Wednesday, April 15, 2015

All about the Chicken Trophy!

So, I've been told people prefer to read shorter blog posts, but there's no doubt in my mind this will be a long one.  Hope it's worth it! (Above left, Henrietta the chicken, and right, my completed chicken trophy)

If  you are a regular reader of this blog, you've seen my posts about building trophies for my Temple's annual 'LatkeFest' celebration, a fun event celebrating the potato pancake, a traditional Chanukah treat.  You can find those posts here, here, and here.  I originally made one trophy, thinking it would be re-used each year, but the winner wanted to keep it.  So in four years, I've made four crazy silly trophies.  With that in mind, I guess it shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise when someone recommended me to build a trophy for the 1st annual revival of an old event in my town, 'Wing Fest', celebrating the yummy variations of chicken wings made by local restaurants.  (The name of the event actually has a double meaning, since the town where I live was founded by a man named Abraham Wing.) 

I was cautious.  I have made the latke trophies as as a donation of my time and materials.  Making papier-mache latkes are actually quite easy, but putting together the trophy takes time.  A chicken wing trophy seemed even more complex.  I said that I would only make the trophy with these stipulations:
1) I would be reimbursed for the materials and compensated somewhat for my effort;
2) The trophy would be re-used every year (kind of like the Stanley Cup or the Calder Cup);
3) The trophy could be large and goofy, my specialty;
4) If I could wait to start building it until I returned from the NAEA convention in NOLA. 

When they agreed on all points, I decided to make a trophy with a triumphant looking chicken,  wing raised in victory, perched heroically on the side of a cooking pot.  I started by making the chicken armature, beginning with some Styrofoam balls, some armature wire, tin foil, cereal box cardboard, and a lot of high quality (the stuff that sticks good) masking tape.
I wanted a strong papier-mache coating, did a little research, and came up with this:
It is a mix of toilet paper (that has been wet and squeezed out), joint compound, Elmer's Glue-All, flour, and a little mineral oil.  It all gets mixed with a hand mixer, that I bought for $5 at Walmart.  I made a couple of batches of the stuff, and I must say, there is a lot of variation.  It's hard to measure toilet paper accurately!  The first batch was very textural, which worked out well for a feather texture on the body, and the second batch was a bit smoother, which was great for finishing up.
 It was around this time, when everything was drying out, that I received an email asking me if I could make a second trophy.  Uh oh.  I had just spent a couple of full days building the chicken, and still had all the other parts to make, and they wanted another trophy??? So of course, I said yes.
As Henrietta (the chicken; she has been named after the chicken in the adorable children's book The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater, which had been a favorite of my son when he was young) dried out, and Isis the cat slept on my chair, I began constructing a large wing based on the Wing Fest logo, to use in the second trophy.  There's wire in the armature to give it some curve, as I wanted the wing to appear to be holding something.
 Meanwhile, I tried to find the perfect inexpensive cooking pot to use under Henrietta, but was not successful.  Instead, I came home from the store with a slotted spoon.  I decided the chicken would perch on the spoon above a ring of fire.  So I built a papier-mache ring of fire (below).
As the papier-mache was drying, I purchased some wood, that my husband cut for me, to use as trophy bases.  I then used some tooling foil scraps to create plaques for the trophies (below).  It was at this time, that that I received an email asking me to "put the year on the trophy" to which I responded "WHAT??  You told me it would be re-used every year!"  The committee had changed their minds, and had decided they would commission me for a new trophy every year.  Um, NO.  I had to remind them of my original stipulation: this was a one-shot deal.  I will NOT be creating more Wing Fest trophies.  No thank you.   I spent more than a week, every day, working on the trophies, and I am not doing it again next year!  I'm not even a big fan of eating chicken wings!  Anyhow, here's the plaques, without the year.  The recipient of the 'Winner' trophy will be determined by a jury.  There's a rather stiff competition between restaurants in two towns that are closely tied together.  The 'People's Choice' winner will be decided by voting of festival attendees.
Finally, our weather has changed, and I was able to take everything outside to paint in warm sunshine.  Without the pot to sit on, Henrietta no longer seemed triumphant to me, so I painted her face to look terrified of the flames below her spoon perch.  The original concept had disappeared, sadly.  Below, you see various trophy parts, including the spoon, which was cut shorter for me by my husband.  I then created a new shorter end with the papier-mache goo, and painted it to match.
My trophy building was not without mishap.  Carrying everything back outside today for the final assembly, and trying to keep the cat from getting out the door, I put the trophy parts on the porch railing temporarily.  A breeze immediately kicked up, and the chicken and wing fell off, and I then had to spend time repairing a broken wing, cracked leg, and damaged comb, and repainting, and re-glossing.  Yippee.....
 
My husband drilled holes for me to insert dowels for assembly. (Perhaps you see a theme here; if it appears to you that my husband doesn't let me use the power tools, you would be correct.  Probably a wise move on his part.)  In the photo above, I have become a chicken proctologist.  I'm sorry, Henrietta.  I had no choice.  The assembly has begun.
I created a fake bottle of hot sauce, by finding the perfect bottle, coating the inside with paint, and using Sharpies on peel-n-stick vinyl to create the labels.   Here's a closeup of the bottle glued into the wing.  The 'GFC' on the bottle stands for Glens Falls Collaborative, the name of the organization sponsoring the Wing Fest. 
  And the trophies are now complete, other than some minor glue reinforcement. 
And this long post is complete, too!!!

12 comments:

  1. What fun! I love the description of your process and especially the results.

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    1. Thanks! Hopefully she won't be falling off any more porches...

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  2. I'm a vegetarian...and suddenly, I WANNA COOK HOT CHICKEN SO I CAN EARN THIS AMAZINGNESS. AND the competition will have to end after I get it because I'm not giving it back! I love it!! You are so fun and funny and this here trophy (both of 'em) are a reflection of that. Kuddos, sistah!

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    1. Aww, shucks, Miss Cassie!! Maybe I need to make you a dancing broccoli trophy! Veggie-man! Or maybe we just need to find a way to have play-date and make some goopy stuff together! Thanks!

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  3. Oh my gosh this is amazing! I haven't found a paper mache recipe that I love yet, we are using art paste tomorrow in class which I haven't used before, crossing my fingers it works well!

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    1. Lauren, I love Art Paste with elementary students. Is that who you are working with? I"m curious to hear what you are making and what age kids. By the way, I actually like the School Specialty product better than the Elmer's one, but they are both OK. We call it 'dog drool', or 'dragon drool', and someone else told me they call it 'pig snot'. The kids love these silly names, and I think the product works quite well.

      But if I was working with older kids than elementary, I'd probably use some thing else, such as watered down Elmer's Glue-All. I love doing papier-mache with kids, and am always happy to answer any questions!

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  4. I love your papier mache pieces. This is delightful.

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  5. These both came out so great! I'd have a hard time passing them on to next year's winners!!

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    1. Thank you - I just hope they are strong and hold together for next year's winners!

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  6. Have you considered making more chicken trophies for people? Do you have a ballpark idea what it would cost?

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    1. I would definitely do it again! The supplies are not expensive. The bulk of the cost is labor, so it would very much depend on the who and what. Not something I'd discuss on the open forum of blog, but yes if I was contacted individually.

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