by Melissa Barbee for Build A Dream (2014)

I started with the treasure chest. Using an exact-o knife I cut out my pattern from the Mystery Build box top and painted it with acrylic paints to make it look like metal. The bottom of the box was painted inside and out to look like wood, as was the sheet of card stock paper and all were glued together. Part of the mannequin box was used as the hinge on the lid. The working lock was made using parts of the mannequin, some small square dowel, a part of the canvas board and a small piece of the Styrofoam rod. The key was made from gluing mannequin parts to a wood disc which was then carved with an exact-o knife and painted with acrylic paint.

The tree trunk was made with the plaster cloth shaped over a pipe and bunched up foil, then painted with acrylic paint. The leaf bunches were formed by making a paper mache from the small bits cut out from the Mystery Build box soaked in water and mixed with some white glue. The paper mache was then shaped over bunched up foil, dried and painted with acrylic paint then glued to the trunk.

Both the balloon and the basket for the hot air balloon were made with the plaster cloth shaped over bottles and painted with acrylic paint. Aluminum wire was bent to make the ropes crossing over the balloon and were glued to the basket using some canvas cloth. The sand bags are bits of the modeling clay glued into pieces of canvas and were tied to the basket with strings pulled from the canvas cloth. Nylon thread was tied to make the tassels which were glued in place and colored with ink. The stand from the mannequin became the stand for the balloon. A small bit of plaster cloth was wrapped around the metal rod near the top to make a stop. A small hole was drilled into the second wood disc and placed onto the metal rod as a support for the basket.

Wire mesh was used to form the boat and covered with packing peanuts. Once that was dry, canvas cloth was glued over the peanuts and painted with acrylic paint. The oar was carved from a piece of a large square dowel with an exact-o knife.

The landscape is a mix of modeling clay, the foam ear, pieces of the sea sponge, wood shavings from carving the key and the oar and some of the paper mache used to make the leaf bunches. Any color added is acrylic paint or ink. The water is the plastic shrink wrap from the outside of the box with some blue ink brushed on it.

Part of a small square dowel became the signpost. Bits of canvas board were cut to make the individual signs and the top was decorated with some of the cut outs from the treasure chest. A mannequin part tops it off.

Populating this dream are three birds made entirely from the modeling clay and painted with acrylic paint. The traveling rabbits started as wire armatures, each covered in packing peanuts. Once they hardened a little modeling clay was added as needed to shape the faces, then painted with gesso and acrylic paint. Shirts were cut from the canvas cloth, glued in place and painted. The Great Dane in the tree also started out as a wire armature covered in packing peanuts and modeling clay. After he was painted, a mohawk was made from canvas cloth, colored with ink then glued in place. His tutu was made from the plastic that the plaster cloth came in, plus some shrink wrap, all gathered by sewing with the nylon thread and painted with acrylics and glued on.

Dreams grow from a person's imagination, something I envision to be much like a treasure chest. If a person has the courage to unlock it and open it up, there is no limit to where that imagination can take them.