Butterfly Dreams

   by Brenda Hofbauer for Build A Dream (2014)

The wire mesh was formed to my face. Lengths of nylon thread were tied to the mesh coming out the back of the face. Pieces of plaster cloth helped to solidify the form. After drying, it was sanded, then the plaster process was repeated 2 or 3 times. Leftover pieces of the plaster cloth were formed into flowers for the background. The mask was coated with gesso and acrylic paint. Starch peanuts were hot glued to the back of the face for added structure.
The backdrop was made out of the box bottom. One long side of the box was kept attached as the base. Both sides of the backdrop received a couple coats of gesso. The plaster-cloth flowers were hot glued to the backdrop. Thread flowers made from ravelings from the canvas cloth were also glued into place. Acrylic paints were used to paint the backdrop.
A "pillow" was made out of the canvas cloth by slashing the edges and forming small darts that were glued in place with Tacky Glue. A large slash through the middle was used to give it the shape of a head laying on it. Starch peanuts were hot glued underneath for support. The canvas pillow was gessoed. Two pieces of the 5/16" round wood dowel were hot glued to the tempered hardboard. They were used to support the face on top of the pillow. Two holes had to be cut through the pillow to do this. The underside of the pillow was hot glued to the hardboard. The modeling clay was used to smooth out the pillow surface and to seamlessly finish the edges where it attaches to the hardboard. The pillow and dowels were painted with acrylic paints. The face was hot glued to the top of the dowel supports.
Hundreds of butterflies were cut by hand from the card stock paper, ranging in size from close to an inch for the largest to less than 1/4" for the smallest. The nylon threads attached to the back of the face were threaded onto a needle and punched through the backdrop. The threads were coated slightly with hot glue to add body. They were also hot glued to the back of the backdrop. The paper butterflies were hot glued to the threads, the pillow and the edge of the face.
The final assembly included hot gluing the hard board, the canvas board which had been painted, and a painted box side to the base of the backdrop. All the plastic wrap included with the box was used. It was crumpled and hot glued to the back of the face. It was cut into scallops and used as a transitional edging for the face. It was also cut into hair-like shapes and glued to the edge of the face. The final step was touching up the paint on the backdrop and lightly painting the edges of the white butterflies to give them a little more presence.

I wanted the piece to have a very ethereal feel: foggy, misty, flowing. It is all painted in grays with just a hint of pink in the garden and on the edges of the butterflies, because many people dream in black and white. I wanted a face that was open behind it to let the dream flow. The butterflies represent all the stresses and cares floating away in a dream to a beautiful misty garden.