The Tale of Two Hats

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Our neighbors down the street commissioned me to make them some crazy hats for a charity dinner party they are attending that happens to have an under-the-sea theme. They knew I might be up for the task based on my paper-maché-snitch-piñata-making skills. Of course I said yes. How fun would this be?

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For the man they asked for an angler fish hat. Great idea, right? Sadly, this monstrosity fell very far short of my imagination of what it should be.  It looks pretty scary but there are so many things wrong with it. Firstly, I had to figure out a way to make the teeth (that I bought off amazon) splay outwards in a big bulbous way. The only way I could figure to do this was by paper-mache over a balloon. That worked but then I had to attach my bulbous shape to the hat somehow.

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I ended up cutting the dried ballon so it lay over the front of the hat and then I attached it to the hat with wire that I had wrapped in newspaper for bulk. Then I had to cover up the wire and the balloon so I used black crafting foam. I think ideally I would have paper mache-ed the whole thing but I didn’t want the hat getting too soggy and I was running out of time.

Black crafting foam is a great medium that can be cut in all sorts of fun spikey ways but wrapping a flat square piece of foam over a round shape is challenging! I could have improved my pattern A LOT but you know me, I just forged on like non-perfectionist that I am. So that means the underside of the hat (the part you see the most when you are wearing the hat has this awkward open space under the mouth. It’s all spray-painted black but it looks like a hodge podge quilt. I guess angler fish aren’t the prettiest of fish anyway so we’ll just embrace it. Then I couldn’t get the foam to match up to the mouth so I cut these strips of spiked foam and wrapped them around like lips. I also forgot to spray paint those strips so they are matte while the rest of the fish is properly slimy looking. Groan.  I think overall it works if you don’t think about it too hard.

BUT! The noodle-y thing that angler fish use to catch their prey does light up! That’s why there is a pretty big opening between the teeth. That’s where you can squeeze your hand inside the mouth to switch the lights on and off. I used the cork fairy lights that I had used for our fairy jar craft. I just covered the lights along the string with masking tape spray-painted black.

It’s a big mess. But you wouldn’t know if I didn’t tell you, right?

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So you would think that this sea-foam under-the-sea woman’s hat would be a piece of cake, right? Compared to the angler fish hat this should be something I could do in my sleep. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty! I did everything wrong. Firstly, I decided to add these really cool octopus tendril finger puppet things to the front that should be the back. Yep. I squarely did everything backwards on this hat. The front is the back and the back is the front and there is a big ol’ visible seam on the front. I always do everything wrong first. Except this time I couldn’t go back and fix it second time around because the tendrils were good and sewn and there was no ungluing the tulle and sequined fabric that I wrapped around and glued to the brim. But really, that’s not my first mistake. My first mistake was to buy the hat in blue and purple instead of just blue.

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I ended up hating the purple so much that I spray-painted the top to cover it up. I wish I would have spray-painted the whole thing because the spray paint actually looks pretty good but by the time I figured that out I had already glued dozens of shells and bubbles and pearls and sequins to the hat and they would look horrible turned all flat blue.

So that’s that! Pretty cool but riddled with problems!

Thankfully the recipients will probably neither notice nor care! And now I know how to do it right if I ever need to make these again.

The Great Broad Adventure

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We hit up the The Broad (rhymes with road) for my birthday this last Thursday. As everyone knows I’m a huge fan of making your birthday (or any day really) a great day by deciding exactly what you want to do and then doing it instead of waiting around for others to magically read your mind and help make your day wonderful for you. Because they don’t have a clue! That’s really how it is.

How many times have you walked into an Anthropology store (or whatever store is your favorite. Maybe it’s Cabellas or even Target…) and thought, I wish my friends and relatives would buy me presents from here because I like every single thing in this store!! but then wandered the displays for an hour and found yourself not able to pick one thing for a friend (who is probably just like you and likes every single thing in the store) because you just don’t know if that’s what they’d really like? I mean, what if they already have thirty-seven floral aprons and they don’t really want a grapefruit-lily scented candle? How well do you really know your friends?!! Of course there are some things that stand out and shout someone’s name and that is awesome but it doesn’t always happen.

So that’s my point: People don’t know that you would just like to have a quiet day at home reading books all day with your big ol’ mug of tea OR have a giant surprise party in Las Vegas with strippers jumping out of a cake wearing fishnet stockings. People have no idea! You have to tell them! Or better yet, plan it yourself and then invite them to come with. You’ll have the best time ever. I promise.

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So yeah, The Broad. That’s my idea of a good time. I’m a heavy instagram user (insert eye roll from my family) and I’ve been staring at photos of The Broad for ages wondering about this crazy museum and wishing I could go stand in a black room filled with rain, which turns out isn’t a room full of rain but actually an infinity mirrored room.  Sadly, we didn’t get tickets for that room so I didn’t get to see it but at least now I have an idea how the whole thing works and next time I will make sure I make a reservation!

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Not everyone shared my excitement over contemporary art but I think they enjoyed the adventure anyway and now their brains are expanded a little.

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I don’t think anyone really gets contemporary art. That’s the point, right? It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s supposed to make you stand there and puzzle. Like it says in  Steal Like an Artist  “Modern art = I could do that + yeah, but you didn’t.” (Which I stole from here because I haven’t even read “Steal Like an Artist” but I should!)

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There are so many ways to enjoy art. One is to read the little plaques about each artist and imagine how and why they created each piece. Another way is to walk around completely open-minded and just soak in your own feelings. Don’t even try to learn about the artist. Make it personal experience. And a third really super way to enjoy it is to watch how others interact. I think that might be my favorite thing: watching other people look at art.

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Which pieces make them smile? Which ones make them screw up their eyes in confusion…

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People are even more interesting than the art I think.

Some people stare and contemplate. Maybe they are on their lunch break and just soaking up some peace and quiet… Most people take pictures and selfies.   They bunch up their families against their favorite installations throwing in a peace sign here and there. Some people make funny poses and completely forget about their pride, only worrying about their followers on the other side of their phone.

Is it really that bad to be that person taking a million photos and posting them to Instagram (or on a blog like this one)? I could argue both sides and I do. Of course everyone is moaning that all anyone cares about is taking pictures these days and they don’t truly enjoy the moment anymore but is that true? I think I enjoy it more when I’m trying to capture something. I love the thrill of the hunt and taking pictures is FREE! the best kind of hunt of all!  I would have never even found The Broad if it wasn’t for so many instagrammers posting about it. So maybe I’m a lemming or maybe I’m onto something joyful.

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Payam and I argued over this piece for really long time. He was adamant that the artist used photoshop to create all these shelves at Amazon being so close together. I was sure it was just compression of a fancy camera lens. Turns out I was wrong!

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We all loved the giant table and chairs. Of course I had to go and pretend to be a cat rubbing up against a chair leg (because how could you not?!) and then I got scolded by a museum guard which made me feel terrible. It turns out the guards are not as mean as they seem to be. I got scolded again later for standing too close to a piece and when I apologized the guard engaged me in a really interesting conversation and told me not to feel bad. So there’s that! I totally get it and I want to protect this art too but it’s hard when it’s so interesting and screaming out to be interacted with.

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Like these lumps of grass in front of the building. It turns out they are fancy gardens tended by expert gardeners and sitting on them is NOT ALLOWED. Our bad.

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All in all it was a great adventure. Everyone had a different take. We bonded over our differences and it gave us tons to talk about which is what what I really wanted for my birthday. My love language is time after all. Time with my peeps.

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It was my day and I felt really special. Payam kept telling me that every little stroke of luck he planned especially for me on my birthday. He’s a comedian like that. We had just enough time to get coffee before we queued up for our reservation line, that was part of his plan. Then the fact that the line was just long enough for us to have enough time to sip our coffee (as it cooled) and finish it right before we had to throw away our empty cups (that were not allowed in the museum)—all part of a magically orchestrated plan! And then this piece that was for me, obviously.

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Happy sigh.