This is one of those weird projects that, while not the most beautiful, has sentimental meaning. Years ago, I sculpted a giant penguin in my college ceramics class. My penguin is slightly crooked (maker’s error), not exactly proportional to the actual penguin anatomy, and as a result of moving him from home to home, one apartment to the next, for the past ten years, he was also missing a beak and bits of his flippers. See?
Since we moved into this home five years ago, he sat in the hallway – then the bedroom corner – with his (most) broken flipper facing the wall. I could never bear to part with him, and with every new crack (largely due to vacuum cleaner bumps), I saved the pieces, knowing I’d eventually glue them back on.
Scott has never asked me to get rid of it, rather, he knew it held special memories (friends, college, and days upon days in the studio), so I finally asked him to help me give it new life. After a mini brainstorming session, he suggested we turn it into a planter – yes, a planter! I thought. (I mean, this is logical, right?) And with spring right around the corner in Chicago, we were craving a little greenery, and my penguin was the ticket.
The penguin is hollow, but its still a beast. It’s so, so heavy, and with a lot of patience, Scott used this tile bit and his Dremel to carve an opening on his hump-back. We covered the soon-to-be opening with painters tape, thinking it would cut down on the dust – but as it turned out, this was not the case.
We approximated the size for a 4″ planter (with a plant we’d already picked out at the hardware store), and an afternoon later – and a very, very worn down Dremel bit – we had an opening! (Eeks, look at all that dust!)
Once we knew operation-penguin-surgery was a success, I used gobs of super glue to piece him back together…
… then sprayed him with a coat of Krylon primer and Montana brand spray paint in the color “Hope.” (Funny, it’s sort of fitting!) We also re-potted our plant in a deeper plastic cup (we picked up a Slushee tumbler from 7-11 and drilled drainage holes in the bottom), but before doing so, I sprayed the rim of the cup in the same color. (Our penguin already had a “drainage” hole in the bottom; this was necessary for the firing process when he was first made.)
This was our first time using Montana paint, and we are fans. It’s super thick, completely weatherproof (it’s actual intent is for graffiti artists!) and went on with just one coat – but the extra-cautious side of me applied a second one for good measure. Once everything was good and dry (we waited overnight), I squeezed the plant cup into the opening, and voila! Penguin planter! Or, you know, Penguin gets a hairdo.
From the back, you can see the rim of our make-shift Slushee planter, but from the front, it’s mostly seamless. Most importantly, my penguin is fixed! It has a new life! There was hope for him after all (har-har)!
Our mini project found us rolling out the patio rug and putting our table and chairs back in place – the first time this year after packing it up before the holidays. For now, he’s sitting on the outdoor table, soaking in the rays, and we’re crossing our fingers we don’t get another frost before spring finally rolls into town.
It made my heart ridiculously happy to put an old, old college day project to use (as opposed to the boxes of prints and negatives hiding in our storage unit!), and here’s hoping he’ll be around for another ten years. Aw, nostalgia.