Where in Time Would YOU Go?

   by Elizabeth Ihlenfeld for Somewhere in Time (2015)

My piece is composed of four parts: the clock/gear base, the train station trusses, the mannequins, and the time machine.

Clock/gear base - I inherited an old mechanical clock this summer and I was inspired by the inside mechanism and all the gears. I wanted to show it all off by setting the whole piece on top of a light box and back lighting all the gears. Materials used: Basswood blocks, plywood disk, mystery build box, heat shrink plastic, dowels, and wood half ball.

Train station trusses - This is the first time I tried bending wood. I wasn't sure the craft sticks would soften enough to do it, but I was pleasantly surprised at the results. I first made a jig with nails and a piece of wood. Then I soaked the sticks in water and shaped them in the jig and let them dry. Materials used: Craft sticks, soho painting board, mystery build box, wood egg, wood bowl, wood ring, round and square dowels, hardwood strips, friendly plastic, wire, heat shrink sheet, paper.

Mannequins and clothes - I have been wanting to learn how to make a two piece mold, so I sculpted a 3" high figure from extra materials to cast. I used a casting kit of silicone. This was the base mold for all the mannequins. I originally wanted twelve mannequins all clothed in different fashions, but this process was extremely time consuming to construct and I needed to cut back. I felt six mannequins would convey the idea just as well and I actually liked the less crowded design. Choosing only six time periods was a different challenge. Mannequins made from wire and premo. Clothes and hair made from burlap, muslin bag, cord from bag, paper, cardboard mirror, mystery build label, foam sheet, foam pad, nylon thread, cotton ball, and plastic wrap from soho painting canvas.

Time machine - my goal here was to create an original time machine based on steam trains and early automobiles. I wanted all the gears to look like they had a purpose and function in the design, and not just be decorative. The friendly plastic was a nice surprise, as I had not used it in years and never with a mold. Materials used: Mystery build box, canvas panel, balsa foam block, mini clothespin, thread bobbin, rubber band from the craft sticks, wood barrel, wood beehive, wood cube, wire, dowel rod, paper, friendly plastic, heat shrink plastic, and premo.

Tools used: table saw, dremel tool, flex shaft, pliers, wire cutters, tin snips, hammers and mini anvil, sandpaper, sewing needles, silicon molds, nails and wood, scissors, xacto knife, toaster oven, pasta machine, sculpting tools, stamps, paper punches, saw and miter box, drill, freezer paper, printer, hole punch.

Liquids and adhesives used: fabric dye, water, acrylic paints, glue dots, white glue, fabric glue, hot glue, E6000, rub n' buff, spray paint, fabric markers, permanent markers, and fabric stiffener.

If you had a time machine, where in time would YOU go? Have you ever thought about it?

I have always been drawn to history, clothing, and dressing up in costumes, so I naturally became a costume designer for the theatre. And, yes, I have been asked the question, what's my favorite time period? Of course, my favorite time period is always the show I'm currently working on and I always seem to find something to love about each time in history and sometimes the future.

This project took about one month to build to actually build, but it took all my extra time and a more than a few late nights. I spent months wrestling with ideas and sketches, but something didn't feel right. That's when I sat down to watch "The Time Machine" based on the H.G. Wells novel written in 1895.

In the 1960's movie, the time traveller sees a mannequin in the store window changing fashions as the years go by. Those images resonated with me and made me switch gears, becoming my inspiration for this piece. Where in time would I go? That's when the whole concept came together of using steam punk, steam trains, and mechanical clocks as an overall design theme. I thought steam punk as an overall concept would help tie this whole piece together. I decided to design my own time machine using inspiration from steam trains, early automobiles, and stagecoaches.

A special thanks goes to my husband Dave, for helping me to assemble the video and upload my project. The final project is presented as a slide show created in Apple's "Photos" application, using music that is in the public domain.