I hear you asking: What’s up with Prancer and that stack of candy under his antler? Well, there’s a story behind this and more…
When the Library’s Christmas party was announced back in October, I told the party organizer, our Circulation Manager, that I was building a gingerbread house and asked if I could display it as part of the party décor. “Yes” was the answer, it would fit into the décor scheme of Christmas toys.
Fast forward several weeks later. The night before I officially finished the project, and was to pack it up to take to the Library, I finished up the reindeer by making red harnesses for them. I also shaped red tubes in which a strand of licorice would be inserted, serving as reins. The tubes were glued to the harnesses and left to dry overnight. The next night, I wanted to snap some pictures before I packed everything up, so I needed to attach the licorice rein to the harnesses. I tried inserting the licorice into the first tube. Now when I shaped the tubes, I formed them around the licorice strand so they’d be the correct size and make inserting the candy string easy. But the tubes didn’t hold their shape, and the licorice wouldn’t go in. I gave the strand some gentle force, and the licorice went into the first harness.
The second harness didn’t go in easily, either. In forcing the second, Prancer lost an antler.
Ouch. As you recall from previous postings, gum paste and I don’t get along to well. A luta continua.
I glued the antler back with gum paste glue. I found that stacking up some chocolate candy pieces was of sufficient height to brace up the antler while the glue dried (hence, the photo at the head of this article). The glue ought to be set by morning, and then Prancer could be packed up with the other gum paste figures. Meanwhile, I carefully worked around him to carefully pack up the house, icing trees and gum paste figures. In the morning, Prancer’s antler was holding. I gingerly wrapped him bubble wrap and gingerly placed him in the box with the other figures.
I was more nervous about moving the house and landscape base than anything. I remembered those Food Network competitions where bakers and sugar artists had to move their huge, elaborate sugar or cake creations from a work station to a judging table, a mere four feet away. More than once someone’s work, hours in the making, went crashing to the floor into umpteen pieces. Fortunately that didn’t happen to me. Placing the house in a bubble wrap lined box went smoother than I expected.
The journey from my house to the Library was smoother than I expected, too. No aggressive drivers out that morning; no potholes rattled the car; no need for speed or sudden stops. Even the rain held off while I carried the boxed house into the library building.
No, the house wasn’t what I had to worry about, but the little box containing the gum paste figures and icing trees. Upon unwrapping them, I found that Prancer’s antler had fallen off again! Overnight wasn’t enough time for that glue to set! While I had a backup plan for any icing conundrum, I didn’t have one for gum paste. With less than an hour to set up before the party started, I asked the Circulation Manager for some glue, any glue. The thought flashed through my mind that by using glue, my piece would no longer be entirely edible. Well, I didn’t have time to be fussy. The CM gave me some book glue: Strong and fast drying, she assured me. On went the glue, on went the antler. After five minutes of holding it in place, the antler held.
Olive (the other reindeer) didn’t give me any grief as I attached the reins to her, neither did Prancer. So now it was on to placing the sleigh and Santa.
Those chocolate candies that held up Prancer’s antler: I found them at the Dollar Tree. Each candy had a foil wrapper that looked like gift wrap with a bow. Yeah, the wrappers were not edible, but it would be cool to have little presents in the sleigh with Santa. I stood Santa in the sleigh, and began placing the candies in the sleigh around him. The weight of the candy shifted, pushing the elf over the front of the sleigh and onto the “cobblestone” path. His arms flew off on impact. Some serious trauma, no?
Santa before his arms were attached. History repeated itself weeks later.
I was able to apply the book glue to Santa and reattach one arm, but the other arm wouldn’t bind to his body. What to do?
Weihnacthsmann was to Sugar Santa as Tebow is to Sanchez.
I had my collection of International Santa Claus figures on display at the Library, and considered taking one from the display case to fill in for my sugar Claus (Hey, the glue already took out the all edible factor, so why not a polyresin Santa?). Those figurines have a lot of detail on them, like plants, bird and toys, that would look odd in context with the whole of the project: Hardly any of them would fit the bill.
I thought of abandoning the sleigh and reindeer altogether, but that would leave the path empty and the “negative space” would stick out like a sore red and green thumb.
In the end, Santa was 86’d, and the gift laden sleigh being pulled by driverless reindeer graced the path instead.
No one noticed, though, and the house was a success. I received many compliments on it. My co-workers especially wondered how I got the inside of the house to light! The house ultimately was a brick in the fabulous Santa Claus and toys theme that the Circulation staff created to decorate the room. I so regret not taking pictures to share with you!
When the party was over, the house was packed up and transported home without incident; well, there was the car that pulled out in front of me, sending everything not strapped down hurtling forward as I braked. No problem unpacking the house. But…
Prancer’s antler had fallen off again. And one of Olive’s ears. And don’t forget one armed Santa. I didn’t take a picture, but the lot looked rather pitiful. Or defiant. While I was able to shape them into a mythical elf and sleigh pulling beasts of burden, they would spoil my victory, even if it meant losing their own limbs. They would not be mastered. They were gum paste.
Or the things were fragile, I mishandled them and they broke. No need to blame shift.
Aileen’s Tack Glue was always a reliable tool in my craft arsenal, and she came to the rescue again. With it, the loose appendages went back onto the figures, bonding in no time.
Through this whole experience, I worried about the house staying intact. Turns out that I should have spent some energy on the little foxes, too, ‘cause they nearly ruined the vineyard! The gum paste figures brought the drama to this adventure, even the whole project!
But now they’re repaired, the entire project reassembled and set on the sideboard, this time 100 percent complete. It’s going nowhere for the next couple of weeks! Take a look: