The Garden of Hurdy Delights
by Jasper White for Build A Dream (2014)
When I first got the box I was very intrigued by the contents. Finding Van Gogh's severed ear in a cardboard box, no matter how unbelievable it may seem, is not a daily occurrence for me. This ear, however, is what gave me the inspiration for the quote at the beginning of my video. The story I made as I went along was that Van Gogh went to great lengths to listen to the Hurdy Gurdy music, including sewing back on his own ear.
I started with my design on paper. I was to make a working Hurdy Gurdy (an instrument I dream of having) filled with things from my actual dreams.
I started right away when I got my box. I cut the edges in various places, then lined it all back up into the correct shape. I had the whole instrument set up, so I painted the entire exterior. I painted the top to look like real wood, and the bottom and sides to look like the yellow painted Hurdy Gurdys meant to resemble lutes. I painted an intricate design of birds walking on vines on the front, after drawing the design very carefully for a few hours, painting it, and outlining it in sharpie. I made the head of the Hurdy Gurdy out of the canvas board, which I also painted to look like wood, and glued it onto the Hurdy Gurdy.
Just to get you familiar with some of the things in my build -
A Hurdy Gurdy is a Western Europe or Middle Eastern instrument that is played by cranking a rosined wheel to vibrate the strings. Every aspect of the one that I built is derived from real Hurdy Gurdys.
The Striped dog-like creature in my build is a Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger, which is an animal that went extinct in 1936 because it was hunted to death by Australian farmers. It is actually a marsupial, not a dog.
The blue bird at the foot of the the bed is a Passenger Pigeon, which went extinct from hunting by American farmers. It is one of the biggest known mass extinctions because the flocks supposedly used to partially black out the sky.
The jungle animals consist of a Kiwi (the little brown bird), a giant anteater (the gray and brown animal on it's hind legs with the big tail) and a Pied Hornbill (the black. white and yellow bird sitting in the top of one of the trees).
The instrument that the Warrior (the little clay guy in a gold helmet) in the box is playing is called a Claviola. It is an accordion-like instrument played by breathing into a small pipe. Fifty of them were made by the Hohner company before they realized that nobody was interested in them and they stopped production.
I wanted to use all of the materials in my project, and unfortunately I could not use every single one; I managed to use all but three.
1) I used the tempered hardwood to make the box that has the keys in it on top of the Hurdy Gurdy, and some of the pieces (bridges) that hold up the strings. I cut the hard wood with a saw and saved the wood shavings from this and the basswood dowels for texture on the beach.
2) I used the canvas cloth as a blanket for the dreaming man inside, and also as a suit-top for the Van Gogh head. In addition, I disassembled some of the canvas cloth and used the strands as hair, beard and mustache for Van Gogh.
3) I used a small amount of the wire mesh as an armature for the bus seats, which I covered with the card stock paper and painted. I also used the card stock paper as wings for the large 'Okra mantis' inside of the Hurdy Gurdy.
4) I used the large aluminum rod to create the crank of the Hurdy Gurdy and the armor for the little warrior on the inside sitting on a rock playing the Claviola. I did this by bending the rod into the shape I wanted with pliers and then hammering it to make it thinner.
5) I used the wire spool to make armatures for the trees and some of the animals inside such as the Okra mantis and the Thylacine. I also used it to make the separators and pitch changers (tangents) for the peg box on the Hurdy Gurdy.
6) I used the natural sea sponge to make some parts of the Okra mantis.
7) I used the nylon thread for the wound strings, which I made by taking two pieces of the thread and twisting them around each other two hundred times. I also used it to embroider the Mysterybuild insignia on the blanket (which I then painted,) and I used the thread to sew Van Gogh's ear back on.
8) I used the 1 pound of Van Aken modeling clay to create the creatures on the inside, the trees, and to model Van Gogh's eyebrows and nose to make him look more like himself (clay over plaster gauze) The head of the dreaming man is also Van Aken clay, melted and added oil paints. The animals, made of clay, I painted after they had hardened a little bit.
9) I used the canvas board to make the bed inside of the Hurdy Gurdy.
10) I used the plaster gauze to make the head of Van Gogh. I did this by my face placing wettened strips of the cloth over petroleum jelly on my own face. I put on additional layers after it had dried. Then I made it look more like Van Gogh by adding clay to the nose and eyebrows, covering them with more plaster cloth and made his eyes out of the Van Aken modeling clay.
11) The wooden mannequin was used to make the man who is dreaming in the head of the Hurdy Gurdy. The head of it is modeled with clay, put it in the freezer, and etched with details. I then took the box of the mannequin and cut it into the shape of a school bus, which I hot glued together and painted yellow. After putting the seats and people inside, Nik and Miguel, I took the shrink wrap from the outside of the box and made windows out of it.
12) To make the pitch changing pegs on the inside of the peg box (tangents), I cut the square basswood dowels to the appropriate lengths and hot-glued pieces of the tempered hardboard on to make sure they didn't go too far in. I drilled holes in them to stick wire into for the part that touches the string. After inserting them into the box, I glued the wires in place which made the pegs not fall out. I cut the larger dowels into very thin slices and used them to support the pegs and made the hardwood flooring underneath the bed in the Hurdy Gurdy. The way I made the wood floors under the bed was to cut the thin slices into many different parts, then matched them all together and glued them in place with hot glue. I stained the slices with urethane to make them look more like a realistic hardwood floor. I used the round wooden dowels given in the box to make the legs of the bed and the tuning pegs of the Hurdy Gurdy. I used a saw to cut all of these things to the correct width and length, and saved all of the wood shavings to make the sand of the beach. I also used some of the curly shaving from the square dowels to make the waves in the water at the beach.
13) I used the two wooden discs to make the bridges of the Hurdy Gurdy (the pieces that hold up the strings on the Hurdy Gurdy. First I drew what design I wanted them to be, cut them with a saw, and painted them with copper paint.
14) I was very surprised to see an ear when I opened the box, but quickly put it to use by attaching it to the head of Van Gogh after putting some stitches in it with the nylon thread that I colored black.
The three things that I was not able to use were the Biodegradable packing peanuts, the Plastic egg, and the Styrofoam rod. I tried to make the trees out of the packing peanuts, but they got too sticky and dissolved. I had a plan to put Van Gogh's head in a glass box made from the shrink wrap on the box and the Styrofoam rod as the support beams, but decided that he would look better without it. Last but not least is the plastic egg. I had no idea what to do with this so just left it alone.
I was partially inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's "The Garden of Earthly Delights," which has a ten foot tall Hurdy Gurdy in the Hell portion of the painting. All of my other inspiration was from dreams.
When I first heard about this prompt, I thought to myself, “How I could interpret dreams?” Two ways: the things I dream of doing or having, and actual dreams I have at night.
The main part of my build is what I dream of having. I've been collecting strange instruments for years. A Hurdy Gurdy has been on the list of instruments I want. Some other things inspired by the "I want," were the Thylacine and Passenger Pigeon, two animals that went extinct in the mid-1900s. I dream of bringing back through cloning. I also put the Giant anteater, Kiwi and Pied Hornbill in there because I dream of seeing those animals in the wild someday.
The rest of the creations in my build are from dreams I've had at night. In one dream, there was a peacock on the beach, which later turned into a person and rode away on a school bus. I mixed this dream with another dream in which a strange man was talking to me and I looked into the next room over, to see an overweight man sitting at the table doing nothing. He was a white man who said "Hi, I'm Nik." I looked at the man talking to me and then back at Nik, only to find that he was now Mexican. I was very confused and he said, "I am Miguel!" So I took Nik and Miguel and put them in the school bus riding towards the beach that has a Peacock on it.
Another was the Okra Mantis. Soon after learning about the Orchid Mantis of Malaysia and having a drawing assignment to draw dried okra, I had a dream that a large mantis camouflaged as dried okra was walking around on my hand.
In another dream, a man was sitting on a rock. This was a little warrior I made out of clay with a metal breastplate (made of the aluminum rod,) a golden helmet made of clay, and a Claviola, also made of clay. This warrior was chasing after me in a dream with a bow and arrow, and I hid behind a rock to escape him. I then realized it was a dream and stood up to see if I could be hurt. He shot me, and the dream ended. I put the Claviola in with him because it is another instrument I dream of having.
The purple-y gold pigeon was one that I saw at a carnival (in a dream) and attempted to catch for my girlfriend whose white Russian Tumbler pigeon had recently died.
The lizard next to the bed represents my first Leopard Gecko, Venus, who recently died. I wanted to honor her memory so I put the clay version of her in my box.