I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

   by Donna Foster for Build A Dream (2014)

It’s my intention that the “Behind the Scenes Extras” are self-explanatory with regards to my methods of construction, but just in case I’ve missed that mark, I’ll briefly explain below which materials were used in each part.
• Mannequin parts were used for the frame, along with wire and glue.
• Plaster tape, packing peanuts, wire mesh and clay completed the form.
• Mane and tail were made from individual threads, carefully pulled from the canvas cloth.
• Harness and bridle were made from the info booklet. (I was delighted when I found what would become the bit for the bridle, among the mannequin pieces!)
• Dasher is attached to the Masonite by wire. I drilled holes where her feet would be, leaving plenty of wire length when making the legs. I simply poked the wire through the holes, bending the excess under the Masonite. This proved very helpful when I decided Dasher needed to be centered on the board! Even now, I could remove the horse from the Masonite.

Miss Kriss Kringle
• Mannequin parts, wire and mesh were used for her frame.
• Plaster tape, packing peanuts and clay completed the form.
• Naturally, I read online about using molds with melted clay, AFTER I had fashioned the face by hand, wishing all the while for an electron microscope.

The Sleigh
• First, I made a cardboard mold. I added packing peanuts to the outside of the mold to create a more rounded form, then covered the whole thing with plaster cloth, then clay. (While I used every bit of the plaster cloth, I don’t think I could have done without those packing peanuts throughout the entire project!)
• The runners are made from the aluminum rod. I added flattened wire to use as decoration and undercarriage.
• The seat is made from the mannequin box and sponge.
• I hung gold, clay bells from the front as added decoration.
• The sleigh rests on the canvas board

• I used most of the MysteryBuild box for the background pastel painting. To prevent warping, I applied gesso to the backs and fronts of each piece. This also provided a good ground for the pastels.
• Square dowels were used as supports in the back.

The Nativity
• Determined to use that darned ear, I finally came up with the Nativity concept. It still makes me laugh and I’d like to think Vincent would be proud.
• Clay, plaster cloth, canvas threads (for straw), cellophane (glitter), cardboard from mannequin box (trees) completed the stable and ground. I printed the figures onto the cardstock and glued cardboard stands to the backs.

• Mannequin pieces (joint piece and springs), cardboard box, canvas threads, wire and clay were all used. A tiny piece of packing peanut makes the pom-pom on the hat.

Teddy and the Easter Bunny
• Mannequin pieces, plaster cloth, clay, cardboard and canvas threads were used.

• A wooden dowel, with holes drilled for wire branches, forms the trunk. I put a strip of mesh on each branch, covered them with chopped up bits of peanut and applied a bit of clay for snow after the tree was painted. I then added a clay cardinal and a tiny nest made of canvas threads. A cardboard star crowns the tree.

• A narrow ring cut from the plastic egg provided the foundation for the wreath, which was then wrapped with plaster cloth and covered with chopped peanuts. Canvas threads make up the ribbon.

• A wooden disk and round dowel form the main part of the post. I then added printed, cardstock road signs and a wire at the top from which to hang the cardboard and cellophane lantern. I used canvas threads, cardboard and peanuts to make the garland. It rests on a cardboard base.

• The happy little snowman is made from the Styrofoam rod, wire (arms, nose and candycane), cardboard (hat and base), and canvas cloth (scarf).

• What snow scene is complete without glitter?! It was going to be a dilemma, until I realized the cellophane wrapper from the Masonite would sparkle, when cut in tiny pieces. Other than learning how to use a movie-making program, cutting that glitter while trying to overcome the problem of static electricity, was my greatest challenge!

• The ground is made of plaster tape, resting on Masonite, canvas board or cardboard. I added lots of glitter and pieces of the Styrofoam rod to create the impression of sparkling snow.

Material Not Used in My Project
• Nylon thread

Tools and Other Materials Used
• Wire cutters, needle-nose pliers, drill, hammer, files, scissors, saw, utility knife, clay-sculpting tools, ruler, paint brushes
• Glues (including one containing gold glitter for the sleigh, wreath and tree-top star), cardboard (for making sleigh mold), craft paint, gesso and soft pastels for painting the background

The Christmas season is a favorite of many and most especially one of mine. As a child, the song, “Over the River and Through the Woods”, signaled the kick-off for the Christmas season, bringing with it not only Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey, but the hope of snow. Some years ago the classic movies, “Holiday Inn” and “White Christmas” were added to our family’s holiday movie repertoire. The spirit of those sets, costumes, and even the music, are reflected in my project. I’ve attempted to create a happy, hopeful and magical mood—one reminiscent of the dreams of childhood, and loaded with many of the religious and secular symbols that have made the season what it is.

This is a two part video---the first being of the dream itself and the second part designed to demonstrate the process of building each element of the diorama. In keeping with the theme I've chosen, my approach is straightforward and traditional, though not devoid of humor and even some bad puns. It's my hope that you will find yourself remembering your own childhood dreams of snow and the joy of the Christmas season.