Au Revoir Mardi Gras 2013

Tourist, Traffic and King Cakes, Oh My!   Mardi Gras 2013  approached at an exhaustive pace, accompanied by Superbowl madness as the cherry on top! Or I guess you would say in the middle.  It was crazy trying to navigate any type of normalcy in your everyday life.   Coming off of a busy holiday season making Mr. Bingles,(pictured in a previous post),& all the usual holiday rush, I was thrust into "King Cakes with Babies" production due to the early arrival of the Mardi Gras Season.  The only respite I had was a 5 day battle with the flu.  

"King Cake and Baby with Crown"

  So, content after weeks of work and completing all of my orders near and far, I finally had time to work on the piece I was making for myself (picture above). I actually started it last year and set it aside for contemplation. With Mardi Gras fast approaching, my husband was anxious to put our decorations up and get in the festive mood of the season. While I was putting on the final touches, I received a call asking if by chance I had anymore.  I gave it some thought, about the length of a deep sigh and a long ... wwwweeeelllll maybe, then I answered, I have one, but, it is different from my original design. (pictured below)I was inspired by the fact that the person who receives the baby in the cake is king for the day and glammed it up with a crown. I was not sure if the customer would like the addition of the crown.  Well, I brought it to the shop and the customer purchased it right away. I was not emotionally prepared. I have to admit I had some separation anxiety. After all for a year I had no intention of selling it.  I had to let it go. I hope it brings them many years of joy and it adds to their Mardi Gras festivities for years to come. Now, I still had to go home and tell my neglected husband after weeks of working on art pieces for everyone else, we will not have that uber special king cake that was meant to appease his frustration because of my obsession with all things gluey and glittery. 

Original design circa 2010

The original design(pictured above), a round king cake with a life size baby on it, actually went through couple years of development prior to it's debut to the public in 2010. The first one I ever made did not survive.  The materials were incompatible and it weighed too much. It took a lot of trial and error to work out the issues and derive the technique I use on all my pieces today.  
  The beginning of the story does not just start with the challenge of tackling a different medium and adapting it to function & design.   As I stated on my website, my inspiration to create sculpture was inspired by working on a school project with my daughter. That particular experience took me out of my comfort zone and led me to experiment with unfamiliar materials. But... The inspiration for the design goes back further. 

King Cake in my family took on an added meaning with the birth of my daughter.  King Cakes appear in stores the week of her birthday, so as a tradition she has always had a King Cake as her birthday cake since she was able to consume cake.  

Remy's 18th Birthday! and Elvis her new partner in crime.

For one of her birthdays, I believe it was her third, we had her traditional king cake, birthday cake. I served her some of the left overs as a snack the next day.  I cut a piece and gave it to her and left the room for a second.  I returned to find all the King Cake gone, including the baby and was confronted with two sets of guilty eyes looking up at me.   I asked, in a panic, "Where is the King Cake?". Did Sam (our black lab) eat it?  Since it all seemed licked clean, including the plastic baby gone, I assumed he did.  Remy insisted in her small child voice "in my tummy".  I called the hospital and said there is a slim chance that my daughter instead of my dog, swallowed the king cake baby, what do I do?  Not knowing for sure, waiting for it to pass and checking poop was one option. You are pretty sure with the dog, it will pass,  but with a small child it is better to check with an X-ray.  There we were waiting for an X-ray to see a small baby, in a small baby's tummy or not.  Better safe than sorry.  While we were getting the procedure done I asked nervously, "In New Orleans you must see this a lot", trying not to feel like a terrible Mom. The technician quipped "yes, but not as much as kids swallowing Mardi Gras beads.  We actually have a special tool for fishing those out". I gasped in horror and at that point I was glad I was dealing with a tiny plastic baby instead a string of long beads.  The memory of pulling tinsel out of my cat's tail end at Christmas popped into my head.  ( I haven't put tinsel on my Christmas tree ever since.) The X- ray results were in, I won't hold you in suspense any longer,the dog ate the baby and I had the pleasant task to make sure it made a second appearance. For years I shared my "Mom" story on play dates etc. hoping by chance to help someone avoid this scary adventure in parenting. Who knew that years later that this experience would have had a traumatic effect on my sub conscience and would emerge via the creative process.
It was Mardi Gras season and my previous door decoration, which was created by my daughter in school, had seen better days.  I wanted something different, more unusual than what was being offered in stores.  Pondering ideas, King Cakes were my first inspiration. The symbol of the start of the Mardi Gras season.  I finished it in your traditional papier mache process, painted it and added some colored beads. I thought it looked like a donut with sprinkles and it needed something else.  BING! The baby! I painted a naked baby doll gold and glued it on.  Chuckling to myself, I recalled my experience with the emergency room, x-rays and poop.  You would have to be an elephant to swallow that king cake baby. My original cathartic design evolved into a more cohesive one, I share with the world today and now a days the plastic king cake doll is not baked in the cakes, it is  placed in the box.  You have the added pleasure as host of the King Cake gathering of molesting your king cake by slowing inserting the baby in some secret spot underneath. I think it takes some of the fun out of the experience.  Recalling my king cake baby ingestion experience and remembering what the x-ray technician had mentioned about the added hazard of Mardi Gras beads, I wondered maybe, if the inspiration for the ridiculous, super giant Mardi Gras beads (pictured below)  was some parent's visit to the emergency room with their child and that special tool and a traumatic fishing expedition. Yicks.          

Very large Mardi Gras beads. 

Beloved Sam, guilty dog, we miss him. Survived for many years after he passed the king cake baby. 

Special thanks to everyone who has one of my Mardi Gras pieces with or without the baby and supporting my obsessions. May it bring you many years of joy! 
I hope you had a wonderful & magical Mardi Gras 2013!


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