As I currently have a little time on my hands, I’m devoting part of a work week and most weekends to painting some items on my wish list. It’s actually a mile long, but I’m determined to slowly and systematically tick each and every single one off!
The first one is a teenage angst fave, dark comedy “Heathers.” I remember my best friend (also coincidentally named Irene) would come round to my house and we’d insert the VHS tape into the machine and watch some mean girls in action. That whole high school hierarchy thing was lost on us since she went to an enormous Catholic high school where I pictured massive hallways with kids sort of milling about, looking lost and not really knowing anyone else due to its size. I myself attended the much smaller High School of Art and Design where everyone basically knew each other but were too focused on the latest release of a new Marvel comic (or, for weeks at one point, mourning the death of Superman) to appoint anyone as Queen Bee or allowed themselves to be ordered about. Either that, or we were just really nice kids. Despite it all, we loved “Heathers.” It might be because someone in the film tried to blow the school up in the end.
The core cast of “Heathers,” featuring (from left to right) JD, Heather Duke, Heather Chandler, Heather McNamara, and of course, Veronica Sawyer.
Here’s Heather Duke with her copy of “Moby Dick.” I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe a high school girl’s favorite book is that particular Herman Melville classic. Then again, my favorite tome in high school had been “A Confederacy of Dunces” so…
And here is also Heather Chandler’s Scrunchie of Power.
Here’s JD with his murder weapons of choice. I thought about throwing a bundle of dynamites too, but that’s overkill, don’t you think?
Since things are a bit of a zoo here at the ol’ Babushka sweatshop, I have a kid helping me out with the prep work. I don’t know whether or not he’s keeping this part time gig a secret because it’s really not cool to mention that you paint dolls to your buddies and potential paramour. But I realized, much to my chagrin, that the majority of the dolls I have painted are quite violently accessorized. That should add about an ounce of “cool” factor into this type of work for a teenage boy.
This “Heathers” set will be winding its way to the Pygmy Hippo Shoppe in a few days and will also be available as a made-to-order item in my etsy shop.
A while back I did my own modern version of The Wizard of Oz wherein the characters all wore sport coats and looked pretty stylin’, but a part of me always wanted to paint the original MGM version but never got around to do it. I was asked recently to paint this set for a birthday present. Did I have to think twice about it? You bet your sweet caboose I didn’t!
The largest doll here isn’t Dorothy. It’s actually the Wizard, who was so big I couldn’t fit him into the shot.
This one was customized for the birthday boy:
Some close ups:
Here’s Toto peeking out of Dorothy’s basket.
The Wicked Witch with her Flying Monkey.
Just to give you an idea how tiny the witch and the monkey were…
Yow! This is one photo I dare not show my optometrist for fear of being given a lecture!
Now, if someone is to ask me to paint my favorite version of the Oz stories (the trauma-inducing “Return to Oz’), I’ll totally be up for it!
Every now and then I get asked to create a set or two as wedding presents. They usually run along the theme of the couple themselves in wedding garb or doing something fun. I also get asked time and again to create something completely off the wall for couples on the path to matrimonial bliss and this one is no exception…
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog cast featuring (clockwise from left) Penny, Dr. Horrible, Captain Hammer, Moist, and Bad Horse.
I’ve always wanted to have a look at this web series, but as it were, things don’t usually go according to plan. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to check this one out when the opportunity arose. I have once seen Neil Patrick Harris doing “Cabaret” so I know the man’s got pipes. But I didn’t know Richard Castle could sing. When the request came to paint this set, I was given a list of characters. I had to say yes when I learned that Howard Wolowitz played a character named “Moist.”
Here’s Bad Horse holding a letter of condemnation:
When you get to be as old as me, chances are you’ve been to more weddings you can count. There’s nothing wrong with traditional weddings, of course, but after a while all the dresses, shoes and tuxes all start to look the same. As someone who is always looking for something different to paint, I was thrilled to be asked to paint Amelia and Radek’s wedding dolls, a present to them from a pretty amazing sister.
Short pant tux! An off shoulder Christian Dior dress with the most amazing silver chrome shoes ever to go with it! Fabulous in every way!
This is a double trio, which depicts the couple’s wedding, their meeting (heck, if I was a guy meeting a chick wearing that dress, I’d ask her out in a heartbeat!), and their hobbies. Of course, for Amelia, it’s not just a hobby, but work as well. If you’re in Brooklyn, be sure to check out Sugarbuilt Cookies to sate your sweet tooth!
Years ago I did a Devo set and had been wanting to do another. I mean, I’ve got sheets of foam, a hammer, and the hubs’ hole punch set, so there’s no reason why I couldn’t go to town making the Devo hats.
An opportunity arose and I got to repeat the original set AND create a whole new one. It’s for people who like shiny things.
It seemed that every time Wes Anderson has a new film out, I’m in the States and therefore able to attend a screening in a proper theater with a bag of popcorn firmly anchored on my lap. It is fortunate that I’m around this time also to catch “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, a set of this movie had to be painted. No doubt!
Here we have (clockwise from left) Monsieur Gustave H, Agatha, Zero, J.G. Jopling, Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe-und-Taxis, and of course, Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis.
Some close ups:
J.G. Jopling’s skull rings.
The lovely Agatha with her birthmark and accessories.
The best thing about this movie was the Mendl’s cake. Since I’m a lazy baker, I prefer to look at photos of it instead of attempting to replicate it.
This cake is what dreams are made of. But for those of you who have the drive and the will to recreate this delicious treat, here’s a link to the recipe.
The last time I set foot outside the LAX I was seven years old. I took a picture with E.T., I went to a zoo, and I witness a flood at the Universal Studios. So when Emi of Pygmy Hippo suggested that I come and see her at her shoppe during my layover back to Oz, I became religious. You read that right. I had to pray to the Great Organizer of the Universe that nothing would delay my flight so I may go and meet this girl whom I’ve been working with for about two-and-a-half years.
Nothing did delay my flight from Denver to LA, although there was a hairy moment involving a power outage…not something you want to hear at an airport. I planted myself into a cab piloted by a very accommodating driver who put up with my incessant chattering and pointless questioning. You spend two months painting in a basement and I’ll bet you will talk the ear off a cornstalk too! We arrived at the Shoppe just as the sun was losing its last rays and I started screaming like a One Direction tween fan as soon as I spotted Emi. Arms were flapped and words were shouted at top volume. It was so great to see this fabulous shop and its proprietress in person at long last!
Look at this gal! I could, even if I try, never ever look half as cute as her!
Emi’s man Nathan more or less built every single item in the shoppe. He had measured the counter space just so so it was literally designed just for Emi! I’d love to spend hours in there, browsing and trying not to knock over things with the giant butt I’ve acquired over the two months thanks to Mom’s delicious cooking, but alas, there was another flight awaiting me.
We hightailed to the Culver City In-N-Out Burger. As a former East Coast being, I’ve heard great things about their legendary burgers and insanity fries. Emi and Nathan ordered some off-the-menu items for me. It was a shame I was so excited to meet them that I couldn’t finish my animal style fries. But that’s just an excuse to come back out another time, isn’t it?
Thank you, Emi and Nathan for treating me to the best layover meal and conversations ever!
The Pygmy Hippo Shoppe has been featured in many media outlets. This is the one I found that was pretty darn special.
Well, the time has come for me to pack up my brushes, put away my paints, and head on back to the Down Under. Contrary to what people think, I didn’t take two entire months off from work. Far from it! My family aren’t exactly thrilled that I’m holed up in my temporary basement sweatshop, toiling away the entire time, emerging only now and then to feed and sleep and walk the Bo. I have been compared to a prairie dog, of which there are plenty of here in Denver.
But my truly awesome friend Po’Trowski made an effort to come here and see me all the way from New York and get me away from my work table for a few days! We took her to Lucile’s, a creole cafe with an awesome breakfast menu that features the most amazing beignets this side of Louisiana, and a breakfast beer for under $3!
We also did what New Yorkers do best: Shop.
No, we didn’t buy the Swaglash specs, but the lady at Claire’s Accessories tolerated our inability to keep our mouths shut as we made fun of all sorts of nonsense in the store that’s clearly designed for people at least 20 years younger than us.
We also did some sightseeing, one of which was the Stanley Hotel, which I’d only caught a glimpse of during my first visit to CO years ago.
One of these days I’ll have time enough to go inside and indulge in a ghost walk. Until then, I’ll just watch “The Shining” again!
Of course, it’s not all play and no work here. Po’Trowski was pressed into service, temporarily taking over Shane’s job as my sweatshop helper.
Here she is, prepping the doll sets at my niece and nephew’s craft table. I’m a little disappointed that they’re too young to be working for me, but give it a year or so and I’ll really have something going here!
See you all back in Oz! My etsy store reopens 4 May with brand new items including the Grand Budapest Hotel and some new and improved Breaking Bad and mini Big Lebowski! Watch out also for some real nostalgic trips down the 80′s memory lane!
Since my friend Pacheco and I have similar taste in all things pop culture (except music. He’s a little bit hip hop, I’m a little bit 666), when he suggests something, I listen—especially these days when I often feel marooned in Oz-land. Information just doesn’t reach us down there as quickly as it does in the US. True, I can always plug into all sorts of social media for my dose of entertainment news, but who has time for that? In any case, when he brought up “Broad City,” I checked it out and boy, am I glad I did!
This show chronicles the misadventures of 2 girls in their twenties out and about in Brooklyn. It’s a bit like “Girls” except funnier. I was pretty much completely sold on it during the scene when Abbi rolled out of the dentist’s waiting room like a tumbleweed.
I really wanted to capture Ilana Glazer’s glorious head of hair. Just painting it wouldn’t do. So I poked around and found freshly cut wool from sheep that has not been treated so it still retained its beautiful curls. It’s a fantastic material to make wigs from and there we have it.
As “P*$$y Weed” is the episode that sold me, I decided to paint Ilana and Abbi from it with one minor exception:
Here Ilana is holding the painting Abbi made for her gallery opening at a sandwich shop.
I was unable to find my standard sets of 3s. They in turn sent me these really tiny ones, which are only good for doing sets of 2s. Instead of using the last doll to paint Hannibal Buress, Ilana’s occasional hookup/dentist, I made this:
A mini jaw breaker which caused Ilana’s front tooth to fall out, the said tooth, an a mini bag of weed.
Now, I don’t want you to think just because I’m in Colorado now I’m indulging in the new law that’s been passed here and am using the real thing. It’s actually just some artificial moss. Sorry.