Window to the Past

   by Meghan Cuthbertson for Somewhere in Time (2015)

The processes for creating “Window to the Past” are as follows:

Base: I used the plywood disc for the attic side of the sculpture, and cut a matching piece out of the cardboard from the Mystery Build (MB) Box. Both were cut, and assembled with the Soho painting board in the center. I anchored all three to the aluminum bar for stability. The sides are created with panels cut from the box as well and hot glued together. The whole base was painted black. The framing around the wall is made with cut and painted wood craft sticks, a round dowel, and a square hardwood piece.

Silhouette: After testing, the shrink film sheet became the clear “window” containing the silhouette. I stenciled on and painted the figure black, then sprayed that side with a clear gloss to make it shiny vs. matte.

Attic scene: The wood floor was carved into the plywood disc then painted. The trunk is cut from a basswood block, painted, and then decorated with the Friendly Plastic moldable metallic strip as well as cut square hardwood strips. Cardboard from the MB box covers the other piece cut from the basswood block to form a cardboard, and is tied with string from the cloth bag drawstring. For the straw hat, the wood half ball was attached to a piece of the MB box, and all covered in burlap. Fabric from the cloth bag decorates the hat with ribbon and bow. The jewelry box is made using the wood cube, painted. For the box lid, the shrink film instruction sheet was painted with acrylic paint. The string of beads was formed from Premo, painted and strung onto another piece of the unraveled drawstring. A piece of paper that came along in the box to protect the shrink film became the book pages and letters. I used tea to make the paper look old, and then assembled it into pages and letters (tied with a string from the burlap piece). The books are pieces of the MB box, covered in the outer layer of the MB cardboard, painted. This out layer also makes up the matte board of the silhouette picture, framed with painted hardwood strip. The peeling wall and bricks are all done with paint.

Garden scene: For the grass, I took off the plastic coverings of the Premo block, and EZ Shape modeling clay. I cleaned the plastic, cut it into small squares, and created small tufts to simulate grass, gluing them into place. The grass was then painted. The rock wall is created by cutting and shaping the foam pad into individual rocks, which were then glued to the painting board. The wall was painted using acrylic paint. The vine is unraveled threads from the burlap, and the leaves are painted and cut from the previously tea stained piece of paper. The stepping stones are made from Premo, and then painted. For the dirt surrounding the stones, the brown EZ shape clay became the perfect material. The bench and base of the table are created by cutting apart, shaping, carving, and painting the Balsa-Foam block. I used the aluminum wire for the legs of the table. The table top is a circle of cardboard (from the MB box) glued to the cardboard mirror (which also made up the edge and detailing on the table top). The tea set I made out of Premo, formed, baked and painted.

Woman: To begin forming the three dimensional woman figure, I made an armature out of aluminum wire, then glued foam sheet around the wire to make a more human figure. I used thread from the bobbin to wrap the figure, to round out and shape the edges of the foam. The head, hair, and hands are made from white and brown EZ Shape modeling clay. Then, I sprayed it with a bit of spray gloss to seal the surface and harden it up for painting. I painted in the detail with acrylic paint. The dress is made from taking apart the cloth bag, and reassembling it by cutting and hot gluing around the figure. The drawstring from the bag became accents around the waist and neck. The broach and buttons are made from Premo and painted gold, then glued onto the painted dress.

As far as adhesives, I used hot glue and craft glue. Acrylic paint, house paint, spray gloss, and gold spray paint were used throughout to paint the piece. Stain was used to treat the wood floor.

As I was thinking about the theme, “Somewhere in Time”, I wanted to create a sculpture that showed both the present and the past simultaneously. The anchor for the picture was found in the shrink film sheet, as I decided that both the present and the past could be linked through a window of sorts. This is done through the framed silhouette of the woman. On one side, in the present, there is an attic filled with treasures from long ago: a trunk, accessories, books, and letters. The woman is shown in silhouette, a vague likeness which, along with her possessions, shows the viewer in the present who she might have been. On the other side, in the past, we see the woman fully formed and realized. She is sitting in her garden enjoying tea. Instead of simply an outline, she is three dimensional. In the present, we have clues as to who those in the past might have been, but it is sometimes hard to think of them as having lives and thoughts as fully developed as the present.

I was excited to receive the Mystery Build box, and to discover what it held. This is my first time participating in this challenge, and I was pleasantly surprised at the wide breadth, and amount, of materials given. This project gave me the opportunity to try some new materials and techniques I have not used before. I did not use all the materials in my piece, but was able to include a good variety. I was especially a fan of using the moldable metallic strip, and am excited to use more of it in the future. This Mystery Build Challenge was a fun way to energize my own art making and current projects. Through the course of this project, I have loved how the limits encouraged even more creativity and innovative problem solving, stretching myself as an artist.