Saturday, May 15, 2010

private magic world in a shoe-box

The first dioramas I ever built were pretty crude, but I did the best I could to create magic in shoe-boxes, tissue-boxes, or whatever I had on hand.

After my first visit with my family to the incredible Disneyland in 1961, I couldn't stop thinking about the wonders of little scenes. There were drive-through rides like Alice in Wonderland and Snow White, and there were peer-in dioramas like the ones installed in the Sleeping Beauty castle. When those magical little constructions were removed from the castle years later, Disneyland felt a bit diminished for me. I'm sure people from my generation remember those beautifully staged and illuminated fairy-tale scenes of the atmospheric castle bathed in blue light. I suppose in this day and age we can't have the multitudes placing their eyes up to those little peek holes.

Disneyland's beauty and power haunted me ever after. But how could I recreate such wonders at home? All I had to work with were my box of crayons and some paper to create props and backdrops. But I soon realized a sheet of dark blue construction paper made a great sky, and with tiny holes punched in it, I had an instant starry night. Close off the box except for a tiny peek-hole, and voila... a diorama I could hold up to the light and be transported. Another pleasing effect I was able to achieve was a mountain lake, using a purse mirror and some cotton for snow.

Decades later I'm the same person now as I was then, but with more tools and skill at my disposal.

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