Busy As A DeeBee

   by Libby G and Theresa for Build A Dream (2014)

The best answer is to say we really did take it a step at a time. We sketched several thumbnails of what we wanted the finished piece to look like, and then reverse-engineered those ideas into physical needs for the piece, which further broke down into construction steps. We also included a mini-challenge to ourselves: use and manipulate as much of the "other" material as possible (the box, the packing peanuts, the packing paper, and so on). We discovered the packing peanuts were great to shred, slice with a knife into sections, were malleable enough to pinch into shapes, and although they shriveled when made wet with paint or adhesive, they didn't break down entirely. So many neat textures and building opportunities opened to us as we experimented with the packing peanuts--leaves, rocks, tree bark, lumber. The foam cylinder was the armiture for our tree, with crumpled paper on top to give it heft, and then the packing peanuts glued on top. The foam cylinder remnants were thinly sliced and cut into all sorts of shapes. The main box and the box from the wood mannequin were cut, glued, and combined to create our base. Plaster was added to a portion to give it stability and texture. As we reached each step in construction and crossed off "needed items," we would realize something was missing or wasn't needed after all. Our concept and basic design never changed, but we were flexible and went with the flow of how our concept and design could--and should--be tweaked based on limitations, new insights, and adapted techniques.

Dioramas! We love dioramas of all sort, from those made in shoeboxes to grand halls in great museums. When first confronted with the Mystery Build box and its contents, we were both unerringly drawn to fiddling with the box itself. We tipped it on each end, and nested it in various positions. While doing this, we thought "a-ha, of course!" it's a diorama. We also both immediately had ideas how to pursue a literal, but playful, take on the theme. That is, a dream actively being built. In combining our playful "building a dream" concept with the bones of a diorama, we had our abstract inspiration and tangible sure direction for constructing the piece.

"DeeBee" is short for "Dream Bean." As we conceptualized the project, one of us kept referring to a key element as "beans." This was based on the basic size and shape we thought they should be sculpted. As work progressed, and they took on personalities all their own, we made riffs and got more elaborate with these beans' significance, names, and roles. Eventually they were promoted and found their destinies as Construction Crew Beans (orange vests), Material Yard Beans (chartreuse vests), Manager Beans (purple vests), and the DeeBee I C -- Dream Bean In Charge (blue vest)!

We had such fun making this! Simply having the Mystery Build box arrive and going through the contents was a treat. When we decided to do this, we realized we'd have about a month because of outside conflicts and constraints, but that only enhanced our process. Every day we visited the piece and accomplished something with its forward progress; we made it work and didn't stress. It proved an enjoyable challenge and undertaking, seeing what we could make with "all that stuff."