Plush of the Month: Meet Ferdinand and Sweetie

We haven’t had a plush in a while now, for a couple of reasons. For one, the patraeon patterns I was getting were either not quite my style, or so elaborate that I wasn’t feeling up to them. Not for lack of skill, but for lack of patience and time. I need a bit of instant gratification from my hobbies, so spending weeks on a project didn’t appeal to me. Also, with my back fucking up, sitting was painful and I needed to conserve my sitting down time. But my back got better (damn, you , exercise) and the little one came to me with a project. She’s in the school cheerleading team. Now I must clarify for my American readers: we do not have a school football team. While there are American Football clubs here and they do have cheerleading teams, it’s also purely done as the amazing sport that it is (and deserves recognition), so one of the teachers who loves cheerleading and is involved with a sports club cheerleading team is also training the school team. Their school team is the Flying Bulls (because the teacher’s team has a similar name) and she wanted to make a mascot. We went pattern shopping and soon created Ferdinand (named after this good fellow). Of course the wings were not included, so I had to make up my own pattern for them, but he turned out really cute:

Black plush bull with white and green wings sitting on a table

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Black plush bull with white and green wings full frontal view

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Black plush bull, face close up

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Isn’t he handsome? The eyes are made from epoxy and UV resin and secured with screws. The wings get their stability from pipe cleaners. While Ferdinand was a big hit with the cheerleading team, saying goodbye was hard and I needed something to comfort me. Well, why not make another plush? I have to say that Ferdinand is a completely different style from the last plushies I made and I quite liked it. Instead of the machine embroidery, these designs live from old fashioned eyes and designs. The creator has a couple of plushes in that style and one of them is my favourite animal, a hippo, so I had to go for it. Please meet Sweetie:

Grey hippo plush sitting on a couch, full vieew

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Grey hippo, torso and arms

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Grey hippo, view from above

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Yes, she’s incredibly adorable. It’s amazing how much of that look comes from adding the eyelids. Depending on how you place them, you get dreamy, sad or angry. She’s moved in with us and has become a full member of the hippo crew. I hope she can brighten your day a little as well.

Why Terves are Full of Shit, Part 16714

Last summer, I joined a gym. After a year of sitting around, saying “I really need some exercise” and my health becoming worse and worse, a new gym opened a mere 2km from my house, just a small detour from my commute and I seized the opportunity. To be honest, I was quite anxious getting my fat old body into gym clothing and going there, but it turns out that there’s every kind of people going there, only that the ordinary folks just go there while only the obnoxious health nuts are loud about it, giving off the false impression that gyms are populated by super fit and super annoying lean young people. The worst thing that happened so far is that it really helps and I am not happy with having to go there twice a week for the next 30-40 years (it’s just that the alternative is worse. Seriously, I already had a referral for cortisol injections directly into the spine when I found the right exercises…). Anyway, that’ not the point of this post, just some passive aggressive bragging.

That gym has a small “wellness” area with a small sauna. I love going to the sauna and on Tuesday nights, after some hard “reha sports” (a class especially for increasing mobility, decreasing health problems), I go there to relax. That whole area is a nudist area (yes, that’s standard in Germany) as well as mixed sex (yes, also normal). Of course, the men outnumber us women there, because a lot of women are indeed uncomfortable being alone in the vicinity of naked men. I…don’t give a fuck, literally. As I mentioned, I love going to the sauna and access to it comes with paying the membership fee, not having a dick. I usually put on my earphones and listen to music, and so far nothing has happened. Yes, occasionally somebody is annoying, mostly by talking loudly. I once chitchatted with some guy, both commiserating how much neither of us likes going to the gym. Just like nobody has given me shit for being fat, old and at the gym, no dude has given me shit for being naked in the sauna. Yes, I know, fat and old, but for one I used to be young and thin and also, fat and old often leads to a whole different kind of sexual harassment. None of this has happened. Because the men who go there understand the rules and culture of the place. It’s for sweating until it smells of crispy bacon, not picking up a date. The existence of a penis, even a nekkid one, does not make a space inherently unsafe for women. But you know what does: Giving predatory cis men the excuse that they cannot control themselves because all men are sexually aggressive all the time.

Jewellery meets Art: Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa

Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of my all times favourite pictures. The churning water, the two tiny boats struggling in the waves, Mount Fuji in the background, almost an afterthought.

IHokusai's famous print showing a wave crashing down on two boats.

Source: Wikimedia

Also, it is blue. In short, a perfect image to use for trying an image transfer on polymer clay. If you have a laser printer, image transfers are pretty straight forward: print, put upside down on clay, add nail polish remover to the back, wait. Trying this with my cheap toner wasn’t very satisfactory, though. The printouts are always rather pale, and since only part of the toner transfers, the result on clay was visible, but not brilliant. I dared to add two tiny versions of the image to a bunch of things I had to print at work anyway and tried again, this time with high quality print outs. The results were much better, but still not as brilliant as I would have liked. But since I never found a crafting problem I didn’t want to beat into submission, I decided to use the first weak transfer clay and paint in the details with acrylic paint, and while I’m not usually good at painting, I’m quite happy with the results:

Round earrings showingt the crashing wave

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Yes, of course I forgot to mirror the image. Both times. But I love how this has a look like ceramics now.

And here’s the version made from the quality printout:

Round earrings showing the central wave in great detail but mute colours

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You can see that it’s lacking contrast and brilliance, even though it is rich in detail. I’m thinking about using the transfer plus acylics method with other paintings as well, I think van Gogh would be a good candidate for these projects.


Teacher’s Corner: I Encountered a Karen in the Wild

Let’s gather around for a little story. Take a seat and have a cushion ready to bang your head against.

On Wednesday, one of my students approached me. He found a bank card on his way and wanted to hand it over (cultural info: in Germany everybody has a bank card, there are even special accounts for teens). I thanked and praised him. After determining that the card didn’t belong to any of our students, I called the bank and informed them. They were grateful for the information and said they would tell the owner.

Some time later I got a message from our secretary to please get in touch with this number, which I did. I’m friendly, right? And if that had been you, you would have been delighted that your card had been found, bought some chocolates for the kids and told a story about a good kid. But alas, I called the number and I met Karen.

Karen is the card owner’s mum. The young man himself works until 5 so he can’t do this himself. She started the conversation with insinuations. How did that card get found? How did it get to us, what were we doing with it anyway?

I told her that I don’t know and we started to talk about how she could get it back. I told her where we are, when the staff room is occupied for sure (our office is not where I usually work) and what to do in case it is not.

At this point she started bickering: Couldn’t I send the card to the bank? Now, I’ll fully admit that at this point I wasn’t inclined to go out of my way to help her anymore and told her that I could not book the posting in the school system.

Well, how about taking it to the police? I disabused her of the idea that I was going to drive around town on my own time and dime. Would you believe that she started going after my student again? Why didn’t he go to the police?

This was where I went from annoyed to slightly angry and told her that the kid had done everything right, that he deserved praise for being honest and caring and repeated when she could pick up the fucking card.

Thursday passed without any sign of her.

Today I got a message from our secretary to please call that and that guy from the police. Now, while rare, it’s not unusual. Our students don’t come from the best part of town, some have violent inclinations and so do their families, so we occasionally need to make witnesses statements.

But no, the guy told me that he’d been contacted by Karen, complaining that I had refused to give her the card without written permission from her son. Yes, that’s how I looked. I told him that I had no clue what the woman was talking about, that I had never asked for written permission and that she could come and pick it up right now.

The police guy said he wasn’t sure what her issue was either, but that she wouldn’t be able to get the written permission that quickly, since her son was at work. I repeated that I had never said anything about written permission, to which he replied “but I did”.

And this is how the Karen who wanted to sicc the police on a poor teacher and bully her into delivering the lost card got more trouble than she needed.

I Started a Vicious Cycle by Accident (and will stop asap)

It’s one of those jokes that are funny because they’re true that many men are just as surprised about the gifts on Christmas as the kids. “Gifts” are so firmly in the “female” category that almost every girlfriend to a boyfriend for more than two weeks gets drafted into “shopping for gifts”. While my love is very much not a stereotypical cis het guy in many aspects, this is sadly none of them, and while I will fully admit that I’m whining from a position of privilege here, it still sucks.

We’re financially comfortable, so we don’t need to disguise necessary but expensive purchases like a new phone or new tires as “birthday gifts”. We’re also not in the habit of making expensive surprise gifts, as we’re both sensible people who think that buying something expensive for somebody without that person telling you what they actually like is nonsense. But still, occasionally I’d like to get a gift that shows the person thought about me and cares. Neither do I want to send him a link to a specific product and know exactly what I’ll get, where it was bought and how much it cost, nor do I want any more shower gel or scented candles. And it’s not like I don’t have hobbies.

To get to the heart of the story, I decided to give my struggling spouse some hints.

Me: Love, it’s your wife’s birthday soon, have you noticed how much she’s into Japanese cooking lately?

Him, laughing: Very subtle, very subtle.

Him, 5 minutes later: Do you know any Japanese restaurants where I could take you for your birthday?

Me, sighing: We already agreed on going to an Indian restaurant, do you remember? Also, I was more thinking about cooking boxes, tableware, tools. Obviously I was too subtle.

Him: Where do I get such things?

Me, slightly annoyed: You have a working internet connection and a credit card, figure it out!

About 30 minutes later, him, now definitely venturing into learned helplessness poor hapless husband territory: I really don’t know what to do!

Me, exasperated, pointing at kid #2 who was giggling next to him: ask your daughter, she can show you!


See what I did there? Yep, I passed the “taking care of gifts” bucket down the line to another female family member, teaching her that men are just too incompetent to do it themselves and women have to do that job, and I’m sorry. I swear I’ll never do it again. I’ll rather send him links for the rest of our days than teach my daughters to simply accept that bullshit.

Jewelry: Tales of the Raksura

The author Martha Wells has risen to fame during the last years for her Murderbot novels, but actually I discovered her long before when stumbling upon the Books of the Raksura, which have the richest worldbuilding I ever saw. It never feels like The Other Mother’s house in Coraline, just enough for a superficial layer, but you always get the impression that you could go deeper and deeper and find more.

For those of you who have not read the books (mild spoilers ahead), the Raksura are dragonish shapeshifters that live in courts, ruled by the reigning Queen, who has one or more male consorts. The books revolve around Moon, a very unusual consort and the adventures of him and his court. The courts are always named after a queen and a consort, often the founding couple of a court.

I’ve always admired fan art, but I’m useless with a pen, so I decided to put my other talents to use and make some earrings. Malicious rumours claim that I have a pair for every day of the year, but those are absolutely not true. I counted them and I will have to repeat them after June 20th. Though, seriously, if any of you fancies a pair, just let me know. Unless it’s my favourite pair, I’m happy to send it to you, since polymer clay always yields several pairs for one design. Anyway, let’s get started.

First, Indigo Cloud, the primary court in the novels

Blue and white marbled earrings

©Giliell, all rights reserved

blue and white marbled earrings

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I did a classic swirl here to get the idea of clouds in a blue summer sky. Look at that blue… [Read more…]

Happy New Year, have some Ma’amoul

First of all, let me wish all of you a happy new year. We’re all smart enough to know that things won’t magically get better, so I’m wishing us the strength to hold on and fight the good fight, since there’s no alternative anyway.

Last year I promised a post about cookies, so here we are, with a bit of a story. At the start of the school year, we did a project for grades 5-7 in order to welcome the new kids. The motto was “welcoming new things” with a focus on our diverse student body. I offered a cooking/baking workshop where we made things as “catering” for the party at the end of the project. It was positively exhausting. Come Friday afternoon I was completely done, but for the first time in ages in a good way. Obviously, having only one stove/oven and very limited funds (i.e. what I was willing to spend), our selection was easy stuff like Russian pancakes and American cookies, so some of the kids decided to spend the weekend baking treats from their home countries. I was particularly in love with the Ma’amoul and asked the kid for the recipe. Well, her mum didn’t just write me the recipe, she also gifted me one of her forms, which absolutely tore me up.

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I expressed my thanks by making her a batch of traditional cinnamon wafers (without the rum) and the kid an I set to making ma’amoul. Though I didn’t ace the dough (it went too puffy, I think I didn’t get the instructions right), they were absolutely delicious and lasted maybe a week. Enjoy!

Some ma'amoul made with the mould. The pattern is not clearly visible.

Semi Regular Apology Post

First, have some Ramen


A bowl of ramen with egg and shrimp

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I’m sorry for dropping dead on you once again. Work is very stressful atm and on top of it my health is not up to the task either, mainly my stupid spinal prolapses. The one thing that gives me serious troubles is sitting down. The recent round of fuck this hurts was triggered by having to sit for  2 hours on hard wooden chairs and it took me 4 weeks to get back on my feet. Literally. But that’s also what I need for both my job and for writing a blog, but of course one of those is optional so I have to safe my strength for work. Sorry.

Now, I’m not fishing for sympathy, just letting you know that no, I haven’t lost interest in all of you. Just temporarily (hopefully) the ability to sit at my desk and read and write.

Corona Crisis Crafting: This Time for Real

Well, sitting in a chair making tiny movements is something that still works, so I made jewelry, what else…

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

This set predates my Covid infection. It’s polymer clay with so called silkscreen stencils.


Who’s a good little fire demon? Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the sweetest half-villains ever conceived.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Come swimming in a sea of flowers. Yes, those roses are hand made. Yes, I know. My sister got a matching pair.

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Come to the beach with me. This was a cane made after a Youtube tutorial and I really like the results.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

And last but not least, some beadwork: The Sungoddess

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Well, here we are: finally caught Covid

positive Covid test

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When I woke up this morning with a lightly sore throat and a headache, I didn’t think any of it. After all, I’d had a terrible night. Last night some guy rang our doorbell at about 10 p.m. and asked if our caravan was for sale (it’s currently parked in front of the house) and only accepted “no” number five, so all night I woke at the lightest sound, afraid that somebody would steal it.

I went to work where a colleague told me that her husband caught it and her son, who is my pupil, probably as well. I still shrugged it off, but did a routine test (which we are officially no longer allowed to have). Now, this part is important: I always do my swabs thoroughly. No “just touching the nose lightly”. At first I only saw the C line. I put it to the side as I was expecting a phone call and forgot about it. When I looked again after 20 minutes or so, there was the faintest line visible. Not sure if I was hearing the fleas cough, I did a second one. This time I poked the swab down my nose as far as I could. On that second test, the T line appeared before the C. The conclusion is double:

  1. Don’t assume “yes it says 15 minutes, but it’s still clean after 5 so it’s ok”
  2. Taking your sample well is important.

Now, so far I still only have a sore throat, headache and a bit of being groggy, but we’re also in a heat wave, that doesn’t help. The kids and Mr are clean so far. Let’s hope it tays that way. Of course I’m missing the fun week at school again…

Crafting: polymer clay

I’m currently a bit confused, as I wanted to do this post as a follow up to the last one on polymer clay, but it turns out I didn’t write that one, despite me remembering the post. Well, just imagine that you read the first part of this post 4 weeks ago or so.

Having seen gorgeous shit on social media, I decided to do some polymer clay jewellery. I did a lot of it as a kid/ young teen, but the style back then was pretty different. I saw some tutorial on youtube and decided to go for a calaidoscope cane.

two pairs of earrings. Each earring consists of two square parts with the same pattern: colourful shapes wrapped in black, all symmetrical.

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Now, while I liked the results, I didn’t like two things: One, it’s very material intensive. That was easily 10 bucks worth in polymer clay and if you fuck up that’s it.

Two: You end up with lots of the same. I can understand why there’s a lot of small businesses making polymer clay jewellery: You can actually create things within a reasonable time in a way you can’t do with beads. But I’m just making stuff for myself and friends and family,  so I don’t need 50 pieces with the same pattern.

So I thought: This was nice, but I’m not going to do much more of it. Well, I should have known I was wrong. Of course I did. I learned different techniques (I’m still learning, they aren’t coming out quite as planned yet) where you can use smaller amounts of clay and end up with a couple of pieces, not a whole drawer full.

A pair of earrings. on a brown marbled background are white cala lilies and green and gold leaves

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A pair of earrings. green and old leaves on a brown marbled background.

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Oval earrings, blended yellow purple and blue, with abalone shells.

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U shaped earrings in blue, yellow and purple

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The last two pairs are a bit too bright for my taste, but the kid already stole some, so I guess they came out alright.

Small colourful studs

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The good thing about having may hobbies is that I have many tools, so I used my silicone moulds for the scraps. While I love my big earrings, my ears occasionally appreciate small studs.

Drop shaped earings. white pieces with blue lines

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This is another technique where you cover the clay pieces in mica powder. Again, I’m happily stocked in that particular area and I really like the results. Now to my favourite pieces from that collection:

Round blue and white earrings with a dragonfly charm

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I’m just in love with them. The charms (again, yay for having tons of craft supplies) work just perfect.

The next pieces are from the same batch, only that I had to roll the clay more thinly and it turned into a whole different affair:

Moon shaped earrings, white and blue

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varios small studs in white and blue

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The effect became more like marble, with the colours blending more. Again, lots of nice, light studs. I think I could do with a second pair of ears.

Some good news: Self ID is coming to Germany!

I’m not going to waste many words on the shortcomings of our current government. Sometimes you could think the libertarians had won and absolute majority and weren’t just the most junior of the three partners, but while their youth is turning more and more pro fascist, the current leaders still have some classic liberal values.

Ages ago, our constitutional court declared the “Transsexuellengesetz” (transsexuals law) of 1981 to be unconstitutional some while ago, because it’s frankly menschenverachtend (that’s a German word you need : despising humans and humanity. Stronger than inhumane), but the ruling conservatives had blocked any sensible attempts to reform it, so up to this date trans people still needed to have their actual gender validated by psychiatrists, who got to poke their nose into people’s most intimate things like masturbation habits. Yes, if you’re wondering what that tells you about somebody being trans or not, you’re not alone. And trans people had to pay out of pocket for that particular privilege.

The proposed new process is as easy and streamlined as I believe it to be possible for Germany: You go to the registry office, declare your gender, pay a small fee, have it changed. This can only be done once a year.

Of course, transphobes are frothing at their mouths, wailing about how men will now just enter the women’s sauna. Somebody smartly pointed out on Twitter, why that is nonsense. Let’s take our hypothetical cis male pervert who wants to spy on the ladies in the women’s sauna. He goes to the registry office to change his gender. Congratulations, she’s female now. Her name changes and all her official documents. Her employer is informed, if she’s married, so is her spouse, her health insurance is informed, every doctor she visits has her listed as female. Only when she comes to the sauna, the owners tell her to fuck off, it’s a private business. So she sues the sauna. She spends a lot of money on this, probably raising a lot of media attention, all the time being gendered female. Does that sound a realistic scenario for some cis dude who wants to harass women? I mean, there’s enough mixed saunas around.

Let’s say she wins in court and the sauna has to let her use the women’s sauna. Does he now get to harass the ladies there? No, because harassing people is illegal for women, too. Something many terves don’t seem to understand, since they spend so much time doing it.