August 2019 – GISH

I can’t believe another month has already gone by and that it is pretty much the end of summer! Well maybe I can believe it, when I consider, that for me, August began by having very little sleep, as I stayed up into the wee hours for a week Gishing. I wrote about GISH in my mid-year update last year, but for anyone that hasn’t read that post and is wondering what the hell I’m talking about, GISH stands for ‘Greatest International Scavenger Hunt’. It is a global hunt originally started by american actor (of Supernatural) Misha Collins. People from all over the world join together in teams, for one week each year, to try and complete as many items as possible from a list of over 200. Items might be creative, community minded, near impossible, incredibly simple or just plain weird, all in the name of raising money for charity, doing good, connecting and having fun. I see GISH a bit like a week at summer camp – except I stay at home to do it. This year the money raised went towards clearing unexploded bombs in Laos, left over from the Vietnam War, and also towards paying for prosthetic limbs for children and farmers who have, sadly, already been victims of the bombs.

GISH 2019 saw me make marshmallow for the first time, hammer tin foil, write a haiku, write a poem, create illustrations, decorate my husbands underwear and stick my head in a vice – as you do.


The first item I chose was to toast a portrait of Jared Padalecki (another Supernatural actor, you can just about tell it is him by his hair) onto marshmallow. As my local supermarket was out of marshmallows on a Saturday afternoon I had no choice but to make some of my own. It took ages! It was deliciously soft marshmallow but I can’t see me making it again. Still, I managed to make a nice, flat slab of marshmallow. I toasted the image using a pyrography pen. Interestingly – or not – apart from an initial play, I’ve only ever used my pyrography pen for GISH (last year I toasted words into bread), some people say the most important tool you can have on hand for GISH is a glue gun, but I haven’t touched mine in either year I’ve participated.


Next, I started to try and create the polished bust of a celebrity out of tin foil. My optimistic little brain was convinced that this was something that I could successfully do. My optimistic little brain was very wrong. I chose Amanda Palmer because a) she’s great, and b) I thought trying to capture her up-do would help to make it more recognisable, and it did help a bit, just not enough. I hammered foil for a very long time, twice, and both times the foil began to fall apart, so I had to call it a day before I was entirely happy with either of them. I then had to tweet it to Amanda Palmer – thankfully she ignored it/didn’t see it, so that was a relief!


Item three for me was writing a haiku about an endangered animal on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It was shocking to see just how many species were on the list, and it was quite hard to choose which animal to write about. In the end I opted for the aye-aye, because not only is it really interesting to draw, but having a two syllable name means it was easier to fit into a haiku.


It turns out that the haiku wasn’t enough to fulfil my ‘writing about a small critter needs’ so I then wrote a poem about Pikachu – and then also spent lots of time decorating the poem with Pikachu pictures even though it wasn’t an actual requirement. (Another not-so-interesting-fact is that I would get told by my middle school teacher that, although it was wonderful that I had already written around ten A4 pages of story, maybe it would be better to continue writing and finish the story rather than taking extra time to decorate all the margins – always writing, always drawing).


Still on the subject of drawing, if an item comes up that involves illustrating some kind of children’s story, I find it hard to resist. Last year it was Vinnie the Pooh (Winnie’s mob boss cousin) and this year it was The Very Hungry Asserpillar (which is only really amusing if you watch… yup, you have guessed it, Supernatural). I even tried to replicate Eric Carle’s technique of painting onto white tissue paper with a variety of different colours and then cutting out shapes and collaging them together. This may have been my favourite item (it certainly wasn’t the tin foil).


Last year I roped my poor husband in to help me make a cardboard fort (he made the drawbridge), and I think he thought he was pretty safe this year, as we were getting near the end of the week and the most I had asked for was a trip to Sainsburys. Poor, unsuspecting man. The item I chose next was ‘(f)underwear’ and he agreed to let me decorate his underpants with jokes, balloons and suggestions of fun activities – while he was wearing them. I guess the idea was that no-one would know it was him because the image was just of his pants, and he doesn’t know anyone that takes part in GISH anyway. So, so many people have seen this photo, including those that don’t GISH, and now that includes you too! Oops!


Somehow, I also found myself nominated for the item that asked you to create a trading card for each member of your team (there are fifteen of us), but it was quite fun coming up with stats and powers for each person and doodling on their photos – I do like to draw!


My final item this year was to create an image of Harry Potter had Hagrid never found him and told him that he was a wizard. I decided there would be nothing more depressing than an unwitting, amazing wizard that only ever became a terrible children’s magician.

Of course there is also the photo of me sticking my head where it ‘absolutely does not belong’. I chose a vice, but no one needs to see that.

I’ve already registered to take part again next year, so look out for more illustrations and odd things in 2020.