Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to Make a Life Size Two-Dimensional Beaver*

* See also: Keep your perverted comments to yourselves.

Jack’s class is studying the Chesapeake Bay and has been working on a research project about flora and fauna native to the region. Jack was supposed to choose something to study and he came home a few weeks ago demanding to study the mosquito fish.

I have no idea why.

Sadly, the mosquito fish does not seem to live in the Chesapeake, so we perused a Chesapeake Bay website to find a new topic. The fact that the website was arranged in alphabetical order and that Jack chose to research the beaver are surely unrelated.

It turned out to be a good choice, however, because the beaver is a pretty fun animal to find out stuff about. Also, there are many tasteless jokes to make.

Anywho, the final project was to make a life size, two-dimensional representation of the animal. (Me, in my head: “Huh. Would have been a lot easier to make a fish.”)

Jack and I are a little bit mad about the grade he got on some science posters he worked on at school, so we were determined to make the most kick-ass beaver ever. Because we are sharers, I thought we could let you know how to create a kick-ass beaver as well.


How to Make a Kick-Ass, Life Size, Two-Dimensional Beaver!

Step one: Acquire materials. Jack and I both wanted to cut up the beaver fur hat that Alex had bought when we lived in Alaska, but Alex had some sort of weird objection to that. Never mind that I had objections to him buying it in the first place.

This left us to come up with an alternative material. We decided on felt and I told Jack that I would go buy it at the local craft store while he was at school. The local craft store, incidentally, is almost exactly 5 kilometers away from my house. Ask me how I know.

I decided to combine my errand running with my daily run, which was a great idea, but for the fact that once I ran three miles and wandered around the craft store for a while (The cashier: “You look like you’ve been working out.” Me, sweaty, disheveled, and smelly: “Um. Yeah.”), I had to run three miles back home, THIS TIME WEIGHED DOWN WITH TWELVE SHEETS OF FELT—AND GOOGLY EYES. What I do for Jack.

Step two: Name your beaver. (Jeez. Every time I use that word, it sounds so diiiiirty.) Jack was prepared with a name for the beaver he was about to create: Justin. Justin Beaver. Get it? I don’t know how Jack gets it; we have a strict No Bieber rule in my house, but evidently someone has gotten to him.

Step three: Find a model and create a sketch. Hooray for Google Images. We found a beaver to model Justin Beaver on and Jack set about to drawing.

I know the model isn’t too realistic, but it has four legs and a tail, so close enough.
Step four: Try to convince someone else to do the work on every step. Before every single step, Jack would say, “Can you do it? I’m not very good at…drawing/cutting/gluing/hanging out with you while you construct my beaver.”

Nice try, Jack. You can do all of those things.

Step five: Cut out the beaver template.

See? See Jack cut.

I’m actually very proud of Jack. There was a lot of fine motor work involved here. I helped him with some of it, but he did a fantastic job and did most of it himself. For a kid who has a hard time getting through ordinary homework on a regular night, doing all this intensive work—and being motivated to do a good job—well, I am just so damn proud of him.

Step six: Be awesome. When you’re Jack, you’re required to take an Awesomeness Break now and again.

This step is pretty easy for Jack.

Step seven: Transfer the template shape to the felt, cut it out, and glue it to the template. I took photos of all of this, but then I realized that they were all photos of Jack manipulating brown felt and I thought that each photo was adorable and very different from the next, but then realized that they might all just look the same for you. So Step Seven will be represented by The Cutting of the Felt.

The Cutting of the Felt
The beaver by the way? Has a two-sheets-of-felt body.

Step eight: Take a break to figure out how electricity works. Quinn had spent this whole time playing with his jack-o-lantern as if it were his newest teddy bear. That kid is funny. Somehow Jack ended up with one of the little electric candles and spent some time figuring out how it worked.

After he started disassembling it, I thought about stopping him, but figured that the shock from such a tiny voltage was unlikely to be fatal, so I let him continue.
Step nine: Choose an eye from the pack of many sized googly eyes. This was more complicated than it might seem at first glance. I had to spend a fair amount of time trying to convince Jack that he had created a side view of a beaver, which only required one eye. Jack spent a fair amount of time trying to convince me that he should put two different sized eyes on the beaver to make him look more like Perry the Platypus.

Step ten: Glue the ear onto the beaver, then, when your mom steps away to find materials for beaver whiskers, have a “glue incident.” I swear to God, that is what he called it.

He wasn’t even gluing anything at the time. I have no idea how this happened.

Fortunately, it is easy to clean glue off of a beaver.

Step eleven: Write your name on the back, but not before you add the speech bubble you wanted to glue on the front, but that your mom made you put on the back.

That kid is irrepressible.
I admire Jack for his integrity in sticking to his vision.

Step twelve: Pose with  your finished beaver in a totally realistic manner. Turns out that the beaver is kind of a jerk and just wanted to paddle Jack in the face with his tail. Not very nice after Jack created him and all.

I have to say, I think Justin Beaver turned out nicely.
Step thirteen: Enjoy special after-school video games because you worked so hard on your beaver.

I know you’re going to ask. It is called Roblox. I have no idea what it is.

Step fourteen (This step is for the mom): Send in the beaver with your kid and hope that you didn’t grossly misinterpret the assignment because, oh, dear God, that boy worked so hard on that beaver that he really deserves a great grade. Cross your fingers for us.

That’s right. I have the best beaver.
That’s what she said. (God, I’m so sorry. I held out until the very last. I am so very sorry.)

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