Taffy is literally beside himself with excitement about this week’s blog post:
Ha ha. For the record, those are two separate cats. You know that’s Taffy on our patio chair with his back to you, and that’s our neighbor’s cat, Dennis, giving you the hairy eyeball. And they are both simply livid with excitement about today’s blog post!!!
Thanks to Dear Reader Alex, who alerted me to the existence of this book, I have a great new [to me] resource for my latest obsession:
This (below) is not the prettiest castle in the book, but it’s got that certain something that makes me want to build it. Namely, it’s got that twisty, winding path that climbs up a rocky cliff:
Twisty, winding path. I want to do that.
First, I made some sketches to figure out how I could make those rocky shapes and castle bits:
Speaking of rocks. On my kitchen table, where I tend to dump my various tote bags, I have two rocks: a Himalayan Rock Salt lamp and a smaller rock that I keep around because it looks like a potato:
You’ll notice that Lickety has the whole kitchen table to himself but he chooses to wedge himself in a hard place between a rock and another rock in order to nap on top of my lumpy black tote bag:
Same nap, different day — and yes, Lickety is using my potato-rock as a pillow:
*Sigh* Other people have gifted and talented cats. Mine just have good looks.
But back to the rocky cliff and the twisty, winding path:
All I did was cut out a path on light-weight cardboard using a pattern (there, in white bond [typing] paper) and then I glued little “pillars” of graduated heights underneath it:
Then I glued the pillars onto a sturdy base, and let the heights of the pillars do the dirty work of raising the height of the pathway:
Dear Reader Birdie asked me, last week, Who taught you to make castles? Nobody did, Birdie — I just sat down and figured it out myself, which is about 75% of the fun of this whole process: figuring how to make it possible. It took me a long, hard think to work out how to make this path, and I got a great deal of satisfaction in making it in real life just to prove that my thinking was right. When it works out it’s a real thrill.
So now I have my underlying structure. Now is when I cut out the book pages to cover up the path:
And then I enclose the entire path and pillars in more book pages, to make what I call the Form for the Twisty Winding Path. It looks simple, but thinking about and making this structure took all day:
Here’s the other thing that I accomplished on my first day of Building Castle No. 8:
As I work on these castles, I keep losing my two most important tools — my circle-making thingy (called a template, in green) and my big bluey ruler with the right-angle edge — they get lost under the pile of mess that this castle-making hobby produces in mucho quantities. So I simply hammered a nail into the front edge of my work table, where I hang these two tools and will never lose them again.
I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, to have my tools so handy.
OK, having made the Form for the Twisty, Winding Path, I was pretty much gratified that I had conquered the hardest part of this particular castle. But I still had to go make the rest of the castle to justify the twisty, winding path. This next photo isn’t very explicative, but it serves to show you how I built the rest of the castle around that weird, centerpiece Form I made for the twisty, winding path:
After three days, I was almost finished with this castle with the twisty, winding path and its bridge to another book (as theorized in last week’s blog post) but it was very ugly:
The bridge goes off at a gruesome angle due to my not thinking out the consequences of where I situated the castle on its book-base.
It does not make me happy to make an ugly castle. Although I made a darling little half-moon bridge (dedicated to Dear Reader Carol, who was very much looking forward to a cute bridge) with a cool-looking tower for the twisty, winding path, things fell apart when I assembled it all together. As an appendage, it was very awkward and ugly. I was very sad.
I actually had a bad night’s sleep over this. So had no choice but to wake up the next morning and cut off the cute little half-moon bridge:
I couldn’t leave that twisty, winding path hanging out there as a dead-end. So here’s what I did to resolve my Ugly Castle Problem: I made another twisty, winding path that jigged to the right, where it terminated at a cute little tower glued into the corner of the book:
It doesn’t photograph well, but here’s maybe a better look at it:
No? Not better? Maybe this will show how I made a less ugly twisty, winding path for this castle:
Yeah, that’s probably the last time I carve into a book like that. It took forever. . . like, ten hours over two days . . . and I really have to find a more joyous way to spend my ever-dwindling allotment of the time I have left in which I live and breathe and could be drinking martinis instead. Sitting in my dining room with two different kinds of scissors, hacking through 800 pages of Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy is not my idea of fun. I mean, I might get hit by a car tomorrow, and this is how I spent my last day on Earth??
Dear Reader Marilyn asked me, last week, whether I could find some kind of electric tool to use instead of using up my mortality by hand-cutting with scissors. I looked into that, Marilyn, by researching the work of book artists who carve deeply into their books. The most famous book-carver is a guy called Guy Laramee, you should google him, and he uses — wait for it — a sandblaster.
Other book-carvers use scalpels or exacto-knives. I think their carving looks too rough, for my purposes, and it looks equally as boring as using scissors. I think I’ll just limit my carving time by making less ambitious landscapes, or by learning how to scissor while loaded.
Castle Naming: Dear Reader Casey suggested Whimsy Towers for last week’s castle. I like it. Way back, a book reviewer wrote that the writing and illustrations in my first two books “are charming and whimsical, but can come very close to twee.” I was not insulted, and I did a whole blog post about it — in short, twee is a Britishism for appallingly cute. I work on the edge of twee. No brag, just fact.
And I am the first to tell you that these castles are all about twee, so Whimsy Towers is a perfect name. Because, by the way, people who like my work frequently call me whimsical, which is a surprise to me since in real life I am short-tempered, foul-mouthed, and opinionated. I eat whimsical for breakfast, as a sprinkle topping on the bloody beating hearts that I have ripped out of the chests of my enemies. But I make castles!
Thanks to Dear Reader Mae’s Comment last week, I now have a whole list of literary castles to inspire me to name my other castles with something that hints of mystery, portent, and whimsy. I hope to be free-associating soon, with a glass of ice cold inspiration if you know what I mean.
Or maybe I’ll just be celebrating a most excellent news cycle!
The Resistance has had a good week. Between Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, and that Anonymously agitating (but, in its own way, hilarious) New York Times op-ed about the moles working inside the White House, we have der Drumpf lit up like something hideous that lights up a frothing, unhinged shade of orange when things are getting too close to the truth in Crazytown (I suck at similes).
Let’s have fun and watch as der Drumpf goes even more insane trying to tamp down this
opening of the floodgates leak. Now that it’s a matter of national security, let’s watch as he threatens to bomb the New York times, sue Woodward for libel, declare a Code Red because YOU NEED ME ON THAT WALL, that’s where I had them, they laughed at me and made jokes, but I’ll prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, with geometric logic, that I KNOW WHO TOOK THE MISSING STRAWBERRIES.
Oh, this is going to be so good.
So let’s sit back and watch this unravel.
And to Dear Reader Margot, who hopes for a Blue Tsunami, I’m saying that this public meltdown will prove to be the cause of the mutiny that produces a Purple Tidal Wave in November.
Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.
OK. Maybe I am a little bit whimsical.