A Little Overboard
November 28, 2010

I get these wild hairs from time to time. Something just strikes my fancy, and on a whim, I have suddenly committed myself to a huge project. Last year, it was making a Sculpey piece for everyone in our department. This year it was another Sculpey project ... but a little bit different.

I watched a few friends on Twitter conversing with someone who sounded intriguing. So I followed her. She was having a rough year. Her body was attacking several organs and things were looking serious. After several surgeries and more tests than you could shake a stick at, she finally had a diagnosis of Lupus, something I've rather feared for most of my life. (I've been tested for it from time to time and had doctors bandy the word around since I was in high school.) Through it all, her kids seemed so sweet and loving.

So one day, she's tweeting about the kids playing their made up game of Plants Vs. Zombies in the backyard and she's just basking in their imagination, ingenuity and sense of fun. I mean, Plants Vs. Zombies is an iPhone game. Kind of a strategy game somewhere between board game and video game. And they are making up their own version to play in the backyard. Later on, she tweets that her two kids had asked Santa for Plants Vs. Zombies toys. I'm sure that PopCap is planning on making some at some point, given how wildly popular the game is ... but as of mid October when she tweeted that, there was nothing.

This sounded like an excellent Sculpey project to me. Two sweet kids. Imaginative. Hard year. Yep, just the kind of project I like.

I looked around the web for some screen shots, since I'd never played the game. Found out what their favourite characters were ... and went to work.

And ... umm ... I went a little bit overboard.

I kinda built them a board game version (they'll have to make up their own rules, though).

The full project isn't quite done - I'm waiting to get something back from the printer, but you'll get the general idea from these pictures:

An overview of the whole - the box is just a mockup, printed in tiles (that's the piece I'm waiting to get back from the printer):

Picture of sculpted characters from Plants vs Zombies

And then there are the watermelon-catapult things - these are apparently the kids' favourite plants:

Picture of sculpted watermelon catapults from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's an angry "Wallnut" and a pair of zombies that are only loosely based on the game. As much as I love working in Sculpey the stuff is amazingly soft once you start working with it. Which means every time you touch it the slightest bit, you affect the sculpture. And if I've mixed colours to get a specific hue, I can guarantee the stuff is so soft, I'll never be able to get my finger prints off of it completely:

Picture of sculpted Wallnut and Zombies from Plants vs Zombies

Then a couple more zombies which are more directly based on the game:

Picture of sculpted Zombies from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's the peashooters:

Picture of sculpted pea shooter from Plants vs Zombies

Then there's the snowpea shooter and a trio of mushrooms:

Picture of sculpted snowpea and mushrooms from Plants vs Zombies

And finally, a quartet of sunflowers to round everything off:

Picture of sculpted sunflower from Plants vs Zombies
Picture of sculpted sunflower from Plants vs Zombies

And because I can't leave well enough alone, I ordered some custom cut foam and built a box for the whole thing. Sculpey is fairly sturdy if you don't drop it on a hard surface, but why not stress that this is a little fragile?

Picture of the custom box interior with pieces

And then a final image - this will wrap the box lid and make it look like a board game:

Game box lid

I should say a few things:
One, I respect copyright. This is a one-off art piece made specifically for these kids and I made it clear on the box that Plants Vs. Zombies is PopCap's baby.
Two, I won't make another one.
Three, I've accepted no money for it. I did this on a whim for some kids who needed an extra-bright spot in their lives this holiday season. That's it.

Posted by Red Monkey at November 28, 2010 12:25 PM | Design | Sketches | hobbies | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Erin said:

I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Just overwhelmed. You are so kind. And my children are going to be so, so, so very surprised and happy come Christmas morning. You are truly very talented. Again, I can't even begin to thank you enough. From my heart, truly.. I thank you.

November 28, 2010 5:22 PM

You clearly have a HUGE heart to go along with your huge talent. I am blown away.

November 28, 2010 7:26 PM


Elizabeth said:

You are so kind. Like you, I've been following Erin (and her kids) and have been witness to their struggle this year. The kids' strength and joy is a beautiful thing to witness. I know that this gift will make their lights shine even brighter. You're giving them such a loving gift!

November 28, 2010 7:35 PM


Kevin Charnas said:

Right. On. Brava... BRAVA to you and that generous spirit of yours!

November 28, 2010 8:29 PM


Susan @WhyMommy said:

Wow - what a thoughtful thing to do!

Your artistry is incredible!

November 28, 2010 8:30 PM


Suebob said:

Aw. This is truly the spirit of the season in action. You rock.

November 28, 2010 8:41 PM


Jennifer & Cody said:

Wow! Thanks so much for doing this for our niece and nephew! I'm sure they'll be so excited! So very thoughtful of you!

November 28, 2010 11:30 PM


Jake said:

Truly amazing work

November 29, 2010 5:06 AM


Gayle Vest said:

I'm the kids' grandma. Thank you so much. I just read your bio too and you have been through quite an ordeal yourself. I pray you continue to stay healthy and hope that other people have been as kind to you in your illness as you are being to Erin.

November 29, 2010 10:19 AM


Karie said:

Erin and I went to college together. I'm so proud of her and what she's pushed through this year. I am in AZ...a state away and I LOVE following her journey. Her hubby is an amazing man and I haven't had the honor of meeting her little ones. This gift makes me believe in the spirit of the holidays again. Thanks for going overboard. Thanks for looking outside of your world to bring joy to someone else. You rock!

November 29, 2010 11:58 AM


Elly Lou said:

Jaw. On. Floor.

That is abso-smurfly brilliant!

November 29, 2010 5:19 PM


TeeeRay said:

This is so touching. What a wonderful thing to do and it turned out great!

November 29, 2010 5:20 PM


Nona said:

What a wonderful thing to do and how great are these pieces? You are as talented as you are generous.

November 29, 2010 5:23 PM


Rebecca said:

I have followed Erin on Twitter for as long as I can remember. I marvel at her spirit..and the true love she has for her (amazing) husband and kids.

I've caught myself crying reading about her ordeal on more than a handful of occasions. I've never met her...yet, she is a a role model for me, and a reminder that my kids and family should NEVER be taken for granted.

This gift is truly amazing. You have reminded me about the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you for that..it means more than you will ever know.

November 29, 2010 7:30 PM
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