Journal Items

Mystery Build 2015 - Recycling Like True Entropy

For this year’s Mystery Build, I wanted to create something that nobody has ever done before. My project evolved into a short film that captures the evolution of life in five acts – all out of only ONE Mystery Build Kit! It all started with the storyboard. When we watch evolution, nothing shapes our perception more than thinking that humans are the crown of creation. So I took a fresh look at our history and pointed out unusual sequences beginning with the Big Bang to events which were not triggered by the action of humans, and I revealed a surprising ending with our future on another planet.


This year’s biggest challenge was the material limitations. I had to plan carefully in which order the different scenes had to be built and what material I would use when. Reusing the supplies over and over again weakened the material. And if you are carving or cutting certain materials, you can’t add more if you took too much away. I used a bit from all that was provided in the Mystery Build Kit as well as its packaging, the instructions and the box itself.

Act #5: Future Life at Losthaven, Planet Xouria - 3,006,000,023

I began with the ending because the futuristic city was the most complex scene. My aim was to create outstanding architectural designs. The Windmill has a vertical axis turbine that is made out of Premo and wood craft sticks that are chopped off on one side. I constructed the tower with the wood ring, cube, half ball, mini barrel, beehive, and some cardboard of the Mystery Build Box. I cut out organic shapes of the foam sheet and glued it on the small basswood block for the Bridge Building. For the bridge itself, I used the aluminum bar and Styrofoam disc and foam sheet. The round dowels and foam sheet form the highway. The tunnel is also made out of foam sheet. Little clay cars are driving through the streets. The cardboard mirror became the base of my dome. I placed one Styrofoam disc inside to hold up the aluminum wire spiral. Before I started building my Solar Lotus, I practiced folding traditional Origami flowers. I knew there was no room for mistakes. The kit only provided one piece of paper and I needed two. So I also took the instruction that came with the shrink film sheet. I colored and cut the paper before folding it. I was a little bit nervous that the thick paper might crack but everything went well. I twisted the rubber band that held the wood craft sticks together to tie the paper in the middle and gently fanned out the grouped stacks. For the platform I used a saw to cut the plywood disc in a flower shape, sanded and colored it, and made a mosaic border with squared pieces of the metallic strip. The tower is formed out of burlap and three hardwood strips. I chopped wood sticks in half for the star-shaped water pool. In contrast to the smooth mastery of this construction, I did not exactly succeed in building the Honey Hive in first place. To build up the walls, I wrapped coils around and smoothened the inside and outside for strengthening. I created honeycomb windows with the shrink film sheet. Unfortunately gluing the hexagon structure didn’t work very well. The windows constantly broke out so I had to get creative with the arrangement. First I was disappointed but then I realized that it actually played into my cards. I had planned to place the goddess of the sun inside the building and the broken windows looked like the sound of her scream forced them out. The roof has skylights that were made out of the wood craft sticks and the shrink film sheet. The Triangle Twin Building is the bigger basswood block that was cut in half. This became quite an adventure! I asked my landlord to use his circular table saw. We added a long wood pole with nails as an extension to be able to cut the small piece on the table saw without cutting off any fingers. The Mushroom Tower is made of a hardwood strips, the wood of the mini clothespin and clay. The Xacto Knife was very helpful for creating the planet’s vegetation. The shaved-out pieces of the foam pad became trees and the pad itself was used for the hills. For the waterfall, I cut the plastic foil packaging of the clay in strips, and I placed little Premo rocks around the water. The sculpture consists of the steel ball and the wood bowl. This public art piece creates a nice reflection of its surroundings.

Since I had already used the whole wire for the dome, I took cardboard and pieces of the wood sticks to form a solid skeleton and to define the poses of the cyberpunk girl and fairies. Then I build the clay around it and used modeling tools to shape them. The cyberpunk girl’s machine arm is composite wood stick parts and metal lever action of the clothespin. Her clothes are made of the cloth bag, its cord and the burlap. She is wearing a thread necklace. I stitched the edges of the trapper hat with the thread and glued some rope of the cloth bag to it. The hat and boot lining and is made of cotton ball to give it a fur-like look. I used paper for the spurs and wood for the heels. The goggles are made from cardboard, shrink film sheet and the cloth bag cord. Her weapons are a wooden spear and a pistol, which is build with wood pieces, clay and thread. Her back is attached with a wood craft stick holding her pose. The sun goddess stands on a wood strip and her head is made with cardboard and clay. The Swallowtail Butterfly has paper wings, a clay body and thread antennas. The mice’s trunks are built on wood skeletons and their fur is cotton ball. For the background and the ground, I used the canvas panel, painting board and Mystery Build Box. All details are painted with acrylics, gouache and markers.

Act #1: Birth of Earth, Milky Way - 4,600,000,000 years ago

After three and a half weeks building, I was pretty excited to finally demolish my city and to go back in time. I organized all the material in an old pot, a bowl, boxes and plastic bags for reusing. I knew the next scene would be a simple thing. For the spaceship, I glued some paper on the plywood disc from the Solar Lotus and placed the aluminum wire from the Dome on top. I pushed apart the wires to create space for the window. I folded the paper of the Solar Lotus in a different way that it looked like turbines. And the tower of the windmill became the stand for the spacecraft.

I painted the Mystery Build Box black and added some colors for a cosmic nebula effect. For creating stars, I took my toothbrush and dabbed it in a little bit of water and acrylic paint and started flicking it on the background. I turned the cardboard mirror and painted the earth. Glued cotton ball on the edges to make the gases visible that were released from volcanic activity on its surface. I attached the mirror cardboard with a piece of the round dowel to the background. The comets are made with Premo and strips of the shrink film sheet.

Act #4: Moon Landing at Sea of Tranquility - 1969

For the moon landing, I modified Earth and the galaxy to show its transformation after 13.9 Billion years. I reshaped and colored Planet Xouria’s vegetation for the moon crater and ground. The astronaut has a wire skeleton. His spacesuit is made from recycled clay. I rolled clay for the tubes that go directly to the Primary Life Support System on his torso. It has the steel ball in the center. I flicked paint on his helmet for the reflection of space. The astronaut is sitting on a beach chair that I constructed with hardwood strips and covered with the cloth bag fabric. He is holding a clay bottle. The flag hangs on an aluminum wire and is painted on the cloth bag fabric. The Sputnik rocket is build with the sharpened round dowel. I rolled paper into cones for the turbines and added foam sheet triangles.

Act #2: Human Evolution at Rift Valley, Africa -  2,800,000 years ago

The astronaut became the base for the adult female Homo naledi with her child. The Australopithecus adult male has also a wire skeleton. All three figures have black body hair from cotton balls, which I dyed with gouache. I did the same skeleton construction with the Baboon male. Here I rooted the whole body with fibers from the burlap that I also dyed. It took quite some time to separate the fibers and to root each strand of hair. Afterwards the ape got a haircut and some wood teeth. The plywood disc surface turned out to be a good source for thin wood pieces. I cut it with nail scissors for the African savanna and arranged the grass bushes on a clay base. I carved a tree trunk of the basswood block from the smaller Triangle Twin Building and glued wood leftovers from the carving and plywood disc pieces on it. The Australopithecus is also holding a stick made of these pieces. The round carving leftovers were perfect for the leaves of the palm trees. I just put them into the clay trunk. For the massive rock with the cave in the back I continued cutting the foam pad. The little stones are Premo pieces. The Homo sapiens in the back is made of cardboard and clay. He wears clothes made of burlap and a bow that is constructed with a wood carving leftover and a thread.

Act #3: Civilization at Valley of the Kings, Egypt, 1323 B.C.

The cyberpunk girl was transformed into Cleopatra. King Tutankhamun is the remodeled Australopithecus. For the clothing I painted the clay plastic foil packaging. Their jewelry is made out of paper and clay. King Tutankhamun is holding a wire crook and his mask is built with paper, clay and a wood craft stick piece. To thicken Cleopatra’s hair, I added more thread on the back of her head. The two pharaohs are standing on a chariot made of paper from the Lotus Flower Origami and the painting board. It is decorated with the metallic strip pieces. I chopped the blades of the Windmill in half and reassembled them as spikes of the wheels. The tires are made of foam sheet. I attached axle and pole out of the round dowels to the platform of the chariot. Since the pharaohs were too heavy for the chariot, I had to support it with one of the basswood blocks. Cleopatra is driving a dark dead horse with thread reins. The horse’s body is formed with the foam pad pieces that I glued together. His ribs are made from cardboard. They are attached with a grass bush wood piece. The eyes and teeth are modeled with clay. The galloping horse is hold up by the aluminum wire. I carved the ancient Egypt pyramids out of the Balsa-Foam block and cut it diagonally.

The industrial revolution is painted with acrylics and charcoal pencils. I used the other Triangle Twin Building as a base for the locomotive and attached cardboard, the Styrofoam disc, wooden ring, cube and steel ball to make it three-dimensional. The smoke that is coming out of the chimney is dyed cotton ball. I used the body of the female Homo naledi for the plague doctor. His mask is supported by a wood craft stick piece. I modified the cyberpunk girl’s goggles with a little bit of clay. His hat is made out of cardboard and clay. I painted plastic foil packaging for his coat. In his arm you find the remodeled Homo naledi child. I rooted her head with strings from the burlap. Made her clothes and hair ribbon out of the plastic foil packaging. The gas mask is made of the cloth bag fabric and the goggles are built the same way as the one’s of plague doctor.