I don’t think I’ve posted much about this year’s candy window display for South Jordan. Well, now that it is done, I realized I’d better post something. Our theme was Star Wars inspired, “Feel the Force of Christmas” or something along those lines. My neighbor, Andrea (who was wonderful to work with) and I partnered up this year to do the window. She was a lifesaver last year when I broke my hand and she enjoyed it so much that she wanted to help this year, from the beginning. Her daughter Nicole came up with our idea (Yoda reading a book to three Ewoks) and then we went to work. Besides my husband, Bill (who gives more and physical support as needed), another neighbor, Cherri helped (with Yoda’s skin) and Bryce (Bill’s co-worker) built Yoda’s chair. After too many hours of shaping, painting and gluing we finished up last Friday afternoon with several hours to spare before the official “Light the Night” opening at South Jordan City Hall. If you are in the Salt Lake City, Utah area this holiday season stopped by Town Center Drive in South Jordan and see our creation. Plus you can see last years Ferris wheel just south of City Hall in the South Jordan Library.
Late Saturday night Bill came in from the garage and said “you need to come see this.” I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. He had the spokes of the Ferris wheel on the stand plus the cars attached and they were spinning around. Not with the motor yet but with a little push the wheel turned smoothly around. It was so exciting to see that much of it come together! To see for the first time the basic structure of what we are trying to put together! I took a video but I’ll have to upload it later and share it here. [I’ve uploaded it. Just click on the image above and it will take you to the video!]
Also on Saturday, I finished all the faces of the figures. I forgot to take photos and didn’t realize it until just now. I’ll have to do that tomorrow and add them too. Then I looked at how many weeks are left until we need to install the window, just 5 weeks, and figured out how many things I need to get done each week to be ready. I’ve committed to the South Jordan Youth Council to work on the window every afternoon so hopefully more of them can come and help. From my calculations if I get one object done each day I’ll be ready. That will be tough without help from the Youth Council. My goal for today was to finish Olaf. I had a crazy morning but I worked hard on Olaf this afternoon and evening but didn’t get him finished, but I came really close.
It will be revealing how much gets accomplished this week. I’ll let you know next Monday if I’m confident, hopefully or in a panic about the next few weeks.
I finally figured out how to do the faces for the figures. Yeah! The first one I did was the Nutcracker and I didn’t like how he turned out but wasn’t sure what to do about it. He just looked old and not very happy. Bill suggested that the fondant was to bumpy. I was pretty sure this from the texture of the Styrofoam base.
So taking that into account I tried again with man. I put some extra fondant down for his cheeks, forehead, chin and nose. This was to give the flat form of the Styrofoam more of the shape of a face. Then I rolled out a really thin sheet of the fondant (it is actually half fondant and half gum paste) and laid that over the whole face area. I smoothed that out and did a little adjustment to the shaping. Next step was to roll out a thicker layer of skin colored fondant and put that down over the other two layers.So far so good, I was feeling hopeful at this point.
After smoothing that out, I added his ears, a nose, cut in a mouth and poked holes through the fondant for his eyes. I widened the eye holes out a bit and put in two small balls of white fondant and patted that down into an eye shape. Next came two small green balls of fondant for his iris that I smooshed flat and finally two tiny black balls for the pupils, also smooshed flat. I like how he came out! I also got the woman done. There is hope after all! When I get the rest of the faces done, I will probably go back and do the Nutcracker over. But I’ll wait in case time gets critical and I can’t get it done.
We had five kids from the Youth Council come on Saturday. The cars for the Ferris wheel are almost all covered on the outside with licorice. Bill got the pillow blocks for the Ferris wheel axle. The batteries for his drill died so he went to get some new ones and ended up with a new drill. Same price as buying two batters plus it included a charger. Then he got called back into work so he only made a little progress. Bill is thinking about taking a couple of days off this week so he can get some more time in on the Ferris wheel.
The figures are ready for their faces. I’m trying a fondant/gum paste mixture this year instead of straight fondant. The gum paste is supposed to give the fondant more stretch. This is a key part of the window. If the faces look good the window should be a success. If the faces turn out bad it is hard to make up for it else where. I’ve not done faces on this scale before. I’ve done bigger and I’ve done smaller. Feeling a bit intimidated about getting started but just need to dive in and get going. After I get the first one done, I should feel better about things.
Bill ended up working all night Friday and all day Saturday so no progress on the Ferris wheel structure. But I sorted through the candy that the Youth Council kids picked out for the figures and made a few adjustments because of scale or color issues. I hope they don’t mind too much. I also order some more candy. I need to pick up some chocolate and yellow licorice for hair and then we should be in pretty good shape to move forward with all the candy.
Another week closer to Christmas. Hopefully we made enough progress too. Bill finished the spokes of the other side of the Ferris wheel on Saturday and the basics of the A-frame to hold it up. He found a motor and gears at Granger this week too. The didn’t have the right size of pillow blocks though. The figures are painted and the additions of pelon are done though they still need painting. I also picked up some fondant and something new to try, gum paste for the faces etc. Five kids from the South Jordan Youth Council came on Saturday and made good progress on putting candy on the cars.
This week I’m working on the faces for the figures and we will see how far I get. In may only be early October but time is starting to feel really short. Sometimes I feel a bit of panic at how much needs to get done. Then I try to take a deep breath and focus on putting in some time everyday and see how much gets done.
I got all the figures shaped in the last week. Yeah! That is a big load off my shoulders. Bill got sick Friday night so no progress to report on the Ferris wheel structure. But the Youth Council made some progress on getting licorice on the cars. This week I hope to get the figures painted and their faces done. Fondant is the plan for the faces but I’m checking into gum paste that a cake decorating friend recommended.
(I forgot to take photos of the rest of the figures and can’t seem to find my camera at the moment. I’ll add photos soon.)
We made some good progress on the window last week. The cars for the Ferris wheel are ready for the candy. A couple of them have pull ‘n’ peel licorice on the back and bottom of the cars. I also got 6 of the 16 figures shaped and ready for paint. That feels really good. Bill also got the spokes of one side of the Ferris Wheel welded. That was super exciting to see happen. We put in a lot of hours on Saturday so it was good to see such progress. Our new puppy, Fable handled all the noise of cutting metal and welding like she’d be around it all her life. She is amazing.
This week we made good progress on the cars. Besides painting the cars, half of them have the hardware for attaching to the Ferris wheel welded in place. There is some touch up painting to do because I knocked one of the cars off the table and it cracked on the sides by the foot rest, so Bill reinforced all the cars there. Plus where the hardware attached needs some painting too.
We made some progress on the trees. The third tree is about half done. I need to get some more apple fruit slices to finish it and the fourth tree has some of the lights candy on it. The fifth tree is getting closer to being ready to glue together with most of the green gel material hole punched to let light through.
For me the part that feels the best to get done last week has to do with the figures. I decided on the scale of all the figures and sketched rough outlines to scale of paper. There are 16 figures, more than I’ve done and a different size than I’ve done before. The next step on the figures is to get Styrofoam rough cut to size for them. That is my big goal for this coming week.
We made some good progress on the window last week, especially on Saturday. I got the cars cut out with a band saw on Tuesday and picked up Styrofoam scraps for all the figures. On Wednesday only one girl showed up form the youth council, so we worked on the trees. I was hoping to do some more prep for the cars but ran into a snag. Four youth came on Saturday and they continued worked on the trees. We now have two trees done and two more assembled and one of those with some candy on it. Just one last tree to assemble.
Bill worked hard all day and got all six cars for the Ferris wheel assembled! He needed my help from time to time to hold a part in place while he drilled holes or inserted screws. Bill also figured out how to get the threads cut in some of the metal rods. The first set of thread cutters where too cheap and that was the problem. With a quality die, it was simple to cut the threads. It felt good to make such progress. So much ahead and more hurdles to jump.
Today I picked up some green paint for the cars and green pull ‘n’ peel licorice. I thought I’d need to order the licorice but it turns out that Walmart had the best price for it so I picked up a dozen packages. We may need more. I’ll know better after we get one car covered. Now that they cars are built I can start working on all the figures. There are a bunch of them and that isn’t something that I can ask the kids to do. They can help cover them with candy once they are shaped but I’ve got to do the shaping for two reasons. Because I have the experience and so that all of them have a consistent look and feel. For me that is the next big hurdle. For Bill it is cutting the metal for the big Ferris wheel and getting it all welded together.
September is here and we are still working on the structure. It was so unrealistic to think it could be finished by now. The main strategy I’m following is making sure I have stuff for the Youth Council to do when they come.
One of the biggest tasks with the most unknowns is building the structure for the Ferris wheel. It is going to be metal except for the cars, they are out of plywood. So Bill has to do lots of welding. He took a shop class in high school and did a really nice job with the spot welder. We are borrowing a wire welder from one of the other candy window artist and Bill is getting the hang of that. He has run into a few hurdles and has found ways over or around some of them. One was how to hold the short metal bars in at a right angle to the washers that he wants to weld them to. The washers will be attached to the cars and the metal rods will connect to the Ferris wheel. Last week he learned about an inexpensive jig with magnets that is perfect for what he needs to do. Yeah! So today he worked getting all 12 of those welds done.
I worked on prepping the plywood for the car pattern. I’m hoping we can use their band saw tomorrow to cut them out when we return the welder. We can only use the welder on weekends when their shop is closed. Bill helped me by cutting the 4’x8′ sheet of plywood into 16″x12″ pieces. We then screwed 6 of those together and spray mounted the paper patterns on top. We the table saw we cut all four sets of straight pieces and trimmed of the straight edges on the back and the side pieces. Yeah for progress.
Bill is still trying to figure out how to get the threads cut in the ends of some of the metal rods. He isn’t sure if the problem is too cheap of dies that her purchased to cut the threads or if it is something else.
The South Jordan Youth Council kids will be coming on Wednesday and Saturday this week. We have 3 more polycarbonate trees to assemble and lots of candy to put on those. Getting wholes punched in the green gels to line the trees is a big pain. But I haven’t come up with a better way to do it. It doesn’t look like I have enough mini green gummy bears for the trees. I have to decide if I want to use a variety of green candy for the trees or if I should get another case of mini gummy bears. The ones I have are left over from last year. Also the gummy gumdrops I got for the lights aren’t going to be enough. I need to get more or pick another kind of candy to add to it.
I think I could have the kids paint the seats on Wednesday if they are cut out. It should work to paint them first and then assemble them. Not sure if my drilling and screwing skills are good enough to get them together in the really square fashion that they need to be for them not to cause problems when the Ferris wheel turns.