Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ride of the Funny Hat Brigade

Well, the Pillowfight Fairy and I have been continuing to work on projects from Usborne's Knights and Castles; Things to Make and Do. Behold the fruits of our labor:

In this picture we see not one but two midget Valkyries, wielding their mighty blades Uncalibur-ated (with the pink handle) and Årþørsgrößtetüðpik (with the black).

Both the Pillowfight Fairy and the Adrenalin Junkie were highly interested in the forging of these blades; and having never seen the forging of cardboard before, so was I. But as you may have predicted, I did most of the work. The Fairy did her best at what she could--and did an excellent job on some parts, like the decoration of her hilt. But many of the steps were difficult and/or long and boring, and the Fairy's attention flagged when, for instance, she had to trim off all that excess foil. And there was some impatience for the glue to dry. And wrapping all that yarn around the sword handle produced a big, tangled mess at first until the All-Father stepped in to sort things out.

And yes, Uncalibur-ated has a pink handle. This was the Pillowfight Fairy's blade, and she picked the color yarn with which to wrap its handle. This makes me think about the original Valkyries: we all know they were warrior maidens, but which predominated? Were they more warrior, or more maiden? I'd never considered the question before. Perhaps when they went to battle, they all had to do each other's hair up into those cute little French-braided pigtails first, and then they all dressed in pastels--and it's not so easy to find leggings to match your gauntlets (accessories are very important in battle, you know), and they would say things to each other like "Do these greaves make me look fat?"

I picked black--a nice manly color--and then promptly handed it over to a two-year-old girl to play with. Of course, when one gives anything roughly sword-shaped to a pair of midget Valkyries, one must expect them to use said sword-shaped objects to start whacking anything that moves, and many things that don't.

And when said sword-shaped objects are made primarily from foil-lined cardboard, one must expect them rapidly to become ex-sword-shaped, or even ex-objects. So it is with the mighty blades seen above: I have had to do several non-standard repairs on both of them so far. The way the swords are constructed, stiffness is provided by a rolled-up piece of cardboard (the book specifies newspaper, but since we get all our news online, we don't have much good newsprint around, so we just used what we had) that runs the length of the sword--from just below the point of the sword, all the way down into the pommel. The biggest problem occurs when this cardboard roll gets squished or crimped. At that point the sword starts flopping from one side to the other. To fix it, I've had to slice carefully into the edges of the blade, insert some thin bamboo sticks, and then close up the incision and tape it. I've had to do this twice on the blade of Uncalibur-ated; I've also had to do it once on Årþørsgrößtetüðpik's blade and once on its handle. These splints appear to be holding, but I yet fear that these blades won't be long for this world.

Nevertheless, I think everyone earned the right to one last, rousing cry of Hojotoho! And then it was time for the All-Father to give the Valkyries a bath and put them to bed.

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