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August 28, 2009

Frankie as art

While Frankie been enjoying his birthday cake and having fun walking in a parade, I have spent the month working my fingers to the bone getting his Halloween costume ready. Frankie has a reputation to uphold.

His Frankie-o-Lantern Halloween costume was a big winner. He brought in over $200 in prizes by winning or placing at local Petco and PetSmart pet costume contests, and national pet photo costume contests at You Pet and AARP. Having all this money turned Frankie into a shop-a-holic, albeit generous gift giver to family members. Besides buying himself some hay and cuttle bone, he also bought the Water Dragon a pool and cats enough food to last six months.

But there is that expectation that his costume this year has to be something special. Anyone tell him that I am no expert when it comes to sewing? It's true. But I try.

The pumpkin costume doesn't even fit him anymore so the first thing I had to do was re-measure the beast. And he is significantly bigger. So big that I decided that making a costume would be a bit easier if I had a "Frankie model". Frankie is a lousy model as standing still to be fitted is not in his character.

But how to make a model? There was a brief but completely disastrous attempt to make a foam model. The sound of rubbing foam is enough to send me over the moon. I had to wear ear plugs. I tried very hard to "cut"and form a shape like a tortoise only to get thousands of little pieces of white foam all over my garage that will never clean up. When they tear this house down in a hundred years there will still be white foam pieces all over. That stuff never goes away!

But Greg comes through with the good ideas.

"Simple," says Greg. "Paper mache him."

I do the research to see if this will work. And it seems very possible.

The plan: cover Frankie's shell with aluminum, set wet paper mache all over him, let it dry,remove. Sounds simple enough.

Nothing is simple with Frankie.

First, Frankie is not going to sit still for thirty minutes so I can cover him in paper mache.

I get a brilliant idea: paper mache him while he sleeps.

So I get everything ready and head outside at 7:00 p.m.with everything I need. Cover him with aluminum. Start applying newspaper soaked in flour water. Wait for it to dry. By 10:00 p.m. there is no sign that the stinkin' thing is ever going to dry.

Hey, I live in Alabama and the humidity level is80%. What did I think would happen?

At 11:00 p.m. I have no choice but remove the soggy thing from Frankie's shell. I do my very best to re-set the soggy thing in a shape like Frankie. I place on a box. Pray it works and go to bed.

Next morning and it's still damp but it actually looks a bit like Frankie's s hell. And wonder of wonder, since it is still damp I can take it outside and put it on Frankie again. As he basks in the sun the paper mache actually dries to Frankie's form.

Two days later I have to repeat the whole process as the paper mache shell cannot hold up to its use as a Frankie model. It needs a few more layers of paper mache. At least on the second try to paper mache things go much better and I learn to let the sun lend a hand.

This time I let the paper mache shell dry as Frankie basks and then starts his morning grass grazing. Walking around the yard Frankie looks art.

And the completed product is a perfect Frankie model.

That was four weeks ago.

His costume? Nearly done. Come on, I don't sew all that well and the costume is an original design and no picnic to complete.

Sorry, not ready to unveil it yet. You will just have to be in suspense.

But you can look at Frankie as Art.

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