Thursday, November 23, 2006


I bought a big box of terracotta-colored Sculpey last month, thinking that I was going to make Elliot a chess set for Christmas. (I don't play chess--I have tried to learn it several times over the years, but I always get bored and frustrated. Elliot loves chess, so my good-will gesture was going to be a themed set for him....I couldn't even get as far as settling on a theme, so I gave up on the idea a couple of weeks ago. Sorry, El.) In the meantime, I have let Elliot and Astrid loose on the terracotta Sculpey, and I have made *way* more buttons out of it than I will ever be able to use.

During my long commute to work last week, I got the idea to recreate (in terracotta Sculpey) the Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde, Colorado, on some kind of glassware.

Before I admit that I know Mesa Verde isn't really terracotta-colored, some history: I grew up in Denver. My family visited Mesa Verde when I was about ten, before I developed a moderate fear of heights--otherwise I never would have been able to climb the ladders up to the Cliff Dwellings. I don't remember what I thought of them at the time; I do remember being very hot and probably car sick from too many hours in our 1968 Chevy Malibu station wagon. Now that I live in Chicago, I have completely romanticized all of those family vacations in Colorado and New Mexico. Hence, my temporary obsession with recreating Mesa Verde on a little glass.

I work across the street from an IKEA store, the source for so, so many cheap and plain things made out of glass. We've already made several sets of Sculpey-draped salt and pepper shakers (some of them are very cool), so I picked up just a couple more sets of those. I got eight votive candle holders and eight little spice jars. I printed up some photos showing Mesa Verde from different angles (just to refresh my memory....that's when I realized that Mesa Verde isn't the color of terracotta).

My finished jar looks so little like Mesa Verde that I know I'll have to explain it to anyone who sees it, but Elliot was enthusiastic, which is usually enough to keep me going. I haven't put it in the oven yet--I'll wait until we have a whole cookiesheet's worth of stuff to cook. When it's done, I'm probably going to fill it with cumin or some other spice that's good in southwestern food. Somebody might get it for Christmas.

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