How’s Your Second Wave Going? Covid and the Myth of Individual Responsibility

As about everybody with the expertise to do so predicted, Covid is back with a vengeance and Europe is in the firm grip of a second wave.

I absolutely have no clue what France is doing, because their new cases are just through the roof with 27k new cases yesterday, or Spain, or what is keeping Italy relatively stable. What I do know is that currently the narrative is that the second wave is caused by irresponsible individuals. And sure, we are all fed up with the people who don’t wear their masks, and the SNP MP who took the train home despite having Covid, and the Kids who party like there was no tomorrow (well, probably they’re right). Yet, in the end, the tale of the reckless individual who endangers all of us is just that: a tale, mostly to deflect from the complete failure of our governing bodies.

The media are, of course, helping. 12 infected at an illegal party, or 25 infected at a completely legal wedding makes for good headlines. As does “most transmissions occur in the personal sector” while only mentioning in the small print that 30-50% of transmissions are unknown. Transmissions in your private life are easy to follow. Contact tracing will work well when the people you infected with Covid are your spouse and teenage kid. Contact tracing will not work at all when you infect 2 people at the grocery store and one on public transport. Our daily life will force us into close contact with many people, often with not enough protection. At school I’m in close contact with up to 200 people a day, usually with no masks, no air filters, no distance. At least so far it seems that the concept of “tracing and isolating” after a positive test is working, there have been few spreads within schools or among the families, but it shows again why the spread outside of schools and workplaces is going on and on: There’s no contact tracing and isolation for people who shopped together at the supermarket. How’s the cashier supposed to know whether they got the ‘Rona at work or in an elevator where somebody sneezed?

The current discourse is nothing but to deflect from the abysmal failure of the people in charge to implement safety standards that will really keep people safe, but as long as we’re happily blaming one another they’ll get away with it.

Mind your Words: Why mainstream journalism often fails us all

Maybe you heard it, but last weekend there was a demonstration of Nazis and people who march with Nazis (esotherics, anti-vaxxers, naturopaths, …) in Berlin. Beforehand there was lots of discussions and an attempt to ban the whole thing because the last time they ignored all the hygiene rules meant to keep Covid from spreading, but a court overturned the ban, because the organisers had promised, pinky swear, that this time they’d follow them, which just proves that Germany is a totalitarian dictatorship where a court will guarantee your right to free speech.

Of course the whole thing ended as foreseen: Distances and mask regulations were ignored and police ordered them to stop, but miraculously all the water throwers they have whenever some schoolkids protest climate change as well as the riot police that was all too present for the BLM protests seemed to be unavailable (well, they probably needed a day off because in order to participate in the protest). The whole thing culminated in a disgraceful “storm on the Reichstag”, where a whole lot of three police officers were charged with protecting the building. The images of people raising the Reichsflagge (long considered the legal substitute for the illegal swastika flag) in front of the parliament obviously shocked mainstream politicians more  than Nazis murdering people, but that’s a topic for another day.

Personally I’ve been wondering what those people thought would happen if they manage to go inside? Did they think both federal and state governments would just shrug, say “you won” and abdicate? What would they have done once the snack machines were emptied? Anyway, this is just the background to my actual topic: How journalists use words as if they’d never gone to school.

Throughout mainstream journalism they never said “Nazis”, “fascists”, or even “right wing protestors”. They took great care to explain that there were also the people who are not Nazis but who sure have no problem marching with them (or as I refer to them: the people who are running the trains to Auschwitz and the people who are just making sure that those trains are running on time). Instead they used the nonsensical “Corona opponents”, “Corona protestors” and “Corona critics” as if that makes any fucking sense? Like, who isn’t opposed to Corona? Have you ever met somebody who says: “having a deadly pandemic is sure cool shit”? And what does a virus care about your criticism or protest? It’s not a sentient being and much like the people in those protests it can’t be reasoned or argued with. It’s more absurd than Dadaism and waiting for Godot combined with a good measure of Ulysses thrown into the mix as a means for communicating factual information. It makes those people look like having a legitimate cause instead of bloody fascists who want to kill their opponents, who publicly say so, and actually do so.

Teacher’s Corner: Back to School: Fuck Corona, Fuck the Government, Fuck People

School started again yesterday. Back in July when the holidays started, we had an average of 10 new cases per week in our cosy little Bundesland (State) with its population of one million. Many days we didn’t have a single new case, there were times without a single person being hospitalised. And then everybody decided they were fed up with Covid, first of all the responsible people in government. Measures kept being reduced, the number of people you could have in a spot got increased, travel warnings got discontinued, so people parties, went to clubs, went on their holiday. And then we all saw the images of German and British tourists from Mallorca, flaunting all distancing and mask rules and smart people knew that this wouldn’t work out.

And of course, numbers kept increasing. Suddenly politicians decided that maybe we should test people who return from their holiday, but the roll out was slow, at the start it was optional, and honestly, a country with seven borders cannot control if the people crossing the border just went shopping or drove through half of Europe.

But still, schools are opened almost like normal with a bunch of rules that make no sense and that are just to cover our asses from liability. For example, we should not mix classes, except for religious education, that’s when the virus takes a break. We have separate entrances and school yards for year 5, 6 and 7, but of course no separate buses. We have to wear masks when walking along a corridor alone, but in class the kids sit next to each other with up to 29 kids a class with no masks. But I do get two free tests, mostly so the ministry can say “look, it wasn’t the teachers who brought it to school”. I do not get free masks…

If you think I’m sounding bitter, that’s because I am. I haven’t hugged my sister since March. I didn’t get to celebrate my wedding anniversary, we won’t get to celebrate Mr’s 50th birthday. I basically locked my kids up for three months and only allowed outdoor visits to their grandparents’ a couple of weeks ago. I sewed some hundred masks. I stayed the fuck at home, despite usually longing for the holiday all year round. I tried my best to keep us and others safe, to stop the spread of Covid, and now I’m considered cannon fodder in the educational system. The people in the ministry won’t put themselves at risk like this. Even the parents who all decided that this was the perfect year for a holiday don’t have to sit with 30 other people who also thought like that. And the first class in a school 10km away is already in quarantine because a kid tested positive after coming back from the holiday…

Should Covid kill me, just dump my body on the steps of parliament.

Luxury, or What We Did on our Holiday

With Covid raging we made the wise decision to stay the fuck at home during our holiday, and with 2.5% of people returning form “risk areas” testing positive (mind you, these were mass tests, not tests of people who themselves suspect anything or show symptoms), this was a smart decision if we ever made one. Instead we invested the money in a steelframe pool with a dome tent to protect it.

What sounds like putting up an oversized kiddy pool was indeed about two weeks of hard work. Not the pool or the tent, but the preparations. First Mr had to clear the area in the overgrown area we rent from the city. Then we had to level the ground. The area has a very small slope. Really, you’d hardly notice. 20 cm on a 6m area. When you need to level it you notice, because you are shovelling several tons of dirt, not to mention the roots and that nice block of blue concrete that we had to remove. But after three weeks of backbreaking sweat soaking work, we needed about an hour and a half to put up the pool and my dad and I needed another 2 hours to put up the tent.

So here it is, and with a heat wave rolling over us, it was one of the best decisions ever. I can tell you, finding this house with its garden at a reasonable price was the best piece of luck we ever had.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

It’s got a diameter of 3.5m and can be filled to 1.3m depth. I suggest applying insect repellent before getting anywhere near because this is nature.


Corona Crisis Crafting XV: Gotta Craft Them All

I tend to go through crafting cycles. Right now I have little motivation to mix resin or, lets face it, sand it (sorry, voyager. I promise you will receive your stuff). Right now it’s back to the sewing and embroidery machine. I also found the cutest Pokemon designs on Etsy (apparently they don’t try to beat their fandom into dust by wielding the copyright maze heavyhandedly)

The technique used here is called “in the hoop” embroidery, which means you’re not just embroidering some designs onto fabric, but assemble the whole project more or less with the embroidery machine while your fabric remains in the embroidery hoop.

These neat pouches are a combination of an in the hoop design from Urban Threads a long time ago and the Pokemon applique I already used on the mask.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

They are also neat ways to use scraps because you only need a bit more than a letter size piece of fabric.

Next one was created by sewing the individual pieces in the hoop and the assembling them by hand. It’s not a toy I’d hand to a baby (but I got lots of baby suitable plushie designs anyway), but aren’t they cute?

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The little one( meaning my kid) “borrowed” the larger one (meaning the Eevee) and the told me the next day that Eevee had called her mummy and she couldn’t return it now because you mustn’t separate babies from their mums. Yes, I got a smart kid. It’s not the first plushie that she adopted by emotionally blackmailing the original owner. Not that I wouldn’t have simply given it to her anyway…

Now for the cost of those: this is not a way to save money. I had the fabric for the larger one lying around, but of course I needed (cough) some better fabric for the small one, so between the design and the fabric (though there’s still quite some left for more of them) I’m down 50 bucks and of course I could simply have bought two Eevee plushies for that money…

Corona Crisis Crafting XIV: More Masks

With the kids back to school, me and Mr back to work, more masks are needed. After all, neither me nor Mr. have any intention of washing a handful of masks each night. The following are the most exciting. Usually for the patterned fabric there’s 2 or three more without any embellishments. Thanks to our panda for modelling. She doesn’t need any masks of her own but thinks they look cool.

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More under the fold.

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Corona Crisis Crafting XII: Revenge of the Sewing Machine

Making all those masks required that I somewhat clean up my sewing area and it reminded me of how much I love sewing and embroidery,and also Lidl had plain clothing on sale. So here’s a few nice things that I now own.

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More masks. I wanted some that match my clothing. I also changes the pattern a bit. The original pattern was made by an Asian woman and while differences on average are small, nobody ever accused my nose of being average. It’s more like something you’d find on a Greek statue if such prominent features didn’t have the tendency to break off. It’s also bigger, which makes it a lot more comfortable to wear, as there’s more room in front of nose and mouth.

Cute T-shirts:

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As you can see, my dear Marie Antoinette goes back to a time when there was a lot less fabric needed to cover my ass. Bright flowers on dark fabrics are just my thing.

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As are unicorns. The pattern sits a bit low, but not quite as low as on Marie Antoinette, as my tits fill up some space.

And a dress. With pockets!

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Please excuse the chaos in the background. I did not clean all of it… The next pic will show the difference between a dress sitting on a mannequin and a dress sitting on a fat lady. I tried to take a selfie, which is not that easy if you want to show your dress. You can also see one of my masks. It says “Wash your hands, no seriously”.

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Oh, and I made another pest doctor mask:

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This time a bit more sinister. I think it’s something I could wear to a ren fair, should we ever get one again.

And just for the fun of it: TARDIS keyrings

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British Feminism: I Want ma Nanny and ma Cleaner!!!!

The state of British mainstream feminism has long been abysmal. All the major players seem to be massive transphobes, there’s court cases about people’s desire to abuse trans people and overall it has the feeling that they’re actually just in favour of them not being bothered by anything than a movement for women from all backgrounds and histories. And never was that White Feminist Approach demonstrated better than this week, when Owen Jones gently suggested that if you have a cleaner, you should pay them to stay at home, because the UK is only second to the US when it comes to Covid 19, with packed public transport posing a major risk for commuters. In case you don’t know who he is, Owen Jones is a British labour activist, a gay dude (this will be important later), a journalist, an antifascist and if that wasn’t bad enough, his major crime is being an ally to trans people. This turned into a furious row on Twitter with the who is who of White British Feminism* descending on him like it was judgement day with at least two published articles to follow.

Twitter screenshot


Owen Jones: Declaring something simple doesn’t make it so: if someone can afford a cleaner, they should be paying them to stay at home and doing their own cleaning – they ‘ve certainly got the time to do it, otherwise they are a shockingly selfish human being.

Sarah Ditum: I don’t have more time in lockdown, I have less because I’m sharing my workspace with two teens and and another adult. There’s more dirt, because of the more people [sic]. the cleaning is killing me and this is a bad take.


Now, if Ditum had stopped after the first sentence she might have had a point: Corona parents are terribly stressed out because suddenly you’re a teacher for different age groups, have to cook all the meals the family would usually have at school/work and all of that while doing your job in home office. And there are good and valuable conversations about care work and the roll back on gender roles right now. Sarah isn’t part of them. Presumably exhaustion from cleaning. I don’t want to sound like supermummy, but I have two kids and a job as well and my husband is away during the week and so far cleaning hasn’t killed me. Mostly because I ignore it. It’s ok, I chose the flooring with having “how well does it hide dirt” in mind (very well).

Owen suggests that she might actually do something about the division of care work in her home:

Owen Jones: Get your teenagers to clean – we operated a rota system growing up to distribute daily household chores – and don’t force mostly low paid women to risk their health or even lives because that’s extremely selfish behaviour?

Sarah Ditum: Get my teenagers to clean? Declaring something simple doesn’t make it so

Remember, this is somebody who regularly claims that parents are making their children trans because, well, who knows. And hey, I kind of agree, making my teen do her chores certainly doesn’t have a fun tax added, but I’m in the business of raising competent adults who can look after themselves so yes, she still has to empty the dishwasher. We have a sort of clock with their pics on it. Occasionally my husband threatens to take the laundry that hasn’t been put away back to his place and he only washes whatever is in the hamper. But not Sarah Ditum’s poor children (what happened to the husband?)! I think I met a couple of Sarahs in parent teacher talks.

Me: Your son doesn’t do his tasks, only does what he wants and gets very angry when he’s reprimanded.

Mother: He’s never like this at home!

Me: What chores does he have to do at home?

Mother: Chores? My son doesn’t have to do any chores!

If that wasn’t bad enough, her pal Janice Turner chimes in:


Twitter screenshot

Owen Jones: I have a twin sister and two elder brothers: we were all expected to do housework from the age of 11, using a daily rota system dividing up chores. I don’t understand why teenagers cannot be expected to do this?

Sounds sensible, doesn’t it? It’s not like those “we used to hop 15 miles through the snow on one foot” pieces of commentary, just a simple memory from a not too long ago childhood. You’re a family, you stick together, you live together, you take responsibility. Apparently for Janice Turner, mother to two teenage sons and supposedly married to a full grown ass man suggesting that your teens do chores is misogyny:

Janice Turner: Free online parenting and household management classes from a childless mansplainer. Mothers thank you for your service, Owen.

Now, apart from the homophobic dog whistle about a “childless man”, mothers are invoked. Welcome to the cult of true motherhood, as evidenced in the next tweet.

Janice Turner: Be great if Owen addressed the reason most families have cleaners. Not lazy bitches “with time on their hands” or crap mothers who won’t draw up rotas for teenage kids. But men. Men don’t do their share. Instead of hating on women tell the dude to pick up a fucking mop.

You mean like Mr. Ditum and Mr. Turner? Because both women are married to afaict able bodied men who are perfectly capable of picking up a fucking mop, as are their teenagers, three of them being of the male persuasion. When are they supposed to learn how to pick up a mop? But as I said, that’s work. Getting a teenager to do something is no task for the lilly-livered, I can tell you, nor is it to have those complicated conversations about the division of housework with your male partner. Turner’s solution: Make another woman come in and do it. That’s how your teenage sons learn responsibility and equality. Because according to her, most families have cleaners. Probably even her cleaner. While she is cleaning other people’s houses, somebody else is cleaning hers. Actually it’s just a big fucking pyramid scheme where we pass around the same 100 bucks to pay each other to clean our houses. This goes well past “middle class privilege” and takes it well into “colonial times erasure of all women who are not part of the ruling class” territory.  It reminds me of the heroines of Jane Austen novels (I love Jane Austen novels): they struggle with financial hardship and consider themselves poor because they can only employ two or three servants.

Caroline Criado Perez, another UK feminist (her dad was the CEO of Safeway, if you need to guess her economic background), teetering on the brink of an epiphany:

Twitter screenshot

Right, where’s the Mr Ditum, Mr Ditum junior, Mr Turner, Mr Turner junior and Mr Turner junior shaped gap in the analysis?

You’d think it couldn’t get any worse, would you? I’m sorry…

Twitter screenshot

Again, Owen Jones agrees: men should pick up the tab instead of making other women risk their lives. Reasonable, or????

Owen Jones: Men should be shamed into doing their fair share of housework: couldn’t agree more.

But forcing largely low paid women, who also have to juggle their low paid work with unpaid household labour –  to risk the health and lives of themselves and their families is disgraceful.

Janice Turner: No one is “forcing” them. People are making arrangementsso their cleaners are safe, providing gloves, anti-bac and staying out of the house whilst they are there. Believe it or not[,] many people, even cleaners, actually want to return to work. It makes them feel useful and normal.

I’m sorry if your jaw is hurting from the impact with the floor, but I did kinda warn you. Remember these people are also huge SWERFS (Sex Work Excluding (Radical) Feminists) who claim that all sex workers are forced into sex work and in need of rescue. When it’s their carpets, suddenly economic force is no longer a thing. Also, Janice, antibacterial shit isn’t any good when talking about a virus. But that’s just the running up to the “Arbeit macht frei” finale at the end of the tweet. Didn’t you know, people who employ cleaners aren’t exploiting usually racialised labour. No, they’re actually doing those women a favour because what sense of worth would they have without the approval of a white woman who keeps mispronouncing their name?

Also, you’re not staying out of the house for the benefit of the cleaner, you’re doing it because that person just had to commute to your place which potentially exposed them to Covid 19.

But we’re still missing some players. Here I present Julie Bindel with an especially interesting take:

Twitter screenshot

Julie Bindel: I can only assume that abny male socialist giving instructions to women about the ethics of having a cleaner chooses not to consume pornography. After all, the women abused in the porn trade have their exploited ‘labour’ to the most extreme degree. [sic]


Julie Bindel is a political lesbian, aka somebody who is not actually that much into women but just not into men, who claims that bisexuality is a fake hobby for straight women, and who is here accusing a gay man of exploiting women in the production of porn he may or may not watch. It can’t get any more bizarre than this. Maybe it’s her own apparently confused ideas about sexual orientation that are showing. Does she think that gay men are actually political homosexuals because while they actually fancy women they just don’t want to have any kind of relationship with them because they’re secretly all MGTOW misogynists?

I’ve taken you on quite ride, and it should have a worthy finale, so here it is:

Twitter screenshot


Sarah Ditum: Yep that would be a good way to deal with this, if I had a cleaner. But I don’t, I’m just knackered and deeply irritated by Owen’s presumption that everyone has a bunch of free time at the moment

Plot twist: Sarah Ditum doesn’t have a cleaner, but she is willing to lay down the lives of other people’s cleaners for your right to a clean kitchen. But she has since gone on (presumably well paid) record stating that she will get one as soon as she can, because she really doesn’t want to negotiate housework with her household, who are simultaneously grown ass adults and teenagers and who still leave peanutbutter smudges on door handles like toddlers. But instead of calling that piggy back, she’d rather yell at some other woman to clean up that mess.


*There are decent British feminists worth that name, somehow they don’t seem to get that many columns and newspaper slots…



** The author of this text has written it while repeatedly helping her kid with her homework, doing a WhatsApp English class and making the kid empty the dishwasher. Don’t you fucking dare to accuse me of not knowing how busy these times are.

Corona Crisis Crafting X: Masks

I don’t know how many masks I made by now. It’s a three digit number for sure and we’re making them for all our students. Oh, we did get free masks from the government: 5 of those flimsy single use surgical masks per person…

Better than nothing, I guess.

But I needed to have a little fun as well:

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My interfacing is a bit flimsy, so if I make another one I’ll need to change that. Otherwise I think I can fit some snacks into the nozzle.

Is a Homemade Face Mask Better Than Nothing?

The best thing an amateur can do in times of crisis is to follow experts, specifically the expert consensus and not the hand-picked cherries who pander to one’s preconceived ideas. Not that the consensus is automatically true, but it probably is the best that human knowledge can offer at the moment. What we are seeing right now is a consensus shift regarding the wear of facemasks, as more and more countries recommend them or even make their wearing mandatory in some places.

This is accompanied by new research, and one such research in the Czech Republic focuses on comparing various materials. The findings are not published yet, but one such preliminary finding is mentioned in the Czech article – five layers of ordinary t-shirt fabric are effective at catching nearly all particles of the size that have droplets exhaled/coughed out. That is huge since it is nearly equivalent to a surgical mask. And since the main argument for widespread use of face masks is that they should slow the spread of disease from those who have it (especially those who might be asymptomatic), then yes, even such self-made masks are better than nothing, if everybody has them.

But the article mentions another thing, which is even more interesting. One layer of t-shirt fabric was able to stop 11% of the much smaller sizes, those that are expected for the dry incoming particles. And five layers would stop nearly 46% of such incoming particles at maximum breathing speed (i.e. during intensive exertion). Slow breathing increases their efficacy.

That might be significant. There is some evidence that the initial viral dose of SARS-CoV-2 might have an influence on the severity of the illness. That seems logical – the illness has several days incubation period during which the virus grows in the body exponentially. A smaller viral dose thus might give the immune system may be a whole day or even more to develop appropriate antibodies, as is the case with influenza. But I could not find any study looking at whether there is a correlation between the incubation period and the severity of the disease.

It is a work in progress, but to me, it seems the answer to the question in the title is “very probably yes, possibly even for your own protection”.

Before you submit any argument against wearing face masks, please consider whether said argument could be used with the same weight against the universal and non-controversial recommendation of washing your hands. For example, an argument that many people are wearing masks incorrectly is not an argument against wearing them, just like the fact that most people wash their hands incorrectly and insufficiently was never an argument against hygiene. It is only an argument for making an effort to educate the public.

Like this video, which educates about both.

Corona Crisis Crafting IX: Restoring my Earrings

Apparently some people take off their earrings before taking a shower or going to bed. I’m not one of them (unless they have some parts that must not get wet or are huge ones for special occasions), so I tend to periodically ruin my cheaper earrings. The pair I was currently wearing is a cute fox where the stopper is actually the body of the fox so you have the whole animal dangling from your ears. Since I can’t go out and get new ones and also have some time I decided to restore them using UV resin.

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Here you see the sad remains after about three months of constant wearing. From behind it looked like the red was some kind of shrink wrap with little adhesion to the metal. First I cleaned off the remaining paint. The paint around the eyes looks like it’s proper enamel, so I left it at that.

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Next I coated the parts in several layers. One difficulty is the attachments of the tail, since resin would glue it to the body permanently. I worked carefully there with moderate success. Another thing is that resin leaves a lot of volume. The previous “shrink wrap” paint showed off the contours you can see above, but in the restored version they are gone. Foxy probably got a thicker winter coat. Also the colour is more brownish.

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Here’s the finished version. I quite like how they turned out. Kestrel would probably laugh at my clumsy painting skills, but I can live with that.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved


And here’s some bonus Pikachus. Because why not have a flock of them?

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Corona Crisis Crafting VIII: The Dragon Egg

After lots of sanding and polishing and some more sanding and polishing and then dropping it on the concrete because it’s so smooth and getting a dent in it which I won’t sand out again, the dragon egg is done.

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What you can see in this picture is that I didn’t get it completely round. For one thing, I don’t have a lathe on which I could actually turn it. The other one is that I wasn’t willing to remove so much material. The piece of burl that I used was a triangle and if I’d gone for a really round design, I would have lost about an estimated 30% in size. Also I don’t think that most people will notice anyway.

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There’s that damn scratch on top. Clearly not my favourite side. One thing about the resin I’m currently using is that it allows for rather thick pours without many bubbles. Usually the maximum in fast curing resins is 1cm (though it depends a lot on how you’re mould is. The other eggs I posted a while ago have more than 1cm in any direction, but they also have a large surface that allows for cooling). This block had a lot more than that in any dimension and actually I’d speculated on getting bubbles, which I thought would look cool. But as you see, nothing happened. Sure, it got warm and cured super fast, which allowed some of the gold leaf to stay afloat, but no bubbles. Definitely a good resin for dragon eggs.

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OK, I got one bubble, probably from when I stirred the darker blue resin that you can see in this shot in. The burl got a bees wax coating to make it shine.

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Here you can see the odd shape of the burl. The remaining bottom is clear resin. While the biggest part was poured in one go, I actually did three castings: the first one to create a solid bottom, gluing the burl into the mould. BTW, I used an old milk carton for that. The second casting added one thin layer to the burl:

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Fluorescent pigment, here under UV light. In normal daylight this is just blue as you can see in the pic above. It glows white under UV light and then…

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…it glows green in the dark.

I think I’ve proved to my own satisfaction that you can make dragon eggs without a ladle and it#s definitely something I want to repeat, probably with a somewhat larger piece, though I already dread the sanding…