The Looking Glass

   by Karen Stahl-Kieffer for Somewhere in Time (2015)

I had an idea of what I was going to build before I received the kit so, when it arrived, I was very excited to see the natural colors of the clays and also the blocks of wood. I would have to use my imagination for everything else.

The division between the two places in time - The Soho painting board was used as the division between the two places in time. I painted both sides - one green and alive and the other gray and depressing. I cut a hole with a box cutter for the looking glass window. The square hardwood strips were glued to the Soho painting board and then glued to the plywood disc so the division would stand up straight. I used the mystery build box for the base of the entire structure. The lid was cut into pieces and added to the sides of the box to create different levels.

The looking glass window - The shrink film was cut for the glass window. I decided to not shrink it and it was glued into the window opening.

Trees - Wood craft sticks were used as the armature for the trees. I sculpted the EZ shape modeling clay in brown and white for the trunks and branches of the trees. I used the paper for the leaves. After they were drawn, painted and cut out, I glued them to small pieces of broken wood craft sticks and stuck them into the tree branches.

Birds nest - I glued pieces of wood craft sticks with pieces of burlap to form a small birds nest. I molded the eggs from the EZ shape modeling clay.

Bridges - The aluminum wire was cut and hammered flat for the structure of the bridges. I glued the wood craft sticks to the aluminum wire and painted them.

The dog - I sculpted the dog from the white EZ shape modeling clay and I sculpted the bones of the dead dog also from the EZ shape white clay.

The girls - The girls' head, hair, and body parts were sculpted from the Premo clay. After they were baked, I glued them together and painted it with acrylic paint. I dyed the cloth bag green with food coloring and glued pieces of the cloth to the body for the bodice of the dress. I also dyed the bobbin of thread and used it to sew the pieces of the cloth bag to make the skirts . I used a strand of cord from the burlap for the sash and bow on the girls' dresses.

Benches - I cut 4 square blocks from the basswood and used my drummel to shape the tiny stones for the columns of the benches. I painted the columns and added another piece of basswood that was cut for the top of the benches. I used the drummel to add wood detailing to the tops of the benches and I painted them.

Picnic basket - I cut the wood beehive in half and covered it with pieces of burlap cording. I braided the burlap cords and glued that as the basket handle. I cut the apple and cheese from the balsa foam block and painted the apple. I formed the grapes from the EZ shape modeling clay in green, white and brown.

Tire swing - I painted the wood ring black and tied a piece of burlap cord onto it and hung it from the tree on the green side. I used the EZ shape modeling clay to form the deflated old tire on the dead side.

Fences - The basswood blocks were cut into strips and glued with pieces of wood craft sticks to form the fences. I burned the fence for the dead side.

Bottles and trash - I cut , colored and shrunk the shrink film and molded it while it was still hot to form the basic shape of the glass bottles. I formed the glass bottles more with the drummel. The glass bottles are used as trash on the dead side in the dried up stream. I also used the cellophane wrapper from the canvas panel as more trash. I crinkled up small pieces and placed as litter.

Garden globe - I used the wood mini bowl and steel ball for the garden globe on the green side. I cut and hammered a few more pieces of aluminum wire and cut off tiny shards for the broken garden globe on the dead side.

Flowers and grasses - I punched heart shape flowers from the foam sheet and painted them. I tied knots with the thread from the bobbin and painted and glued them as the centers for the flowers. I punched little circles from the foam sheet and glued them in short columns for the calla lilies. The canvas panel was taken apart and the canvas was cut and painted for the stems and leaves. The grasses were made from the burlap and cloth bag. I took each apart and glued the individual strings and cord together to make clumps of grasses, some green and some brown.

Grass, stream and waterfall - I spread the EZ shape modeling clay in green for the grass and I formed little clumps of grasses from the clay to add some texture and height. The blue and white EZ shape clay was used for the stream and waterfall.

Dirt and burnt areas - I crushed the styrofoam discs and glued the pieces down and painted them brown for the texture of dirt. I molded the black EZ shape modeling clay for the burnt areas of the dead side.

Rocks - I made several different kinds of rocks. The stream rocks were made from the foam pad that I cut into rock shapes and painted. Various other rocks were made from the box lid scraps of cardboard. I put the scraps into the blender and made pulp. I added a small amount of water and I was able to roll tiny pebbles (like spit balls) and let them dry. I used the inside cardboard from the canvas panel as well. I put that into the blender and later added glue to the pulp and formed the mixture into large round boulders and I painted them. I used pieces of the crushed balsa foam block as rocks placed in various areas. Finally I formed pieces of Premo clay and baked and painted them for the rocks the girls are standing on.

Stone wall - I glued pieces of left-over foam pad that I had cut for the stream rocks. I glued them to the sides of the box and painted them. I painted the grout spaces and then filled in the spaces with black EZ shape modeling clay. The vines that are growing on the stone wall are from a piece of burlap cord that I painted. I glued some heart shaped leaves that I punched from the canvas panel and painted.

In most applications I used acrylic paint, elmer's glue and/or E6000 industrial glue.

The girls gazing through the glass window are looking somewhere in time. It could either be the past or it could be the future. As I worked on this project, ,many times my youngest daughter would ask me, "Momma, what side are we on?" As I looked into her big blue eyes, I had a very hard time telling her that I believe we're on the dead side. It's hard for an 8 year old to understand that everywhere in the world is not like San Diego, California. As the mother of 4 kids and one with special needs, I hope that some day my daughter can say she's the girl on the green side gazing through the looking glass and seeing the past. You'll also notice that the window is broken and the two girls are reaching to touch one another. This is to show that the past, present and future are linked together with the decisions that we make. One of my kid's favorite books is the Lorax by Dr. Seuss and in it, he leaves us with a quote." UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."