by Carol Tremper for Build A Dream (2014)
Kit Materials & Where Used:
1. 8 X 10” tempered hardboard: Base for central column of Tower of Power
2. 9 X 12” canvas cloth: Malalala’s clothing and black “wig”
3. 8 X 10” wire mesh: girl children’s enclosure
4. 12 x .25” aluminum rod: not used
5. 32” aluminum wire spool: a) column hardware at top; b) girls’ enclosure–top, sides, bottom; c) sign supports; d) forms outline of hand hanging from tower
6. Natural sea sponge: “brain” in Tower of Power
7. 12 yds. Nylon Thread Spool: a) hangs 4 suspended items from tower superstructure; b) bows/hair for girl figures; c) sewed part of Malalala’s tunic; d) surrounds and compresses the heart symbol
8. Plastic egg: ) base for signs
9. 8.5 X 11” card stock paper: a) Origami butterfly (not used in final piece); b) girls’ skirts
10. 1 lb. Van Aiken Modeling Clay: a) figures: girl children: heads, torsos, feet; b) strengthen base of styrofoam column; c) sandwiched between 2 wooden discs, at top of column
11. 6 X 8” Canvas board: Malalala’s quotation “billboard”
12. 15’ plaster cloth: wraps combined Mystery Build box, top and bottom, to combine and strengthen boxes and create overall monochromatic background for component parts of dream; the liquid used was acrylic matte medium.
13. 12 X 1” styrofoam rod: central column in Tower of Power
14. 8” wooden mannikin: female figure, Malalala, whose dream inspired this construction
15. 12 X .375 basswood dowels (2): Top crossed supports on Tower of Power; supports set in clay “shoes” for girl figures
16. 12 X .25” square basswood dowels (2): red crosses placed on “brain,” “heart,” hand and ear; supports at base of central column
17. 5/16” wood dowel: Malalala’s pencil,with quotations
18. 1.5” wood discs (2): decorative topper on column, painted with male & female biological symbols within two different amber-colored eyes
19. Novelty foam Van Gogh ear: hangs from superstructure of column, to indicate a society that will not hear
20. Corn starch Biodegradable Packing Peanuts: a) support inside clay head & torso of girl figures; b) heart (colored with heavy red paint); c) extra bonded ones under the tower’s base to support it
21. Mannikin’s Cardboard Box: a) “sidewalk” across Tower of Power; b) several signs;
c) Malalala’s “book”
22. Mystery Build box: top & bottom form base for the three component parts of dream
23. Plastic bag from Van Gogh’s ear: painted to form Malala’s scarf
24. Cellophane from packaging: pages of book Malala holds
Tools Used: ball peen hammer, brayer, brushes, large and small clamps, colored pencils, gelatin plate for printing, rolling pin, needle nose pliers, 2 different hand drills (pictured), transparent drawing tool/measure (not a protractor but right angled ??), water spritzer, orange stick, butter knife, Exacto knife, scissors, variety of needles, thimble, wood to drill into, cutting board, pencils, pens, black & silver Sharpies, saw, sandpaper, tissue paper
Adhesives used: Acrylic matte medium, Elmer’s glue, Tacky glue, rubber cement
Paints used: Acrylic paints via brush and also by brayer on gelatin plate to color canvas, for clothes
The Project Unfolds:
I made sketches in a notebook early on, after purchasing the kit. Months passed. I decided to construct Malala’s dream. I watched all the videos on techniques, for which, thank you.
Using the mannequin as a human isn’t creative but fit the theme. I drew the features on the face using a pencil.
I found photos of Malala which showed her traditional dress style. I made a simple pattern using tissue paper, cut and painted the pieces using a gelatin plate to transfer the paint. I hand-painted the turquoise bands on tunic and pants, and used a silver Sharpie to add a decorative element. I assembled the garments with glue and nylon thread. I used tiny clamps to hold it until the glue dried. I used tissue paper to shape and fit a wig to be made of canvas, cut it out and painted it. I rubber cemented it to the head and used rubber bands to clamp it to the head.
I consulted a book of signs and symbols (DK) for color significance, and as so much of the issue of the education of girls relates to ancient ideas of purity, I decided to stick with white for the entire background and for the figures of the girls, except for their schoolgirlish skirts.
I used the plaster cloth, as it was, to add white texture as well as fuse the MysteryBuild boxes into one set. I set it using acrylic matte medium, which worked to harden the plaster cloth as well as settle it and glue it with minimum mess. I applied it with a wide sponge brush.
For the girl figures, I molded the heads and torsos after rolling the clay flat with a pin. I shaped it over my fingers and used an orange stick for details like the eye imprints and lines. I made several sets of fused packing peanuts intending them as legs, but the clay figures needed more support so I mashed the peanuts up inside the clay to give it solidity. I cut a wider square dowel into 2” pieces to use as the inside stabilizer and made “shoes” of the clay, into which I forced the dowel, and forced the mashed peanut/clay part down on it. That worked. The figures stood erect. I used the nylon thread to fashion a jaunty bow for each girl and pressed it into the clay. I cut strips of paper for the skirts, drew designs with colored pencil, then cut angles to shape, glued and clamped them. Assembly was easy.
I spent a lot of time making an origami butterfly, using most of the provided paper. The idea was that it would travel on a wire arc above the central tower, but I dismissed that idea so the paper and time was wasted.
I did a lot of measuring and model-making before cutting into and using the forced-choice materials. I cut index cards to make mock-ups of the crosses and other items, so when I cut the wood with Exacto knives or a saw, I didn’t make errors. I added color with acrylic paints, cut hardware from the wire and shaped it with the needle nose pliers.
I painted the foam rod with the colors of Pakistan’s flag, and stabilized it with two square dowel pieces I’d cut for 2 girls but hadn’t used. I glued and clamped the wood onto the column. The central column is an analogy for male dominance in Malala’s society. It suspends 4 symbols for restrictions placed on women: brain, hand, ear and heart, which was inspired by the kit’s ear. I tried to keep a similar scale. The sponge suggested a brain. I cut and shaped it, then painted it with a silvery color. I shaped a widget to hold the thread and used a needle to push it through the shape. All symbols were suspended with the thread. I drew a hand, then shaped the wire to it. It needed an interior shape, so I used the remaining canvas, and painted one side yellow for Islam’s wisdom & good advice, and the other side flesh. I outlined it with red to indicate the effect of extremists’ violence.
The heart was a challenge. I intended to confine it in cellophane, but it wouldn’t work. I decided to use red paint as the wetting agent, used jar red and it worked. I compressed it overnight inside cellophane, using rubber bands to hold it. Once it dried I wrapped it with the thread.
Originally I used half of an egg on the top of the column, after drilling a small hole centered in the end, but realized it was too phallic so eliminated it in favor of the biological symbol for female and male inside a drawing of an eye, amber for Malala’s eyes. At first, I glued them with a strip of canvas, so the wire could go between them but they’d hold. It was insufficient, so I used clay to make a sandwich. The wire worked and it held.
The mesh was perfect for the girls’ “jail” enclosure. I measured, cut, bent the edges to grip, and cut the wire to serve as the pipes. Later I added the holder for the sign. I used shaped short wire pieces for all the “hardware” which was a great material. Thanks.
I cut up the box the mannequin came in to make small signs and the “sidewalk” and stairs that go over the “Tower of Power” territory. A column support broke off twice and though I re-glued and clamped it, it wasn’t strong enough, so I plopped it into what was left of the clay, which secured it. I also stuck some leftover fused peanuts under that stage to support it at the edges—inelegant but effective.
The “billboard” with the quotation from Malala’s dream statement was to have been embellished with traditional designs but time ran out.
I reviewed the videos and the photos, culled a lot, created a slideshow and exported it. Hopefully, it will work.
Malala’s Dream: Girl Children/Tower of Power/Malala
Malala Yousfzai, the youngest ever Nobel Prize Awardee is working toward a world in which all children are educated. It would not surprise me if there were many Mystery Build entries relating to Malala’s dream. This entry will be no contender but I wanted to honor her courage by following through on my intention.
That extremists tried to kill her, yet she persists in her dream shows her character and that of her supportive parents. Not all believers are extremists. Malala, born in 1998, said:
“I dreamt of a country where education would prevail.” The large scale of the quotation represents a billboard. Terrorists fear female education so much they try to kill even young girls with the hunger and will to achieve through education.
There are three components of this dream: Trapped girls, Tower of Power and Teacher
1. Trapped Girl Children: The wire enclosure represents some societies’ social, emotional and educational restrictions on females, to limit their freedoms and horizons.
2. Tower of Power––Symbolism:
To get from the strictures of the female roles defined in many places in the world, the girl child must deal with and get past the “Tower of Power,” which includes the restrictions, expectations and punishments visited on a female who harbors hopes of a life different than that expected in a restrictive society.
The central column is an analogy for male dominance in such societies. It contains four suspended symbols for restrictions placed on women: brain, hand, ear and heart.
a) Brain (sea sponge) to indicate a society that does not allow females to use their brains
b) Hand (aluminum outline on painted canvas) to indicate a society that restricts such roles as teacher, doctor, engineer, etc., to males, and restricts females’ social freedoms and career potentials. The hand to be used in the service of men in domestic, connubial and maternal roles. The color of the paint is significant: In Islam, golden yellow represents wisdom and good advice, while pale yellow is deceit and betrayal. The bright yellow side of the hand represents what is thought to be good practice, but which has been skewed to extremes in limiting women’s roles. The flesh tone represents reality.
c) Ear (Van Gogh ear) to indicate a society that does not listen to reason regarding females’ capacities and restricts their speech, social freedoms and career potentials
d) Heart (packing peanuts compressed with red paint and nylon thread) to indicate a society that disregards the aspirations and potentials of females and limits the emotional lives of its females
3. Malala, The Teacher and Quotation
The figure symbolizes her as a “teacher” offering to all children the basic needs for learning, which are safety, belongingness and esteem. She holds a large scale pencil with three lines: “Malala, A Girl With a Book, and Change The World”—from a comment that reflects her philosophy.
Thank you for the helpful videos. Much appreciated.
I bought the kit early in the summer, but built it in one week when I realized the deadline was October 20. It helped me realize how insanely over-involved I am, but I have purchased next year's kit and hope to work on it steadily so it's not pitiful.