Edible Books, deliciously silly sculpture

I want to report in on my effort for this year: The Girl with the Dragon Fondue (with apologies to Stieg Larsson’s estate). Each year for the last seven the Seattle Center for the Book Arts has sponsored this wonderful event. You can come with an entry or you can come to view the entries by paying an admission that benefits the organization (more information here). After they’re judged, we eat them.

I love rising to the challenge; and just as much, I love seeing the wonderful things that others bring in. It satisfies my need for joyful silliness.

I’ve been thinking about The Girl for a while; I rejected the attempt last year because I couldn’t figure out how to bake a bread dragon without some side of him coming out flat. When I saw some armature wire in our local Artist & Craftsmen Supply store, I had the answer.

I constructed three separate pieces – tail, loop and head. The 3-foot size was based on Ila Crawford’s brilliant suggestion of inserting a battery-powered fan in the head to make tissue-paper flames flutter. Alas, I discovered too late that the fan was not powerful enough to send a breeze around the corner of the neck into the head (as well as my failure to consider a source of intake air). So I settled for placing the fan at the base of the fondue dish, which, while a mite unsightly, worked fine.

Another challenge was baking the bread upright on the armature. Gravity acts on bread dough like of all us, bulging and drooping. So I chilled my dough, rolled it out and draped it around the armature as quickly as possible, and set it in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes to set the dough. Then it only required another 20 minutes at 350 to bake. His spine was pita chips, his beard and tail were maifun rice sticks; his horns were sweet pastries. I had to do some last-minute repairs with egg-white glue, which I should have colored to match the dough. The things you think of after the fact…

Some people asked where the girl was. Said I, “I’m the girl, I’ve got the dragon fondue!”

I’m so pleased to have come in second in the popular vote. But even more pleased by all the fascinated children — especially the little boys — who wanted to have their pictures taken with it. Our local paper covered it here, photos here. The UW Daily also covered it here — but it didn’t take me three days, just two afternoons and part of a morning.