A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

   by Jody Smith and Hugo Romero Sanchez for Build A Dream (2014)

The project can be broken down into four primary areas--background/sets, characters, accessories, and animation/video:

Background: The walls, floor and bed were constructed mainly using the Mystery Build box. The wall was built to be removed so that the project could be seen and photographed from all angles. The bedposts were made from the square dowels, and the head and foot boards were made with the cardboard box. The bed linens, including pillow, were made by cutting and gluing the canvas cloth. The mattress was made up of layers, using the box, wooden dowels, and packing peanuts. The plaster cloth was shaped, using the wire mesh as a template, to make the body under the sheets. Finally, the decorations on the head/foot boards were made using the aluminum wire, with the iconic Disney "D" made of clay. The floor was constructed with the tempered hardboard to make it thicker and more sturdy. This was covered with strips cut from the cardboard box to simulate the planks of a hardwood floor.

Characters: All characters were made using the modeling clay, but we had to solve the problem of making a large number of characters with a small amount of clay. This was accomplished by building the figures with a aluminum wire skeleton covered with the packing peanuts to make the bodies and heads. The clay was then used only on the exterior to finish the shapes of the characters. Another way we made the clay go further was by having the characters appear from underneath the bed. This allowed us to only build the parts of the characters that were visible. For the largest of the characters, Snow White and Maleficent, we used the styrofoam rod to make the bodies and then covered them with the shaped and painted plaster cloth. The capes were made with the plaster cloth that had been shaped atop the wire mesh. The horns of Maleficent were constructed with clay and accented using the nylon thread. The small Tinker Bell figure was difficult to construct, and her flight path was shown by twisting the aluminum wire. The figure of Walt Disney proved to be the most difficult to make, because unlike the characters, he had to be life-like. We referred to many photos to try to make him appear as accurate as possible.

Accessories: The clock was made using the wood disc and cardboard. The window background was made from cardboard and painted to show the star from Peter Pan. To try to achieve a more 3-D effect, the sponge was painted and glued to the background to give the impression of trees in the window. Curtains were made using the card stock paper folded to create the pleats and tied with the nylon threat. Shelves were made using aluminum wire and cardboard. The stock paper was used to make the Mickey Mouse sketches at the hand of Disney on the bed, and the books were made up of small pieces of cardboard and paper, painted with typical fairy-tale type pictures. The open book has the same drawings as the one used by the mice in Cinderella to create her first dress . The thread basket was made from the bottom of the plastic egg, and all the sewing accessories were made with thread, cardboard, wire, and paper. The mirror was made with cardboard and wire, and painted with the face of the Evil Queen's mirror from Snow White. The buckets of the Fantasia broom were made with cardboard and wire, with the splashing water simulated using a painted sponge. Maleficent's raven is made from the styrofoam rod and clay, with paper to simulate wings. Her staff is made with aluminum wire wrapped with paper and topped with a small ball of painted clay. The title card was made with cardboard and written by hand to simulate the iconic Disney font.

Animation/Video: As an homage to Walt Disney, we wanted to tell the story of our piece using a short animation. Having no experience with this and with very basic tools, we were able to create a simple animation depicting Disney falling asleep while drawing. His characters then gather around him to give inspiration. It's as if these characters are inside Disney's head and are just waiting to be "born" into the world through his pen. The animation was initially drawn on paper. After scanning, this was further augmented with additional digital drawings and colored in the computer. We chose to have the animation in black and white, but then had this dramatically evolve into the final project, shown in full color. We used an iPhone and point-and-shoot cameras to create a video of the project from various angles, and then included this with the animation and music to create our final vision. Although it's a little rough around the edges, we put our hearts into the endeavor and greatly love the final result.

After thinking long and hard about the theme, we kept coming back to the dreams of childhood. This is a time when magic is real and all dreams seem possible. Arguably, the 20th century master of childhood dreams and wonder was Walt Disney, whose creations continue to resonate with children, young and old. One man's simple sketch of a cartoon mouse has led to so many characters, stories, and music that have touched the lives of so many around the world.

We did some preliminary sketches of ideas and compared those to the contents of the box. We brainstormed various different scenarios and settled on showing Walt Disney dreaming, as his future creations spring to life around him. We consciously chose to include only those characters which were created during Walt Disney's lifetime. We also wanted to choose a variety of characters, including villains, and characters of different shapes and sizes.

As two very amateur artists without any specialized tools, we began working on this project in March, naively thinking it would only take a few weeks to finish. After getting started, we kept adding more and more elements and had to continually innovate to try to make our supplies stretch. After six and a half months, with the deadline rapidly approaching, we were so happy with our results and realized we needed an appropriate way to present the project. Thus the animation and video was begun in earnest, and our few week project ended up taking right to the deadline to finish. We're happy to put this year's project to bed (no pun intended), and we look forward to next year's challenge!