“I have finally thought of a challenge. Build a sand sculpture of Princess Pulchritudinous Dinosaur Hat 2000 with a unicorn. Love Lizzie xx”
Sadly I was no longer at the beach when I received your challenge. We were inland, nestled amongst boulders, rocks and stone temples.
But I realised that it probably wasn’t really a sand sculpture you were after, that was just convenient since I was at the beach. It was more that you were fondly remembering the good old SA Times/Waller Road days and my mad-silly (but always pulchritudinous) hats (and tachebrows). It was clear that what I needed to do was make a hat that took you back to those times. To help you remember that feeling of looking across our desk and saying “Oh Clairol” whilst smiling like an amused mom.
Since my hat-making was always about using stuff that was lying around the office, I collected whatever I could find in the vicinity to make you a Clairol hat. Foliage from trees, stolen flowers from our hut’s garden, pineapple, a pomegranate, coconuts, chillies and a big stick for a wand.
I used a vegetable sack which we found on the floor near some rubbish to make the base of the hat into which I weaved the foliage and flowers. The sack stank. Of hot, sticky, dried-in-the-baking-sun pee. Cow pee, dog pee, goat pee, human pee… who knows. It had clearly been visited and revisited but it was all I had so… I touched it, and shaped it, and manipulated it, and tried it on, and reshaped it, and reshaped it, and then weaved things into it for ages.
And then I put it on my head and wore it.
The smell was so hideously pungent I could still smell it for several hours after I’d showered!!
I know I love making silly hats but I spent far too much intimate time with goodness knows how many animals’ old sweaty pee for anyone to deny how serious I am about achieving this goal!
I gave my unicorns time off whilst I was in India so I broke off a branch from a plant to use to represent my own horn. The sap from the plant got onto Kev’s arm when he was shaping the tip for me and it burnt his hair off immediately (he’s quite a hairy boy so we’re talking about quite a lot of hair). I knew it would have a similar reaction on me but it did make for a perfect horn, and the hair on my forehead is so fine and fair so I didn’t think toooooo much of it. It crossed my mind that I might react but didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. HA!! First I felt sensitive and bruised and then I came out in a rash – red skin with white pustules. Just like the bubble wrap I used to use for some of my SA Times hats. And then, after a few days, the pustules popped and I was left with a very sexy patch of dry white peeling loveliness, still on a patch of red skin. Right in the middle of my forehead.
When the hat was almost complete we transferred it from coconut to my head. By now, in the hot Indian midday sun the flowers and leaves were wilting so many of them fell out. Kev kindly weaved the strays back in and fixed the pineapple and horn in place. It was a very funny albeit slow, tricky, wibbly wobbly, process – the pain of the horn already in action. I couldn’t move half a centimetre without the horn and pineapple tumbling down my head threatening to tear the whole contraption to bits.
Quick, quick, snap, snap, whoops, catch, snap, snap, tumble, fall, ouch, unpick, remove, relief, shower, shower, scrub, scrub, shower. Scrub. Scrub.