pARTicipation Trophies

Consider, for a moment, the trophies you proudly collected as a kid, for soccer or baseball or mathletes, whatever your thing was. If you grew up in the 1980s or ’90s (or later), you probably acquired a few. Even if your team didn’t “win”, most coaches distributed small shiny statuettes to their players, and likely still do today.

Now multiply that amount of trophies that you collected by the number of kids who also grew up during that time, and who are still growing up today.

“Hey, I wasn’t a mathlete, I played soccer! Don’t ask me to do math while I’m trying to read your blog!” you say.

Fair enough. Take my word for it, then, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of these metal (and/or plastic) figures atop glittery columns on cheesy marble (or plastic) bases. You can find them at yard sales, thrift stores, and in basements and attics all across the U.S. I asked my freecycle group if anyone had any to purge, and I received half a dozen!

In early 2016, while I was planning a Cacophony event, Brides of March + Bunny Hop, I decided to take two old trophies and transform them. I had gotten the trophies from a friend in a box of items that she’d given to me as part of my Stuff Magnet activity. The idea of transforming the trophies came from my years volunteering at the Grilled Cheese Invitational in downtown LA. The winners of the various competitions at the Invitational went home with their own transformed trophies, usually involving a sculpty grilled cheese in the hand of the figure and a name plate with the event’s name, the competition name and the year. Simple, but hilarious and awesome.

My friend, Heidi, has won many of those grilled cheese trophies, which she proudly displays at the restaurants she owns with her husband, Nate, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, where they also display “Cheesy Carl“. Seeing those funny trophies whenever I ate at or worked at their restaurants planted a seed in my brain, and when I went to transform the trophies that my other friend had given me, that was where I started.

But I went much, much further…

Most Fabulous Bride (2016)

Hoppiest Bunny (2016)

I need to remember to take more pictures before I start working on them! I am pretty good at taking process shots, but almost always forget the “before” pic.

In the two pictures of the Bunny trophy, you can see the difference between what I call “Basic” and “Deluxe”. The Basic Bunny has the bunny ears and tail, and the carrot-bat, while the Deluxe Bunny also has painted boots, grass and easter eggs. Similarly, the Basic Bride has the wedding dress (including the pink sash), while the Deluxe Bride also has a veil, a bouquet, lace trim on the dress, and jewelry.

I drafted my boyfriend into helping me by painting the boots and assisting with the eggs and grass. Since he already spends a lot of time painting his board game figures, I thought it would be a good use of his interests and talents, and I was right!

Madhu’s Negotiation Spoon (2016)

spoon trophy

This project was commissioned by a friend for one of his co-workers. The spoon was vintage and I didn’t have to do a thing to it to get that lovely age. I had quoted my friend the Basic Trophy price, but ended up making a custom base for it, which means it technically is a Deluxe Trophy (though I still charged my friend the same- I learned several lessons working on it and I didn’t lose money, not counting time, so in the end it was fine).

Jolliest F****** Santa (2016)

Santa 2
Jolliest Fucking Santa Trophy (close up)
Jolliest Fucking Santa Trophy

I created this Jolliest Fucking Santa trophy for a buddy with whom I help plan Cacophony events, like Santacon LA. He is a very strong supporter of my art, in addition to being a solid friend and I thought this would be a good way to show him my appreciation. It was another collaboration between my boyfriend and I. He painted the outfit on the figure and did the snow on the top and bottom of the column. He also transformed the original baseball bat into the candy cane. I did the overall design and planning, and glued on the hat, the snowballs and the bottles, and I crafted the tree, strung the lights and attached the battery pack, and ordered the nameplate.

The Santa trophy is currently my only example of the “Super Fancy” trophy tier. The LEDs and the tree are what moved it beyond the “Deluxe” tier. The more details and accessories, the higher the tier.

Bill “Quantum” Cromie (2017)

I created this trophy for a dear friend, Bill and presented it to him at Burning Man 2017. You can read more about the process of making this piece, and about how awesome Bill is, here.

Best Costume 2018 / Craft Beer Cellar Eagle Rock Quiz Night (2018)

 

I made this one, once again with lots of help from Mike, for the grand prize for Best Costume at the quiz night I host at a local bar in Eagle Rock, Craft Beer Cellar. I was the one who wanted to do a costume contest, even though our quiz night is a Tuesday and this year Halloween was on a Wednesday, but about half the people wore costumes, so I consider that a participation success!

The ghost costume was a bit of an experiment because I had never done fabric mache before the test ghost I made for this project. I had done paper mache before as a kid, so it had been a few decades… thank goodness for youtube videos and blog posts like this one!

Really the key info is: I used a half & half mixture of Elmer’s glue and warm water, well stirred and my piece of fabric was originally about 5.5″ x 6.5″ before I trimmed it to size. Lucky me, I had two of these same soccer trophies, so while Mike painted up the pumpkin and the boots, I used the other trophy as my sheet ghost model. When it came time to actually dip and shape, I made sure the base and the beautifully painted stuff was all covered in aluminum foil or plastic wrap with painters’ tape. I used a small piece of twisty-tie around the neck to make the fabric collect in and define the head, which I removed about an hour into the drying process. You can still shape the fabric a bit at that point, so the real key is to stop yourself from futzing with it too much.

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Most Likely To Pass On Their DNA/ Caveman Picnic (2019)

 

Mike played a big role in painting this one, with amazing detail on the leopard print jumpsuit and the wood club. I designed it for the Caveman Picnic 2019 and it was awarded to our friend Amanda after she delighted us all (and some random passerbys) while running around in a T-rex costume. I sculpted the club and the bone in her hair while he did all the painting.

 

Best Costume 2019/ Talon Tap & Wine Quiz Night (2019)

Headless Mummy

To the surprise of no one, Mike played another big role in creating this trophy. It was my overall design, but he suggested the thrown head concept and executed the removal of the head and basketball and installation of the head “mid-air”. He also 3D printed the pumpkins, painted them, and added the LEDs to them. He painted the dirt streaks on the body. And on top of all of that (or under it, as it were), he did the mud and flocking for the ground under the mummy’s feet.

I did all the wrapping, though he also gets credit for finding the youtube video I used as a technique guide. Without that, I would never have thought to use a spool of 1/8″ elastic and loctite super glue gel. And those were the perfect tools for this challenge.

I am really enjoying the challenges posed by working with these trophies, so expect more to be created! And as I make more, I will post the pictures on my website and instagram.

I recently made a fresh blog post featuring the Mummy trophy and some other recent trophy creations! Check out pARTicipation Trophies 2.0!

If you are interested in commissioning a trophy, please use the contact form below to email me and we can discuss the different tiers and pricing!

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