Just a quick Degupdate: More of the same

You know, back when Estelle was still alive and we had just the two of them, they had some very different characters: Candy being daring, curious, bold, Estelle being timid and careful, always hiding behind the running wheel. When we chose the new degus, we did so purely on looks on pictures: I want the brown one and one of the light ones. What we ended up with are Candy and Estelle reloaded. Sky is just like Candy, but even bolder since she’s got Candy as a teacher, with Lulu being so shy that for the first days we were concerned if she was eating at all ! (She is). But the two of them are growing and living tehir best degu life. Enjoy their cuteness.

Juvenile white degu poking her head out from a terracotta pot

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Juvenile white degu munching a treat

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Juvenile white degu sitting in a nest of hay

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Adult brown degu trying to open a jar with nuts.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Candy, Candy, Candy

Adult brown degu, side view

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Adult brown degu pulling a piece of wood with her teeth

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Adult brown degu in a running wheel (blurry), juvenile brown degu sitting next to it

©Giliell, all rights reserved Candy and Lulu

Adult brown degu on a green carpet

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Juvenile brown degu

©Giliell, all rights reserved Lulu. She’s so damn pretty, even though she lost the tip of her tail

 

Teacher’s Corner: Liar, liar, pants on fire

You know, I can deal with a lot of things. My colleagues declare that I have the patience of a Saint. I am extremely understanding. I don’t expect kids to be prefect and rule abiding. I would be a fucking hypocrite if I did, because while I was always a straight A student, I was never docile. My popularity with teachers therefore depended on whether they expected me to obey, or whether they expected me to learn.

So when a kid fucks up, I don’t take it personally. There’s just one thing that I absolutely cannot tolerate : bold faced lying.

Today I was a bit latish, though still on time. I see two of my 8th graders, let’s call them A and B, walk away from the school gate instead of inside, so I inform their tutor.

We also quickly change plans and I get to teach their class for the first two lessons. I start with a whole 6 kids. The tutor is pissed, another kid says “yeah, I saw them, and C, D and E, too”.

Again, I can deal with it. It’s not like I didn’t occasionally skip lessons, especially when I knew that the actual teacher was sick. But at least I did it somewhat smarter. Like, WTF? You all got smartphones. When I was your age the Enterprise didn’t even have smartphones. Go hang out where I don’t have to see you.

But that’s not the worst. As I said, I did shit, too. But when I got caught, I knew I was in trouble and that I was going to suffer the consequences of my actions. Today, the merry troop shuffled in one after the other. I told them that we’d talk later. Near the end of the lesson their tutor came to inform them that they’d have to make up the missed time. One kid, C, exploded. He gets aggressive quick. That it wasn’t his fault! He’d missed the bus! He’d just came by bus, together with B! Yes, the attentive reader will have noticed a little problem here. I calmly asked him “Just yes or no, you say that at half past you were on a bus to school with B?” He indignantly informed me that yes, of course he was, I can ask B!

See, this is where I get angry. The lying, with indignation, with rage, with an aura of an innocent person suffering some terrible wrongs. B tried to back him up, claiming that no, I couldn’t have seen him, it wasn’t him! I said that well, all we need then was A telling us who it was I saw him with, but A had at least the good sense to shut up.

The real problem is that I already know that at least half the parents will choose believing their kids over the words of the teacher and a couple of classmates. In the end, I pity the kids, since none of them have the socioeconomic background to be a successful liar.

Art: Combining resin and beads

It was just a matter of time, wasn’t it? And with the installation of actual working lights in our cellar, I had not just enough illumination, but also work space again to do some resin work.

Now, in between the last time I did this and now I invested into two things:

1: sanding paper up to 200 grit for the small disk sander that I have

2: A small bench grinder to polish the pieces.

Between the two of them, it saves probably 70% of the annoying work. Instead of having to start hand sanding at about 200 grit, I started at 2000. Now, there is even finer sanding paper for the machine, but that wouldn’t be very helpful, since the sander is, of course, a flat surface and I want the pieces round, so a few, really just a few minutes of hand sanding with the paper on a soft sponge are needed. Then polishing is a treat (provided I hold tight on the pieces and don’t have them shot into orbit).

With the resin done it’s always a question of how to turn them into pendants. When they come out of standard moulds, they fit standard bezels, but these here don’t. Wire wrapping is an option, but being no good at it the results are often not satisfying. It also takes the focus away from the resin pieces I think. Now with the beads bringing me so much fun, why not combine?

Round resin piece with a beaded bezel. The resin piece is brown and blue, like continents and the ocean

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This is one of those “sea and land pieces” that I love so much, even though I’m not completely happy with it. I shouldn’t have added the metallic pigment, because there was a layer of flitter that settled somewhere in the middle that makes it slightly opaque. The bezel is made from seed beads in two different sizes and some small crystals.

Round resin pendant in a blue beaded bezel. The resin piece resembles mountains with a sky

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This one is gorgeous, and I can’t decide which side I love better. I think I’ll try something similar again with the attempt at creating northern lights. This started out rectangular, btw.

Round resin pendant in a blue beaded bezel. The resin piece resembles mountains with a sky

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The last piece defied my attempts at beading, because the curve gets too narrow at the top.

Tear shaped resin pendant with brown on the outside and blue within

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It has the same issue as the first one, but look at that shine!

Degupdate: Candy is back, and this time she brought reinforcements!

After our sweet Estelle passed away, it was clear to us that since we didn’t want to give up Candy, we would need new friends for her quick. Thankfully our breeder agreed to take her in and socialise her with two young degus. This went really well and left us just a week to get Degustan back in shape again*, since Candy and Estelle had eaten away quite a lot of the wood holding the wire in place. Of course we ran from problem into trouble, since most parts are cobbled together from leftover pieces, so what used to fit the last time doesn’t fit now. But we finished yesterday and went to pick up the crew today. So please meet Candy, Sky and Lulu.

An adult brown degu, a juvenile white and a juvenile brown and white degu snuggled together in a carrier.

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When we brought them home they were a bit shaken from transport, so the two babies snuggled close to Candy.

Juvenile brown and white degu held in  hand

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Lulu is a shy little girl. She has already claimed what used to be Estelle’s favourite spot: behind the running wheel.

Juvenile white degu sitting on a girl's upper torso. The face of the girl is not visible, only the mouth

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Sky, on the other hand, is more like Candy. They will probably have some fights about who’s the boss when Sky grows up. It’s funny how much juvenile degus look like adult mice.

Adult brown degu nose to nose with juvenile white degu in an enclosure.

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Here you can see Candy encouraging Sky to go exploring. It is clear how much comfort her presence gives them. When Candy went on a short trip outside of the enclosure, they both hid and only came out after Candy returned. Now, please, let those three have a long and happy degu life, my heart can’t take any more breaking.

 

*I’m afraid my colleagues think I’m crazy. We were chatting on Friday, with me mentioning that I need to finish the project and a colleague shared that yeah, with his hamster he always had to replace the wooden boards not just because of gnawing, but also because of the pee. I said “oh, that’s no problem for me, I put down tiles” and they all looked at me like I had sprouted an additional head…

A Day at the Zoo 3: Because the Night

Night zoos are one of my favourite things because they have the coolest animals. They’re also bad for taking pics. Even my most light sensitive lense isn’t much good, mostly because it’s too dark for the auto focus but also too dark for me to use the manual setting. But there are some acceptable pics.

Dark image of a tree porcupine

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The tree porcupine was kind enough to step into the little light and my focus. This is where digital cameras with their near limitless image storage play to their strength: I probably deleted 100 blurry images to walk away with about 6 decent ones.

Very dark and blurry picture of an echidna

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Nope, that’s not a worse pic of the same animal, that’s actually an echidna. No, I don’t care that the father next to us told his kid it was a porcupine. Zoos offer many learning opportunities, but obviously no learning obligations.

And now, are you ready for one of my absolute favourites? The aardvark!

Image of an aardvark, full body

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We were very lucky: on our second visit to the night zoo, the aardvarks (3 wonderful animals) had their enclosure cleaned and the caretaker had turned up the light there. They didn’t mind (they could have gone to their dark burrow) and posed for some nice pics.

Image of an aardvark, front view

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Aardvark in action!

Side view of an aardvark

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Look at that snout!

There is a story that goes with the aardvarks: The zoo in our state capital also has a night zoo with aardvarks, but while this here has the glass all up the enclosure, our zoo only has it about a metre high, just enough so the aardvarks cannot escape. Some years ago when we visited the zoo, Mr looked at the aardvarks, not realising that there was nothing between him and the animals at the level of his nose. Well, the aardvark obviously thought it was only fair game that if Mr got to look at it, it got to look at Mr, went on its hind legs, put the front legs on top of the glass and put its snout almost into Mr’s face. The look on my beloved one’s face was something I still treasure to this day.

Mini Holiday 2: Fishes!

Aquariums are always cool. Fish are cool. Glass fish are double cool, just hard to take pics of.

A translucent fish

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A small blowfish

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A tiny but relaxed blowfish.

The head of a fish üoking out of the ground

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What’s up?

A piranha

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Nobody ever told me that piranhas are sparkling!

A striped scalar with several smaller fish around

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several clownfish

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a clown fish ion front of anemonae

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No trouble finding Nemo here

A yellow and blue fish

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All of Frankfurt is decorated in support of Ukraine, and it seems like even the fish are showing their solidarity.

Mini Holiday: A Day at the Zoo 1

For the easter holiday we wanted to do a day trip with the kids, but given the ongoing pandemic we didn’t want to do a theme park with all the screaming and close contact that entails. But even my two very cool teenager can be lured into a nice zoo with interesting animals. This time we chose Frankfurt. It’s easy to reach by train, not too far for a day trip, and the train tickets were still in the affordable range, though they only were because the kids were free.

And my camera got something to do (it’s getting bored in here), with the stalker lens giving insecure men inferiority complexes. So stay tuned over the next days for a lot of animal pics.

A male lion lying on a stone, looking relaxed.

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This chill boy has his enclosure near the entrance, and showing off his amazing talent of chilling 20hrs a day, he didn’t move once between us arriving and leaving.

A ball of fur in a green canopy

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A ball of fur in a green canopy

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I saw a sloth! At least that’s what the signs claim. But it had moved from the canopy to a location unknown between our first and second visit.

A binturong family with 2 babies on top of mum

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Look at those babies! Binturongs are seriously cute, even though they always look ancient, even when they’re babies.

Beading: A Promise of Cherries

And the flowers of spring.

These ones are a bit different from my usual work, where the effect is created by artfully and precisely stringing beads. These two are created by stringing a lot of beads together. Nobody will ever notice if the leaves are three seed beads apart or four, just that there’s a lot of them.

Selfie of a middle aged woman wearing a necklace made from Bohemian beads and wax pearls. Detailed description of necklace in the next pic

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Close up of the necklace around the neck. The necklace is about 1" in diameter and consists of irregularly strung beads in the shape of flowers and leaves in red, green white and gold.

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Same as last image, necklace lying on the table

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I al

Small earrings with white glass flowers and green leaves

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so made some matching earrings with the leftover beads:

 

The bracelet actually came first. It’s in my favourite colour: all the hues of blue. The technique is the same for both: A row of large seed beads is strung up and then you keep adding  the different elements, always working from one end to the other, spacing them more or less regularly.

 

Close up of the bracelet

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Bracelet made from blue and green Bohemian glass beads. The beads are in the shape of leaves and flowers, alternating in an irregular but very dense pattern. Bracelet seen worn on wrist.

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Same bracelet lying on a wooden table

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Same bracelet, lying on a table formed as a ring

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There’s another major difference between this project and the usual ones: cost. A normal bracelet /set of earrings hast a cost of a few bucks. Even the “Mermaid” one was definitely under 10€ , even with the Bohemian crystals. these are quite expensive. Sure, one bag of flower beads or leaves isn’t much, just around 3 €, but you need a lot o them, so each piece comes down to 35 to 40 € is beads alone, hours worked not counted.  I’ll call them my easter gift, I could spend money more foolishly.

Good bye, sweet Estelle

We really have no luck here. Today the kid came home to Estelle being lifeless. We rushed her to the clinic, but there was nothing to be done for her. She apparently had a big tumour in her belly, and the vet told us that while she could attempt invasive procedures, it was very unlikely that she would survive it, so we decided to let her go. We buried her next to her little sister. Damn, I know that nature never intended for small rodents to live long lives, but it hurts every time.

Picture of our deceased degu estelle, wrapped in a towel and adorned with spring flowers.

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Beading: The Coral Reef Bracelet

I cut this off from yesterday’s post, as it was getting too long. I hope you enjoy my currently favourite piece:

The “magic carpet” bracelet. I loosely followed this tutorial on youtube, but my result was a bit different.

First, the base is a bracelet weaved in “brick stitch” and that alone took about 8 hours because you need to go through each bead several times, but I’m also sure that this will never tear.

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Remember what I said about the different sized beads? The lady in the tutorial uses size 6 seed beads. The smaller the number, the bigger the seeds, and she made rows of 6 beads. I only had size 8 beads and therefore made rows of 8. Now, the number of loops that are then stitched onto the base depends on the number of beads, so I was already adding more loops per row than the original. The next big difference is the beads used for the loops. I once bought a bag of “mixed blue beads” that ranged from size 6 to 13 (the 13 ones are too small for my needles), from white to black and actually, they are useless for anything else, but oh so pretty. I also used up some “mixed bags” of small Bohemian glass beads (again, what is it with me and those mixed bags?), with the exception of the red ones. The increased density of the loops plus the irregularity of the beads created a completely different look and do I love it. It’s got something organic, like an encrusted coral reef.

Now, the original pattern stitches the loops onto the bracelet by going through the beads, which I did up until the point you see above. It was hell. Getting in between those densely stitched seed beads on the base was horrible, it ruined my fingernails and my needles. At that point I simply switched to going between the beads and that was much easier and more comfortable. Not to mention faster.

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With the weight of that bracelet, a magnetic clasp was out of the question, so I made a toggle. Again I had to change this a couple of times to make it fit In the end I also added loops to it to make it fit optically as the original version looked too neat.

Here’s for the finished one. With having to alter the toggle a few times it turned out a bit wide, but it’s still ok, no risk of slipping over my hand.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

Here you can see that it’s quite a size and also the many different colours and beads.

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Even closer. You can see part of the original “too neat” ring on the left.

 

Some pretty bling in ugly times: More beadwork

Yeah, I know, my apologies are getting old, but right now I find myself unable to engage in internet discussions much. While you all know me as “argumentative”, I find the current situation too dire to quibble about it on the net. Instead I’m trying to do my best offline, take care of the Ukrainian kids arriving at school, etc. And I craft. Because crafting is my #1 stress relief. Also, beading is something I can do on the couch while watching TV, unlike working with resin or sewing, so here’s the latest bling. It also helps with cutting down on snacks.

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These are made with peyote stitch and look much more complicated than they actually are. I’m currently working on a matching necklace.

The next two pieces look like I robbed some ancient treasury, despite being nothing more than wax and glass beads. All I need now is for an occasion to wear them.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Again, youtube is a well of inspiration and comprehensive tutorials. One thing that is absolutely not the fault of the people doing the tutorials is the fact that you rarely have the exact same beads as they have. With stuff like the earrings and the necklace, that’s not a problem. They turn out a bit bigger or smaller than the original, but all in all they’re just fine. Things like the bracelet and the pendant are tricky, though. With those, the proportion needs to match and I often end up undoing and redoing them several times, swapping out beads, until I get them right.

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I already have a rainbow necklace in resin, and i noticed something when wearing it at school: It’s important. Sometimes it acts as a discussion starter. We have a huge problem with homophobia at school. Many very religious kids (I recently shocked one kid by simply not believing in any deity) and also just plain secular toxic masculinity homophobia. they see my rainbow, they ask me if I “support LGBT people”. Since these are conversations that happen “off record”, kids are more willing to openly discuss matters. The other part is that of course having loudly homophobic pupils doesn’t make LGBT kids disappear, they just stay in the closet. I get a few shy “I like your rainbow jewellery” comments from kids and I thank them and they know I’m safe. Maybe they don’t dare to wear a rainbow openly, so I do it for them.

About the technicalities: The ends are glued into the caps, as simple as that, and the clasp is magnetic, so I can put it on and take it off myself, though it also means that I need to pay attention so I don’t lose it. The added semi precious beads act as a counterweight. the clasp is often the lightest part of a bracelet and will end up on top. This way it stays down.

 

 

Please shove your biking advice where the sun doesn’t shine

Gas prices are exploding around the globe, and as far as I can see, the only reason for this is pure speculation, as nobody’s stopped buying Russian oil or drilling. The amount of oil on the market is the same as 4 weeks ago. This of course causes a lot of issues and once again, several things can be true at the same time:

  • People whose car price would pay off my mortgage complain about gas prices
  • Combustion engines are bad for the environment anyway
  • Our cities have been planned for cars over the last 50 years
  • Some people could bike to work or use public transport but don’t do so for stupid reasons
  • Not everybody can reduce the use of their cars
  • Small incomes are disproportionately affected
  • Gleeful “just use a bike” advice is classist, ableist and sexist

Huh? I hear you say. How is the advice classist and sexist?

People who advocate for biking and public transport (and there are many great and thoughtful people doing that, but also a bunch of loud and privileged people, usually male, who annoy the fuck out of me) will usually point to our fucked up city planning, lack of public transport and accessibility and then propose to solve this by simply making cars very expensive and inconvenient. They will point to a past where we all had streetcars and no individual cars, or to colleges as “walkable communities” and keep forgetting that neither the past nor college are adequate models for our current societies. Back in that glorious past, people worked close to home and by people I mean men. Even though many women still held jobs, their needs were never prominent in public discourse.

If I go back to my grandparents, my grandfathers brought home money, my grandmothers made it last. My maternal grandma’s mornings were spent running errands: walking from small shop A to small shop B, all present in the small village they lived in, taking in small sewing jobs from better off relatives, taking in orders and doing deliveries for a seed merchant, and so on, and so on. The afternoons were spend doing chores and gardening. My grandparents never needed a car because my grandma would do all these things while he was at work.

Times changed. The small shops vanished for the supermarkets, the local supermarkets vanished for the huge departments stores outside of town. But not only that, society changed as well. More women started to participate in the workforce, leading to a higher demand of childcare. And also people were required to be more flexible and take up jobs that are not within an easy distance. Whenever I bring up that argument, people tell me folks should just move closer to the job. When I ask them which job we should move closer to, mine or my husband’s, they often get angry, because they notice that they haven’t thought about this. Women’s job are often worse paid, they work shorter hours and they have to still juggle all the things grandma had to do. They have to take the kids to daycare/school, do their doctor’s appointments, get them to sports… Quite often, this is only possible with the convenience of a car. This also means that women are disproportionally affected by measures that make cars more expensive and less convenient. At some point, the cost is higher than the earning, the workload just gets too much, and once again women find themselves pushed out of the workforce. So yeah, insisting that commuters fix the problem individually punishes women for living ion a sexist society. It’s a great example of how something can be sexist without anybody ever having consciously thought a sexist thought, but by having failed to consider how something would affect women differently  than men.

On to the classism. This seems even less intuitive than the sexism. After all, a bike is cheaper than a car, right? That is true, and in the long run it may be a good alternative for people with short commutes. I’m all in favour of building good biking infrastructure, not just painting lines on the road. Bikes are amazing. I just bought one last year, after not having one for several years. And do you know what? It costs money. A decent city bike that can take small potholes, has working brakes, and is safe in traffic costs a couple of hundred Euros. If your commute is longer and reachable by an ebike, add a thousand Euros*. Telling people who are currently struggling with paying for heat, electricity, food and transport that they can just spend that amount of money in order to save some in the months to come is classist. People need help now. It’s all good and fine for you to decide that you’d rather freeze and put on two sweaters instead of buying Putin’s gas, but please, don’t tell the parents of a newborn that 15°C are enough.

Personally, I’m just annoyed. I have zero control over my workplace, 90-95% of my driving is for my job, and I’m currently taking a paycut of 100€  a month just for increased gas prices that others don’t have to spend. It doesn’t put us into trouble, and I probably wouldn’t mind if that money was going towards something good, like reshaping infrastructure, or helping refugees, but it’s going directly into the pockets of the oil industry who have zero interest in making any of that happen.

*Oh, and getting back to sexism: it’s a problem for women who work more often in customer facing jobs to arrive at work “presentable” when biking for 10 km

Small resin project: Totoro

If by now you’re annoyed with my obsession for the cute monster, you’re out of luck. With the temperatures increasing I finally got around to doing some small resin projects again. There are some larger ones that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, but honestly, I don’t have the spoons. Right now I need instant gratification like a toddler.

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I got the moulds a while ago and I must say, they really came out cute. I worked with a combination of epoxy and UV resin. First I cast the bodies in grey and then I painted in the details with UV resin. The former took about 3 min, the latter about 3 hours, because I needed to cure the resin in layers. I finished them into a pair of earrings, 4 pins and 2 keychains. The small ones are a bit more bunny than Totoro, but they’re cute nevertheless.