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My Mobile Sweat Shop, With A Side Of Sweet Corn

October 14th, 2013

Program with scissors

It was time once again to put the Sweat Shop into action. Caitlin and Daniel’s wedding was a little over a week away and I had agreed to make their wedding programs along with their wedding invitations (which I posted about earlier, remember the oak tree?). Luckily, they, like Troy and Sara, wanted fan programs, after all, we were heading into August and the ceremony would be outdoors. “Are fan programs a problem?” they wondered? “Heck no, I’m an old pro at making fan programs.” I said. Of course at the time I made that statement I had no idea how to make a fan program but when assembly day arrived I was in fact an “old pro”. Of course the project didn’t come together without a few hiccups, because what would a Kerri P. project be without a few hiccups?

This time around I was determined not to have to use a print shop. Unlike Troy and Sara, they wanted their programs printed on a brown recycled paper like their invitations. I gave up on the whole “ordering cardstock off of the internet option” and simply made a Hobby Lobby run. Once there I bought several packs of 12×12 brown craft scrapbook paper, I knew this stuff would feed through my printer. I got to printing and it actually moved along pretty smoothly, I also had 200 less programs to print so that was helpful as well. I once again did the little tag thing for the handle and got them all cut out.

program tags

It was now time to call in the reinforcements. I called my Chief Counter/Production Supervisor Kelli to see if she could help me out once again. “Well, I could help you out tomorrow night if you bring everything over here because we need to “do corn”.” Ahhh, sweet corn season. In my neck of the woods you don’t mess with sweet corn season. When you decide to “do corn” you stick with that decision because it is a production.

I always used to end up with the super crappy jobs while growing up, the actual husking of the corn, during which you always found some gross little worms and then the scrubbing, during which you could never get all of the silky threads off of each ear. Of course the upside was getting to eat that first bowl straight out of the oven. My mom of course makes the super fattening yet super delicious brand of sweet corn, the kind where you bake it with giant sticks of real butter, half and half and lots of sugar. Yum!! In her old age, he he he, she’s streamlined her operation. She just buys big ol’ bags of corn from the Schwan’s Man and then “doctors them up” with her sweet corn formula, not near as much work and you can “do corn” any time of the year.

Mom’s sweet corn solution is a cardinal sin in the eyes of my brother-in-law the agronomist/farmer/sweet corn junkie. When Kelli married Marc mom’s sweet corn recipe went out the window, he doesn’t go for all that extra stuff. He’s more of a purist.

When I arrived at my sisters house with all of my program making components in tow I could hear the whrrr…whrrr. whrrr… of the electric knife when I opened the front door. Sweet corn production was still underway. Marc was sitting at the kitchen counter with his trusty electric knife making his way through a pile of sweet corn ears.

The electric knife is truly a Godsend when it comes to sweet corn season. I remember my folks covering half of the kitchen floor with table cloths in order to catch any flying corn kernels once Dad got to cutting. It’s not nearly as messy with the old electric knife.

cutting corn

“Kerri, you want some corn.” he yelled at me over the whirring of his knife.

“No thanks.” I said, “I just got done eating supper.”

“Marli, get Kerri a couple of ears of corn.” he said.

She just looked at me because unlike her father she had heard me politely decline his offer.

“Marli, get her some corn.” he said again.

“No Marc, I don’t want any, I’m full.” I told him.

“Oh, but it’s sweet corn fresh from the field. How can you turn that down? It’s so delicious you have to have some.” he replied.

corn in bowl

Marc often reminds me of Ralphie’s father on “A Christmas Story”. Not only is the volume on his voice always turned up to eleven like Ralphie’s Old Man but they are both “junkies”. Ralphie’s Dad preferred turkey while Marc joneses for sweet corn. I mean we can be in the middle of eating supper at my parents house and he will show up with a several ears of corn (he’s generally late for family meals, always at work or in the field) and he’ll just get out a pot of water and start boiling his corn. Even if we’re eating a meal that an ear of sweet corn has no business being anywhere near. He then pesters the rest of us to help him eat “all this corn”. Dude, it wasn’t on the menu, eat it yourself, which he then does.

cutting board

“How many ears have you eaten already?” I asked.

“Oh, maybe eight.” he said.

“Eight ears of corn?!! Are you serious?”

“Well yeah, I might have another one.”

“You’re crazy.” I said as I started setting up my Mobile Sweat Shop at the dining room table. Kelli was scurrying around bagging corn and taking it out to the freezer while Marc continued to whrrr away with his electric knife and badger me to eat some corn. I, at this point, continued to ignore him.

bags of sweet corn

“Kerri, are you sure you don’t want some corn? I’ve got some handles right here that you can use.”

“Marc, I don’t want any corn!” I finally yelled. There’s lots of yelling at my sisters house it’s kind of their normal form of communication considering the volume of Marc’s voice.

He just sat there shaking his head in disbelief that I wouldn’t want to partake of those sweet golden kernels.

I set to work assembling program tags and soon Martha joined me. It wasn’t long before Marc commented that he wasn’t feeling too hot. Hmmm… I wonder why. Could it possibly have something to do with eating eight ears of corn?

Martha started cutting string and tying tags, and that’s where we ran into a hiccup. I decided to use gray and white Baker’s Twine this time and it was thicker than the twine I used on Troy and Sara’s programs, plus I had my Design Assistant drill smaller holes in the handles so the knots wouldn’t slip through.

Well, now the thicker twine most definitely didn’t want to go through the smaller holes. But Martha continued to soldier on.

Martha makin tags

I was once again making little flags from my red and white Washi tape but once Kelli sat down and started tying tags that’s when the complaining really began.

“This twine is too thick. I don’t like helping when you make it so difficult.” she whined. Meanwhile from the back of the house we can hear Marc moaning about his upset stomach.

“Oh, buck up.” I said to Kelli as I continued to cut flags.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten eight ears of sweet corn!” I holler towards Marc in the back of the house (see, lots of yelling) he just responds with more moaning.

Kelli and Martha kept working on stringing tags through handles and complaining and soon I caught up with them and started stringing as well. “Holy crap, this twine is a pain in the butt.” I thought quietly to myself, not wanting to say it out loud since I had been calling them a couple of “Wendy Whiners”.

Tags and tape

I finally had to admit out loud that the twine was indeed a pain in the butt but it looked super cute so we had better come up with a solution. One of us finally suggested using a toothpick to poke the twine through the hole and that moved things along significantly. I was of course still poking twine through tiny little holes long after Marc and his belly full of sweet corn had gone to bed. Once I had strung the final handle I packed up my Mobile Sweat Shop and headed home.

The next evening I started assembling. I did this part on my own, why kill everybody else’s brain cells with spray mount fumes? Plus my studio was much quieter than “Sweet Corn Central”. Just me, my circa 1983 T.V. and several episodes of “Supernatural”. I also rigged up a better “spray mount station” to avoid having to scrub my entire studio down again like I had to do after Troy and Sara’s program production.

So, this was the front of Caitlin and Daniel’s program…

program ceremony

and this was the back…

program bridal party

pretty simple but they get the job done. Soon I had yet another basket full of fans.

basket of programs

And I can now officially claim to be a “fan program pro”.

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