Dreaming of Japan

   by Carol Tomasik for Build A Dream (2014)

The first piece I built was the base. It was made from the cardboard Mystery Build box, then spray painted gold and touched up with acrylic paint to look like metal. I wanted it to look like a bonsai tree container.
The emblems on the front of the base are made of the plasticine clay, which was pressed into an antique mold I own, then painted to match the base.
The "bamboo" stand for the bonsai tree container/base was made from the square wooden dowels, which I cut down to look like bamboo. Every few inches was wrapped with string which I shredded from the piece of canvas. Everything was then painted with acrylics to look like bamboo. Because I didn't have enough dowels, I had to make more bamboo by rolling strips of paper into tubes and painting them. The corners of the stand were tied with more string from the canvas.
The white stones on the base were made of little balls of plasticine clay. The moss was pieces of the packaging peanuts, painted with acrylics. The wisteria tree was made from wire, wire mesh, and the plaster cloth, and painted with acrylics. I made the wisteria blossoms from the thin paper label that I peeled off the box, then sprayed with primer and painted purple. I cut this paper into tiny squares and folded each one to make the petals. These were then strung onto the thin thread provided. I dyed the thread in tea to darken it.
The red gate was made of rolled up cardboard and a piece of the masonite. The top of the gate was made from the styrofoam rod, which I shaped by sanding. Everything on the gate was then glued and spray painted.
The stone lantern was made from one half of the plastic egg, one wooden disc, some cardboard, and a wooden piece from the mannikin which I had torn apart.
The tall grass in the background was shredded threads from the canvas, painted.
The little lantern in the tree was made from a scrap of the styrofoam, and wrapped with a string from the canvas cloth, then painted. The top and bottom bands are cardboard, and the handle is a piece of wire.
The dancing geisha girl was made from parts of the mannikin, which I took apart and re-glued back together without the springs. Her face was clay over one of the wooden pieces, which was then painted. Her wig was made from strands of canvas rolled onto a wire mesh form and painted black. Little hair decorations are made from paper, cardboard, and packaging peanuts. A little red ribbon was made of painted cellophane. Her obi is painted cellophane and string.
The kimono was made from painted cellophane from the box wrapper. The fan she is holding is painted and folded paper. Her left hand has a thumb made from a scrap of a dowel rod, and her sandals are cardboard and string.

My dream has always been to travel to Japan, so I built a little homage to Japan right into a bonsai tree container, using elements of a Japanese garden and a beautiful geisha.