Many of these projects happened while I was “productively procrastinating” (i.e., not writing!) and most of them are pretty nerdy (i.e., have some sort of connection to Russian culture).

жизнь насекомых This is a cake I made for the UCLA Library’s Edible Book Festival in 2012. It was inspired by Viktor Pelevin’s Life of Insects - specifically, by the scene when Natasha (a fly) is dying on a piece of flypaper. I used a book-shaped cake pan for the cake, the flypaper/page is fondant, and I wrote the passage from the book on the fondant with a food-coloring pen. I molded Natasha by hand out of marzipan, and there’s a sprinkling of green “disco dust” on her dress. Her wings(and tears) are made of isomalt sugar, with the wing details drawn on with food-coloring pen. The entire thing is edible, but nobody could bring themselves to consume Natasha.
I really, really like Russian avant-garde art from the 1910s and 20s, so one winter break during grad school I made this set of constructivist-inspired throw pillows. podushki-TN
There are some phrases that I’ve heard or seen so often in Russia that I just haven’t seen anywhere else. They’re usually negative in some way, and the hazy glow of nostalgia and a deliberately literal interpretation makes them – to me at any rate – hilarious. So I put my favorites on t-shirts.
spravok-ne-daiutsia zakryta-po-tekhnicheskim-prichinam rukami-ne-trogat nedotykomka
справок не даются /spravok ne daiutsia/ = lit. “pieces of information are not given”; actually: don’t ask me for directions [often seen at kiosks run by compact and fierce babushkas outside of metro stations] закрыта по техническим причинам /zakryta po tekhnicheskim prichinam/ = lit. “closed for technical reasons”; actually: handwritten sign put up at stores and other places open to the public that usually means the employee(s) are out back on a smoke break руками не трогать /rukami ne trogat/ = lit. “do not touch with hands”; actually: appears on signs in museums (American equivalent: do not touch); hilarious: because it always makes me think about touching whatever it is with some other body part – my elbow, my nose, my big toe… недотыкомка /nedotykomka/ = lit. “little thing that cannot be touched”; actually: this isn’t a phrase like the other three – it’s the name of a mischievous and firey sprite that tortures the main character in Fedor Sologub’s Petty Demon and I had fun making a flaming font