill necessary to throw a gorgeous pot.

Our instructor, Chris would tell us to listen to the clay and then your art will emerge. He cautioned us against starting with a preconceived idea of where to end up. Using this approach, I created an entrance to Neverland, a strong women’s box, and pinch pot dipped in the glaze called pond scum.  I found as Pablo Picasso advised my inner artist.

 

Barney the Beagle–Paper Mache Replica of My Childhood pet

Papier Mache: French for chewed paper

Recently, I joined a women’s organization that hosts an annual Christmas bazaar to raise funds for education.   We are all supposed to make something to sell. I was born with very few arts and craft genes.   Since the first recorded cave art is over 500,000 years old, some of our early ancestors definitely had these genes and passed them on to a few lucky souls.  You and I all know the person who shows up  and can fashion a felt hat from a knit sweater or a gorgeous quilt from a rag bag, or takes home the hodge podge of objects contributed by parents to the school auction and produces a world class auction basket.  I stand in awe of these people.  I am not one of these people.

My freshman year in college, I took up knitting. I made dozens of extremely-long, odd- shaped scarves using the basic knit one/pearl one stitches.  Everyone I knew ended up with one of these slinky reptilian beasts.  As a child, my mother did her best to endow me with some homemaking skills.  I was enrolled in 4-H for a few years. I turned out passable aprons and gathered skirts, resulting in blue, red and white ribbons at fair.  My muffins had tunnels, little holes made by too much air–no ribbon at the county fair.  I did win the purple ribbon and best in class, one year for my meal plan.  In retrospect, this award is extremely ironic because I don’t cook much at all.

While suffering angst over the bazaar challenge, my sister, Jane, reminded me that as a child, I was a whiz at paper mache. My skill wasn’t because I wanted to produce great art.  I was fascinated by puppetry.  I’d make a variety of puppet heads with died cotton ball hair and whip up their outfits on our sewing machine. Then I would write elaborate plays for my friends and I to produce.

My first thought was there wasn’t much interest in paper mache anymore. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. When I looked up a paper mache refresher course on YouTube (source of all things educational),one sweet-looking elderly lady, Joni Good at http://www.ultimatepapermache.com  has a blog, numerous books and dozens of YouTubes.  Her recipe for paste has over a quarter of a million views. A second teenage girl has over 200,000 views demonstrating Joni’s recipe.  One man has over two million views on how to make a piñata. An attractive lady making a paper mache bowl has over 1 million views.

Apparently, there are a lot folks out there making craft items out of paper and paste. My sixteen year old daughter, Kayla, says there are just lots of people who like to watch YouTube and aren’t making anything. Surely these high numbers of viewers reflect some papery product being produced somewhere and not just viral surfers and paper stalkers. Given this huge viewing volume, I thought why not give it a try again? After all in the scope of human affairs (homo sapiens as we know them have  been around for more than 200,000 years), 52 years of not touching anything related to paper mache isn’t that long a time.

Paper mache originated in China during the Han Dynasty (BC 202 to 220). The Chinese made paper mache helmets that they hardened with lacquer. From China, the craft spread to Japan and Persia.  Those elaborate oriental masks, you see when you travel  are  paper mache.  When the art of paper mache reached France, the French, always unique, decided to create their art by chewing up the scraps of paper. Chewing paper would, of course, give you small pieces of sticky, damp paper to work with but sounds disgusting to me.  When I began my paper mache project, I rejected the French approach and used the yellow pages approach, “let your fingers do the shredding”.

After reviewing some of the videos on new approaches to paste (joint compound, linseed oil, and Elmer’s glue), I elected to go traditional. My first project is made of paste from flour, salt and water (recipe below).  A an empty toilet paper roll  and Styrofoam round ball provided the infra structure. I used newspaper for the coating.  Using household products did result in the bumps in odd places that led Joni Good to make up a more elaborate paste recipe.  But I am still taken with the more modest approach to paper mache because as a child, I remember we could just go to the kitchen, whip up paste without the hassle of gathering together a lot special stuff and have our theater cast underway in no time.  I think there is something to be said about being able to create when the urge strikes you, especially when children are involved.  In addition, the flour and water is easy to clean up with soap and water, inexpensive and very forgiving when you make errors.  Finally, it is not fast drying—a plus for joint compound and glue but a negative if you want to rip off some error you have made.

I am also taking a pottery class. In pottery, our teacher is always telling us that the clay speaks to us.  I was originally going to make a reindeer (remember this project started for the Christmas bazaar in 9 months). When I got started on the reindeer, he morphed into a beagle.

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Barney, before he got a coat of varnish, eyes and collar

I am very familiar with beagles, we had one when I was child.  For those art critics out there, I know the snout on my paper beagle is too long and his feet too big (blame the reindeer).  My sister, Jane, and I called our beagle, Barney the Beagle with the goo-goo-googlie eyes.  The entire time I was crafting my paper dog, I was thinking about Barney.  As you can see, Barney the Beagle has goo-goo-googlie eyes.

 

Barney was finished off with acrylic paints, spray-on shiny varnish, and repurposed eyes, nose and tongue from the reindeer I was trying to clone.  I found an unused cat harness in my pet drawer.  Any of you, who have read my blogs on my pets know that Satchel, the big gray Tom Cat wouldn’t be caught dead in a whoosie harness (one has to question my sanity for buying it at some point in time).  I cut up the offending harness and made a realistic collar for Barney.  Satchel was pleased.

I am proud of Barney for a first effort.

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Barney, with the goo, goo, googlie eyes!

He obviously isn’t good enough to sell at a bazaar, too many nasty little dings and bumps.  But he is good enough to give to my husband, Pete, for Father’s Day.  Pete has an office full of items the kids and I have made and seems delighted with whatever we give him no matter how low quality.

 

I have roughed out an angel and cat to see if I can’t still produce something that someone might buy. I may try the joint compound bending to the will of the masses to have a saleable product. Also from my pottery instructor, art takes time and patience.  I have nine months but at my age I’m not sure I will every produce a financially viable product.  That’s the beauty of paper mache. There isn’t much of an investment if the outcome is poor and you can also toss it in the recycling bin.

Simple Paper Mache Paste Recipe

1 cup flour

1 cup water

3 teaspoons salt

Mix together and start gluing

Most important–Have Fun!

There are worse things in life than making a blue penguin

Our house is filled with colorful paper wonders; cranes in all size, prancing horses, and octagonal boxes made from post-it notes. My daughter, Kayla started origami, Japanese folded paper art at a young age.

Crane from church program
Crane from church program

Now, whenever she is bored (for example sitting in church) she folds the paper available to her into cranes.

I love the small wooden chest I received last year filled with four cranes, less than an inch tall ranging in color from dark to light blue. There is a hand-written note inside saying the dark to light cranes represented a mani-pedi, back rub, IOU of my choice, and animal care.

Birthday Gift, each crane represents a different chore.
Birthday Gift, each crane represents a different chore.

 

I was so sadden to hand in my crane after Kayla fulfilled the IOU request; the other cranes remain happily nested in their wooden box unclaimed. I imagine they will stay there until I die since they are small enough to move to a nursing home with me.

When the Community Education Program offered Easy Origami, show off your results with fun Halloween, I immediately signed up. There were ten of us in the class, 2 men and 8 women. Most of the women were over 50, wearing glasses and had free time, growing proportionately to our graying hair and dimming eyes. Our instructor, Jeanette, was enthusiastic about paper folding but challenged as a teacher. We all sat around an oblong table. Jeanette perched at far right corner and I at the extreme far left diagonal. Jeanette explained that the silky, smooth, thin, two-sided kami (Japanese for paper) was too expensive for a class of our size and cranes too difficult for a novice. We were to make our Halloween items from a multi-hued stash of large stiff paper. Participants closest to Jeanette snagged the blacks, oranges, whites, grays and purples before the stack got to my end of the table, leaving four of us to make bright blue bats, yellow and pink skulls and red cats.

3-D Skull with helmet eyes and scissor shape
3-D Skull with helmet eyes and scissor shape

With our paper in front of us, Jeanette announced that she wasn’t a “purist”. We could use glue and scissors. Then she sat down and began folding a 3-D scull at her seat while shouting, “Fold here, then here!” Glasses perched on the ends of our noses, the three females at my end of table let out a collective protest; “We can’t see! Can you do that again?” Instead of demonstrating, Jeanette scurried over and folded all of our skulls for us.

Up next a bat. The talented, patient woman beside me easily grasped the “mountain” and “valley” folds while making the skull. I remained clueless. She helped fold my orange paper into some semblance of a bat.

3-D Bat-use your imagination!
3-D Bat-use your imagination!

I finally gleaned that every origami starts out with a valley or mountain fold, (folding the paper in half). Paper folded up is a mountain and pointed down is in a v is a valley. While I was still wrestling with the helmet fold, a precursor to bat ears, the man around the corner completed his blue bat without ears and announced it looked like a penguin. To which I retorted, “There are worse things in life than making a blue penguin.” The quick-learner next to me added, “That would be a good slogan for this class.”

Our final form and biggest challenge of the evening was to produce an 3-D cat.

Black model before he was unfurled.
Black model before he was unfurled.

Jeanette told us to fold a basic diagonal, then fold again. Staring at her folds, Jeanette laughed and said, “I have no idea how I made the cat before you.” She unfolded the sample successfully triggering her memory. Alas, while this exercise helped us achieve some semblance of cats, the model’s former cat-like nature was lost forever in a morass of paper folds resembling a smashed fan. Demonstrating my pragmatic approach to life, my cat gleaned its ears from cut out triangles rather than the complex, un-mastered helmet fold.

My scary efforts at orgami, black cat made with red paper and cut out ears
My scary efforts at orgami, black cat made with red paper and cut out ears

Origami practice led to revolt rather than perfection. As the evening progressed, our fingers got less agile, our eyes tired and our paper projects became less recognizable. Ninety minutes into the 2 hour session, a lady at the far end threw down her mangled cat announcing, “I took this class to find something relaxing and this is the most stressful thing I’ve done in days.” Jeanette blissfully noted that 2 hours was too long to do origami and we were free to go.

Feeling craftier than I had in years, I greedily gathered up my haunted house, twisted tree, orange bat, red cat, yellow skull, extra paper and proudly hauled them home.   These Halloween symbols are strategically placed around the house and have become a source of great amusement to my two cats who bat them around, mistaking them for mice on steroids. My daughter, the origami expert, has not noticed the invasion of the inferior paper projects or is too kind to criticize of the low quality of her mother’s  art.