Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Dragon...

Or... Number Two in an occasional series, entitled "Life Feels Better When You've Made Something" (remember the knickers a couple of months ago?!). Things haven't been easy recently. I won't go into it too much, mostly out of sympathy for the friends who tell me I get a bit gloomy here sometimes. But let's just say the children went back to school and I fell down a deep dark hole, and the sides of the hole that I've explored so far seem to be made of rubble that avalanches downwards on a daily basis.

I feel curiously redundant. My translation course starts in another ten days, and it feels like I am waiting for the rest of my life to start. I have busied myself with lots of odd small projects that have been hanging over me for a while, but nothing has done the trick. I haven't felt the urge to make any art for quite some time (although for the first time it feels possible today that something like that might happen next week, especially in view of the fact I've sold a couple of pictures in the Blue Room in Nailsea recently).

Ten years ago tomorrow I had my first baby. It makes me feel pretty old. As I do each year, I asked what sort of birthday cake he would like. I was horrified when he asked for a dragon. He wasn't impressed when I suggested a round cake with a picture of a dragon on the top.

I loathe making proper birthday cakes, where the taste of the cake is irrelevant and it is more sculpture than cuisine, and the cloying scent of pounds and pounds of fondant icing in garish colours makes me vaguely queasy. I always find there is a point in the process where I have to fight back the tears, as the reality of it is so different from the vision in my head. I am reminded of a quote I saw yesterday by Elizabeth Gilbert: "Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism". For me it's romance and birthday cake design.

I also have big problems with rolling out vast expanses of fondant icing, as it always sticks to the table. So scales seemed a good idea, little tiny scales I could make with my fingers and not a rolling pin in sight. They seemed a very good idea, until I realised just how long it was taking. An hour passed and I had only managed the tail. But there was something so intensely pleasing about the process and the way the dragon started to appear before my eyes. It took on a life force of its own. A cloud started to lift. Everything else just had to wait. And he is so so pleased with his dragon cake. If ever in life he doubts that I love him, I will forever be able to show him a picture of this cake.

Life always always ALWAYS feels better when I've made something.

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