gingerbread 1-just for fun

I love my work ! One of the many great things about being a professional designer and artist is that the skills that I cultivate day in and day out designing, say, museum exhibits or doing woodworking or ceramics, can be applied to any media or endeavor. Though I’d done some sugar work (pastiage) in the past, I’d never worked with gingerbread. I decided that this year I was going to step up and give it a shot. Per my usual lack of good sense, I committed to hosting several families for a sunday of gingerbreadery, and started the project just a week beforehand. Fortunately, I have a great book, and the web for directions and inspiration, and after applying my standard designer’s approach; reasearch, sketch exploration,  scale plans, and mindful execution, I was able to come up with results that I’m pretty happy with. Also, the marathon of baking, trimming, and assembly gave me a solid foundation in understanding of the media for my next project-of which I already have several in mind.

After deciding on a simple, traditional cottage design (a straightforward canvas for the kid’s creativity), I did the wall and roof elements up in cad (seen behind in the following picture). As a dyed-in-the-wood shop rat, I’m always thinking precision and replicability, so I decided, instead of using the typical cardboard or paper, to machine my forms in the shop out of 1/4 hard board. Five years from now, they will still be perfectly usable and stable. Below is the wall sections of the first “test” house assembled. I trick that I got from watching a chef on Youtube, which is to re-trim the pieces right out of the oven to re-true the edges, yielded square, precise pieces that fit together perfectly. I scored another bit of first-timer’s luck when my experiment in pouring hot sugar “windows” into the cut outs in the walls went off without  a hitch. My friends girl, Lea (pictured above), is super creative and is, undoubtedly, destined to be an architect or designer. As with many other architects, she felt compelled to oversee all creative aspects and insisted on building furniture to go into the house-hence the bunk beds, table and chairs, mantle with pretzel stick logs, and the “fruit dishes” (made of hollowed out nilla wafers filled with candy). She also insisted that the appropriate position for the “crib” (made of pieces of chocolate bar and a cracker) was on top of the bunk beds. I’m guessing that Leah will not be one of those pc overprotective mothers :-).

So, here are several of the finished foundation structures, dried and ready for the kids to attack-

Ready..Set..FROST! The pandemonium begins. It’s a terrific lesson, as a professional artist, to see how kids go about their creating. No hemming and hawing, no lamenting their lack of skill compared to anyone else, just gluing and sticking on pieces at their own pace an in accord with their own personality and preferences.

I also love the bits of unexpected ornament; smiley faces on the outside walls (howdy neighbor!), sweet tart “gardens” (in the middle of winter), archways at the entrance to the jelly bean walk, and Hershey kisses applied with the wrapper still on. Again, as a professional, good lessons in outside-the-box thinking-

I had to laugh as I was editing these pictures as I discovered that I had, unknowingly, captured a great many examples of little Mary demonstrating her commitment to “quality control” :-)-

finally, after the kids were gone and the pieces were drying, I gave into the last bit of temptation. Some wire, LEDs, a micro switch, and a little solder later- an extra little bit of fun for the kids for every time that they pass by their houses-

Hope that you guys enjoyed this bit of fun. Happy holidays 2009!

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