Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Days 341-346 & 347- The 4th Car

10th Saturday, 30th June 2012

The 4th car took quite a while longer than I had expected even though I knew it would be tricky. Before we started work on the 10th Saturday, all 3 of us watched a how-to video again to learn how it could be done. It was our 2nd time watching the video, the 1st being on Durian Day. Of course, the video made everything seemed really easy. 

This was the part that Nat was really looking forward to making for 2 reasons : the idea intrigued him plus he loved painting. Watching him finally taking an interest in the project again was a reward in itself and the treat was doubled with Jewel's infectious enthusiasm. 

The painting of the dark patch was to give an illusion of depth or so the How-To video claimed we could.

I was painting too, except it was the 4th car. If you had noticed the mallet and the hammer in the previous picture, you might have guessed that the hammer was used to knock a few holes in the roof here. The mallet? My dear nephew was using it to try and kill ants! 

After the kids finished with the painting and moved on to the preparatory work for the hubcap garden, I took over the junkyard to finally glue everything down for the blue garden since we had demarcated the area for the 4th car. 

I also planted some cactus and bamboo for the yellow garden. Nat did not like the cactus because he thought they didn't look realistic. Too thin, he insisted, too thin. I was surprised when Jewel agreed with him.

Picture taken on 9th July 2012

I wanted the cactus for the yellow but I took into account what the children said and added another more succulent species of green desert plant to give an illusion of thickness to the ensemble. I completed both the blue and yellow gardens rather quickly because we were all impatient to start....drum roll please...

Picture taken on 30th June 2012 after 1st failed attempt at water, 10 minutes after Realistic Water

...on the 4th and suppose to be sinking car! 

The Tree from What Dreams May Come, a movie I love.

Some of you may remember Nat and my shopping trip on 1st June 2012. It was then that we bought a bottle of Realistic Water and another one of Water Effects from Woodlands Scenics- click through for video. A water feature was therefore in the pipeline since then. The idea of a pond was in fact suggested by FaiZ as early as May when he saw the empty patch meant for the 4th car. I then thought of using a convertible as our 4th car so that I could have a sort of weeping willow growing out of the car. The effect would be like a fountain but instead of water, we have drooping branches from a tree assimilating cascading water. Nat then threw a spanner in the works when he persistently refused to let me have the mini cooper. The light bulb moment came when I thought why not a sunken car? Then all I needed was a roof and I could  still have a tree growing out of the roof. I knew Nat would buy into the idea because his current craze was sunken ships.

1st July 2012 after the 2nd failed attempt

You must therefore appreciate how anticipated this day was when we could finally build the pond and how disappointed we were when 10 minutes after we poured the Realistic Water into the grass mat, the water disappeared. I found out later that I was supposed to water proof the catchment area using white glue. I tried but the white glue just left a real mess on the grass mat. Thinking that maybe the 1st pouring might have waterproofed the area, I then pour another round of realistic water. The next day, the water disappeared again. The grass mat was so porous that the Realistic Water had seeped through. 

Taken on 5th July 2012

Plan B- Forget Realistic Water and use the resin and hardener method which I did for my pail of water. In order to seal up the catchment area, I placed tiny orange pebbles at the edges. Each and every piece of the pebble was painted because they were originally pinkish red. Very finicky work as the pebbles kept getting stuck to my brush. I then made stones out of egg carton and lined the stones behind the pebbles with craft glue. 

Egg cartons are really ideal as stones. I didn't even have to do very much. Just tear, glue and a few dashes of black water.

Third try at the water and it was a success. I even managed to create a ripple effect for motion. The car however did not sit properly so I had to add more.

7th July 2012

more water, a bit of grass 

7th July 2012

and a tree that Jewel helped paint.

Can you spot them?

The 3 cars and a roof?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Day 337, 340 & 341- Hubcap Garden

23rd June 2012

The idea of a hubcap garden came to me quite soon after we started our project junkyard. I had these silver pill packages that I thought could be used for making mini hubcaps. Nat helped me cut the pill packages into small silver circles on Day 337 or our 8th Saturday, so they could be made into old, dented and of course rusty hubcaps. 

23rd June 2012

I knew we would not have much time for our junkyard on our 9th Saturday because my parents planned to throw a durian-party at my home that day. The party was to start at about 3pm, a few hours after Nat's arrival.

23rd June 2012, Nat punching hole in mini hubcabs

I was however determined that Nat must once again assume some responsibilities for our project so I made him work on the hubcaps. It was just punching holes and it didn't take him long to give all the silver circles we had, holes in their centres. At about 1 pm, Pam and her 11 year old daughter, Jewel, arrived at my house for the durian party. They were early but Nat and Jewel really hit it off and they became friends quickly. 

The Durian Party

These are the durians my dad bought from 3 different locations in Johore, Malaysia, just the day before. By the time my dad drove what must be 20-30 of them straight from Malaysia to my home, it was almost 12 midnight. It had taken him a whole day in Johore to source for these durians and they were to be some of the best durians I have ever tasted. 

I don't know any young children who like durians. They often find the smell intolerable. Nat is no exception and will often move far, far away from these fruits, calling them stinko. That day however, FaiZ offered to teach Nat how to cut open the durians and that got Nat really excited. What can I say? Give a boy a chance at wielding a butcher knife and nothing else matters. So for those of you who have never heard of this fruit or know how to cut open one, here are the steps: 

Step 1: watch the master. Notice how he had used newspapers to protect himself and the floor from the prickly husk.

Step 2: Find the base of the fruit and pat the knife against the fruit there a few times to flatten the thorns. You will be able to see the lines that separate the fruit into a few segments. Use the knife to poke through the center where the lines meet and when the knife is about an inch inside the durian, twist the knife to force the fruit open.

Step 3: As you can see, you will need to eat lots of rice, meat and vegetables to pry the segment of the husk apart for the fruits. If you are like Nat who hates vegetables and doesn't eat enough meat or rice, then you may have to go on all fours to exert maximum strength. At one point, Nat looked like he was doing push ups against the durian and that he could fall flat, face on fruits.

So it was that our 9th Saturday marked the 1st day Nat was allowed to handle a big knife. I am not sure if his mum and dad know this yet but I remember being very nervous watching him that day. 

 Jewel and Nat

After all the durians were cut open and while the adults were enjoying their feast, I brought Nat and Jewel out so they could take turns spray painting the hubcaps. 

At that time, we were not sure how the hubcap garden would look yet so Jewel showed me an example. Jewel proved to be such a wonderful helper that I made her mum promised to bring her again the next Saturday. I told both Nat and Jewel that we would be working on something exciting the next week.

10th Saturday

27th June 2012

Did I mention something exciting? I knew nothing exciting was possible if I did not get the 4th car so I thought of a good compromise. I went to my mum's house 3 days before our 10th Saturday meet when Nat was not there and broke the roof of the mini cooper off from the body. When I told Nat that I only took the roof and that he could still have the car, he was quiet for a while. So does that mean that I now have a convertible mini cooper? he asked me. Yes! I smiled as I answered.

30th June 2012

Nat was really pleased that Jewel came that 10th Saturday but he was not as pleased as me. Pam left her with me so she could run some errands and the three of us spent a delightful afternoon together.

We started that day spray painting more mini hubcabs that Jewel brought with her. They were from her grandma's pills. I then showed her how I wanted to make the hubcap flower and told her to make about a dozen of them.

Apart from the 1st one that I showed her, Jewel made every one of the other hubcap flower that we would eventually used in the garden. In this picture, Nat was trying to poke a branch through the hubcap very reluctantly as his mother has just scolded him for playing on the iPad instead of working on our project. He did not however make any flower in the end.

We did manage to start on the exciting part of the junkyard that day and also complete the yellow garden, a large part of which is this hubcap garden. This is the only part of the garden that is not glued down and the arrangement can be changed. The biggest credit goes to Jewel, of course. She hasn't been here since and Nat asked for her every Saturday. We must invite her back soon. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Day 333, 336, 339- Experimenting Blue

Day 333

19th May 2012

Day 336

9th June 2012

Day 339

17th June 2012

17th June 2012

17th June 2012

17th June 2012

The Blue Garden would eventually turn out to be the smallest one in the junkyard. Nat wasn't happy and complained a couple of times about how the red one was too big and the blue one so small. 

As at 17th June 2012, I could not progress any further beyond finalising the Red Garden because we had  not found our last car and I could not be sure of the layout. As you can see I am not the type to plan on paper. I need to see, touch and work with the actual pieces. In the last picture, the flowers and plants below the blue car were not glued down hence the title of this post : Experimenting..

Actually by that day, I have already spotted another broken toy car at my mum's (Nat goes there after school when his parents are at work) and it was perfect because it was another mini cooper in the same scale. The roof was already a little loose from the body. I asked Nat for it a few times but he persistently refused. 

Nat: No, Tata Ah Yee, the mini is not broken yet and I can still play with it. We can only use cars that are already spoilt right? But you can take my corvette, it's a convertible....

Me: But the corvette is not the same scale!

Nat: *blank look

Me: I mean the corvette is not of the same size as the rest of the cars. It's too small.

Nat: Oh ya..

Me (screeching): And until we have the last car, we cannot work any further on the junkyard !

Nat: Ok! (ran off to Ipad)

Clearly, I was the only one fretting about not being able to work on the junkyard. So I began to plot how I could con the last mini out of him...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Day 337 & 338- The Red Garden

Day 337

10th June 2012

I worked through the Sunday after our 7th meeting as if in a trance, so intoxicated I was by the prettiness of the rampant rambler rose and the poetry of the weaving vines. I painted my roses in an array of subtle reds, from tea rose to champagne rouge, peaches and cream to bashful. I don't think I have ever loved pink as much as I did that day.

Despite their humble beginnings, the flowers' insidious invasion was inevitable. Soon, the conquest of that corner of the junkyard was almost complete and it became impossible to tell where these spilling blooms originated. Are they moving out or coming in? Was the door open to welcome or to bid goodbye? 

Like the landscape artist I can dream of being only in my miniature world, I deftly planted some beetroot bull's blood onto a bed of tiny stones the colour of raspberry sherbet. The combination was divine, not unlike the tenderest beef cubes stewed in Cabernet Sauvignon.

Stew! I felt the hunger pangs then and saw that the evening shadows had fallen. I told myself, the day is done, I shall stop now.

Day 338   

16th June 2012

The 8th Saturday arrived with me still obsessed with all plants red. So I started that day with  making an unusual berry plant using some scaly hulls I found while running at an ancient Japanese cemetery; a burial ground  that seemed more like a Zen garden.

More painting ensued when I cultivated the tiniest baby's breath into crimson wild flowers and sprinkled them across my field of green. A bunch of spagnum moss was soaked in a cup of   primary red acrylics in preparation for my own version of a cherry tree.

While waiting for the spagnum to dry, I painted some more so that little purple plums hung off the mossy tyres I created for a playground  meant for all creatures small and wonderful. As if there were not enough red already, I planted clusters of Amanita muscaria, the quintessential toadstools that I thought only existed in the world of gnomes and fairies until I found out otherwise from my dollhouse friends.

Then more  wild roses,

and more and more and more,

this time with stems and thorns and vines that seemed to go on forever.

It was way after Teedee had left with his mama that 2 mulberry trees sprouted. There was the shorter, wider one at the playground;

placed there because the branches looked as if they were bursting with cotton candies.  Hanging from the same branches were also drapes of nature's ribbons for dancing and merry making.I could almost hear singing , 

Here we go  around the mulberry bush; early in the morning... 

 The tall burgundy one was planted just next to the car just so we could celebrate the freak of nature where 2 different plants might bear the same fruits or rejoice in the harmony of different or heck, jubilate just for the sake of jubilation and for no other reasons whatsoever. Happy for happy sake.

And where was Nat during this whole time?

Around but not near enough and with his 1st love, not me. They were inseparable, my iPad and him. I did find this picture of me though which must have been taken by Nat at a time when he needed space from his love.

And when I yelled for him , he would come running, alone, and asked yes, tata ah yee?

And then disappear before I could give any meaningful answer, as if he couldn't bear to be away from his love even though it was just long enough for me to accusingly whine you no longer care about the junkyard and for him to reply of course I do! But I design you build, right? 

Right. See that shadow? That's him always lurking, directing, telling me what he thinks even when he is not with me.

8th Saturday, 16th June 2012
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