Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Orthodontia From Hell

So, Spike--where ya been lately? Haevn't heard from you in over a week.

You're usually good for a couple posts a week about the minutia that make up a life examined. But you've not commented about this year's crop of kittens ("meeps" in these y'ere parts) hiding from the oncoming storms in the grass that badly needs cutting; nor told the old jokes about the relationship between a circus and a sorority and the girls you work with (a circus is a cunning array of stunts . . .); or even griped about how summer is great for yoga, but miserable for the paper arts you enjoy (it's finally hot enough to get a good stretch going--but now it's too hot to work in the garage!).

So glad you asked. I've been leading the merry crew in building the mouth from Hell.

Or rather, the mouth TO Hell.

A dear pal turns forty this year. Yes indeedy, he is officially OLD. (We won't say how very very soon I'll be officially old.) So we're throwing him a big party.

Or rather, a Big Honkin' Party. We throw big parties a couple times a year, with 200 through the gates in an evening's time, but this time we wannado a Big Honkin' Party for the old guy so when it comes our turns, we can say, "Oh, la, that's been done already--I think I'll just put in a reservation for a paired tasting. In Vegas. For five." (Crazy like a fox, indeed.)

So there's three families in the old dude's neighborhood who all know each other from way back when. (Actually, there's more. The gang is taking that square mile over.) The three homes though, all back onto a park, so you can open house A's back gate, walk through a greenbelt for a few yards, then tap on house B's back gate. This means three houses to throw a Big Honkin' Party in, and no one will call the cops.

Rather than doing a "you're OLD now, ha ha ha" theme, we decided to go with the afterlife, and do Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. A LARP grew up around this theme (yah, we're a bunch of unreconstructed geeks) and then we started thinking food (barbecue in Hell, alcoholic milkshakes in Heaven, a nice cheese and veggie tray for Purgatory?) and decorations. We'd need to have icons at the gates and doors so you could tell where you were, right?

So Vincenza volunteered to build the Hellmaw. An eight foot tall mouth sculpture. Yeah. Gonna be great. And then she realized she didn't know how.

So then I opened my eight-foot mouth and suggested we build it out of paper mache. Use chiken wire for the basic sculpture, then coat it in strips, then coat that with a nice layer of pulp, and Bob's your uncle.

Oy. Next time, someone just shoot me, 'k?

I forget between one time and the next how HARD it is to communicate vision, and explain sculpting, and work as a team with people who are creative but inexperienced at the medium. I'm banging away on the monster's three-lobed eyes, dipping and rolling to make the sockets more . . . sockety, with hard rims around the edges where the eyes peer out, thinking it's obvious that the first layer (or three) suck because edges stick up and curl as they dry, but that it gets better as you go, and that you have to sculpt and pull and push and manipulate to get the form you want at each stage--it doesn't magically all come together at the addition of one tiny strip. And then behind me, I hear the sounds of a team falling apart because the arch isn't PERFECT.

I do well on my own--but please, someone explain to me that I can't teach what I know. I don't have the patience to explain it three times--and then go in and put my hands on the person's hands to show what to do and how to do it. I tend to take it over, and that's not what I want.

But hey, it's coming together, and will be just fine for its function.

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