Thursday, 28 June 2012

Day 336- Suitcase Garden For Drora

I had a request of the friends who wanted one of these rusty suitcase gardens during my 3rd anniversary secret draw. I had confessed that each garden would take me a few days to complete. That was why I couldn't make one for everyone who commented on my anniversary posts. Since I knew my rusty garden might not suit everyone's houses, these friends had a choice for me to send them other store bought minis. If they should pick a rusty garden however, then all I asked of them was that they find a place for it in their dollhouses or roomboxes.

Drora had showed me a picture of this wonderful outhouse she built with a group of miniaturists in Israel. She told me she thought a rusty garden with plants could be used in a shabbied neglected setting with this outhouse. I really loved that idea. In fact, I had very ambitious plans for the suitcase garden I wanted to build Drora;  something with pipes and water that would connect the outhouse to my rusty suitcase. I didn't have the confidence nor measurements however to make water running through a pipe so the idea was abandoned.

This particular garden took me so long to conceptualise. In the end, I drew inspiration from my own throne/lavatory/powder room. I have always loved good smells and my bathroom has always been decorated with bowls of potpourri and incense, oils or soaps. So I thought of building a natural air freshener for Drora by creating a potpourri garden.

This is a little potpourri flower arrangement from a dried flower from the garden. I thought of making this after exchanging with Illona emails on ikebana. This is a very rustic and rusty version of course!

Potpourri Suitcase Garden, 9th June 2012

From My Throne

Potpourri bowls and incense burner

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Day 334- A Piece Of Cloth

I handed my nephew a scrap of cloth and told him : Pretend this piece of cloth is from one of the broken cars; let's see if we can use it somewhere in the junkyard. Maybe we can hang it on a tree?  

He responded almost immediately : I know! We make a kite with it and then have it get stuck in the tree! 

My respect for Nat went up tenfold that day. 

So we made our kite on our 5th Saturday afternoon together. I showed him how to cut little pieces for the tail while I mounted the kite on a T made with tooth pick.

Would you believe I could not tell who's fingers these belonged to just a moment ago? I had to study my nails before I decided it must have been Nat's. Perhaps our hands are starting to look alike? Is that what happens when 2 people have been creating together for a while?

Birth date of Kite 26 May 2012

I will end today's post with a beautiful poem by Lenard Cohen.

A Kite is a VictimNext
A kite is a victim you are sure of.
You love it because it pulls
gentle enough to call you master,
strong enough to call you fool;
because it lives
like a desperate trained falcon
in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down
to tame it in your drawer.

A kite is a fish you have already caught
in a pool where no fish come,
so you play him carefully and long,
and hope he won't give up,
or the wind die down.

A kite is the last poem you've written,
so you give it to the wind,
but you don't let it go
until someone finds you
something else to do.

A kite is a contract of glory
that must be made with the sun,
so you make friends with the field
the river and the wind,
then you pray the whole cold night before,
under the travelling cordless moon,
to make you worthy and lyric and pure.
Leonard Cohen

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Day 333- Junkyard

Finally, it came time to build the junkyard and so we did on our 4th Saturday. I found what I thought was an ideal base, the black plastic tray that came with my Mac laptop. It was a good size and looked like the kind commonly used for diorama. 

Nat and I did a quick study of my Scenery Manual and found a tutorial on creating rocky terrain. It seemed simple enough. Tear up newspapers, crumple them into balls

and then stick them to the places where you want the terrain with masking tape.

It was so easy that even a child could do it but it got boring really quickly and after  a while, even I got impatient and the taping became sloppier and sloppier.

My solution to hide all things sloppy, spray paint brown.

It became obvious that a rocky terrain was out of the question as my work was too messy.So out came my stash of dried moss. Before Nat and I glued on the moss, I cut out a piece of fake fine turf and spray painted it terracotta. This was for the base.

We were barely done before Nat took two of the rusty cars and started playing on the junkyard. He had insisted I made a video of him but I didn't know how to use the video function so I took 26 frame shots, 2 seconds apart, of him and the cars.

I made this video tonight using the 26 shots. Watching it again brought back memories of my anxieties that day, wondering while he crashed the car if the paint would stay. As you can see the hippy flower did not. When his family came to pick him up that day, he made them watch the 26 frame shots of his spectacular rusty crashes on my camera before they could drive off. 

 I continued working after he left.  I trimmed down the tree Nat found on the 1st Saturday and glued it down at a corner of the junkyard.

Nat had brought with him some tires earlier that day and we had decided that one of the tires would be a swing.

And as if I had to compensate for the violent treatment my, I mean, our cars received earlier, I decided the swing should have flowers. It was at that moment that I knew exactly how I was going to build this junkyard and

not surprisingly, it would turn out quite differently from what Nat had in mind..

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Day 332-Flower Power Yellow Bug

On the 3rd Saturday we met, i.e. 12th May 2012, Nat brought with him a yellow beetle. It has lost one wheel and 2 window panes and the bumper was slightly dislodged. I was very pleased as just the Saturday before, I had told Nat that we didn't have enough cars. He knew we couldn't just use any cars because they must be of the same scale and of course, they must already be broken. 

This is perfect.

I found out later from my mum that the yellow buggy was not quite as broken when Nat found it. Without telling me what he had done, Nat had decided he should bash the car by hitting it a few times on the floor, break the plastic windows and then try to pry the bumper off.  

O well, better the car in our junkyard then one abandoned in a toy box, I thought when I decided I would not confront him about it.

Nat wanted this car to retain its original bright yellow. He also wanted the bonnet open so that the inside could be seen. Maybe plants can grow in there, he told me.

For some reason, I did not take any pictures of the rusted  bug that Saturday when it was done. These pictures were taken just minutes before I started this post. They were taken under a bright white light.

Rusting this one was the trickiest so far because of its colour. It was easier for me to dull or weather a muted colour like blue or even red than a bright one like yellow. 

As you can see, I have left much of Nat's yellow and that bit of green behind, even those bits on the wheels. Eventually these wheels will be slightly hidden.

I really like the inside of this bonnet and for me, that attention with the wheel was what made this model car stood out from the others. I hope I had done it justice with my painting.

Needless to say, there was a plant growing in there just as Nat had directed. A 5 petal daisy if there is such a thing or a yellow buttercup perhaps? Whatever it is, it's meant to resemble..

Hey Tata Ah Yee, the car looked just like when the flower sticker was on it!

That's the whole idea, Teedee. This shall be our flower power yellow bug. 
What do you think? Is it too girly?

No, Tata Ah Yee, I think our car is just awesome!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Days 329-330 Rusty Cars

My nephew, Nat, has loved cars since before he could walk or talk. Even when he was just a few months old, there was always a toy car in his hand. By the time he turned 4 and could speak rather fluently, he was able to identify most cars on the road and tell you what kind of wheels they had. 

Obviously, that meant only one kind of presents for him. Nat has been given all kinds of toy vehicles over the years. I once even spent an obscene amount of money buying him a matchbox Ferrari from Italy. He was however not allowed to play with it. 

This is why. The most fun way for Nat to play with his cars were re-enactments of car crashes. He has always had a morbid fascination with collisions and destruction. Needless to say, his toy cars were pretty banged up after a while.

I remember how outraged I was when I saw the state of these wonderful model cars that my dad had bought for Nat from Thailand. They were rather pricey too and nobody had the heart to throw them out. 

That was when I thought I could save these cars and build a diorama with them. Nat and I discussed  it and we decided it would be a junkyard for broken old cars. It would be our project, something we could do together. That was in January this year. The project never quite took off because I was too busy with work, travels and all sorts of lame adult excuses. Poor Nat would ask me almost every time we met about the  junkyard project and when we were going to start.

It was only on the 14th of April this year when Shir asked if I could babysit Nat that work on the junkyard finally started. Even then, all we did that day was to spray the 1st coats on the cars. Before he left however, we decided that he would come over every Saturday and  continue our work on the junkyard together till it was completed.

2 Saturdays later, on the 28th of the same month, we started the serious painting. Nat worked on the  Mini while I did the Volkswagen.  

This was mine at half time...

Nat's at various times.

At this point, I want to share something poignant that I experienced with Nat. You might have suspected by now that I was not able to teach Nat, my 7 year old and rather impatient nephew, how to weather the car in just that one session. I tried to show him how it was to be done but he just wanted to dip the brush into the colours and start painting immediately. So it ended up with us painting our respective cars side by side, stopping once in a while to share paints or rub more sand into the cars. We went on quietly for about 10 minutes before he suddenly said Ta Ta Ah Yee (nickname for eldest aunt)I am done. I remembered looking up from what I was doing and immediately going Oh, look at what a mess you have made to your car. 

If someone was to teach me the meaning of the word crestfallen, there would be no better example than Nat's face the moment those words slipped through my tongue. He dropped his brushes immediately and said Ta Ta Ah Yee, I don't think I am good at art like you. I am sorry that I made a mess of this car. It is not good like yours. He was fighting very hard to hold back his tears when just minutes ago we were happily chatting about the things that we could do for the junkyard. 

O dear, what have I done?

I thought for a while and then said to Nat, Teedee (nickname for little brother) there is nothing wrong with your car. In fact, you have done a great job. We are making broken and rusty cars, so mess is very good!  Tata ah yee also doesn't like perfect. I love imperfect things.

Why? He asked.  

Because perfect is boring and also in real life, most things are not perfect. And I want to make our junkyard very realistic. I told him.

After listening to my explanation, he took up the brush and dipped it into some green paint and started dabbing it on the back of his car.

Is that moss? Or green oxidation? Like copper rusting? How clever, teedee. You always have such good ideas. I told him.

Now, I might have told a little white lie about the mess bit but I was definitely sincere when I praised him for that touch of green.

That dash of green not only inspired me to finish my car with traces of moss but it also became the theme for this junkyard. 

This is a close up of Nat's mini after I had helped put the finishing touches. Don't worry, Nat knew that he was only to paint the base colour and that I was to paint the rusty bits for him.  

He was very pleased with how his car had  turned out and I didn't let him forget that all the great ideas were his. 

I have really enjoyed rusting these cars. 

Nat has contributed a lot to how interesting the weathering process was for me because what he did with the base colours was unpredictable and spontaneous. He might not have a coherent explanation for why he used a particular color or painted in a certain way but I am sure he did what he did based on his own views of how a broken beat up car should look like. He really is the expert here because of all the you-tube clips he had been watching on car crashes. I am glad I allowed his instincts to guide me through my own painting  because I think these cars turned out just perfectly imperfect.

We ended that day with a trip to the park behind my house to see if we could find more things for the junkyard.

This was what he found to make a tree. I told him it was too big. Nevermind, tata ah yee, he said, it doesn't have to be perfect. 

My captain, my muse.

Teedee might not have learnt how to paint rust that day but I believed he finally understood how things don't have to be perfect to be great.
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