Ever since I started thinking of Father’s Day gift ideas last month, I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted to do something with THE HENRY DOPPELGANGER, see also Mii Henry.
(I have referred back to THE PICTURE numerous times since it was captured last September, so you probably are like, “OK Erin we get it” but in case you are lost, please refer HERE.)
I considered getting a shirt made that had his head and the Mii head multiplied all over it but I also know that he would NEVER wear it. So, a gag gift-turned-rag, basically.
But then I remembered that I had seen an Instagram ad last year for this thing called Paint Gem, which is basically like a paint-by-number thingie but you use gems. I remembered that they offered custom portraits because I had considered getting one of Robert Smith for my beloved Cure wall but then got distracted and forget about it.
What a perfect gift, I thought! I texted Chooch and he was like, “IDK” when I asked him if he would help me do it. Love that response. Well, I was doing it regardless of Chooch’s participation. So I made my little photoshopped image, replacing the background with a rainbow splash, and placed the order. This was in mid-May.
What I didn’t know, and what the website didn’t disclaim, was that it was being shipped from China. I should have known this since I am a sucker for IG ads and I would say that 75% of what I purchase via Instagram comes from China. Which is fine, whatever, but it would have been nice to have some transparency. Because in most of the other cases, I know this going into it so my expectations of a quick shipping are low.
Then I started to Google the company and there are threads all over the internet about how it’s a scam, so even better.
BUT! I did get the product. And to be fair, it did have tracking too but if you have ever ordered anything from China, you know how frustrating the tracking can be. So, the product arrived on Monday and I was panicking because that gave me less than a week to complete it and hello, I had no idea it was going to be THIS LARGE:
Please excuse the mess: this is my old desk in the bedroom where I used to sit when I was a fake painter. It’s pretty much the only place in the house where I could work on this in privacy, and then throw a t-shirt over it in the interim. Basically, I had to be upfront with Henry and say, “DO NOT LIFT THAT T-SHIRT ON MY DESK” and basically I had to just trust that the honor system would work. Luckily, Henry isn’t a snoop and actually respects things of this nature so he never peeked.
This photo doesn’t even show all of the baggies of gems that came with this damn kit!
I’m about to send off a strongly worded email to the company too because their little Instagram videos are false. This isn’t relaxing. It’s frustrating!! They give you this pen-like tool which you dip into a plastic macaron-shaped container filled with super frustrating wax that only sometimes adheres to the pen, and then you use the tip of the pen to pick up one gem at a time to stick down on its designated spot on the adhesive-coated canvas.
But the video shows that you can attach a thing to the other end of the tool which allows you to pick up a line of multiple gems so you can theoretically apply five+ gems in a row. THIS IS A FALSEHOOD. That tool attachment does not work. Chooch, who came onto the scene four days in on Friday afternoon only because school is out now and he was “bored” while I was working (my actual job, not gemming), was like, “They lied. This attachment is a lemon.” Plus, even if it DID work, you would have to use the TWEEZERS they supplied to turn each gem over so they’re all facing the same way before trying to pick them up in a row.
Good fucking luck.
I love that I thought of this gift idea as a way to troll Henry but the whole thing ended up trolling ME instead.
One good thing is that this thing was very easy to transport – once the gems are pressed down, they don’t fall off – so I was able to bring it downstairs to work on it during downtime at my real job. I’d set out little blocks of like 5 minutes here and there, shake some gems into the tray, and power through.
The one good thing was that I was able to get through a few audiobooks!
I really thought that this was going to end up being a late gift; I mean, even by Friday night we were only about halfway done. But then I stayed up late, and Chooch took over after I went to bed, and we took shifts on Saturday too. I was up until 2AM on Saturday, giving myself a hunchback and forgetting to hydrate, and then Chooch stayed up even later after that. So by today, I was like WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO THIS.
It also helped that some of my friends knew about this and would ask for gemming updates, so that kept me motivated too. The downside was that it was sooooo frustrating and physically painful that I was starting to take it out on Henry.
I mean, this isn’t news to anyone, lol.
Today, around 1:30PM, I did like 87 eyeball scans of the damn thing and realized, “HOLY SHIT. WE DID IT, THERE IS ONLY ONE GEM LEFT” so I ran to get Chooch who was adamant about getting to put in the last gem, which was annoying since he left me do this all on my own from Monday – Thursday. But I’m a GOOD MOM at moments, so the maternal side of me took over and left him do it. Ugh. It was gem code “4” in case you were wondering. One of the billion shades of pink/peach/flesh gems that came with the kit.
And this is it! We made Henry leave the house so I would run it down to the dining room table and cover it with a dish towel. Then we called him back and he was actually SO SCARED to unveil it. All he knew was that we doing something that involved him and he was terrified all week, I’m sure.
It cracks me up that this stranger is just innocently living his life somewhere, maybe NY which is where we saw him, completely unaware that some creeps in Pittsburgh spent the week gemming his face. Glenn, after telling me that there is probably therapy or counseling I could get after I told him about this big PROJECT, wondered if Bizarro Henry in NY has a BIzarro Erin who tortures him…
Anyway, Henry was actually impressed! He kept running his fingers over it and asking all these questions like we actually spelunked into a mine to dig for real gems and didn’t just order baggies of gem-shaped plastic from China.
“We were going to also frame it for you,” I said, “but this has all been too much so you can do that part yourself.”
“That’s fine,” he sighed, sobering at the reminder that my kindness only lasts so long. And then I spent the rest of the day crying about how bad my back hurts, etc etc because of ALL THE WORK I PUT INTO HIS PRESENT.
Happy Father’s Day to Henry, though, for real, the only guy I would give myself a hunchback over by spending 278293 hours gemming my life away. I love doing these things for him because he is a top-notch dad and really endures so much that we throw at him! I’m excited for him to frame this and hang in on the wall. I already know exactly where it’s going.
[PAINT GEM REVIEW: Would I recommend? I think so but only if you’re prepared to sink into the unknown abyss of China tracking numbers. I think that if you’re ordering something that has no deadline, and you’re able to work on it only when it’s convenient/you’re bored/it’s a rainy day, etc, then sure. This is a great project. Their tools could use a bit of tweaking but I do overall really love the final product. In fact, I was super impressed with how cool it turned out! This custom kit cost about $50 with free shipping. I think it does make an amazing and unique gift but please please please order well in advance so you’re not burning the midnight oil, flinging gems into the air because you accidentally pressed down into the GEM TRAY too hard.
Another thing: I wish I had known from the get-go that they supply you with WAY MORE gems than you actually need; I wouldn’t have been on my hands and knees, frantically groping around for dropped gems using an iPhone searchlight. Once we realized that we had more than enough of every color of gem, it became a free-for-all for Chooch and he was basically just spilling them all over at his leisure.]