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Ode to the FAHns: "Baking Goddess"

Miri Brings Her Gorgeous Talents to the Fahndom

The "baking goddess" is the name that I've given Miri for her extraordinary talents as a baker and a creative artist. The picture to the left is the first cake that I saw of Miri's on her Instagram page, _frollein.fondant_, on September 12, 2020, and I was instantly struck by her incredible artistry. I first called Miri the "cake whisperer" on October 26, 2020. Then on November 8th, I christened her the "baking goddess." Her artistic skills astound me with the variety and sheer beauty of what she creates. Everything she takes on and produces is done with a kind devotion and care that shows just how much she wants to bring happiness into other people's lives. I think this beautiful, bright white and yellow cake really captures Miri's sunny disposition and represents to me how she looks at the world through eyes of beauty and wonder. She is the kind of person who really enjoys giving back to others and making a difference in this world. She naturally radiates an inner joy that reaches other people so that it is impossible to feel unhappy around her. Miri is very humble about her creative and artistic gifts, but I think it is clear that she has them! It is impossible to look at anything she does and not be impressed by her work!

Over time, Miri has become a friend, one who I truly value. So, this is a special Ode to the FAHns for me, as Miri has always made me feel so welcomed and supported in the fahndom. And on my birthday this year, she made the most lovely cupcakes for me, which unfortunately because we are so far away from each other I did not get to eat, but Miri assured me that they were incredibly yummy and I do not doubt her at all :) At least I got a chance to see the delightful purple creations that she made for me! But it is her generous spirit that mattered even more, for in creating something so beautiful and sharing her creative artistry with me on my birthday, I knew that I mattered to her and that was the best birthday present I could ever have asked for from a friend.

Miri is a multi-talented artist and in this interview of the Ode to the FAHns series, readers will be introduced to all her wonderful FAH themed creative gifts, from baking to jewelry, to sewing projects, to her amazingly fabulous face masks. Read on to learn how Miri approaches all her creative projects, her views about her own art in all its beauty and glory, and finally her experiences seeing FAH live on stage, just before the pandemic hit!

Did you grow up baking? Did someone teach you or was this part of your food culture?

Yes, I grew up baking. My mum wasn’t very much into it, but my grandma was. I loved helping her in the kitchen even as a little child, when I wasn’t allowed to hold the hand mixer on my own yet :). There was at least one cake a week that we baked together. But we made more simple things like marble cakes or cookies. I think this is where I learned most of the basics for baking. But this is far different from the things I do now, the decorated cakes or cupcakes. I would say the actual baking is only maybe 30% of all the work.

When and how were you introduced to baking and how long have you been practicing this creative art?

In terms of fondant cakes and cupcakes I was introduced by a colleague at work 5 years ago. Apart from my basic skills I have never made buttercream or frostings or anything like that at this point. She had taken several courses and told me about it; I found it quite interesting. One weekend we had to come up with an activity for the teens we’re working with (I’m a social worker), so she brought her equipment and we spent the day baking and decorating cupcakes. I had so much fun doing it and had my first go at a set of cupcakes a few weeks later. I always said I would not go into the big cakes and just stay with the cupcakes, but that didn’t last very long. After I made my first fondant cake back in 2016, I knew that I had found a new hobby.

Have you ever trained to be a baker? Or taken any courses to gain baking or cake making skills? If not, where do your experiences and skills come from?

No, never. I have always wanted to join a course to improve my skills, but I never came to it. Basically I got my skills from watching YouTube videos and asking other bakers how they do things. But of course there’s also a lot of trial and error learning - I guess I improve mostly from my previous mistakes. If you mess something up, you will definitely remember to try it in a different way the next time ;-)

When did you learn to make jewelry or to sew? Did you pick up these creative skills out of curiosity or for other reasons?

The jewelry I make is pretty simple, there are really not many skills needed. You just need a bit of special equipment: I take clear mosaic glass and choose a printed coloured picture of FAH as a group or use their logo. Then I glue it together to an earring base. A friend showed me how to do it some years ago, I just copied it because I thought it would be a nice birthday present for a friend. I love making it because it’s very easy to create personalized things, and it’s always a lovely gift.

In terms of sewing, this goes back to when I was a teenager trying to jazz up my clothes. My best friend and I borrowed a sewing machine and just tried a few things, turned our boring jeans into flares and sewed phone cases or stuff like that. But we dropped it after a few months, it was too frustrating because it took us such a long time. I came back to sewing a few years ago when I bought a discounted sewing machine. I actually just bought it to repair clothes, but then again tried some little things for birthday presents until I got to bigger sewing projects like jumpers and hoodies. And same here: I just watch instructions on YouTube and I’m learning by trying things.

When did you discover FAH?

An Irish friend of mine shared "Teaching Computers to Parents“ on Facebook back in 2017. And almost at the same time a German friend found the lads on YouTube and sent me the link for "An Irish Intervention". I found both clips incredibly funny. We didn’t subscribe to their channel right away, but sent [one another] videos every now and then when we were strolling through the internet. Things became way more intense when I saw the lads live in 2019.

When and where did you see FAH live?

I saw Swines in November 2019 in Berlin. The lads played in a beautiful old theatre (Admiralspalast) built in the early 20th century (please read this in Arms’ tour guide voice ;-)) that had obviously survived two wars. So it was a great place for a great show!

What was it like seeing them on stage for the first time?

I didn’t know what to expect from the gig because at that point I had only seen a lot of FAH’s YouTube sketches but none of their recorded live shows. So basically everything was a surprise to me. Most of all the beginning; I didn’t expect the show to start as the lights weren’t dimmed yet when Arms and Hog showed up in the audience. Arms played the tour guide and picked on a few people from the first and outside rows to follow him on the tour. The venue has some beautiful balconies that were shut for the audience. But of course the tour guide was desperate to enter them, so he disappeared for a few mins and we were all cheering when Arms showed up on one of the balconies talking down to the audience. So, before the actual show had started they had me in bits.

I had travelled about 600km to see them by the way, and it was definitely worth it. I enjoyed the show so much. If you ever get the chance to see FAH live: don’t miss out on that fun!! The Thursday sketches are always great fun, but there’s nothing better than seeing FAH live.

Did seeing them live influence your artwork at all or the way you interpreted them in different creative ways?

I guess there wouldn’t be any FAHnart made by me at all if it wasn’t for the live show ;-) As I said before: things became more intense a few weeks after seeing them perform. That was the point when I subscribed to their channels and slowly went down the well known rabbit hole…

Why did you decide to start creating FAH focused baking art?

I had two FAHn friends coming over last summer and I usually do some baking when I have friends over. It was obvious that I [would] make something FAH themed for them, so I went for frosted cupcakes with a fondant topping. It was also Foil’s and Arms’s birthday two weeks later so I thought it would be nice to post some birthday cupcakes. I killed two birds with one stone there…

What was your first FAH related item that you made?

The first thing I had a go at were FAH earrings. That was shortly before COVID came up, in January 2019.

Based on the above question, what inspired you to make this item? Perhaps a sketch, or something FAH said?

I have made earrings like these for years, mostly with logos of football clubs. As there is barely [any] lovely girls' soccer merch, people kept asking for my earrings. In January I had a request for some while I was binge watching FAH, so I thought: why not try a few different designs of FAH earrings for myself.

What is your favorite medium (baking, jewelry, crafts) in which to work when you do creative FAH artistry?

I cannot say I have a favorite medium for FAH artistry. It mostly depends on the occasion what I decide to work on. I like baking and sewing equally, but I guess baking gives me the most possibilities. The tiny waistcoat, braces and bowtie look cute on cupcakes and cookies, but they didn’t work out on facemasks, for example. The sketch quotes were primarily an idea for the facemasks, but when I tried them on some cupcakes it worked out quite well. So maybe baking is the first thing I think of when I come to making FAH art, but I could also end up doing something completely different.

Can you tell us about your experience making the masks with the FAH sayings and logo? What inspired you to create this practical and artistic product?

Basically the idea came up while I was at work. When the pandemic hit, the teens I work with said they didn't want to wear face masks, which became mandatory at some point. So I had to think about a way to make the masks more attractive to them. I had already sewn a few hundred facemasks before, as a lot of institutions were running out of surgical masks and were in desperate need of community masks. "Community Maske“ is the term we use in Germany for the masks that were self-made during the pandemic (probably [the] word of the year [for] 2020 ;-)).

I chose a sewing pattern for pleated masks because it seemed to be the most simple one and it was important to me to get as many masks done as possible for hospitals, residential carers and social workers. I also used this pattern for the boys and girls at work and started drawing their favorite band logos or soccer club logos on their masks, and that worked quite well! They suddenly saw the masks as a kind of cool fashion piece and loved wearing them. So when it came to my own mask I drew the FAH pig and "doomdah" on it and loved the idea of a custom mask as well. I’m using simple cotton fabrics in different colours.

At some point I found the pleated masks quite inconvenient because you always have to tie them, which is annoying especially when you need to take them off and put them on very often.

So I changed the design in June when somebody showed me another sewing pattern. The new masks are quite simple, I just sew two layers of fabric together and went for elastic ear straps made of jersey yarn, which make them comfortable to wear and you can also take them off and put them on quickly. Also the non-pleated masks are easier to draw on, so I tried a few more things like a bigger FAH logo or "doomdah“ in different fonts. When I shared them on Instagram a lot of people were asking for different colors so I provided a range of colors and put a first quote on it: Go home Barry from "Watching TV When Your Parents Walk In." Since then FAHns came up with their own ideas and quotes. I tried to share them all on social media because they were all so creative! I really enjoyed making them.

Why have you chosen these particular pieces of FAH focused art to showcase in this post?

I tried to show the whole range of the things I love to do, so I wanted to include baking, sewing and also crafting. The facemasks are maybe my most loved FAH item. Sewing them kept me busy during lockdown and the social distanced times. I’ve made 113 FAH masks until now and it was always great fun to draw and sew them. Besides it brought me in touch with so many fellow FAHns and as FAH also shared pictures with their masks on Instagram they are very special to me.

Apart from the facemasks I also sewed some items in Anne Flanagan style for the FAHnARTchallenge that was held in October [2020] on Instagram and Twitter. The apron was my favorite piece from this series. It’s a reversible piece, you can see Anne Flanagan wearing it in "When Parents Won't Let You Decorate the Tree."

The FAH cupcakes were my first FAH related baking item, so I wanted to include them as well. I've made so many cupcakes before, and even if I had a lot of training they took me a whole night to get them finished. But when I see the result I think the nightshift was worth it. I loved creating the waistcoat, braces and bowtie with fondant and drawing the small logos on the cupcakes.

But even more fun to make were the FAH themed fortune cookies, also a contribution to the FAHnArtchallenge. They were not real fortune cookies, as they included quotes from FAH sketches instead of phrases that predict the future. I couldn’t resist challenging Foil with them as he is known to be very forgetful when it comes to remembering sketches, so I sent some cookies over to the lads. Foil had to pick two and had to guess the sketches the quotes were from. Arms messaged me later and sent a video, to my surprise, proving that Foil did remarkably well and could (almost) name two out of two ;-)

For crafting I chose the earrings [and bobby pin and pendant], as it was the first ever FAH focused art I’ve made, so I couldn’t miss out on those, could I? ;-)

The light frame is a piece I created for a friend for Christmas. I’ve made a few of those (non FAH related) before, I think they are always a lovely present. I really love the quote so much (Arms sang that line in the "Thrift Shop Mannequins" outro), so I made the same frame for myself recently.

Can you speak about your creative process? How do you decide what to work on and why?

Most of the things I make are meant for a certain person, mostly as a present.

So usually it starts with an occasion like Christmas, a birthday, or something like that. I think about what the recipient likes, special interests, colors (and when it comes to baking, also flavors). This is where I work from, I come up with a few ideas and sketch them. The decision [of] what medium to choose is pretty easy to make most of the time. As I said before, sometimes I know right away that an idea won’t work on every medium, so I can exclude some. Also, if somebody got cupcakes for the previous birthday, it will 99% be something different the year after.

The FAHnARTchallenge was a cool experience for me because that was the first time that I started working from a different point. Instead of thinking about the recipient there was a topic for each day and I had to find the medium on which it was best to work for it. It took me way longer to work from that point, and suddenly I created things not only for a recipient, but for an audience. I was surprised [by] what all the other [fahns] created and I was wondering if I could come up with something new or surprising, too. It was strange in the beginning, but I really loved doing it and was sad when the challenge was over. It was a great experience.

What is your intent as an artist when you create a FAH focused cake or cookie, a mask, or a piece of jewelry?

It’s most important to me that the recipient is happy with the result. Of course I also appreciate it a lot when people like the things I share on social media. I’m also happy if I get the opportunity to show my skills or variety, but that is really only secondary.

What do these pieces represent to you, in relation to your own creativity?

The funny thing is: I always have something in mind, how the result should look. In the end it NEVER does ;-) Sometimes the results turn out to be better, sometimes they turn out to be worse. If the latter happens I might end up doing it over and over again until I am satisfied. Even if it takes several days. I try to work as accurately as possible. I am really annoyed if I mess something up and if I run out of time to work it over one more time.

How do these pieces represent your interests in FAH?

Whereas some FAHn artists start their work with thinking about FAH and what will make them smile, I start from a different point. My way is more like: it‘s my bestie's birthday, she said she wanted cupcakes. She likes FAH. How do I get something FAH-themed on those cupcakes with little drawing skills? ;-) I go for the things that I am able to do: a logo, a pig, a doomdah. And of course I am incredibly happy if FAH see the result, like and comment on it. But I usually don’t think about the lads while making it, because it’s a present not for FAH but for my bestie ;) And she is the one who has to be happy with the result.

What skills do these pieces showcase in your artistic range?

Obviously that I am not set to only one medium but that I love variety ;-) No, seriously: I love to try things out, I am really passionate about the things I do and I really try to work as accurately as possible. And I can just hope that this comes across [to others.]

Has FAH seen your work? What was their reaction?

Yes, they have seen most of my posts, I suppose. [FAH] have worn my face masks for "Hidden Benefits of Facemasks" and also eaten the fortune cookies. When it comes to baking, I guess Foil is the most enthusiastic of the three (or let’s say he’s probably got the sweetest tooth ;-)).

But all of FAH were very supportive from the beginning and their responses have always been positive. Foil never minded helping me out with logos for the facemasks and FAH were also fine with the idea of donating the facemask money [that I collected], to charity.

Do you think about an audience when you create your pieces in each medium? Or do you only think about FAH and how they will respond to your art?

Usually I don’t think about an audience in the first place that gets to see the result on Instagram or Twitter. As I said before it’s more about the recipient - he or she should be happy with the finished piece(s). But of course I’m totally happy if FAHns and FAH like what I’m doing.

How have people reacted to your creative work?

Always positive, and that goes for all of the things I do. If I bring a cake or cupcakes to a party, there is a lot of positive feedback and there are always some commissions following.

When I posted my stuff during the FAHnArtchallenge there were some requests for certain things I’ve made, that was quite nice! But also apart from that I was so amazed how many people commented on my posts or messaged me. The FAHndom is a really lovely and supportive place!

What advice would you give someone who wants to begin to pursue a creative medium, such as baking, sewing, or jewelry making?

Just try it. Start with something small and see if it is fun. If you don’t enjoy doing it: leave it for a while. Maybe you’ll get back to it after some time. Don’t push it, and make sure you’re not in a hurry. It’s important to take your time, that goes especially for the baking stuff.

We have come to the end of Miri's very interesting interview and we have learned so much about her brilliant and beautiful FAH artistry. Make sure to follow her on Instagram and Twitter to see her latest creations. It's been such a delight to work with Miri and to bring her amazing FAH art to my subscribers and readers, alike. I'm sure she will be moving forward in her "baking goddess" role to create even more fantastic and yummy baking art. And we can always look to FAH's two sketches (referenced in the interview above) to see Miri's artistic creations right there on the screen! Of course, she had no idea that FAH were going to surprise her and us all with such a lovely honor as wearing her facemasks and apron in their sketches, but this is a testament to the support FAH have of their fahns and the fahndom. I want to say a big "thank you" to Miri for her participation in the Ode to the FAHns series! There are more interviews to come this month and in future months of fabulous and creative fahns in our wonderful fahndom,

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