The Mouse on the Moon – Stageplay

On July 20, 1969 two spacecraft landed in the Sea of Tranquility

one from the most powerful nation on earth, the United States, the other from the smallest, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

Who got there first?

Adapted by Rich Helms from the book The Mouse on the Moon by Leonard Wibberley

© 2021 by Rich Helms
CIPO ref# 1188353
ISBN: 978-0-9938829-4-4

Music: “The Complex” and “Marty Gots a Plan” by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

I am moving all of my Skate Bike posts to my new website

What started as a few posts on restoring my 1980’s Minson has grown to a collection of photos, reference materials and videos on skatebikes and how to restore them. Dedicated collectors keep giving me more details to add and I needed a dedicated site where I could reorganize everything.

We’ve got it all: Minson, Roller Shuttle, Twisties Edition, Garel Monocycle, LeRun and Max Skatebike. A large collection of commercials, ads and video of riders and their skatebikes. Also lots of technical articles on restoring a skatebike including diagrams, dimensions and part numbers.

Come on over to learn about All Things Skate Bike


Clarion Turf Racing Photo Wins Honourable Mention

Today my photo “Clarion Turf Racing” won the honourable mention at the SPARK Photo Festival Themed Juried Show. The theme this year was “Motion.” I originally shot this as a Kodachrome slide in 1970 at a race in Clarion, PA with a Russian Zenit-E 35mm camera.

The Zenit-E was just about the most manual camera ever. You even had to manually close the iris before pressing the shutter. I found the slide a few years ago while scanning with a slide scanner. It could scan with high enough resolution to print at 11×17 at 300 dpi in 48 bit colour. With photoshop I could pull out the detail and colours as well as clean up dust and such. When I heard the theme was “motion,” I immediately thought of this race.

I am so honoured to receive an Honourable Mention. I am privileged to be included in such a remarkable group of photographers.

Announcement Video

My announcement starts at 1:20

Mentos in Diet Coke

Did the classic Mentos in a bottle of Diet Coke for the grandkids. Dropped about 6 Mentos in. The video was shot with an iPhone 11 at 1080P 240 fps slow-motion. I thought it worked rather well. Diet Coke was used so there is no sugar mess left.

Rich Helms’ Farewell When He Left IBM in 1997

Recently while cleaning up my computer I found my farewell speech when I left IBM. I forgot many of these things I did. It is an interesting read.

I was reflecting on my career at IBM and I accumulated a few interesting facts.

I have:

  • Worked 21.5 years at IBM
  • Worked in 7 divisions, 7 cities, 14 buildings and 2 countries
  • Had 17 managers
  • Visited 14 countries, 9 provinces and about 40 states
  • Been around the world twice but flown enough miles to circle earth over 20 times
  • Flown in planes ranging from a single engine 2 seater to the cockpit of a 747-400 and served meals on an Air Canada flight when I was mistaken for a crew member
  • Judged the Ontario Engineering Competition as the IBM representative for 13 years
  • Spoken at over 20 conferences
  • Received 15 awards
  • Locked myself out of my room at the Princeton Hyatt wearing only a short Japanese robe
  • Locked my keys in the rental car, wearing only a bathing suit while staying at a five star hotel in Boca Raton, Florida
  • Published 5 inventions and filed 4 patents
  • Eaten a whole clove of garlic in a Korean restaurant in Tokyo thinking it was an onion
  • Had my work with CARES, the system for aging missing kids:
    • Exposed at a national press conference that was the lead story on 2 national networks and the second story, to the end of the Ontario doctors strike, on the other two
    • Recognized by the Metro Toronto Police
    • Featured on several police shows including Top Cops
  • Been searched by the Russian Army
  • Been directed off the streets by the Mexican Army during an attempted embassy siege beside our hotel
  • Traveled to Italy when American executives were being knee capped
  • Met Nobel prize winners, ambassadors, IBM CEO’s and Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

And best of all, I have had the honour of working for the IBM Microelectronics Toronto Lab

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Rich Helms
October 2, 1997

Paper Mache – Distressing the Teeth

Now that I had a technique for making teeth, it was time to do some mass production. The picture above is of 28 teeth: formed, sanded, smoothed, gessoed, base coated and first layer of distressing applied. I want the teeth to look old so I have been investigating how to distress them.

I still need a few more layers to build up the antiquing look.

And this is ONLY the lower jaw. I still have another 28 to make for the top.

Paper Mache: Types of Glue – White vs Wood

When I started into paper mache I tried several types of glue but quickly choose traditional white resin glue as my favourite. I surfed for more details but one question intrigued me: white vs wood glue.

Weldbond, Wood and White glues

Weldbond, Wood and White glues

For my work I use three glues.

  1. “White glue” or “hobby and craft” – polyvinyl acetate (PVA)
  2. “Carpenter’s glue” or “wood glue” or “yellow glue” – aliphatic resin emulsion
  3. “Weldbond” – a brand of glue by FT Ross

Other than Weldbond, I tend to use generic or house brands of white and carpenter’s glue. Here are my observations of each as it pertains to paper mache.

First thing I learned is all white glues are not the same. Some are thicker and made to grab and dry faster. For paper mache you want the basic white glue. I buy it in three litre jugs and fill smaller dispensers. In the image above, the left dispenser with the crazy top is white glue, the right is carpenter glue. I found a four pack of these pictured small squeeze bottles in an art store. I drill a hole in the top then make come sort of cap. Then I fill them as needed.

The small bottle of white glue called “Craft Glue” is an example of a thicker, faster drying glue. I found it too thick for most of my work and tough to control the flow of glue when dispersing in a thin line.

Latch Bail Jar

Latch Bail Jar

For paper mache glue I use a latch bail jar. Easy to mix up a new batch (90% white glue, 10% water), quick to open and close. It is important to keep the jar closed when not using it to avoid dried chunks. I usually apply my glue with long flat brushes.

Let’s walk through the three for strengths and weaknesses.

White Glue

  • Easiest to find. Cheap.
  • Mixes with water for paper mache. I run 10-25% water depending on what I am doing. 10% water is my most common recipe.
  • Flexible when dry.
  • NOT SANDABLE. Clogs up the sand paper.
  • Will not chip. Of you have a drip or clump off of the side it is not easy to break off.
  • Softens when exposed to water.

Carpenter’s Glue

  • Easy to find.
  • Use full strength.
  • Sandable when dry.
  • NOT flexible. It cracks when bent.
  • Chips off if you have drips off to the side.
  • Resists water.
  • I use when gluing wood parts together such as a tongue depressor to a dowel. The drips out the side chip off easily and you can sand the edges of the bond.


  • Use full strength.
  • Great for gluing an object to paper mache. Dries fast, strong bond.
  • Closes small gaps nicely.
  • Shrinks when dried.
  • Resists water.

So what’s the best glue for paper mache? For me it is all of them. They each have a purpose.

Paper Mache: Trying Teeth in Pottie Mouth

Not that I had a technique for making teeth, it was time to make some and try them on the jaw.

View 2 of the Jig

Tooth Forming Jig

I created nine teeth and attached a short length of bamboo skewer to the bottom. This will serve as the root when putting them into the jar as well as a way to stand them up while painting. I took a board and just drilled a few rows of holes.

Piece of bamboo skewer inserted into the bottom of a tooth.

Piece of bamboo skewer inserted into the bottom of a tooth.

Here are front and side views of the seat with the teeth inserted in.

Front view of the jaw with nine teeth inserted

Front view of the jaw with nine teeth inserted

Side view of the jaw with nine teeth inserted

Side view of the jaw with nine teeth inserted

Lessons Learned

  1. The toilet seat needed to be sanded. The finish is designed to resist staining so it also resists paints and glue. I wish I had sanded the seat before attaching anything like the gullet. Removing 8 screws and the two parts would have been free and easier to work on.
  2. Next time I am going to drill into the base of the tooth with a drill press to make the hole centred and straight. It is hard to hand drill into them.
  3. The depressors sitting in water last about 3 days then they start to fall apart. 

Now that I see how they work, I will start on the side ones shortening them towards the back of the jaw.

This is definitely fun.

Paper Mache: Monster Tooth Maker Results

Steps to form a tooth

Two final teeth sitting on the lower jaw

Two final teeth sitting on the lower jaw

After much experimenting I have come up with the approach I am using for Pottie Mouth's teeth. As I learn more I will modify this post to reflect what I learn.

  1. Start with a $9 box of 500 unsterilized 3/4" x 6" tongue depressors
  2. Soak a few depressors overnight in water Jun 17 - I tried just boiling dry depressors and it worked fine so I no longer presoak.
  3. BOIL them in water for 5 minutes - What I do is put the depressors in a pot with water. Then I bring it to a full rolling boil and turn the burner off. Then I let it sit for 10 minutes.
    The boiling weakens the hard wood's lignin bond, which makes them pliable
  4. Return them to the jar with water.
  5. Remove one from the water and towel dry the surface.
    This prevents diluting the glue
  6. Select a cut piece of 5/8" dowel
  7. Cut off the rounded end of the depressor so that it will be flush with the dowel
  8. Cut the sides to form sharp tooth
  9. Add Wood Glue (not white glue) to the depressor where dowel will join
    Wood glue is sand-able when dry, white glue is not
  10. Place a piece of wet tongue depressor below between the clamp and the tooth. This acts as a guard against the clamp marking the tooth.
  11. Tighten host clamp over end
    By placing a piece of hose or popsicle sticks over depressor you can minimize damage from the tight clamp
  12. Place in the jig
  13. Let dry
    It needs to be bone dry. Exposing to a fan or air flow helps speed the process
  14. Remove from jig, remove clamp
  15. Sand any glue clumps or rough areas
  16. Fill in side between the depressor and dowel with a mixture of Sheetrock 20 and acrylic paint
  17. Paint balance of tooth

June 15. I love tuning a process as I work. Today I decided to use an end of wet tongue depressor to protect the tooth from the clamp.
I added step 10 to put a piece of wet depressor between the clamp and the tooth. I also predrilled the dowel so that I can arrange them on my tooth stand.

Using a piece of cut off depressor end to protect the tooth from the clamp.

Using a piece of cut off depressor end to protect the tooth from the clamp.

View 1 of the Jig

View 1 of the Jig

Dowel and tooth stand

Dowel and tooth stand

View 2 of the Jig

View 2 of the Jig

Tooth Variations

I made several variations of teeth. Here are some of them.

Seven variations on making teeth

Seven variations on making teeth

  • 7 - This is one of the originals. Note the use of a square cut 1/2" dowel and marks on the face from the hose clamps.
  • 6, 5, 4 - These show the tooth front of variations on 7 where I tried building a transition on the back with paper mache. The problem is the paper on the front hurts the appearance of the tooth. The backs shown below aren't very appealing either.
  • 1 - This is a 5/8" dowel with a sloped cut at top. The clamp marks have been minimized with a piece of hose
  • 3 - The side is just painted. White glue was used so the extra clumps of glue could not be sanded or removed
  • 2 - The side is filled in with acrylic paint thickened up with some Sheetrock 20. Sheetrock is a sandable drywall compound. The 20 means that mixed with water it will harden in 20 minutes. You can also get 5 and 90. As most of my drying is dependant on the drying of the paint, 20 was a good compromise

This shows the issue with trying to smooth the transition on the back

This shows the issue with trying to smooth the transition on the back

Here are the final teeth in side and front view.
Final teeth in front and side views.

Final teeth in front and side views.

Paper Mache: Monster Tooth Maker

Next technique to develop is creating the teeth. In Wilburine, I worked out an approach of bending wet wood coffee stir sticks. For Pottie Mouth, I need much larger teeth. Coffee stirs would be too thin.

I decided to use 3/4" x 6" tongue depressors. A box of 500 unsterilized sticks was $9. They are hard wood, and when, soaked in water become pliable. Using nails on wood, I could bend them, but this still creates a flat tooth. I call my next idea a "Monster Tooth Maker."

Monster tooth maker from the side and head on

Monster tooth maker from the side and head on

I modified the jig setup from Wilburine. First, I used finishing nails and drilled holes just a tiny bit smaller with a drill press and then pressed in the nails. This gave me perfectly vertical nails. I put some tubing over them, as finishing nails are steel and leave a rust spot on the depressor.

As I tried making teeth, it became apparent that the end needed to be rounded. To create the round effect, I bought some 1/2" copper plumbing fittings and 1" hose clamps. Then I found some 1/2" dowel. Now instead of the copper fitting, I used a short length of dowel as the core with two host clamps. I also cut up some split vinyl tubing to use as shims to tune the bending. Be sure to towel dry the tongue depressor where you are adding glue for the dowel to avoid thinning the glue. My intent is to paper mache over the base of the tooth once formed to give a solid shape.

Once dry, the ends can be cut into a point for the tooth top. It is better to cut the bottom before drying, as the curved wood tends to split when cut curved and dry.

Vinyl hose Splints were added to increase the curve as well as a dowel at the centre of the tooth

Vinyl hose splints were added to increase the curve, as well as a dowel at the bottom of the tooth

Close-up of the dowel and clamps

Close-up of the dowel and clamps

With 1/2" dowel, the depressor is splitting

With 1/2" dowel the depressor is splitting

Cut dry tooth with wet one in the jig

Cut dry tooth with wet one in the jig

This image is of a dried tongue depressor, glued to the dowel, bent into shape and cut to form the point. The surface is raw, but a thin layer of paper towel paper mache will fill in the back, as well as smooth the surface.

The top image is of the jig with a finished tooth, including a thin layer of kraft paper towel mache to smooth out the transition.

Max size tooth sitting on the lower jaw

Max size tooth sitting on the lower jaw

This is the maximum full-sized tongue depressor sitting on the lower jaw of the toilet seat. This would be suitable for the fangs, but most will be shorter. Once I have several formed teeth, I will work on the paper mache layer.