Friday, December 20, 2013

Thailand's Disneyland

As I don't read much in preparation for our trips, after three days on a bus, as we were approaching our destination of the White Temple, I was expecting to see, perhaps what was left of a very ancient, very heavenly, eternal (I know...another church!) and awe-inspiring edifice.

What I saw was--alright--it was gorgeous--a creation by Thai artist Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat.
My first thought, upon approaching the "temple" is that it would make one heck of a wedding cake.  The pictures don't do it justice, as it is covered in mirror tiles and really sparkles in the sunlight.
It is, as an art project, no less than spectacular.  It was started in 1997, at the complete expense to the artist, who doesn't charge admission and takes no corporate donations so that he remains free to pursue his own artistic vision.  He expects it to take 90 years to complete and has a team of apprentices to continue after his death.

As at any proper Buddhist temple, you must remove your shoes to enter and no photographs are allowed inside. (You also must remove your shoes when entering the restrooms both here and at other temples, which somewhat turns me off to religion!)  Inside you can expect to see a regal Buddha and monk, scenes of both heaven and hell, as well as Spiderman, Batman and Michael Jackson, among other deities and the eyes of the demon with George Bush and Osama Bin Laden seen within them.

I, personally, find Hell much more interesting than Heaven:

In reading to prepare for my blog post...I found something that I missed there, the golden toilet, "the most beautiful toilet".  I guess I'll have to go back.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Who is Fat Buddha?

Don't know how much blogging I will do about Thailand, as I didn't find it to be the most inspiring trip.  I've mentioned Overseas Adventure Travel before, our preferred tour company.  They take pride in advertising that they're groups are "travelers" as opposed to "tourists"...getting immersed in the cultures as we do.  Although there were a few delights along the way...most of what we saw seemed very tourist-trappy.  Perfect weather and a wonderful group of co-travelers made it an enjoyable trip.  Both Bangkok and Changmai were interesting to visit.

One very interesting part of the trip for me was the visit to a Buddhist monastery and a talk by a Buddhist monk.  He spoke about the Buddhist religion and reaching Nirvahna, a lot of which I remembered and some that I didn't.  He did mention the "fat Buddha", which I remembered learning about in Art History.  He called it a Chinese version of the Buddha.  I remember, from my classes, that he was not actually a Buddha, but a god called Hotei.

I knew then what my first blog post from this trip would be about, but since further research...I guess Buddha is whatever you want him to be.
According to Wickipedia, "Budai"  or "Hotei" is a Chinese folkloric deity.  Almost always shown smiling or laughing he is also known as the "Laughing Buddha".  In Chinese culture he is considered a symbol of contentment.  In Chinese history he was an eccentric Chan monk.
According to Japanese tradition Hotei's origin lies in Chinese Taoism/Buddhism.  He is known as one of Japan's "Seven Lucky gods".  Reportedly based on a real person, "he is commonly depicted bald, smiling, with a big belly, bulging ears and a large sack and fan in his hands.  He is further known as the "god of contentment and happiness, guardian of children and patron of bartenders."  Source:
Fat Buddha is also a Marvel comic!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pandanus or Screw Palm Tree

Some of you asked to see (again!) the original photo of the trees that inspired my design.

Robert, you were also right.  I believe it is also called the Hala tree!

Please "Like" my Goulash Designs Facebook page. If you already "Like" refer a friend who becomes a new "Like" and drop me a line to let me know. If I get 100 new "Likes" I will be giving away a string work pendant, similar to my Pyramid Pendant. The pendant will be given away by a random drawing of the new Likes and referrers. Deadline is July 31.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Costa Rican Trees--Finished!

Yesterday and today I finished my trees; Robert said they were called hau trees.  I don't remember asking when I was in Costa Rica and, the hau trees that I've founed on the internet do not look like this and I can't find any similar on the internet.  I will find out though!

...Anyway, first thing I did yesterday was remove the bridges from the shoots at the bottom of the tree, and added a few branch stumps.  Then I removed the crossbar that held the working handle.
Next it was time to make the leaves.  Here I decided to add some color, so I used transparent green and some opaque yellow.  Then I made a tree topper onto which I put the leaves:

Then we put the leaf groups on (I say "we", because without Robert's help I wouldn't have been able to do it!)..,.and

I also learned in class of a very inexpensive, low-tech way to give borosilicate glass a frosted finish.  Much cheaper than a sandblaster, and am considering frosting the trunk of the tree and leaving the leaves shiny.
What do you think?

Thank you again, Robert, for a fabulous class and all of your help!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Those Trees...In Progress!

I am spending the week in Pittsburgh with the amazing Robert Mickelsen.  .  This is only day two of class and already I've accomplished which was to me, last week, the impossible!  You remember my trees which I posted a few posts back.  First step is a simplified drawing:


That accomplished, I hit the torch and formed the trunks:


Next I make the shoots that come off the bottom of the trees and then I start to attach
them.  Note:  what you're now seeing as the top of the tree is actually the bottom!


Now the shoot system is almost finished.  The horizontal bars will come off as they're just for support.

Tomorrow:  the leaves.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Goofing off Again!

I haven't made any glass in too I haven't been posting either.  Just started going through photos for my class next week with Robert Mickelsen

and memories and the urge to blog have returned, so...where did I leave off?  One of our most interesting stops--and definitely the most "interesting" of tour leaders was at the Don Juan Bautista organic farm.  Our guide there (I've forgotten his name!)  was definitely entertaining, a bit of a psychopath and definitely a "Don Juan"  himself!  We saw, smelled and tasted a variety of exotic fruits and vegys and learned, in a very entertaining way, how they're grown.  Most of which I probably don't remember!  I'm sharing some of my photos from there and maybe one or two taken by our tour guide, Erick!

Don't remember what this slimy looking fruit was called, but it separates apart like pomegranate seeds.  You eat both the outside and the inside.  I didn't taste smelled like ass!

I would only do this for chocolate...the cacao bean!


...and more cacao...

I think the ones on the right are the cacao blossoms!

The most fun to process...and to drink was the sugar cane juice...just like rolling metal!  Lot of work, though.

...and, of course we have bananas:
Those yellow blossoms are future bananas...and they grow upwards from there.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Those Trees....

OAT--the group that we do most of our travelling with is not known for staying in five star resorts.  Especially on a trip called "Real Affordable Costa Rica"  I wasn't expecting much when it came to our hotels.  We covered a lot of ground--6 hotels in 12 days.   Each one was nicer than the last.  One was actually an adult sleep away camp, cabins and all.  I wouldn't call it luxurious, but it was a beautiful camp.  More on that in a later post...

...Anyway, I was more than shocked when we pulled up at our second rainforest resort...and got off the bus at the Chachagua Rainforest Resort.  Both the rainforest and the resort are listed in the book, "1000 Places to See Before You Die".

Our OAT tour leaders keep surprising us and one afternoon our guide Erik, assisted by our driver put on a cooking class for us.  We had previously purchased ingredients at local markets.
And...the results of our efforts...

Yummy before dinner snack with a guanabana martini!  This was followed by a lovely sunset.  Photos are a bit fuzzy, but I had a few drinks in me!

Oh yes...and the lost photo...don't know if this one is the one that Photoshop ate or the second best one that I found later.  I am thinking of doing a small glass sculpture of trees, though I have to say my larger boro pieces have cracked.  I am going to attempt, perhaps with some work with a new boro friend...



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Trip of Firsts...

Costa Rica was definitely a trip of firsts.  My first time white water rafting--okay, so the waves were wimpy--I can still say that I did it!  The guide only had to grab me to prevent me from falling into the water once!  So...definitely a mild trip.  First time I saw Bob in a bathing suit--and there will be no pictures because he was upset with me for even mentioning it.  I still can't promise that I will refrain from posting a pic of him cooking though!

Did you know that OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) has the cure for fear of heights?*  I also managed to walk the 860-foot suspension bridge over the Rio Sarapiqui:


See...I'm even long as the bridge isn't bouncing.  I even glided over the trees on a zip line:

It really wasn't bad.  Can't say that it's something I'd want to do again, though.

*Machu Picchu

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Holy Week in Costa Rica

Holy week in Costa Rica was a treat for the senses.  Our first full day in San Jose was Palm Sunday, so our first stop was church:  Crowds waving palm fronds and handing them out, and even a pageant:

I didn't think we got to see Jesus...but, is he the guy in the purple?  (Sorry!  I'm a Jewish girl!)

On Good Friday we rode by (an enactment...I hope!) of the crucifixion.  Didn't get a picture...but read about it in the news...

Every home had a crucifix in front of it.  During Holy Week, draped in purple, after Easter,     
draped in white.
Don't know what this was about...