Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fair game!

Sorry...I couldn't resist that title. I have just been reading Michael Quinion's World Wide Words list which puts me into word play mood.

Labor Day weekend was a big deal here in Woodstock as the 4 day Woodstock Fair is set up then. This was its 145th year. Neighbor Shirley had opened a Pandora's box for me a couple weeks before by saying, "Emma, you should enter this photo in the fair!". I had photographed Gordon's chickens this summer and Photoshoped it to look like a watercolor.

Shirley and her husband, Gordon, regularly walk away with a zillion blue ribbons for their entries in the vegetable and baking groups. She gave me this big fat book which describes all the classes and groups for entries....there are hundreds!!! This is Shirl's 2005 winning cranberry bread entry. I think she will share the recipe if you ask.

Then I noticed that you get MONEY if you win. 8 bucks for first, and then 6 and 4. Cool, thought I, maybe I can earn enough to cover our entry tickets! And then I noticed the Fair Themed Mobile Contest. Winner got 75 smackeroos...and that REALLY got my attention. (By the end of the summer teachers, in general, are thinking like this.) So here is the story of my mobile.

First, let me show you why I love the fair. I am addicted to the matched produce competitions.

I love the way they look....the contrast of the color against the white paper plate or whitewashed boards, the symmetry, the repetition.

I love the thought of folks all over town hoarding their tomatoes or eggs or string beans, making daily size and color judgments, looking for the perfect set.

(Kids...can you see why I ended up an art teacher? :-)

Anyway, the mobile seemed like an easy thing for me to make. I signed up to enter three! You are allowed three in any one class. I also entered 2 pieces of my odd jewelry I had laying around. One is a very realistic monarch butterfly caterpillar eating a milkweed leaf. The other is titled "Fisherman's Dream" as it is a weird fish with a realistic hand coming out of its throat which grabs at the fishing line that hangs it around your neck. I also entered the chicken photo and a tractor photomontage.

Then school started.

The fair was getting closer and I didn't have any time to make mobiles!! The pressure was on. It wasn't as much fun thinking about mobiles. Finally I made the time to go down into the cellar and do it...

I had a great time making the animals.

My best is the ram.

The cow isn't bad but there is something wrong with her nose.
( John Singer Sargent, the 19th century artist, said, “A portrait is a painting in which there is something wrong with the nose.")

The pig is OK...the rabbit is passable...the turkey is what his name implies. There is something cool on the turkey you can't see though; his waddle is hot glue slurps.

Determined to use only stuff I had already, I made the armature from hammered dulcimer strings. It wasn't quite heavy enough so there is some triangulating to stiffen the contraption and allow longer extensions. The feature I am most fond of is the ability of all parts to slide up and down on the central column. Everything is held in place by tension once you position it wherever you like. A scrap of heavy metal hanging at the bottom adds the rigidity to the central wire.

To bring this story to a close (I'm tired of doing it) the flexibility and liveliness of the moble was it's downfall. Jack took it over to the fairgrounds while I was at work. The turkey jiggled off (who else but the turkey!?) and the receivers were nervous nellies, mortally (and correctly I should add) afraid of damaging anyone's precious creation. So my husband decided they couldn't handle the stress of taking in this work and I should do it later that day when I got home. But I was too wiped out by a day in a super-heated school...and didn't.

Wish I had.

Maybe next year there will be a mobile competition. I'm ready!

One last photo to end on a word play....

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