Friends Are Dream Allies

   by Sheila Dunn for Build A Dream (2014)

How Did I Build My Project
Items I used from the kit:
wire mesh
plaster cloth wrap and the spool holding it
novelty foam Van Gogh ear
tempered hardboard
canvas cloth
aluminum wire
natural sea sponge
nylon thread
wooden mannequin deconstructed and its box
styrofoam rod
square dowels
cornstarch packing peanuts
lid to kit box

Other allowable materials that I used: glue, Mod Podge, ink, paint

I hope that people see my process and are encouraged to try it next year. My process demonstrates how much fun it was, but also how things didn't always work out how I planned! I found that I needed to have plan B.. and C.. and maybe even plan D ready because working with unfamiliar materials can lead to unexpected results.

My major fail was trying to use the cornstarch peanuts to form the surface of the base. My original plan was to shape the wire mesh over the van Gogh ear to make a hill and cover the wire mess with the cornstarch peanuts. After watching the Tips video about using the peanuts, I was absolutely paranoid about using too much water! I think my surface failed, because I didn't use enough water. It was lumpy. I could not seem to get the peanuts to create a relatively smooth surface. Instead of scrapping what I had, I took the tempered hardboard that was cut to an oval shape, glued the van Gogh ear upside down on the board, glued the lumpy peanut mess to the base, then covered the whole thing with a layer of plaster cloth. After it was dry, I painted it white, added a coat of Mod Podge, and drew zentangle patterns on the surface using a Sharpie, micron pens, and black paint marker.

The hot air balloon was made by applying the plaster cloth over a balloon, then removing the balloon after the plaster dried. Then I painted and added some zentangle on the balloon to tie it together with the base. Originally, I planned on making the balloon basket from just the cardboard from the mannequin box. Instead, I coated that cardboard box shape with the plaster cloth. I didn't wet and blend the plaster as much, because I wanted that texture to remain. Then, I painted it.

My cute, little penguins were made by coating pieces of the deconstructed mannequin with clay. I shaped their wings and beaks with clay. They were painted with acrylic paint. The bag on the balloon basket was made with canvas cloth and thread. The scissors were made with the aluminum wire. I connected the basket to the balloon by looping a piece of aluminum wire around the plastic piece that held the plaster cloth. Then, I put the plastic piece in the balloon and turned it sideways to stay securely in the balloon. I wrapped some thread around the lower part of the wire and glued the ends of the wire to the basket.

I painted the sky background on the lid to the kit box. I used the wooden dowels and styrofoam rod to support and secure the balloon to the base. The bonsai tree was made from the aluminum wire and pieces of the natural sponge that I painted dark green. I twisted the aluminum wire and glued the sponge pieces to some of the branches. It sits on the base rather well without being glued to it.

I chose to dedicate this project to my friends who encourage my artistic meanderings. People around us can either encourage and support our dreams or tear us down with doubt and criticism. To me, building a dream is starting with what I have and moving forward to achieve my goals. The hot air balloon is a personal symbol for me that represents a journey of hope.
The zentangle and bonsai tree are elements of inner peace. I don't know about you, but I tend to stress myself out by setting unrealistic expectations for my dreams and by letting perfectionism hinder my progress. The zentangle patterns and bonsai tree is a reminder to be at peace with my progress and growth and to be patient with myself.
Penguins are just adorable. I love them. So, for the characters demonstrating helpful friends, I chose penguins. That will be no surprise to my friends and family. The smaller penguin is being helpful by cutting the weight on the hot air balloon. I was going to write "DOUBT" or "FEAR" on the weight, but I decided not to label it. The weight can change overtime and in different circumstances, but true friends are always there to cut it away.

Thank you to all my friends who are patient and supportive.

This was my first time doing any zentangle and making wire trees. I would like to experiment more with those in the future. I had never used plaster cloth, but that stuff was great. I enjoyed trying new things... except cornstarch packing peanuts. I encourage everyone to try this contest next year. It's a fun challenge.