Pan and Syrinx

   by Evelyn Johns Rivera and Evelyn and Carlos for Build A Dream (2014)

Out of the box materials used: tempered hardboard (base), canvas cloth (dress of Syrinx), wire mesh (as both figure structural basis for both figures and décor), aluminum wire spool (figure modeling), natural sea sponge (painting), nylon thread spool (figure modeling), Van Aken Modeling Clay (figure modeling: Pan), canvas board (base), plaster cloth wrap (figure modeling and object modeling), Styrofoam rod (base and gear modeling), square dowel (base and gear modeling), round dowel (gear modeling), wooden mannequin (figure of Pan, his flute), wooden mannequin box (base and gear modeling), wood disc (gear modeling) and packing peanuts (base modeling to add texture and figure modeling, Pan), outside clear wrapper of the box (dress of Syrinx), box (gear and base modeling), bubble wrap included in the box. Out of the box materials not used: aluminum rod, plastic egg, foam Van Gogh ear.

Figure of Syrinx: Materials used: aluminum wire, canvas cloth, nylon thread and plaster cloth to build the base of her. I first made a pattern for the limbs and head and using the canvas cloth cut the pieces, sewed them together and used the bubble wrap to stuff them. For the body, I cut a trunk pattern piece from the wire mesh and stuffed it with bubble wrap. I attached all the pieces with the nylon string so they had some mobility. To finish her off, I painted her in acrylic paint, used colored pencils to draw in her face, painted the canvas cloth to clothe her. She is seated in a “moon” base created by wrapping plaster cloth wrap around a balloon and letting it dry, cutting a pattern into the dried piece.
Figure of Pan: Materials used: aluminum wire, selected wooden mannequin pieces for the body – the chest and head piece. I made a paste of the corn starch and used this to model around the aluminum wire and build the figure. Once this dried, I applied the Van Aken Modeling Clay, coloring the clay as suggested on the Mystery Build web site. I made the flute out of two pieces from the wooden mannequin.
The base or set: Created from using the Mystery Build box. I cut the pieces to create a round base, glued them together using binder clips to hold them in place until dried. Once dried, I added some additional paper box material supports at the joining edges to hold it together. I used a mixture of gesso and glue to stiffen the box and prepare it for a dark paint base. Once I painted it, I made some modifications to the base to match more what I had in mind. I added some strengthening supports by gluing strips of tempered hardboard under the base to keep it sturdy and add some weight to the piece.

The gear set: mounted on top of the tempered hardboard. I used the wooden disk and some cardboard from the box to construct the gear that would be used to turn the figure. I used the round wood dowel to extend the gear outside the box and added a piece of the wooden mannequin as a handle. To attach the gear vertically to the “moon” piece, I shaved down one of the square dowels, using a drill to round it off.

The paint job: I used the sea sponge to apply the over coats of gradually lightened blue paint to build up some texture and 3-D like effects of the base. I drew a dolphin that I took directly from a replica Greek vase onto the base and flipped the drawing, so I could add two of them.

My inspiration for the “build a dream” theme comes from the Greek mythological story of Pan and Syrinx, a river nymph. Pan loved Syrinx and tried to draw her close to him using the music of the flute. Before he met Syrinx, there were no flutes, so Pan fashioned the first flute for himself and learned to play it. He was not particularly handsome by river nymph standards, so he probably felt he needed something to make her notice him. So Pan brought the music of the flute into the world, but it was not enough to lead Syrinx to love him. After this failed attempt to win Syrinx, Pan played his flute each night for the moon in memory of his love for her.
I love this little dream of a story because it shows how love can inspire great things, if only the music of a flute.

I chose to relate it to a story from Greek mythology.

I had my doubts when I opened up the box, but I love a puzzle so I really enjoyed the process – which is the whole point of creativity and making any kind of art for me. I had to force myself into unchartered waters --- I really did not know how to use half of these materials, including the clay. I knew that I could not build Syrinx using the clay, because her “moon” base was light – so she needed to be light. So making two figures using two sets of materials was a challenge. I don’t know anything about gears, but it was fun finding videos on how clocks work and figuring out a simple gear mechanism. This took a lot of time, but I learned a lot. I’ve never taken a sculpturing class, so working out the clay figure was a bit of intimidation – but once I got started, it all seemed to work out. I’m so grateful for the video tips – they really made a difference in my approach to the materials and really made a difference in my overall presentation. I had a great time and I’m looking forward to next year.

I chose to use the talents of my husband, Carlos, who documented by film my process, and created a music theme to accompany the piece.