Fimo is a form of clay that is used by architects to build models. In art supply stores it is sold in brightly colored squares. Fimo is very pliable and can be baked in home ovens. It is perfect for making miniatures. In 1976, at McGraw-Hill, none of us had heard of Fimo until one day Helen walked into the employees lounge wearing large fruit basket earrings that were the most remarkable items most of us had ever seen hanging from a human ear, except in illustrations in National Geographic. They were perfectly made and shiny. With these earrings you could get a job in the chorus line of South Pacific. Helen announced that she had made these earrings herself. That was pretty hard to believe. Helen spent her spare time going through catalogues and ordering Stale Cracker Refreshers and soap dishes that play Edeilweiss. If she could do this!
That weekend found most of us at the art supply store buying Fimo. Fimo turned into an obsession. It even reached the point that an informal support group of Fimo widowers formed - men who had been living on TV dinners and spending lonely evenings watching TV with Mr. Hand, for months and months. I would overhear them in the lounge,
"She comes home from work and walks straight to the Fimo table."
"I woke up at 4 a.m. and she was at the Fimo table."
I began to moonlight for a dollhouse store, I made little plates of bacon and eggs or hamburger and fries and fruit bowls, mainly. Then I got an order to make 45 dogs, each one a recognizable breed. I had minus zero qualifications for this task. I sweated like a pregnant wart hog trying to make a banana that actually looked like a banana. So of course I said, "Yes,no problem, when do you want them?"
I had a month. I checked dog books out of the library and spent every waking moment I wasn't at work - unto the wee small hours of the morning - on this project. Dalmations. Russian Wolf Hounds, Jack Russell Terriors... Every moment I had to be outside I studied each passing dog. Months after the dog order was completed, I'd see a dog and my first thought would be, "He's scratching his ear at a 45 degree angle."
A week or two into this dog project I began to feel poorly. I was living on crackers and getting 4 hours of sleep a night. So I devised a special diet that could be prepared in advance and that would include an item from each category in the Food Pyramid.
FIMO DIP: Sour cream (dairy), bacon bits (meat), canned peas (green vegetable), dried onion soup mix (salad?)served with potato chips (starch), and peanut M&Ms (nut).
I actually finished this order, to the satisfaction of the shop owner and got my five cents an hour. It was, for me, what alcoholics call, "Hitting bottom." My Fimo obsession tapered off, as it did for my fellow addicts. To this day I have a few squares of Fimo in my scrap box, and once in a blue moon I make a hot dog or an apple.