Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pasta Angel Ornaments (aka...a crappy gift to give your friends)....

MERDE! That's what the ballerinas are supposed to say to each other for luck before a performance. Have you ever heard that word? I have. Plenty of times growing up. As the daughter of a French-speaking mother, that's what she always muttered under her breath when I'd walk back through the door telling her I just missed the bus.

So imagine the looks on our faces when my mom and I sat down in the theater for the Big Ballerina's first "real show" and saw the word printed in the Playbill. We were convinced these people were clueless. Why on earth would graceful ballerinas tell each other to take a crap?!?

Well...six years later, we have finally been told the story behind the strange expression. Here you go...

Never say “break a leg” for good luck to a dancer. It is always “merde”. For you French aficionados, it really does mean “poop.” The origin of “merde” has a colorful history. In the early days of ballet, companies would use live animals in their performances. When one of the animals would have an accident on stage, one would yell “merde” from the side stage to let the dancers know to watch out so they wouldn’t slip. No injury or slippage, good luck for the dancer! Additionally, those attending public ballets or theatre performances would arrive in horse coaches. When an event was successful, the carriages would have a traffic jam with horses waiting and, in turn, creating by-product. Obviously, the quantity of the by-product was proportional to the carriages that had visited the theatre, and was an indirect measure of the economic success of the evening. It was then related to “merde” meaning have a good theatre performance.

Along with the expression, the ballerinas exchange "Merde" gifts for luck. This year BB is dancing as a Big Angel and a China Ribbon dancer in the Nutcracker. To represent her part, BB made macaroni angels to give out as gifts.

I have been making these macaroni angels for over 15 years whenever I need a small gift for a large number of people. Or if we need a fundraiser around Christmas time. They are easy and cheap to make. And, um....adorable! And now that the ballerinas are both proficient with a glue gun, I was able to turn them loose with the supplies as I sat eating a box of candy cane Joe-Joe's. With milk. Yes, I've learned a little something about the benefits of child labor from reading Oliver Twist along with BB this semester. 

And after 15 years, I discovered an easier way of making these that I will share here with you in case you need a "crappy" gift of your own to pass along this holiday season. Instead of spray painting the pasta, get a couple of bottles of the small white acrylic paint at Michael's. Pour about 1/3 of the bottle into a cup. Add a little water to thin it out a bit.

Then just roll your pasta pieces around in the cup with a paint brush until they are covered. And stand them up to dry.

It's basically a paint and glue project. Easy peasy. Here's what you'll need:

bow tie pasta (wings)
rigatoni pasta (body)
elbow macaroni (arms...duh!)
wooden balls (heads) (they come in a pkg of about 30 at Michael's. I think they're about 3/4")
Spanish moss (hair)
small spool of very thin gauge wire (halos)
spools of thin ribbon (hangers)
white Folk Art type acrylic paint
black Sharpie (for drawing face)
blush (for giving them those glowing angelic cheeks)
hot glue gun
hot glue sticks



Kerri said...

These are adorable Kim! What a fun and easy project. I'm going to see if Brady would like to make these to go along with the pot holders he is making for both grandmas. Super cute!

Gabe said...

These photos are amazing!

So cute, but I lack patience when it come to crafting. . .i might be yelling merde in a not so nice way!

sloan said...

never knew @ this 'good' side of merde - who knew?! but as for the ornaments - i'd have to put my LLB on this project independent of me, my lack of crafty skills would only hold her back ;-)

ps- i owe you a lengthy reply email, i'm sorry ... soon!

karren said...

I made some of these a few years ago. They hold up really well. I like your pictues of them.

mandy said...

oh what fun.
your girls are at such a great age for creating...old enough to do stuff, not old enough to think they can't do stuff...i think these are the coolest pasta ornaments i've ever seen!

Megan said...

Oh how adorable! You are such a fun mom!

Anonymous said...

How adorably cute! They're far more adorable than tampon angels :)


Jen said...

Love that angel hair....cutest little noodle ornaments i,ve seen. Love!!!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Those are really cute! We used to make all of our own ornaments, in fact, my mom's tree is still mostly homemade ornaments. Even though you call them crappy, I think they are a great way to have someone in your heart during Christmas! Plus they are adorable.

Cindy said...

These are super cute for sure!
And thanks for clearing up the whole merde thing!!
have a happy night kim

Jennifer Thompson said...

Those are cute ornaments!
I'm loving that my boys are old enough now to do things like this on their own too. Gives me a chance to sit and drink a glass of wine...I mean read the paper! lol

Caroline said...

Thank you so much for the kind comment you left me today! Your blog is stunning and these ornaments are adorable! Well, I won't say break a leg to my daughter tomorrow....she is dancing in the Nutcracker. So merde it is (and I love that word!).

Caroline said...

BTW...your blog header is so freaking awesome!

Nicolle said...

I laughed at the "child labor" part. The angels are adorable! I want to make some now. I love them!