Not Your Average Vacation Photos

After being on this planet for a number of years, I have learned that most people couldn’t care less about seeing your vacation pics. I can certainly understand why. Unless you’re a world class photographers, the photos produced from you cannot effectively capture the true essence of the sights you’ve seen, no matter how breathtaking. But this doesn’t stop people from asking you why you haven’t taken any photos on your holidays either. I do want to share my holiday photos, yet at the same time, I don’t want to bore you all. Here are some of the pictures I have put together from my travels to the US in the last month and a half, a combination family reunions/belated honeymoon/birthday.

LA

Here we are in Los Angeles, checking out a few theme parks as part of the Hubs’ birthday present (Disneyworld, California Adventures, and Universal Studios). We also wandered the streets of Hollywood and had dinner at In-N-Out Burger.

Pygmy Hippo

Whilst in LA I had to visit one of my favorite gal, Emi of the teeny weeny Pygmy Hippo Shoppe!

Then off we went to Colorado to visit my parents, who were kind enough to take us around to a few places of interest:

Colorado

(Clockwise from left) We toured the Celestial Seasonings factory, had a gander at the wonder that is The Garden of the Gods, rode the train up to the Pikes Peak summit, and gawped at the amazing chapel at the Air Force Academy.

For our honeymoon we took a cruise in Alaska and had a blast stuffing our faces with the bounty in the myriad restaurants on the boat and marveling at the wonders Alaska had to offer, often with a plate heaped with cake in front of us. I was smart. I packed nothing but elastic waisted pants for this trip in order to accommodate my ever-expanding girth.

Alaska

Fortunately, the shore excursions prevented us from asking the staff to roll us off the boat at the end of the cruise. I enjoyed a tram ride and hike in Juneau while Anthony biked to admire some glaciers before being taken to a brewery. We sampled salmon in Ketchikan and kayaked a bit and we took a train ride up to the Fraser in British Columbia for yet another paddle.

We went to Kansas to visit our friends whom we haven’t seen in years and spent several days gabbing in their bunker-style home with the knowledge that we’d be safe should a tornado hit this fair state.

kansas

After spending a bit more time in Colorado with my family, we flew off to San Francisco to visit another set of family that I haven’t seen in years. There we were fed sumptuous feasts and were given a 5-star tour of this glorious city.

San Francisco

Cousin Carolyn drove us down Lombard Street just for kicks; we saw the Palace of Fine Arts twice, once with Auntie Glendy and the second time on Segways. We admired the gorgeous architecture of San Francisco and looked at the Golden Gate Bridge from many angles.

But the best thing we did was taking the ferry to Alcatraz!

Since I was in San Francisco, there was no reason why I shouldn’t visit Alix Bluh and her gorgeous jewelry/curio shop. She is every bit as delightful and whimsical as the jewelry she creates!

Alix

By this time I am bloated beyond recognition, so I’m treating you to some photos of her gorgeous shop:

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Alix+Blüh's+Maker+Spaces+-+Makelight

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Can you imagine being surrounded by so much beauty?

So that’s it for my time away from the sweat shop! I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work!

Fawlty Towers

I’ve had this set in mind for the longest time, but of course what with one thing after another, it took a while to produce it. It’s for my friend’s dad’s birthday, and it’s only right he should be getting a Fawlty Towers set complete with the exceedingly rude Basil Fawlty, his domineering wife Sybil; Polly, the only calm and competent staff, and the language deficient porter/waiter Manuel. I remember walking past my friend’s TV set as a child and saw Basil Fawlty goose stepping around the dining room and immediately demanded to know if this was a lost Monty Python episode. Mr. S patiently explained the brilliance of Fawlty Towers to me and at my next play date there, my friend and I watched all 12 episodes, more or less in one sitting.

Fawlty

Here’s Basil, Sybil, Polly Manuel, and Manuel’s pet hamster, which is really a rat, named after Basil.

Years later, when my friend and I were driving around the UK, checking into whatever B&B we came upon at the end of the day, we met a real life Basil Fawlty. Actually, that’s not fair on his part. He was polite but uncomfortably stern. The man did not crack a single smile the entire time we were there. When we returned from a late dinner at the pub, we found him standing in the front hall with his arms folded, bearing the manner of someone who’s been waiting there for a very long time. I thought we’d get a tongue lashing about stumbling in at 10 PM, as we’d been conditioned by Basil Fawlty’s school of hospitality, but really, he just wanted to take our breakfast order. Still, the whole thing was just really really weird and we were simply glad that we didn’t end up buried in his garden.

Let Me Entertain You!

Did I ever mention I was a bona fide musical theater nut? It helped that my BFF from way back when was totally into theater too so we more or less spent our allowances on theater tickets growing up. Later on, when she’s away at school in Boston, she’d make frequent trips back to the Big Apple so we could take in a matinee or two. One of the first musicals we’ve ever gone to see together was “Gypsy” starring Tyne Daly as Mama Rose. Later on, I was the one to make a trip to Boston to see the very same BFF take on the part of Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee at a community theater production. I figured for her very first Bobo Babushka set from yours truly ought to commemorate this musical. Of course, it was a hard choice between Gypsy or the guys from Monty Python, another one of our favorites in our teenage years. What can I say? We did not have a run-of-the-mill childhood.

Gypsy

This one features Mama Rose, Gypsy Rose Lee, Herbie the boyfriend, young Louise and Baby June.

Happy Birthday, Irene! (That’s right, she and I also share the same first name. In her house I was known as “The Other.”) Hope everything’s coming up roses for you always!

Wild at Heart

The best part about painting the cast of the David Lynch film “Wild at Heart?” Nicolas Cage’s snake skin jacket.

Sailor Ripley

I used to have an orange and tan suede fish scale jacket that might’ve looked fine on a pimp, but so wrong for a short female. Wearing it to my painting classes in art school was fine, but not so much when I was confronted by the real world and jobs that required me to fill out a W2 form and hire an accountant once a year (what? Did you think I could be trusted to do my own tax returns? Please). Back then I wish I could’ve utilized this line to its fullest potential:

“This is a snakeskin jacket! And for me it’s a symbol of my individuality, and my belief… in personal freedom.”

But of course I’d substitute it with “fish scale jacket.”

Here’s the rest of the cast:

cast

(Clockwise from left)

Marietta Fortune (after she colored her face with lipstick), her daughter Lula, Johnnie Farragut, and Marcelles Santos.

ast2

Here’s also Bobby Peru and Sheryl Lee as The Good Witch.

Wisdom Teeth

The one positive thing about getting heavy duty dental work done is obtaining and ingesting schedule II narcotics legally. That’s what I always thought except my old dentist was so impressed by my ability to withstand pain that he rarely suggests anything other than regular ol’ Tylenol, and not even the fun kind that requires a little note and a trip to the pharmacist. He did, however, always indulge my various requests of getting me under when I went in four separate times to get my wisdom teeth out. For the last shout we settled on “The Gas,” (as he called it). Then he cranked up some Pink Floyd and informed me that things were going to get psychedelic.

That was probably why I enjoyed season 2 episode 3 of Broad City a little more than the average person. The Pygmy Hippo Shoppe requested another Broad City set and I haven’t had any inspiration coming at me and was tossing up whether or not to repeat the one I did last year when I suddenly remember my old dentist coming at me with sharp implements and making loopy motions with it as an attempt to enhance my psychedelic experience. So here’s Ilana, Abbi, and Abbi’s doll Bingo Bronson, who led her, in a hallucinatory state, on an insane shopping spree at Whole Foods and screeching about manua honey.

Broad City

I can’t get enough of Bingo Bronson, a physical manifestation of all the little voices that urge us to buy things we don’t need when we go shopping.

Bingo Bronson

Return to Oz

 I’d been utterly intrigued by this movie as a child, mostly due to the shockingly creepiness of it. I was thrilled that someone actually made a horror movie for children! Even so, I was reluctant to tackle this project because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. But someone asked me to paint a set just as I was getting the itch to and was actually starting to compile the photo references needed to get me started. Return to Oz

It was clear from the start that other than Dorothy, I had to paint Jack Pumpkinhead, Mombi, the witch with a collection of heads that she switch up to suit her mood, the dastardly Nome King, Mombi’s henchman, a Wheeler, Ozma, the Queen of Oz, and of course, Tik Tock. I thought about the Gump, which is a moose head attached to a bed and brought to life by a magical powder but couldn’t figure out how to work him into this set. The buyer made a mention of it and you know I don’t like to disappoint. The simplest solution is to do this:

The Gump

Problem solved!

Some details:

wheeler-Ozma Billina

The Wheeler, Ozma, and Billina the talking chicken.

Nome King Mombi

The Nome King wearing Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Mombi with her mandolin.

It’s Vacation Time!

It’s been two long years of non-stop painting for yours truly. I would get irrationally happy at the prospect of having half a day off during these times. Imagine having seven weeks off! I did a Jig of Happiness and nearly fell down the stairs. Not a good way to start one’s holiday, is it? Of course I could’ve given myself a day or two off, but you have to really be in love with your job to keep on working, and I suppose that’s why I couldn’t stay away from my sweatshop.

Ant Irene1

The Hubs and I are returning to my native land for a combination birthday celebration (his)/family reunion (mine)/and honeymoon holiday. It’ll give me some time to post some of the sets I painted in the last 2 months and haven’t gotten around to updating!

The Kayys

Every now and then I get to do some fashion-y stuff. It’s not often, though, as the general shape of the nesting dolls doesn’t tend to flatter the wearer of high-end garments. But I was asked to paint the summer/spring line of the fabulous Qatar-based designers The Kayys.

KayysFashion

One of the designers asked me to pick 4 outfits myself, which I was more than happy to as I was rarely trusted to make fashion-based decisions. I hope I did this set justice!

Some close ups:

KayysFashion3 Kayys Fashion2

KayysFashion1

Then I was asked to add more hair to the models. That worked out even better!

hair

Legend

I have to admit I was never very impressed by fantasy films made in the 80’s, not since I was forced to watch “Clash of the Titans” with my classmates so the teachers could go out for a smoke or something. The special effects were pretty dreadful. I kept expecting to see a giant hand swooping into the screen to straighten out the creatures that were bent unnaturally at the waist. So when it was pressed upon me to view “Legend” starring Tom Cruise so I could create a set of the main characters, I hemmed and hawed but finally agreed only because A. it was made during a pre-Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch era, B. two words: Tim Curry and C. Unicorns!

It was a fun movie. I got all nostalgic thinking about “The Neverending Story” and “The Dark Crystal”. I got around to thinking that maybe I didn’t hate 80’s fantasy films after all, just “Clash of the Titans.”

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From left to right: Jack in his bling bling armor, Lily, fairy Oona, and of course, The Darkness with them horns.

As this is a set of fours, I decided to hide a little surprise inside the Oona doll for the buyer:

Unicorn horn

It’s a itty bitty unicorn horn!

Immortal…and Tardar Sauce

As someone who gets odd requests now and again, this has got to be the strangest one yet. This set features the Norwegian Black Metal band Immortal and Grumpy Cat. It’s meant to be a housewarming present. Why not? I myself have been given a Buddy Christ figurine from the movie “Dogma” and a Tick action figure when I moved to a new apartment years ago.

Immortal.GrumpyCat

And who doesn’t love a Grumpy Cat nesting doll?

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