Joan Zachary: Blog en-us (C) Joan Zachary [email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 14 Aug 2022 04:01:00 GMT Sun, 14 Aug 2022 04:01:00 GMT Joan Zachary: Blog 120 120 Mr Tiger Pants and the Big Red Pepper OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We've got a garden going on the deck again this year.  No big deal: just some tomatoes, peppers and squash (which is doing surprisingly well).  But the little people love the garden and are more than happy to pose with anything we produce.  This pepper is only a little over two inches long, but next to Mr Tiger Pants, it reminds me of Organic Gardening Magazine - and I'm talking about the Organic Gardening of my childhood, with outsized vegetables and their proud growers on the cover.  The pepper goes so nicely with Mr TP's trademark red T-shirt, don't you think?

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 14 Aug 2022 04:00:56 GMT
The Goddess of Mushrooms OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Welcome back to Plastiqueville! Recently we realized - with horror - that we have not updated things around here for almost five months!  Things were so quiet that some ne'er-do-well posted a huge pile of garbage links in our guestbook, just to see if we were paying attention.  Well, we are.  We took out the garbage, and now we're back.

This summer, thanks to our beloved CSA farm, Terra Fauna Farm in Northampton, PA, we have been receiving vegetables and mushrooms every week.  The mushrooms are actually through Keystone Mycology, and they're amazing!  So amazing, in fact, that I am trying to post a mushroom picture on Facebook every week.  We might have skipped a week or two in there, but this week, when I opened the paper bag and pulled out a handful of pink oyster mushrooms as big as my head (yes, really), I knew you'd all want to see them.  Their lovely spokesperson, by the way, is about four inches tall.

So, if you're still here, we are grateful!  New residents move into Plastiqueville all the time, and the locals, like Mr Tiger Pants, are happy to see them (for the most part).  Check back again soon, and please stay in touch.  I have to go cook up some mushrooms!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 12 Aug 2022 22:26:21 GMT
The adventures of Keychain Guy OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Let's start today with an image from Trapped, an illustrated novel about to come out from Parisian Phoenix Publishing.  This image, above, is one of the "Easter eggs" you will find scattered throughout the book.  I was told later that this image is a little like one by Irving Penn, titled "Theatre Accident, New York".

This image co-stars The Skunk, a major character in the book, and Keychain Guy, who is well known in Plastiqueville for his ability to walk around with a bunch of keys hanging from his hat.  (Or is that a helmet?)  While Keychain Guy is not in the story itself, he does play an important role in the photograph - after all, who doesn't have keys in their purse?

But, most exciting for Keychain Guy - his twin brother has been located, and is alive and well, and living the good life in a garage in Jim Thorpe, PA. He may have other relatives, but in the meantime, here's his long-lost sibling.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 13 Feb 2022 15:49:08 GMT
Spring thaw in Plastiqueville OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here in Plastiqueville, we are having a sort of "false spring".  We all know that there's still a lot of winter to be had - it's not even Valentine's Day!  But when the temperatures are livable, and the afternoon light is pretty, who wouldn't hit the trail?  Or go in search of the perfect spot for fresh air and conversation?  It's all out there and waiting for you! (But hurry! It could be colder when the weekend gets here.)


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 10 Feb 2022 22:18:51 GMT
Sometimes you need a skunk

A couple of months ago, the citizens of Plastiqueville were commissioned to provide some photography for a new contemporary romance from Parisian Phoenix Publishing.  Trapped, (cover with blurb above) will be available to eager readers sometime around Valentine's Day.  Not only does it come with a beautiful cover, shot on location in Plastiqueville Park, but there are B&W images sprinkled throughout the book like Easter eggs.  I used to love that in a book when I was a kid (quite the bookworm I was), so it's refreshing to find it here.  Here's hoping that Parisian Phoenix chooses to do this with future titles.

Of course, now that means that the skunks have come to Plastiqueville, but they don't seem to be much of a nuisance so far.  After spending $21 on a fancy plastic skunk from Bonsai Outlet (pictured above), I realized that we did have some native squirrels, and with a little paint, they could easily be repurposed as skunks.  I even toyed with the idea of an albino skunk.  All this madness can be viewed in the pages of Trapped.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 05 Feb 2022 21:56:00 GMT
Mr. Tiger Pants learns to fly!

You learn something new every day.

So, I'm taking this class on creating photography books, through the Southeast Center for Photography.  It's taught by Douglas Stockdale, and I'm having a blast.  Hope they offer it again, because I know some people who will want to take it.

One of the things I love about any class is the opportunity to meet other photographers and get ideas from them.  In today's class, we talked about sequencing your book project (What goes on what page? And why?).  This means we get to see other students' work.  

One of my classmates is creating her book from a series of botanical images, which created with a scanner, rather than a camera.  They are really beautiful.  Naturally, I had to try it, too and although I had no flowers or plants handy, Mr. Tiger Pants was a willing participant.  He's so fearless!

Now I know what you're all thinking... will there be a book about Plastiqueville someday?  Hmm...

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 23 Jan 2022 19:17:55 GMT
Happy 2022 to all of you! Happy new year from everyone in Plastiqueville! It's the season for group pictures.  Maybe you've appeared in a few yourself over the past few days.  So, in honor of the new year, I have gathered a number of Plastiqueville's citizens (but certainly not all of them) for a quick portrait.  On behalf of my little plastic friends, we would like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful 2022.

I find the passage into another year to be refreshing.  Turn a new page, start the cycle of seasons and events all over again - with better intentions this time around, of course.  Fresh notebooks!  With that in mind, we want to post more often around here - and if you're reading this, perhaps you could help us out. What questions do you have?  Ask us.  The little people may have the answers.  

Thank you for stopping by!  See you again soon!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 01 Jan 2022 22:34:30 GMT
Solstice greetings from Plastiqueville OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Solstice greetings!  Plastiqueville has been abuzz, and not just with the usual activities of the season.  We're also deep into our illustrations for Trapped, a novel of romantic comedy coming out next year from Parisian Phoenix Publishing.  In fact, the editors have presented us with a whole list of possible points in the book where an illustration would be welcome, and we're chipping away at them one by one.

New residents are moving in weekly.  A family of elves have been stationed in Plastiqueville for the holidays, to make sure Santa's deliveries arrive at their local destinations in a timely manner, without damage.  Today they took some time to explore the neighborhood, where they learned many important things (like the fact that our street numbers are not in order).


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Tue, 21 Dec 2021 00:08:38 GMT
Adventures in illustration OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We've been busy in Plastiqueville lately, creating illustrations for Trapped, a novel by Seneca Blue, soon to be published by Parisian Phoenix Publishing, the new publishing venture from Angel Ackerman and Gayle Hendricks.  In fact, Gayle has written a blog post about the project, with more pictures, and we're pretty excited about it (and flattered, too).

Over the years, first as a writer and now as a storytelling photographer, I have always enjoyed creative prompts.  Give me an idea and I promise you that I will run with it.  So when the folks at Parisian Phoenix provided me with a list of scenes from Trapped that required photos, I dug right in.  The photo above is from a pet adoption event, held at a local mall.  (The mall itself, constructed from plastic bottles and washi tape, is featured in a previous post here.)  I'm trying not to think too far ahead in the list; instead, I gently take each item, one at a time, and think about the best way to portray it.  Some are easier than others.  Next on the list - the aftermath of an explosion at a turkey farm.  And then a visiting bear wandering through a suburban neighborhood.  And a grease fire in a kitchen.  And sex in a barn...

As you can see, we have our work cut out for us.

By the way, as 2021 spins slowly to a close, we look ahead to further fun in Plastiqueville.  I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the occasional lapses in activity around here - life does have a way of throwing those obstacles in one's path.  In 2022, we will try harder.  Which brings up a question:  What would you like to see?  What parts of life in Plastiqueville intrigue you the most?  Inquiring minds would like to know.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Mon, 13 Dec 2021 19:19:33 GMT
The Mall of Plastiqueville OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don't know what you guys did today, but I built a shopping mall.  Amazing what you can do with plastic water bottles and several rolls of washi tape.  

This is just a preliminary image, of course; I still have to play with lighting, props and eventually, little people.  I'm working my way through a long list of scenes from Trapped, a novel by Seneca Blue, to be published by Parisian Phoenix Publishing as soon as I can get more of these pictures done.  At one point in the story, a pet adoption event is held at the local mall - so here's my sparkly world of shopping temptation.  I sure had a good time building it.

Shoppers arriving soon - check back for updates!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 09 Dec 2021 00:01:33 GMT

Wow!  Is it December already? 

You will be pleased to know that some of Plastiqueville's finest citizens will be appearing in future titles to be published by Parisian Phoenix Publishing, the newest venture from my friends Angel Ackerman and Gayle Hendricks.  Many projects lie ahead, including Trapped, by Seneca Blue, a light-hearted novel about the eradication of some skunks and a romance that blooms as a result.  Don't you think the above image would make a lovely cover for such a tale?  We sure do.

Watch this blog for more details!  (We promise not to be so scarce in the future.)

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 02 Dec 2021 04:07:24 GMT
Dahlia day Belinda among the dahlias

Plastiqueville's citizens often have a craving to see the world.  Today we went on a photo expedition, to visit the dahlias grown on the Moser family farm in Hellertown.  The stowaways soon discovered that the flower beds had been placed closely together, making exploration difficult - so most of them stayed back in the car.  However, Belinda (pictured here) asked for an opportunity to climb the supportive fencing, so we made sure she didn't cause any damage in her desire to get up close and personal with the flowers.

We had hoped for bees, too - and that wish came true!  

A bee, hard at work

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 09 Oct 2021 20:24:24 GMT
Other people's unfinished projects Today's yard sale find: a wooden stage coach, with parts for a second. Mr. Tiger Pants was eager to try it out, and found it quite comfortable. I especially like the mandala wheels.

With the arrival of autumn, yard sale season may be winding down - but it only takes one sale to make it all worthwhile.  In Northampton, PA, deep in the land of warehouses under construction, we found ourselves in a cul de sac, facing a driveway filled with random stuff.  Randy actually got out of the car for this sale, and without him, I would have missed this unfinished project, priced at four bucks.  In addition to the coach pictured here, there are enough parts for a second one.  I especially love the wheels, which remind me of my friend Stephanie Smith's mandalas.

And here's my big question - should I paint this?  What color?  Fancy or plain?

In the meantime, the wrestlers climbed on board and cooked up a spooky tale, perfect for the season...

The wagon sat by the side of the road. The horses were long gone. "Kidnapped!" gasped the driver. "Creatures came down from the sky and kidnapped 'em!"

The wagon sat by the side of the road.  The horses were long gone.  "Kidnapped!" gasped the driver.  "Creatures came down from the sky, riding on a big spinning plate, and snatched 'em right up before my very eyes!"

The guys who had come to help exchanged glances.  They'd heard stories like this before, but this one was different.  For one thing, there was a second witness - the old man, the only passenger.  "Never seen anything like it," he growled.  "Never in all my days."  

(We watch too much Ancient Aliens around here...)

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 08 Oct 2021 20:10:36 GMT
Please welcome - Skateboard Guy! Please welcome one of Plastiqueville's newest citizens: Skateboard Guy! Just in time for the Tokyo Olympics... We have just survived two days of unlimited yard sales, thanks to the folks in Bushkill Township, Northampton County, PA.  Now I've been to many community yard sales, but this had to be one of the best I've ever experienced.  My mid-week request for information quickly returned an exhaustive list of locations, times, and types of items for sale - including maps!  

On Friday, I actually lost count of how many houses we visited, although most of them were walk-throughs with no purchases.  This is partly because I blew $40 at the first location of the day, on a much-needed cedar chest that now sits in the living room and holds all my yoga blankets and pillows.  Friday's scores seemed to be all household stuff; in addition to the chest, we came home with a stone plate for baking pizza and a lightweight, Joan-sized folding garden chair.

Still, somehow - I felt incomplete. We were not done yet.

So on Saturday morning, while Randy stayed home and practiced guitar for an audition later in the day, I hit the road again.  Discovered that for every sale on the list, there were two "unadvertised specials."  And that's where we found Plastiqueville's newest citizen - Skateboard Guy!  Just in time for the Tokyo Olympics.  

Please note Skateboard Guy's size, relative to Mr. Tiger Pants (who wishes I would impose some limits on the newer residents).

Please welcome one of Plastiqueville's newest citizens: Skateboard Guy! Just in time for the Tokyo Olympics...

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 01 Aug 2021 00:09:11 GMT
Beefsteak tomatoes in Plastiqueville Mr Tiger Pants and his beefsteak tomatoes

We're gardening again this year, the usual tomatoes and peppers on the deck.  Interestingly enough, our cherry tomatoes seem unusually small, but amazingly sweet.  Go figure.  But, as far as the citizens of Plastiqueville are concerned, they're beefsteaks!  Mr. Tiger Pants is very proud to show off our latest harvest.  There will be more!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 25 Jul 2021 01:01:25 GMT
Day Lily Day Knitting lady on a summer day

Several citizens of Plastiqueville traveled to Slatington, PA today, to enjoy some time in Anne Zagarella's day lily garden.  Anne is a member of the Palmerton Camera Club, as am I, and every year, she opens her backyard to club members and day lily nerds.  This year, Knitting Lady chose to spend some time sheltered by a large bloom, and you can decide whether she simply looks peaceful, or whether she's in danger of being picked up by one of those claw thingies you see in vending machines at the Jersey shore.  The little people wish they'd spent more time with the day lilies, but the temperature was rising rapidly.  We did some home with over 300 images, of which over 200 were worth keeping.  Not bad for a morning's work.

And it seems that we weren't the only ones in day lily heaven.  Here's an ant, eagerly approaching his career path...

The ant's career path

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 17 Jul 2021 20:11:59 GMT
Some like 'em big If you've ever driven Route 248 through the west side of Bath, PA, you've probably passed this house, which is an ever-changing display of fantastic creatures. "Cut that grass!" yells the bear by the door. "I think you missed a spot," says the fish on the left. (The little platic people may be demanding from time to time - but nothing like this!) We were riding around the other day in the new "family van", with Randy at the wheel - which meant I got to ride shotgun and make pictures, a rare pleasure.   Our travels included Route 248 through Bath, PA, past this local landmark with the big animals in the front yard.  We were making a sharp turn when I got this one, so I had to concentrate on keeping the camera steady AND not falling over into the driver's lap.  I was focusing on the animals - and I didn't even see the owner and his lawnmower until I reviewed the images later.

But wait!  It gets better.

I posted the image in all the usual places (Facebook, Instagram, Flickr) - and much to my great astonishment, it went viral.  At this writing, we're at 285 shares on Facebook, more than I ever had on any image!  I was really hesitant to post it - after all, who wants the world to see you dragging a lawnmower around your yard in 90 degree weather?  But apparently this guy is really nice, and somewhat well-known in the neighborhood.  His house has even made it onto the Roadside America website, which is hugely cool, IMHO. 

So maybe I'll have to print this out and slip it in his mail slot.  I think we have something in common.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 08 Jul 2021 16:03:06 GMT
A test drive for the new furniture Last weekend's yard sale score included a lovely hand-painted table with matching chairs. Sometimes the little plastic people like to try these items out on my desk first, before we go to the trouble of setting up a whole scene. Here we have Mask Dude, one of the wrestlers, telling wild stories of his life before Plastiqueville, including how he lost the tips of his fingers on his right hand. (I suspect a dog chewed them off, or maybe a kid did it.) Last weekend's yard sale score included a lovely hand-painted table with matching chairs.  Sometimes the little plastic people like to try these items out on my desk first, before we go to the trouble of setting up a whole scene.  Here we have Mask Dude, one of the wrestlers, telling wild stories of his life before Plastiqueville, including how he lost the tips of his fingers on his right hand.  (I suspect a dog chewed them off, or maybe a kid did it.)

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Mon, 28 Jun 2021 18:00:21 GMT
Yard sale score supreme!

I thought this was going to be one of those rare yard sale days where I come home empty handed.  The first two sales offered almost the exact same merchandise.  It was uncanny.  Glassware and Christmas decor, and cookbooks cookbooks cookbooks.

We were on our way to that one last sale when we passed it.  Big yard, plenty of parking.  Still, I was beginning to think that it was just more of the same - until I looked down and saw the crate:  the piano, the red sofa, the little bed.  Five bucks for the whole darn thing.  All wood, not a speck of plastic, in played-with-but-still-pretty-good condition.  

So, it looks like I'm going to be a little busy for a day or two.  I'm thinking more incense pictures, floating out from behind the closet door, or maybe from under the bed?

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 25 Jun 2021 20:50:45 GMT
Some words about Fathers Day

Randy's two sons descended on our household today, along with the grandson and - bonus! - Randy's brother Ron.  In years past I would have the camera, but today I spent most of a very hot afternoon trudging between the kitchen and the back yard, delivering potato salad and barbecue tongs.  The people of Plastiqueville were occupied with their own Fathers Day celebrations, and my hands were too greasy to juggle a camera, so no photos this year.

Instead, we reach into the past, where we find my dad and me at "The Land of Make Believe" (I believe that was its name), a tourist attraction in the Adirondacks of New York State.  I share this with love and pride because it's so natural, one of the few candids I have of Dad where he's smiling and totally unaware of the camera.   (Thanks, Mom!  Good one!) 

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Mon, 21 Jun 2021 02:50:11 GMT
First pepper of the season Mr. Tiger Pants is pretty excited about the first pepper of the season. Mr. Tiger Pants is pleased to show off the first pepper of the summer season.  This little plant is dripping with new fruit!  Why, that pepper is bigger than his head...

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 19 Jun 2021 01:04:14 GMT
Handyman special! Handyman's special on Eggplant Lane Do you want to live in Plastiqueville?  Are you handy with a hammer and some nails, maybe a can of paint?  Then you'll want to check out this charming cottage, full of curb appeal, on Eggplant Lane.  (Yes, those are real eggplants on either side, and tomatoes in the back yard, too.)  With a missing dormer and leaks in the roof, there's plenty to keep a new owner busy!

Actually, the house is a yard sale score, from the local Boy Scout rummage sale.  Every year, we look forward to the Boy Scout sale - name your own price, something for everyone.  In years past, we've come home with kitchen gadgetry, folding music stands, and even antique drums that are now part of our basement drum kit.  But I love this little house, and I wish I could get small enough to fit inside...

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 18 Jun 2021 01:13:30 GMT
Yard sale scores, part 1 Trikes!

Last Saturday turned out to be an excellent day for yard sales, a pleasant relief after a rainy Friday.  Mr. Tiger Pants and his friends would like to thank the nice lady who sold us two hand carved tricycles for a quarter apiece.  Riding with their feet on the rear axle, the trikes are a perfect fit.  The boys used them to explore the tomato patch (which is growing rapidly) and look forward to further adventures on smoother pavement.

More yard sale scores soon!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 06 Jun 2021 23:29:09 GMT
A birthday shout-out! Happy birthday, Uncle Ron! (That would be Ron Smith, Randy's brother.) In celebration, a couple of the Plastiqueville surfer girls decided to go hang out on the seven-string guitar that Ron built for Randy a few years back. Randy's brother Ron, of Ron Smith Guitars, is celebrating his birthday today.  And as we all know, the citizens of Plastiqueville never pass up a good birthday celebration!  Two of the Surfer Girls decided to show off their bikinis while hanging around on the seven-string guitar that Ron built for Randy a few years back, the one with the slanted frets.  Happy birthday, Ron!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Wed, 26 May 2021 22:12:44 GMT
Infrastructure improvements The church in the tomato patch Wow!  Where does the time go?  It's the middle of May already.  Some musical projects pulled us away for a while (more about those on another day), but we're back, with some big plans for Plastiqueville.

Last weekend, my neighborhood became Yard Sale Heaven.  The much-anticipated Moore Township Community Yard Sale on Saturday (pictured above in 360 view) was only part of it.  Friday's sales produced a 60's vintage Grundig radio for Randy, (stereo, no less), a sauté pan (perfect for mushrooms) and a red Pyrex mixing bowl just like my mom used to have.  

But the absolutely best score of the whole weekend was $20 for a box full of little electric train buildings (probably HO scale).  We have now doubled Plastiqueville's real estate, with a car repair shop, a lumberyard, a factory, a second saloon, a couple of nice private residences, and two churches.  Churches in Plastiqueville now outnumber the bars (three versus two), so one of those churches might have to become a bookstore or something, in order to comply with zoning.  Oh, and I almost forgot - we now have a Howard Johnson's!  Ice cream, anyone?

The buildings were most likely built from kits, so they are in various states of completion, and they're hollow, so they can be lit.  I'll be looking into some small LEDs to do the job more subtly, but in the meantime, I buried an LED flashlight in my vegetable patch and placed the building on top.  Wait for the sun to go down - and enjoy the glow!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Wed, 19 May 2021 03:28:40 GMT
Planting season Started the garden today!

We started the garden today.  We didn't plan to start today, but Wegmans had a huge display of vegetable plants, right where you walk into the store.  You can't miss it, and you shouldn't, because we're talking about the good stuff from Peace Tree Farm in Bucks County.  I went on a photo tour of Peace Tree Farm, early in my time in the Lehigh Valley Photography Club, and I've never forgotten it.  We expect great things from the humble tomato plant pictured here.

Some late day light on the newly planted tomatoes - at one point, the wind picked up. B&W made the magic, though, IMHO.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 07 May 2021 00:50:14 GMT
An exercise in negative space I did this with my smallest little people for an exercise on negative space.

I may have mentioned that I'm in an online workshop with Douglas Beasley, so between that and a sudden increase in musical activity around here, I have had to let the little people fend for themselves (which they do very well).

One of our exercises for the week is to create an image with extreme negative space.  I often think of negative space as being large swaths of featureless nothingness - but I suppose it doesn't have to be.  Here we have Oscar, barely an inch tall, exploring the depths of a decaying tree in my backyard.  Perhaps the fly is a traveling companion.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Wed, 05 May 2021 18:51:17 GMT
And now, for something a little different OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the next eight weeks, I will be attending an online workshop, Touching the Divine, with Douglas Beasley as our guide.  I've studied with Doug before (South Dakota Badlands, Class of 2018) and always come away inspired and changed, somehow.  I anticipate that this workshop will be another juicy serving.  The course consists of readings, meditations, videos, exercises, and a photo assignment, delivered weekly.  Writing assignments, too, starting next week.

This week's assignment was to create a metaphysical picture of one's meditation space.  In my case, this space is located in my new studio, where all the little plastic people live.  Can't avoid 'em.  I tried using them in this picture, but nothing worked.  

Then I stumbled on this door, which I bought on clearance a couple years ago, thinking it might come in handy one day.  Apparently that day has come.

I love this photo, although I'll be staring at for the next week, trying to figure out what it wants me to know.


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 24 Apr 2021 02:44:16 GMT
Coaxing forth the spirits Coaxing forth the spirits

I've had an urge lately to work with incense smoke - and when I get such urges, the citizens of Plastiqueville are always eager to help out.  This previously unnamed wrestler has informed me that he'd simply like to be called Neil, and that he is pleased to have an opportunity to model.  

Brace yourself - there will probably be more smoke, and different faces.  I have an assignment, due Sunday, where incense might work well.  I do like this one!  But we're not done yet.  (Your thoughts are always appreciated.)

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 22 Apr 2021 01:34:04 GMT
Faeries in the violet patch OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It should come as no surprise that Plastiqueville boasts a sizable faerie community.  Today's spring weather brought them out in droves!  This year's robust violet patch has them all amazed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Of course, many of the younger faeries find it somewhat overwhelming, as they go running through the grass and lose sight of their companions.  Fortunately, the famous Faerie Queen has come along to keep all the kids in line.  I don't know how she uses that big magic wand as a disciplinary tool, but it seems to do the trick.


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 18 Apr 2021 20:06:35 GMT
Maxine's dilemma Maxine finds the world of humans to be very confusing. "What are all these little tiny people? They just stand there and look threatening. Don't move, don't make any noise. And Mom is always pointing her camera at them, when she's not pointing it at me. I don't get it!" The other day, we were creating a photo database of all the wrestlers, and of course Maxine had to help.  Apparently she finds the world of humans to be very confusing.  "What are all these little tiny people?  They just stand there and try to look threatening.  But they don't move, don't make any noise.  And Mom is always pointing her camera at them, when she's not pointing it at me.  I don't get it!"

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 15 Apr 2021 04:06:01 GMT
Diadra's amazing pink hair The little plastic people go wandering in Diadra's newly pink hair... Some of you may remember Weed Whacker Guy and the many places where he has plied his trade - like my friend Diadra's green hair, in honor of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Diadra's hair is hot pink now, so we were invited over today to record the amazing shade in all its glory.  Reginald and the Sorceress examined individual strands in great detail.

However, it didn't take long for things to get totally out of hand.  The girls challenged the guys to some hide-and-seek, and poor Chip was frightened out of his mind when Sassy suddenly leapt out from behind a curtain of magenta hair.  It will take several strong drinks for him to calm down, I think.  Probably a good thing Weed Whacker Guy stayed home...

The little plastic people go wandering in Diadra's newly pink hair...

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 09 Apr 2021 00:00:32 GMT
Spring is here! A dash through the bluebells True friends don't mind if you invade their back yard with a camera and a herd of little plastic people.  Today, we were invited to my friend Diadra's place to admire her spring garden, as well her newly dyed bright pink hair.  More about the hair, including pictures, in another post.  

In the meantime, the Queen's friends climbed trees and took a barefoot jog through the bluebells.  Spring is definitely here.


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 08 Apr 2021 22:43:05 GMT
The Plastiqueville Camera Club Annual Spring Outing Eggs were dyed today - and the Plastiqueville Camera Club arrived with their cameras! Eggs were dyed today in Plastiqueville - and the Plastiqueville Camera Club was on hand to record the colorful proceedings.  This year, we used the Instant Pot, which will cook AND dye your eggs at the same time!  

Eggs were dyed today - and the Plastiqueville Camera Club arrived with their cameras! Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Tue, 30 Mar 2021 20:16:54 GMT
How we did it - The joys of a shiny background New shiny backdrop!

On one of my recent craft store scores, I picked up two yards of shiny-shiny vinyl.  Sturdy, yet flexible, it would make great wipe-off placemats.  I had no idea what it would look like as a background, but one thing is for sure - it throws a lot of light around.  Five bucks a yard?  Worth a try!  

Today, I pulled the plain white background out of the studio box and made a template to cut a similar piece from the shiny stuff, using Velcro to attach it to the box.  I deliberately made it wider than the manufacturer's backdrop, so it could be stuffed into the corners - and it did that pretty well.  What's more, it reflects the other items in the box and makes a blurry landscape that picks up on colors and shapes.  (I definitely needed the diffuser over the LEDs inside the box, or that background would have been nothing but a sea of hot spots.)  The stepping stones (wood and fake rock) are from the dollar store, and the crazy arch in the back was a random find in my backyard.  Later, I added some fake trees, to hide the back corner.  A couple of the trees didn't want to stand up straight, but that just made them look more real.  

It was ladies' day in the studio box, complete with dramatic reenactments.  The set's still up, and as long as Maxine hasn't knocked anything over, maybe there will be more excitement in the shiny swamp...

"Come back, thief!"

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 27 Mar 2021 04:01:22 GMT
If today is your birthday... If today is your birthday... many glorious returns of the day! I used to enlist the citizens of Plastiqueville to help me do birthday greetings on Facebook.  For a while there, we tried to do that for almost all the birthdays that came up on our feed.  Trust me, that can get crazy.  So in the past year or so, we kinda got out of the habit.

However, today is Ari's birthday and what's more, it's #18, one of the landmarks, the big One-Eight.  I know Ari through my friend Angel and her daughter Eva; Ari and Eva are colleagues in their high school band.  They all live together in a house with one growing dog, multiple cats*, and a flock of birds (one cockatoo and a lot of budgies).  (*Some of the cats are fosters, so if you're in the market for feline companionship, hit me up.)

I got to thinking and realized that at the end of next month, I will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of my own One-Eight.  Times back then were a lot like they are now:  lots of uncertainty in the air, along with many strong opinions on all sides and the inevitable boil and broil of change.  If you had told me, back then, that I would be where I am now, I wouldn't have believed a word of it.  Yet, here I am, having landed on my feet after many twists and turns.  I'm still amazed.

So, the Queen and some of the lovely ladies of Plastiqueville have gathered to remind all of us, regardless of your mile marker on that wacky Road of Life, that we've all got people, we've all got friends.  We've got people who look out for us, even when we don't see them there.  We've got the ones who stand on the same stone with us, like the Queen and the Lady in Red, who taps the Queen's shoulder and dispenses advice.  We've got those who bring us gifts, like Rose Girl on the left.  We've got those who warn us away from trouble, like the Sorceress on the right.  And we've got those who hang out in the distance, like Esmeralda under the arch.  We may not meet them in person, but they shape the path, too.

Therefore, if today is your birthday (and I know it is for at least one of you):  The people of Plastiqueville wish you many glorious returns of the day!  (And for the rest of you, stay tuned for a "How we did it" - where did all that shiny background come from, anyway?)


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 26 Mar 2021 21:40:20 GMT
Spring is here! Mr. Tiger Pants welcomes spring! While today's weather may be gray and rainy, let's not forget that earlier this week, spring had definitely sprung.  If you don't believe me, ask Mr. Tiger Pants, who frolics here among the rocks at a friend's backyard pond in Bethlehem, PA.  I've been told that, according to pond experts, there are too many rocks in this particular pond, and I'm inclined to agree.  But Mr. Tiger Pants is too overjoyed by all the sunlight and warmth to care about residential water feature design.

This pond also features a family of shebunkin goldfish, who survived the winter and continue to procreate...

The fish survived!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Wed, 24 Mar 2021 20:15:17 GMT
How we did it - In the heat of battle In the thick of the battle It's been a busy week, lots going on, including my vax #1.  And no matter what, there's always something going on in Plastiqueville!

We continue to experiment with the cheap-ass polyester ribbon.  Quite honestly, I can't even call this stuff ribbon; it's just strips of the scratchiest fabric I've ever touched.  Crush it your hand and it will definitely keep that crush.  Each piece is about a yard long.

Here's the scene inside the studio box:


This time I tried hanging strips from the "ceiling" of the studio box.  Then I placed my model (one of the pirates, who are friends of Reginald) in the ribbony chaos and made a few pictures (aiming through the ring light for some extra illumination).  Using Topaz and a little Lightroom, I created a mask around the pirate and blurred everything else for a "smoky" effect.  Surprisingly cool, for such seemingly "useless" materials!


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 18 Mar 2021 20:44:50 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - The Princess of the Seasons The princess of spring

NAME:  The Princess of the Seasons

HEIGHT:  About 6 inches

CAME FROM:  A gift from Randy, my significant other

Spring greetings from Plastiqueville!  The daffodils are just starting to come up, so it's time for the Princess of the Seasons to make an appearance.  At first, I thought she told me that she was the Princess of Spring only - but now I'm informed that she considers herself to be in charge of ALL the seasons.  It's no use to argue with a little plastic person.

A simple enough picture to pose - but not without its challenges, both behind the camera and at the computer.  By the time I got outside, afternoon shadows were munching at the daffodils.  I used one of my favorite toys, my reflective umbrella, to bend some light in the right direction and to soften things up.  Even so, once on the computer, I discovered that the shadows were still too dark and hid all the stuff we want you to see!  Some sheepy-shapping and slider-moving with Lightroom and Topaz brought light to the Princess and blurs to pretty much everything else.  Final touch: the slightest of highlights on the eyes.  I'm pleased with the results.

Plastiqueville is pleased that spring is on its way!  We hope you are, too (if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway).  Now, back outside for more, before the sun goes down...

Princess of the Seasons

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 13 Mar 2021 20:42:17 GMT
How we did it - Magic Spell Random ribbon, blurred, creates a "magic spell" I told you that the bag of random ribbon from Michael's would be inspirational - and it was!

Not even the prettiest ribbon, either.  In fact, these were nothing but strips of cheap polyester, which creased easily and just turned into a kinky mess.  But I thought - it's translucent, so what if I blurred it in post?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here's the sorceress, just standing in the middle of my studio box, surrounded by crinkly ribbons, one black and one white.  I got in close enough to emphasize her face, while surrounding the edges with a lot of ribbon.  In post-processing, after creating a mask to protect the head and shoulders, I blurred everything else.  Say goodbye to the cheap fabric, and hello to what?  Is it just smoke?  Or something more magical?

The magic is really pretty simple in Plastiqueville...

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 12 Mar 2021 03:25:20 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - Maxine Not all of Plastiqueville's residents are made of plastic.  A few exceptions have been made, most notably in the case of the beautiful Miss Maxine, pictured above as a little kitten cat.  In fact, this picture is from the day she moved in.  Reginald always greets new arrivals, although in this case, he's keeping his distance.

Six years have passed, and Maxine still joins in many Plastiqueville activities.  She is not always invited!  The wrestlers would really rather she didn't try to go fishing with them, since she not only scares the fish away, but eats what little they manage to catch.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Wed, 10 Mar 2021 22:15:35 GMT
Self-portrait day The Plastiqueville Camera Club is working on self-portraits today.

The Plastiqueville Camera Club is working on self-portraits today.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Tue, 09 Mar 2021 21:08:16 GMT
Craft Store Score - Random Ribbons Mr. Tiger Pants, rolling around in a mass of random ribbon! Randy needed some drum parts from Guitar Center, so I gladly volunteered to go get them.  While a trip to Guitar Center can be fun in itself, it also gave me an excuse to visit the newly expanded Michael's, which opened right next door a few months ago.

We picked up an unopened "ground landscape kit" (or, if you prefer, "trousse de paysage au sol").  This will enable me to create various landscaping textures, such as grass or low shrubbery, and will come in handy for some upcoming architecture projects in Plastiqueville (more about that soon).  

But the score of the day came in two big bags of random ribbon bits for $2.50 apiece.  I love bags of random bits; A.C. Moore, back when they were still in business, used to sell bags of paper pieces in various colors and sizes, which I found endlessly inspiring.  This maelstrom of ribbon promises to do the same!

Mr. Tiger Pants insisted that I throw the whole mess inside the studio box, so he could roll around in it all while I made pictures.  I'm not sure this is the most dignified use of Mr. Tiger Pants' time - but it was his idea, so what am I supposed to do?

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Mon, 08 Mar 2021 23:42:53 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - Reginald and the Queen

NAMES:  Reginald and the Queen (it should be pretty easy to tell who's who)

HEIGHT:  The Queen: about 3.5 inches; Reginald: about 4 inches

CAME FROM:  Michael's Crafts

Before the wrestlers, before the Plastiqueville Photo Club or the Houseworks clan - there were Reginald and the Queen.  Along with them came a whole host of characters, many from some random fantasy world (including a bunch of dastardly pirates), and a few from more mundane places (like down on the farm).  I enjoyed posing them in little mini-scenes, and even made up a story where the Queen was kidnapped by the pirates!  Thanks to them, I learned the ins and outs of my macro lens, and started to build this miniature world that continues on today.

This is one place in Plastiqueville where there are actually duplicates.  The Queen went on walkabout for a while, so I bought a second one.  Queen #1 (above) has a serenity about her (she reminds me of my mom).  Queen #2, on the other hand, looks a little crazy in the head (I think it's something in her eyes).  Queen #1 eventually returned from her wanderings (she was hiding out in a camera bag).  Reginald also has a couple of identical brothers who show up from time to time.

Sometimes the wild domain of the Queen meets a world of farm animals and the ordinary citizens who care for them. There are even monsters and astronauts!  In such a diverse world, sometimes you need to invite everyone to a formal introduction.  I have a feeling that there are more stories in this Plastiqueville neighborhood...


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 07 Mar 2021 19:07:59 GMT
An accidental collaboration OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In today's snail mail, among the usual bills and eBay packages, I discovered a handwritten card from my friend and fellow artist Stephanie Smith.  A handwritten card!  When was the last time you got one of those?  

Even better, included with the card were five of Stephanie's mini-artworks, on various papers, four of which are pictured above.  The fifth one was pressed into service immediately.

An accidental collaboration with my fellow artist Stephanie Smith and Mr. Flaming Pants.

This is one of the wrestlers, Mr. Flaming Pants, who arrived in Plastiqueville with a slot in the top of his head.  I suspect that at one time, there were flames shooting out of it, to match the flames going down the sides of his pants (thus his name) - but they were lost long ago.  Would you want to walk around with a big empty slot in the top of your head?  I didn't think so.

So we took the sole triangular piece from Stephanie's collection and tried it at different angles in Mr. Flaming Pants' slot.  I like this one the best.  Very Star Trek, somehow.  Or Ancient Aliens.  If you're interested in seeing the other angles, let me know.  We might try some of the other shapes, too.

Many thanks, Stephanie!  Always a pleasure to collaborate with you, my friend.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 06 Mar 2021 22:21:06 GMT
The little plastic people visit the South Dakota Badlands OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In an earlier post, I mentioned that Weed Whacker Guy had once traveled to the South Dakota Badlands, in 2018.  Today, while wandering in my image library, I uncovered photographic proof of his hard work.  The weeds of the midwest are quite different from those in Pennsylvania.  He was determined to eliminate as many weeds as he could, but soon discovered that he'd bitten off more than he could chew.

In that same library, I discovered some moments with Kat Parker, one of my favorite models ever - and a big fan of the little plastic people (the feeling is mutual).



[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 04 Mar 2021 18:45:23 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - The Houseworks resin figures

NAMES:  Various

HEIGHT:  About 3.5 inches (seated), 5 - 6 inches (standing)

CAME FROM:  Various

My love affair with the Houseworks figures started at the craft store clearance shelf.  They were being discontinued, which made me sad, so I bought a couple and took them home.  Like the wrestlers, they fit right into Plastiqueville, and I went back for more, until they were all sold out.  Then, I discovered them in the catalog at, where for a while, they were on sale, leading me to believe that they were being discontinued here, too.  But wait!  In recent catalogs, more have been featured, and at full price.  Go figure.  

Unlike the wrestlers, the Houseworks figures do not bend.  At all.  They are little plastic resin statues, but they look so real, they often surprise viewers.  "Are you sure you didn't cut and paste a real person into that image?"  The ones who sit, really look like they're sitting, and they stay put wherever I put them.  The ones who stand, really stand firmly, without a base under their feet.  They're often found in Plastiqueville's more contemplative images, but they have a sense of humor, too.

Houseworks is a wholesale distributor of dollhouses and other miniature items, and since I'm not interested in selling these figures to others, I've never bought directly from them.  But has become a reliable source, and in researching this post, I discovered more Houseworks figures on eBay and elsewhere.  Their diverse population and peaceful demeanor is always welcome in Plastiqueville.  

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Mon, 01 Mar 2021 18:01:24 GMT

We decided to yield to temptation and check out the macro specials at Dan's Camera City.  These were "in-store" specials - which means you have to actually have to get off the couch, put on some shoes, and go to Dan's Camera City.  I'm rusty at that type of shopping, but it's always fun to visit Dan's, and one of the specials was something I've always wanted - a light box.

This one is the Promaster Still Life LED Studio 2.0, the 24" x 24" version.  It's basically a big nylon box, held together with lots of Velcro, which means it can be easily knocked down for storage (a plus).  The inside is lined with reflective material and there are two strips of scorchingly bright LEDs on the top.  It comes with three backdrops (white, black, blue) that attach with more Velcro.  (I'm going to try making my own backdrops too.)

Put your subject inside, turn on the lights, and you have a lovely, bright environment with minimal shadows.  I have it set up on a small table where it just fits.  

The wrestlers love it.



[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sun, 28 Feb 2021 21:36:20 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - Weed Whacker Guy

NAME:  Weed Whacker Guy

HEIGHT:  About 3.5 inches

CAME FROM:  Tractor Supply, Nazareth, PA

Weed Whacker Guy is one of the hardest working citizens in Plastiqueville, and he's got the equipment to get the job done.  Not only does he wield a huge, gas-powered weed whacker, he also gets around the job site on a John Deere tractor, also purchased from Tractor Supply.  He has mowed weeds in my backyard (above) and in our indoor cress garden (below).  He has even traveled to the Badlands of South Dakota!

But his most challenging job was for my friend Diadra (below).  Diadra is a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, and back when they could boast Super Bowl success, she dyed her hair Eagles green.  Weed Whacker Guy volunteered for a photo session with Diadra, where her hair made the perfect "grass."  If I had not told you this, would you know?

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Sat, 27 Feb 2021 18:01:42 GMT

As a reward to myself for finally getting this blog up and running, I took myself to the craft store on an artist's date. Most of my purchases were clearance items, including some translucent vellum, which has a million uses, and some tiny books for the wrestlers.  

But the best score was this shiny vinyl at $5.00 a yard - cheap enough to buy two yards!  It's thick and black on the other side, which can be useful, too.  Photo Elf, above, is standing on the back side, and I flipped the shiny side to highlight his face.

The girl who cut the vinyl for me asked what I was going to do with it.  "I'm a photographer," I said.  "I'm going to use it to throw some light around."

"Cool," she said.

This afternoon, Mr. Tiger Pants is sharing some reading matter with Sr. Mary Minuscule.  More soon...


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 26 Feb 2021 21:15:37 GMT
Sometimes it's serious This began as a class assignment, to make an image that is a poem or a prayer. The little plastic people wanted to hide in my father's books, which suddenly made this very personal. By now, you probably think that Plastiqueville is a fun and whimsical place - and you would be right.  But it's much more than that.

Last summer, we bought a huge bookcase at a yard sale.  We set it up in our west-facing back room, where the afternoon light can be downright delicious.  Much photography has been made there, including this one.

We filled the shelves with old books, many with sentimental value.  The ones in this picture belonged to my dad, including a volume from his complete set of Charles Dickens' writing, the book containing A Christmas Carol, which he read to us kids every year.  

Nothing about this image was intentional - it just worked out that way.  I had a few little people lying around, so I tried them in different places among the books.  Made lots of pictures, but when I got to this one, something told me that I was done.  I'd found something I didn't even know I was looking for.  It grows on me, and every time I look at it, I love it even more.

Some Plastiqueville moments will be quiet and contemplative, and if they speak to something in your heart, please let us know.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Fri, 26 Feb 2021 14:13:06 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - The Plastiqueville Photography Club

Every good community needs a good camera club, including Plastiqueville.  Unfortunately, the Plastiqueville Photography Club isn't very big, because there are only two cameras to go around.  Still, they do their best to cover all the happenings in the neighborhood.

By the way, that green stuff is called grass.  At this time of year, many people have forgotten all about it, but in two months or so, you'll be cutting it.

Some curious mushrooms have sprouted in Plastiqueville, so the Little Plastic People Camera Club scheduled a special photo walk just to take a look. The Plastiqueville Camera Club was invited to my friend Ruth's house, to view her little Christmas village. A good time was had by all!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 25 Feb 2021 22:31:10 GMT
Fifteen minutes of fame

We are thrilled to share the Wednesday Night Photo Show from February 24, courtesy of Dan's Camera City, Allentown, PA - truly our favorite camera shop in the entire known universe.  The citizens of Plastiqueville are featured - and we are quite honored!

In the video, our segment starts around 13:50.  But please watch the whole darn thing, especially if you're looking for a new photo project.  Wildlife photographer Carol Ecker talks about making pictures of snowflakes (because there are so many of them this winter).  Also, Dan's photo expert Phil Voystock will show off a whole bunch of cool close-up techniques, like photographing bubbles (some of them are frozen).  

By the way, we love Dan's.  Yes, there are many other choices, including those legendary photographic superstores like B&H and Adorama, which are less than two hours from here.  But I prefer to buy from folks I know, and folks who know me.  So unless it's something small and silly (like a replacement lens cap - why do I keep losing them?), Dan's is my go-to.  The Lehigh Valley is lucky to have them.  Visit them here.


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Thu, 25 Feb 2021 20:05:53 GMT
How we did it - Rafting on the river Navigating the rapids... Look at these brave souls, rafting on a wild river, coming so close to the rocky cliffs!  Terrifying, right?

Actually, the raft is about an inch long, and that's not water at all.  No cliffs, either.  That's foil paper which I found at the craft store; you may have come across similar material in a box of candy.  It's light and pliable, and I made the waves by "pinching" the paper around the raft until it looked right.

Light:  nothing but available light from my studio window, which was to my right when I set up the scene. Typical cloudy winter day.

Made with my Olympus EM-10 Mk II and my beloved 60mm F2.8 macro lens, 1/8 sec at f20, ISO 1600.  Then I cropped it a bit and played with some monochrome filters in Lightroom, using the graduated filter in the upper right corner to make those cliffs look especially scary.

I will confess that I don't often start with a preplanned "vision" for my images.  I do a lot of test shots and try a lot of angles and positions until I see something I like.  I don't get too wrapped around the axle if I can't make an idea work - there's always a way. In other words - when I make an image like this, I'm playing.  And really - isn't that what it's all about?  Of course it is.

Here's a studio view, to bring us back to reality.  (Forgive the lack of focus - I did this solely as a reference.)

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Wed, 24 Feb 2021 16:37:30 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - The wrestlers The wrestlers

Before the pandemic, one of the best sources of prospective citizens and infrastructure for Plastiqueville was the indoor flea market at the Klecknersville Rangers firehouse.  It was held on the first Sunday of every month and featured a wide range of merchandise, everything from handbags to jewelry to tools of all varieties.

One of the regulars, a purveyor of NASCAR collectibles, arrived one Sunday with a huge Rubbermaid tub filled with WWE action figures, $1 apiece.  (WWE stands for World Wrestling Entertainment, in case you didn't know.)  They caught my eye because of their size (seven to eight inches tall) and their bendable joints.  But would they fit in with the other citizens of Plastiqueville?  I decided to buy two and give them an audition.

These two guys were rescued from a HUGE bin of wrestlers just like them, at Sunday's Klecknersville firehouse flea market. I picked these guys because they were the coolest of the bunch. They're a couple of tough guys, sitting in the snow like that! That's Rene on the left and one of the Help Me twins on the right.  (Not sure of their previous WWE names.)

I had so much fun with these two guys, I immediately started to look forward to the next flea market.  Would NASCAR Dude be there?  Not all the vendors attend every month.  Yet, much to my great relief, there he was, with the giant Rubbermaid tub, and most of last month's wrestlers were still looking for homes.

I plunked down $20.  "How many can I get for this?" I asked.

"Twenty," replied NASCAR Dude.  Then he reconsidered.  "Let's make it twenty-five."

As luck would have it, my friend Deanne had a table at the market that day.  She's a big fan of the little plastic people and was happy to help me pick through the bin, so I dragged it down to her table and we rooted around, pulling out the ones that weren't too badly beaten up or missing too many limbs.  (Thank you, Deanne!)

A year later, the wrestlers are star citizens of Plastiqueville.  I haven't had time to research all their histories, but I do know that they were all made by Jakks Pacific, in the late nineties and early 2000's.  Some of them bend only their arms and legs, like the two guys above, while others (like Mr. Tiger Pants) can bend and twist all over the place, making it possible for them to model very naturally.  I love to create clothing for them (notice the cupcake wrapper kilts in the top picture), but I'm especially interested in finding ways to fight against their given appearance and make them look vulnerable.  Perhaps we'll have some examples of this soon, and you can tell me if we've succeeded.

By the way, although the flea markets have been suspended for the time being, the Klecknersville Rangers occasionally serve amazing takeout from their kitchen.  We're eagerly awaiting their next seafood special!

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Tue, 23 Feb 2021 17:54:39 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - Mr. Tiger Pants Mr. Tiger Pants

NAME:  Mr. Tiger Pants (formerly Rico)

HEIGHT:  About 7 inches

CAME FROM:  The Klecknersville Rangers Indoor Flea Market

I adore Mr. Tiger Pants.  He's a member of the WWE wrestlers that came to live in Plastiqueville in February 2020, right before the pandemic really hit. (more about the wrestlers in a future post)  "Rico" was his WWE name, but his present moniker is obviously better.  He's had a hard life, as you can see by the condition of his left foot, probably chewed off by a pet or an overeager child. Yet he keeps on smiling!  His barbecue fork is from a set of eight, inherited from my former mother-in-law, so if he loses this one, there are several spares.  And he loves to barbecue!  He also likes to dress up, and is wearing a hat from the craft store.  (It's not easy to find hats that fit these guys.)

But what I really love about Mr. Tiger Pants is what I love about all the wrestlers - his bendable joints.  He can sit, stand, kneel - even do yoga!  The ability to bend is a very big deal around here.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Tue, 23 Feb 2021 16:33:09 GMT
So you want to live in Plastiqueville... OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Who gets to live in Plastiqueville, anyway?  And where do they come from?

The people (and animals) of Plastiqueville come from all over.  Yard sales and flea markets are a primary source.  Toy stores, gift shops - did I mention Tractor Supply?  Friends contribute, too (if it hadn't been for my friend Rhonda, there would be no plumbers in Plastiqueville).

The smaller, the better.  We don't stick to any particular scale; some citizens are about an inch tall, others are 7 inches or more .  We tend to stay away from Disney and other cartoon characters (although Joe Cool, a.k.a. Snoopy, does maintain a residence here - and then there are those wrestlers).  

Which brings me to something we hear all the time, especially when dickering at flea markets...

"But it's a collectible!"  

This is often said to justify a stupidly high price, or the fact that it's hermetically sealed in its original package.  Which is fine if you're a collector - but not around here.  My figures are my tools.  They're actors in an imaginary world - and they can't do that very well if they're still shrink-wrapped.  Also, beware -  they may change their names when they move in.  (It's up to them.)

One day, I would love to make my own little plastic people. Stay tuned...

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Mon, 22 Feb 2021 21:02:35 GMT
Meet the people of Plastiqueville - Sister Mary Minuscule Sister Mary Minuscule

NAME:  Sister Mary Minuscule

HEIGHT:  3.5 inches

CAME FROM:  A yard sale, summer 2020

When I saw this spunky little nun, I knew she had to come to Plastiqueville.  The twinkling eyes! The sneakers! Somebody has to keep the peace around here, and I knew she was up to the task.

[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Mon, 22 Feb 2021 21:02:23 GMT
Still more snow? Mr. Tiger Pants finished the snowman project! He's pretty proud of it, too.


Mr. Tiger Pants finished the snowman project! He's pretty proud of it, too.


[email protected] (Joan Zachary) Mon, 22 Feb 2021 21:02:08 GMT