Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mystery Challenge Caravan: And Death is Beautiful as Feet of Friend Coming with Welcome at Our Journey's End

And Death is Beautiful as Feet of Friend Coming With Welcome at Our Journey's End
James Russell Lowell

The Mixed Media Art on Facebook Group's member Patricia Ross and Alix Sandra Huntley-Speirs hosted a challenge to the members for the month of March called the Mystery Caravan.  The challenge was to create a shadowbox structure no larger than 8"-10" square.  The only requirement was that the assemblage must include a set of wheels as if it is a caravan carrying its mystery cargo.

MMA assigned us a member to share with and I met Jacqlyn Sickler from Falls Church, Virginia, through the exchange.

Here is how my project came together:

I think that the thing with wheels is from a curtain assembly.  The glass box is something I picked up at some estate sale or flea market somewhere--it is not a typical kind of object that I would normally look for but I found it in my basement so it came to my some how.

The first challenge came in attaching the wheels to the bottom of the box.  I made the decision to orient my box so that the viewer has to look down into it, like a coffin.  Because the bottom of the box was glass and the top of the wheels was a little flat surface, I used Aves Apoxie Clay to build up a connecting piece between the two.

In my box of things religious in the basement, I found this shrine-like plastic piece that I thought would look pretty cool mounted on the back of the box.  Again, Aves came to the rescue.

My wife had given me a Valentine's Day card (on purpose) that had a cool overlay she thought I could use for an assemblage.  It did not take very long for me to think of using it as the background for the shrine. A little gesso and some paint and it was attached to the back of the shrine.

The inside of the caravan box was filled with a glass figure covered with a shroud and four posts with steel tops.

I selected a shiny silver reindeer from my stock of animals to use to pull the caravan.  I spent quite a bit of time painting it up.

Then, in trying to add some wheels to its legs, I snapped a leg off.  Oh, snap.

Back to the bin o' animals to find a plastic horse with stronger legs.

I spent went back to work painting the lead horse and using E6000 and Aves to attach the wheels.

I needed something for the back of the caravan and while searching for the first shrine, I had rejected using the stack o'clowns I had recently purchased at a flea market.  Now, they seemed like the perfect rear addition.

After painting up these happy fellows into some kind of shriney statuary, I wired the horse to the caravan and finished some detail painting.  As always, my constant art companion Biakabutuka had to stop by.  Under terms of full disclosure, I had just changed the water so it is fresh, not full of acrylics in case you were already dialing the Animal Rights people.

So, after about eight or so hours of work and after gathering about $15 worth of supplies to make it, I can proudly send And Death is Beautiful as Feet of Friend Coming With Welcome at Our Journey's End off in the mail to Jacqlyn.

Here is the finished work:


  1. I love reading about your creative adventures!! It turned out brilliant! What a fun idea... and I love that perspective, looking down inside the box... thats kinda thinking outside the box, IN the box... if that makes any sense at all?? lol

  2. Great piece and such fun following your creative process:-)

  3. Awesome! I love it!
    Makes me wish I had participated.

  4. Wowser! totally rocks!

  5. What - no Pez fitted the bill? No matter, you had fun making an awesome mobile shrine-thingy :)