Tuesday, January 25, 2011

100 Days of Perseverance?? :)

After posting a review of Bruce Goldstone's book, 100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days, he sent me the following to share with you. Besides being fascinating, it's an excellent example of perseverance!

"I had a blast putting 100 Ways to Celebrate 100 Days together. This was the first book for which I took my own photos--for the Great Estimations books, I set up all the objects in a studio and a very helpful and patient photographer, Arnold Katz, took the pictures. But taking my own photos gave me a lot more leeway--and time. That turned out to be important because several of my ideas were a bit trickier than I imagined.

Probably the most challenging was Jiggle 100. I originally had the fine idea of placing 100 Swedish fish in a Jello aquarium. I'm a big fish fan. I knew that I'd want a pale blue so that the red gummy fish would be easily visible, so I started with clear gelatin and added food coloring. I carefully poured a gelatin layer in a baking pan, let it set a bit, and lined up the fish. Then I added the top layer and waited until the next day to take the shot, so that it would have time to set up.

Well, it turns out that Swedish fish dissolve in gelatin. Who knew? Instead of a beautiful school of shimmering fish, I uncovered the mold to find a hideous, whitish mass of oozing fuzz between two layers of slippery blue slime. Not very photogenic.

I was determined to get the fish-in-an-aquarium idea, so I scoured the Internet for other fish-shaped candies. Nada. Then I came up with a brilliant idea--I'd make my own. So I bought a candy mold and made tiny white chocolate fish.

This idea worked perfectly. The finished mold held a beautiful school of one hundred glowing white fish. I was about to take a photo of it when I finally came to my senses. This book isn't supposed to be about 100 cool things I could do with the number 100. It was fun activities for kids, parents, and teachers to try. And while I didn't mind making dozens of white chocolate fish, I could hardly expect my readers to be so patient.

So I reluctantly gave up on the fish idea. Next was grapes. An obvious choice, but high on the do-able scale. Since the idea was a bit less exciting, I decided the mold shape should be more interesting. I got a fancy ring mold, arranged my grapes, and waited.
It unmolded just fine and I actually set it up for the photo, when the next problem hit--the curve of the mold shape acted as a lens and distorted the grapes like faces in a funhouse mirror. My goal in all of the photos was to have items be as clear and countable as possible. So another mold went slipping down the drain.

Next I took a decent photo of grapes in the rectangular mold. It was a little drab, but at least you could count the grapes. I was relieved to be done with Jiggle. That photo was in the book until almost the very end. When the book was put together, I was happy with nearly everything...except Jiggle. So I got my steam back for one more try and came up with the idea of berries. At last I took the shot that's in the book: 48 raspberries and 52 blueberries in yellow gelatin. The photo is cheerful and even offers a bit of subliminal addition support, too.

You'll notice that I managed to feature fish elsewhere, as a rubber stamp for Stamp 100. That stamp is from my own rubber stamp collection, which I gathered when I was in elementary school myself. Sometimes a bit of hoarding does pay off." -Bruce Goldstone

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