by Jean Christianson and Tom Christianson for Build A Dream (2014)
Creating Humpty's Dream I started out by using the plaster bandages supplied in the Mystery Build Kit. To get the egg shape I used a balloon as my armature. I wrapped the balloon several times and the allowed it to dry. Once dry I popped the balloon and remove it through a small hole I left on the top of his head. I did have some weak spots so I strengthened the egg by adding additional layers or plaster strips. I learned quickly that re wetting plaster can work against your original surface. Fortunately the edges just reminded me of Humpty being put back together again as an egg would have cracks and rough edges.
To make Humpty's arms and legs I thought it would be fun to sew them out of the canvas cloth provided. I first made a pattern in Illustrator after carefully measuring my cloth and then printed and cut out the pattern. Then I pinned the paper pattern to the canvas and cut out the shapes. Before proceeding to sew the pieces together I painted the shoes, stockings and pants on each piece. The style of the clothes was intended to show Humpty Dumpty as an old nursery rhyme. The overall colors were selected to have an antiqued appearance.
When the leg and arm painting was completed I sewed them together. I then used some aluminum wire and packing peanuts to stuff the appendages. The wire provided me with a way to bend and pose the arms and legs.
The face came next on the big egg and his little dream self he is holding. The modeling clay was quite soft and a bit tricky to not ruin what you had already sculpted. This was my most favorite part of the project since I had sculpting experience from my past.
Once completed I used mineral spirits, a soft brush and my hands to smooth his facial features and bowler hat being careful not to use to much thinner or the surface gets gooey and slimy.
The clay seemed to absorb the thinner and did not leave any residue behind. I let Humpty sit for a while ( a few day to be exact ) and then started the painting process.
The colors had to be soft but not to soft since he is an egg. I used acrylics and medium for my paint choice carefully washing and glazing the color. The mannequin was painted a pewter metallic with silver fine detail to resemble a knight. The foam ear was painted the soft egg color to show that Humpty was finally having himself put back together.
The wall he sits on is a box made of the Masonite provided and hot glued together. My husband was very helpful and cut the panel on the table saw for me. I have never liked the table saw. The box was primed and painted a brick color with a pattern over the base color. I thought it would be fun to cut the square basswood dowel into little 3d bricks then glue them randomly on the wall.
The canvas panel was used to make a roof and floor for Humpty to sit on. I taped the checkered pattern after roughing in the black diamonds. Then repainted the taped squares for a cleaner look. I made an acrylic paint glaze with a little metallic gold paint mixed in and washed over the checkered floor/ roof pattern for an antique look. The canvas painted panel was hot glued on the small Masonite wall box an set aside. I then painted the larger base using the top of the Mystery Build Kit box spraying it gold. I taped a simple striped pattern on the top and sprayed a thin layer of copper paint over the gold surface.
For the lettering ALL THE KING'S HORSES AND ALL THE KING'S MEN on the side I used Illustrator and selected a fun chunky font and made a stencil from the printed version using an exacto knife to cut the letters out. The stencil was applied to the sides of the box with light coat of spray adhesive and then I used a smooth sponge dabbing the paint onto the stencil.
I went back into illustrator and drew a horse silhouette and made a pattern and used the card stock paper cutting out four horses. The horses were spray painted gold like the box and then patina looking paint was applied over the gold to make the horse look like worn out metal. They were glued on to the box with a small piece of basswood dowel as a support attachment.
Finally all the parts of Humpty were glued and assembled with the help of my husband. I was happy for his help as the face of Humpty was still fragile and could be easily damaged since the modeling clay will never dry under the paint. Overall I found this to be a good challenge and a nice reintroduction to traditional medium since I have become a graphic artist for a design company now for the past eight and a half years. My background was traditional training and I hold and MFA in painting. My friend Robin was so excited to see me try this out since she knows how hard it is to change from being traditional artist to a digital one.
I hope you enjoy my version of this classic nursery rhyme and I thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely Jean Christianson
I am a children's illustrator both in heart and profession and I have done other images using Humpty Dumpty. I thought it would be fun and a bit silly if Humpty had dreamed he was almost put back together again and you can see that with him holding a smaller dream self in his arm but he is still waiting for his ear to arrive so his dream is not quite complete.