Previously: Building a Cactus, Pt. 3 or follow from the beginning: Building a Cactus, Pt. 1

First, we added styrofoam domes (from any craft supply store, but in our case, Michaels) to the top of the cactus and the ends of the arms, in order to get the nice rounded shape. Then we used duct tape to wrap the cactus in batting. Since the bottom half was a little thicker than the top, we double wrapped the top to ensure a more even shape throughout.

Kelly hanging out with our short-lived friend, Huggy! You can see the batting taped around the arms and bottom here.

Kelly hanging out with our short-lived friend, Huggy! You can see the batting taped around the arms and bottom here.

Then… a lot of sewing. We knew it was coming, and we thought we were prepared, but we hand-stitched a 10′ cactus with a 7′ wingspan – twice. First, the interior layer. Like I mentioned in the previous post, we picked up a cotton/poly blend fabric for the interior in an effort to keep the cactus’ shape throughout (what is hopefully) many rounds of assembly and disassembly. You don’t build one of these for a one-time use.

After the white interior fabric was sewed, we then moved on to the most daunting task of the project – the exterior…

Next up – the exterior

But first, a quick aside. It didn’t matter what we were ready for, 3 full days of sewing by me and multiple nights of help from Kelly and Spencer and we weren’t finished. We still wouldn’t be finished until the night before the expo… Our advice is, if you know anyone with a sewing machine, start bringing them baked goods now. You never know when they might save you a week of your life…

A white fabric cactus

Once the batting, styrofoam domes, and interior fabric started to come together – the shape really took, well, shape…

Previously: Building a Cactus, Pt. 2

Happy Valentines’ Day!

Okay, so first things first, today was one of those days where Kelly absolutely floored me with her generosity and love, but in a totally different way than a standard Valentines’ day gift. Instead of going out to a dinner, a movie, giving each other cards – she introduced me to the fashion district downtown and helped find the needed fabric to make this cactus come together. Not everyone would be generous enough to spend Valentines’ Day working on a project this big, tedious, and messy but she did and it truly meant the world to me.

Huggable, squishable, soft, green vertical striped upholstery fabric.

This upholstery fabric would probably look terrible anywhere else, but for a huggable cactus? PERFECT.

So: Fashion District!! I had never been down to the fashion district in LA before but it’s a lot of fun. There’s an unbelievable number of shops selling countless fabrics by the yard. We ended up having the most success at Michael Levine. We picked up batting (the stuff you’d put inside a pillow or teddy bear), a stretchable cotton/poly blend for the interior fabric, and the most magical find of all: an upholstery fabric that could not be more perfect.

Yeah, we bought them out! (This awesome picture taken by my awesome fiancée - @kellyismyname)

Yeah, we bought them out! (This awesome picture taken by my awesome fiancée – @kellyismyname)

With the shopping complete, the next few days are going to involve a LOT of sewing…

 

Next up: a LOT of sewing…

Previously: Building A Cactus, Pt. 1

Alright! So we worked on the base (staining, sanding, adding a handle, bolting, and leveling the bolts) while waiting for these guys to arrive:

The many colors of a giant box of pool noodles.

A giant box of pool noodles!

Once we had the pool noodles on hand, we used a lot of duct tape and made sure to tape individual noodles directly to the pvc pipe, so we can twist the entire piece as a single unit. Since the piece is going to have to disassemble to be transportable, we’re using male/female screw-ends on each of our major sections so the cactus can be broken down easily.

We ended up working with a straight top, (the bent top you see below was an experiment we decided against). Also, at the stage you see here, the cactus is 12 feet tall. Eventually, the cactus was trimmed down to 10 ft to accommodate the fabric.

Next up: the fabric!

 

So, the Long Beach Comic Expo is coming up and Spencer and I will be there February 20th and 21st. We’re really looking forward to the experience and hoping against hope that the books have arrived in time for the expo. If not, we’ll sell prints and get creative with getting the word out about the book. Well, really, we’re going to get creative either way.

A PVC cactus skeleton - it all starts here.

Cactus bones!

We’ve decided that in order to get some attention while we’re there, and have something else awesome to talk about, we’re building a cactus. A 10’5″ huggable cactus.

Now, neither Spencer and I are professional builders, but we do like making cool things and we’re relatively handy. At least, enough so that we’re willing to undertake the project.

The materials you see used here to build our skeleton are pretty basic. I’ve got some 2″ schedule PVC pipe – both a 10′ straight pipe and a large curved for the arms. I’ve got a 2″ 4-way connector, a 2″ to 4″ adapter that I’m using to connect to a 4″ debris cap that happens to be very sturdy and have 8 slots to accommodate 1/4″ bolts. The bolts are connected to the bottom of our 2′ x 2′ plywood base with standard 1/4″ nuts.

The bolts will be cut to ensure that the base sits flat on the ground.

Coming up next: we need to fill him out…

CactusInHand

So, getting this guy in the mail was incredible. Spencer and I have worked so hard to make Could You Hug A Cactus? a reality, and finally getting to hold it is pretty special. The fabric-wrapped cover is amazing, the art looks amazing on the page, and we are really, really proud.

So… now what?

Something funny happened after I held the advance copy for a few minutes. I slowly realized that I have a whole lot more of these coming. Sure, I’ve had visions of signing copies for people, reading it to groups of kids in school, and even trying to sell them to local stores – but I never envisioned the process of moving a pallet of books to a local storage unit and writing checks to pay the storage fees indefinitely until they’re gone. I never thought much about what kind of table-covering I should buy to dress a 8-ft table for an expo or how expensive packing materials become when you’re buying them by the thousands. You know, the real stuff…

It’s exciting, and frightening, but mostly exciting… I think…

Really though, as I sit with this nervousness a little, the reality of what kind of efforts this undertaking will require, I’m more excited. All of the nerve-wracking, laborious, and menial work that will go into making my new endeavor a reality are precisely what make it real. And that is what is exciting.

I’m anxious about my new path. I’m excited to put in the real effort, and I have a feeling  in the pit of my gut that this is what I should be doing. Thank you again to everyone who believed that this was possible, to all the wonderful folks who helped make it happen, and to all of the people I’ll meet in the near future that will help make it real.

Bye for now, friends.

“I can’t be late to school again!
They’ll mark me tardy in red pen
And who knows what will happen then?”,
Said Glen.

“We should throw away my bed
And get a catapult instead
To fire me out and overhead!”,
Glen said.

“And this alarm clock isn’t right
We should set up and ignite
A 40,000 watt spotlight!
All night!”

“Changing clothes is such a waste
Of time that’s better spent in haste.
I’ll have them permanently placed
With paste!”

“The flight of stairs just slows my stride.
We should switch it with a slide
For the quickest slickest ride
Inside.”

“And what about the family car?
It seems to be a bit subpar-
A rocket’s best from where we are
By far!”

And Glen had lots of good designs
From breakfast served on sharp inclines
To ways to cut the bathroom lines.
(Dig mines.)

He shared another thought or ten
Then walked out proudly from the den
And looked up at the clock and then…
Saw that he was late again.

The potatoes have eyes
And to my surprise,
The corn has ears as well,

And on my walks,
The celery stalks,
As far as I can tell.

It’s true, I dread
The lettuce head
My way but I’m in denial.

I’m in constant fear
Of the vegetables here,
Here in the produce aisle.

Tall people like their ice cream in sundaes.
Short people prefer theirs in cones.
People in glasses text a lot
While those in hats talk on their phones.
People with blonde hair wear green on Mondays
While people with red hair wear blue.
There are a lot of things that we can prove
With a sample size of two.