By Caru Das
At the beginning of 2006 Vaibhavi vowed the interior decoration of the 33 thousand pound dome over the temple room would be completed by year’s end. Though the temple opened more than five years ago, June 23, 2001, she put off this project until there was a clear conception of how to do it.
The dome of the original building, Kusum Sarovar in Braja Bhumi, after which our temple was modeled, still shows the results of intricate hand painting 500 years ago. Would Vaibhavi have to lie on her back on a high scaffold for years, like Michaelangelo, painting by hand the vast surface? Could a stencil be made and art students hired from BYU? Could marble be used in any way, and how would such heavy stone be mounted virtually upside down 30 feet above the ground on a curved surface?
After several months of contemplating these issues, Vaibhavi had an idea which would save both the labor of hand painting and the expense and difficulty of marble. She researched to find foam that was not brittle, could be carved, and then bent to fit the curve of the dome, without breaking. After carving a couple of sample peacocks and lotus flowers, she applied paint in such a way as to make them look like marble.
In May 2006 Aditya Vinadhara donated enough scaffolding to reach thirty feet high. We removed the main chandelier, figuring it would be damaged by the scaffolding, and put it out of harm’s way. Vai, along with Vishnu Jana, and other volunteers, applied a glue called “Liquid Nails” to the back of the lotus petals and peacocks and literally “stuck” them to the plastered interior surface of the dome.
After some adjustments and fine tuning the process was finalized by June 1. Before the Himalayan festival sample lotus flowers and peacocks had been mounted, and every visitor assumed it was marble. Many asked, “How did you manage to get marble up there?” After the Himalayan Fest work stopped completely until recently. We had non stop festivals from June 3rd until Deewali festival October 21st. Not only did we not have time for the art work, but we didn’t want the unsightly scaffolding in the temple room during major events.
After Deewali Vaibhavi put most other duties on the back burner, acquired a lot more foam and started carving day and night, determined to finish the project before she goes to India December 31. The Monday after Mikela and Justin’s wedding, Blake, Vishnu Jana, and Andy reassembled the scaffolding and started mounting the peacocks and lotus flowers.
Though it takes 24 hours to cure and some reinforcing to ensure the pieces adhere firmly to the dome interior, it looks as if the project will be finished in good time.
Though the result will look like a $100,000 job made from marble, it will have cost only a couple of thousand. We’ll post photos of the completed project in a couple of weeks.
Thanks in advance to the volunteers, and to the inventiveness, hard work, and thriftiness of Vaibhavi Devi.
Dome Story Web Page link