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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 09/22/14

Monday, September 22, 2014

HOW TO MAKE PAPER CLAY!!

How to make Paper Clay







I fell in love with sculpting with paper mache during my first project five years ago. However, I never really found a recipe that was worth the time and effort and mess that it took to get what I wanted. As a result, I used Celluclay for most projects. However, I recently stumbled upon an incredible blog called, Ultimate Paper Mache where Jonni (the artist and blogger) shares all sorts of tips, tutorials and recipes to help anyone on their way to successfully paper mache-ing. I am blown away by what Jonni can create, but I was especially grateful for the recipe she shared on how to make your own paper mache clay. Hot dog! It is easy as pie, quick, and works like charm!

For my purposes, I ended up altering the recipe just slightly so that I could get the thicker consistency that I like. Here's my version of the recipe but I strongly suggest popping over to Jonni's site where she posts all sorts of details that you might find handy):

Paper Clay:
2 Cups toilet paper
1 Cup regular joint compound (the premixed kind. Jonni recommends not using Dap brand since they changed their product and it doesn't work for the recipe anymore).
3/4 Cups paper mache paste or Elmers glue (much cheaper to use your own paste).
3/4 Cups flour
(The original recipe calls for Linseed Oil, but I didn't really find much difference, other than it was smelly and one more thing to keep out of reach of my boys.)

Start off by soaking your toilet paper in water:








When it is fully wet, remove cardboard center, squeeze out as much water as you can and break up into chunks.








Add all ingredients and mix on medium-high for 2-3 minutes and viola! You are ready to sculpt your heart out! Recipe yields 3 Cups of paper clay.




MID AUTUMN FESTIVAL FROM CHINA!!





    Moon Festival, Mooncake Festival, or the August Moon Festival - they are the different names of the same festival, which is popularly also known as the Mid Autumn Festival. It is a celebration of abundance and togetherness. The Chinese believe in praying to the moon god for protection, family unity, and good fortune. It falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar.On this day the moon is unusually bright, clear and round. Historical accounts are silent about the exact origin of this festival, but as far as the assumption of the scholars are concerned, it is related to the two customs in China.
The first customs concern the Chinese farmers. China is an agricultural country and farming in China is intricately associated with the seasons. In the ancient times, the farmers used to worship Earth God and prayed for a good harvest when they sowed the seeds during spring. Once again during autumn, the farmers worshipped the Earth God and offered their gratitude on having reaped a good harvest. This was known as the autumn reward. Some people believed that the Mid -Autumn Festival orginated from the autumn reward ritual.
    The second custom is related to the worship of the moon. The Mid Autumn Festival occurs at the autumn equinox when the sun shines vertically on the equator, equally dividing the day and the night in the northern and the southern hemisphere. At this time, the sunlight shines vertically on the equator, equally dividing the day and night in both the southern and northern hemispheres. In the evening the moon appears with gentle winds and the sky is clear, apart from the light clouds. This is the perfect time to watch the moon. This day was later assigned to the worship of the moon.










    This custom of worshipping the moon,called xi yue in Chinese, can be traced back to the ancient Xia and Shang Dynasties (2000 BCE-1066 BCE). In the Zhou Dynasty too (1066 BCE-221 BCE), the people celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival to worship the moon. This practice became very prevalent during the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) and people enjoyed and worshipped the full moon. In the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), people started making round moon cakes, as gifts to their relatives as an expression of their best wishes for a familyreunion. At night, they came out to watch the full moon to celebrate the festival. Since the Ming (1368-1644), and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911), the custom of Mid-Autumn Festival celebration has become extremely popular and is being grandly celebrated.
    The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinesecalendar, the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year, and is a legal holiday in several countries.

Myths and Legends

    The most popular legend about the origin of the Mid Autumn Festival goes like this:- Once the earth was scorched by ten suns and the people suffered a lot due to this. The crops were parched and the people were plunged into penury. A strong and powerful young man called Hou Yi was quite worried about the entire situation. He ascended the summit of the Kunlun Mountain, exercised his superhuman powers and shot down nine suns one after the other, with his bow and arrow. He also ordered the last sun to rise and set according to a time set by him. Hou Yi was respected and loved by people for his




Moon cakes


great feat that rescued the lives of many. Lots of people of ideals and integrity came to him to learn martial arts from him. A person named Peng Meng lurked among them.
Hou Yi had a charming and beautiful wife named Chang E whom he loved immensely and with whom he never wanted to part. Once on his way to the Kunlun Mountain , Hou Yi stumbled upon the Empress Wangmu who was touched by his love for his wife, gave him a parcel of elixir, at the intake of which one would ascend immediately to heaven and become a celestial being. However the elixir was only good to make only one person immortal. Hou Yi however hated to part with his wife and asked Chang E to keep the elixir with her for the time being. Chang E kept it in a treasure box and hid it in secret place. But it could not escape the watchful eyes of Peng Meng.
    A few days later, when Hou Yi went for hunting, Peng Meng grabbed the opportunity he has been waiting for. He rushed into Chang E's chamber, sword in hand and demanded the elixir. Aware of the fact that she was unable to measure up to the strength of Peng Meng, Change E made a prompt decision at a critical moment. She opened her treasure box, took up the elixir and swallowed it in one gulp. After a moment, she felt light and her body floated off the ground, rose higher and reached the sky. Chang E landed on the moon and became an immortal goddess. Peng meng escaped.





Lighting up the night with the launching of lanterns




    Hou Yi could not believe the misfortune that had befallen him. Overburdened with grief, he looked up at the sky and called out the name of his beloved wife. He noticed that the moon was unusually bright and clear that night and on it there was a swaying shadow that resembled his wife. He tried to chase the moon but the moon eluded him.
Huo Yi began to miss his wife terribly. He had an incense table arranged in the back garden and put fresh fruits and sweet meats on it, that Chang E loved and held a memorial ceremony for her.
    When people heard that Chang E has transformed into a celestial being, they made arrangements for incense table in the moonlight and prayed to her for good fortune and peace. This is how the custom of worshipping the moon became popular among the people.











    Today couples declare their undying love for each other under the full moon of this mid autumn day. Estranged lovers pray for their reunion.
    Another legend concerns Wu Kang, a restless fellow who found it difficult to concentrate on a particular thing. One day he decided that he wanted to be immortal and went to live in the mountains where he met an immortal and asked him to teach him the secrets of immortality. First the immortal taught him about the herbs used to cure sickness. But a few days later his characteristic restlessness surfaced and Wu Kang asked the immortal to teach him chess, but after a short while his enthusiasm again waned. Then Wu Kang was asked to go through books on immortality. As usual, Wu Kang became bored with it in a short while and asked whether they could travel to some new and exciting place. Fed up with Wu Kang's impatience, the master banished him to the Moon Palace commanding him to cut down a huge cassia tree before





Chinese men enjoying some food and drink




returning to the earth. Though Wu Kang continued to chop the tree day and night, yet the magical tree restored itself with each blow, and therefore he is there still chopping the tree.
    China was ruled by the Mongolian people during the Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1280-1368). Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (A.D. 960 - 1280) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule, and set to coordinate a secret rebellion. As the Moon Festival was drawing near, the leaders of the rebellion ordered the making of special cakes.
    At the back of each was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this legend.











    According to the legend of the "Jade Rabbit", three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged to eat something from the fox, a rabbit and the monkey. The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit who had nothing to offer, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself. The sages were so touched by the rabbit's sacrifice that they allowed him live in the Moon Palace where he became the "Jade Rabbit."


Significance of the Moon Cake

    There is an interesting story behind the popularity of the Mooncakes. During the Yuan Dynasty (1280 A.D - 1368 A.D), China was ruled by the Mongols. They were very oppressive rulers and were overthrown by the Chinese. It might sound curious but the fact remains that the mooncakes played a significant role in the rebellion. The Mongols did not eat mooncakes and the Chinese were quick to take advantage of that. They found an innovative way of coordinating the revolt. Leaders of the revolt





A Moon Festival play in progress



distributed the mooncakes among the common people under the pretext of celebrating the Emperor's long life. Each mooncake had an outline of the attack baked within its skin. The secret message informed the people to revolt on the 15th of the 8th moon (also the Autumn Moon festival). On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. Since then the mooncakes became a national tradition of China.

WHAT MAKES THE GRAVEYARD A SPOOKY AND SCARY PLACE?





    Under the watchful gaze of crumbling saints and baby-faced cherubs, you hurry down a path lined with mausoleums. Eventually, you pass crops of headstones casting long, narrow shadows in the moonlight. Each engraved with the epitaph of the dead person's life. You run past sunken graves and dying flowers, hoping that the sound you hear is just the wind and you're trying to shake the feeling that something is following close behind you.
    Maybe you've never taken a midnight stroll through your local cemetery. But if you have ever set foot in one, you've likely felt a hint of fear and uneasiness that is their legacy. Maybe you were attending a funeral of someone dear and close to you, touring graveyards or simply fleeing things that go bump in the night.
    Whatever your reason for strolling among the tombstones, you probably felt something noteworthy about the experience-something different from all the other spaces and places that fill our lives. After all, graveyards are the final resting place for many of our dead. People say their last goodbyes there, sometimes returning year after year to leave flowers or say a few words.
    No matter where we travel in the world, cemeteries are silent and solemn settings. Whether the grounds are finely manicured or left to the weeds, graveyard exist as the place where the living contemplate many mysteries, traumas and heartbreaks associated with death.
    Why are many people afraid of graveyards? Is it the thought of all those decaying bodies (zombies) under the dirt or the idea of an old crusty are coming out of the grass to grab your foot and pull you into their final resting spot with them? Or is it something deeper?









    Cats often receive a bum rap for hanging out in cemeteries, but can anyone blame them? Graveyards offer a cat everything they could ask for: all the best spots to nap, trees to use as scratching posts and a selection of small animals to prey on. What more could your averages sized cat want with your dead relatives soul when there are many squirrels and birds around to occupy their time?
    To cats, graveyards may be another place to sleep away the afternoon, but to we humans, they represent the mystery and the outrage of mortality. Whether we like it or not we're all going to die. You may think you've accepted that fact, but it's an issue humanity has struggled with for ages. Unable to avoid it, we've tried to figure out what lies beyond its doors. Will we live forever in a golden paradise, be reincarnated as a cow (or a cat that spends all afternoon in a cemetery) or simply cease to exist? We've pined for understanding since the times of the great pyramids and stared into the eyes of guillotined heads, hoping to catch a glimpse of something other than the emptiness of nonexistence.
    Fear exists as a response to stimuli that threatens our survival as a species. We're programmed to fight or run from anything that might cause death, and we approach death with this same attitude. We flee from it every day by distancing it from our thoughts and lives. In most parts of the world, we've handed the duties of interring the dead over to morticians, which limits our intimacy with death.
    Fighting death is trickier. To avoid staring down mortality, we've redefined what death is. We choose to see dying not as something our bodies eventually do, but something that eventually happens to our bodies. We cast ourselves as the victim of death, which is the reason grim reapers and other death-stalking beings permeate our beliefs. If death is a natural counterpart to life, there's nothing we can do about it in the end. But if it's something inflicted on us by an outside force, then perhaps we have a fighting chance.
    Society often sets aside the angel of death and instead chooses to practice what some people call "the deconstruction of mortality." That is, we break down the insurmountable mystery of death into smaller pieces we can digest easily: biological functions, diseases and mental dysfunctions. If prayer or bribing the reaper doesn't work, maybe multiple organ transplants will.
Pray and think about death all you want, but it's still going to happen at some time.









    Disposing of a body isn't difficult. Bury it in the forest, cremate it or just leave it out for the vultures--a rite Zoroastrains in India still practice. Not only are these methods cheaper than buying a fancy casket and a cemetery plot, but they also allow "Mother Earth" to reclaim the decaying material faster. The use of stone mausoleums, coffins and embalming only slows down the decomposition process.
    But then again, burials aren't really about the dead--they're about the living. We do our best to stave off some of the bad properties of death. And while immortality isn't an option, tombstones and stone monuments serve as long-lasting markers of the life that was. Aunt Betty may be out of your life for good, but a slab of engraved granite will serve as a reminder that she existed. Cemetery stonework also serves to encourage a sacred atmosphere, enforcing notions of afterlife and further establishing the site as a kind of sacred place between life and death.
    We humans fear death, yet we work hard to maintain hallowed spaces where the dead are memorialized and at least partially preserved. On top of that, we heap religions full of resurrection prophecies and thousands of years' worth of superstitions, folktales and ghost stories. We're constantly repressing our feelings about death or magnifying them to tremendous proportions. Maybe you avoid cemeteries and nursing homes, or actively try to speak to the dead through TV psychic mediums-either way, you're striving to avoid the real relationship that exists between life and death.
    We've poured a lot of sacrament, superstition and fear into our graveyards, which makes for quite a powerful atmosphere. Not only do graveyards play on past memories of loss, they also invoke potentially potent themes of supernatural terror. It's not just horror movies that contribute to this frightening reputation. Cemetery preservation groups and historical societies sometime get in on the action with haunted tours.
In more extreme cases, people actually suffer from colmetrophobia, the fear of graveyards. The condition involves a heightened, unrealistic fear of graveyards that actively interferes with a person's life. But unless walking past a cemetery makes your heart race, your fear probably doesn't qualify as a phobia.
    For the most part, the only things you really have to fear in graveyards are collapsing tombstones and monuments. Besides that, living, breathing humans are responsible for more graveyard assaults than all the vampires, zombies and ghouls combined.