The Finished Product, ready for printing

"A Meeting of the Minds"

The Evolution of
"A Meeting of the Minds"
a custom project for Book Crossing

Please be patient -- some of these images may take a little time to open.

Alison McMahon Johnson 2003

How it all started:

Some time this fall I was listening to the a morning AM radio show and heard an announcement that there were places to drop off items to send to servicepeople stationed in the middle east (Darryl Ankarlo's Links [he's a Marine Dad, so he was especially supportive of the Marine Moms] for Giving to Servicepeople) before Thanksgiving. Well, this was a perfect opportunity to send off the small travel sized packets of toiletries we'd been putting aside for this purpose. In looking at the page, we found they had books and magazines on their wish lists too, so we gathered together a bunch of books to send as well. Now, I participate in an online "random act" club called "Book Crossing." It's something like "Where's George," but with books. We register books at the site with tracking numbers, make a little journal entry about the book, and leave it in a prominent place to be found, in the hopes that the finder will come to the site, type in the number and find the journal entry, add a note that he/she found it, read it, make a journal entry, and then leave it to be found and read again, and so on. Well then, I started thinking that labeling all the books with Book Crossing labels would be a fun thing as well -- the books were likely to be passed around and, since the soldiers have access to computers and the internet, I thought it would be a good way to have them participating in something at home at the same time, so I registered and labeled them all with Book Crossing tracking numbers. "What an opportunity to spread the word about Book Crossing as well as give the servicepeople an opportunity to connect with 'the public' here," I said to myself as I labeled the books and bookmarked them with an additional paragraph of explanation. The night before we set off to drop off the personal care items and snacks as well as a bag of books, it seemed like a good excursion for my "travel doll," Luisa, and my first My Scene doll repaint, Emily, to go along on for some experimental pictures, so I made a little book in doll scale (Blacklist, a book I wanted to order), and put it in a little bag in a little basket so that the girls could participate in the pre-Thanksgiving books to soldiers effort through Marine Moms.

When I got home, I started thinking, "Well, what if Luisa were to meet a G.I. Joe through sending her book -- I could have a new storyline developing with her meeting someone through her book contribution and work a G.I. Joe into her story...." I participate in an online art project of "Travel Dolls," in which our dolls all have personalities and lives and we take them places and they do things and, if we're lucky enough, they even meet each other. Luisa doesn't have a public web page with her story on it yet, but should soon.

That was the spark of an idea to use dolls for my Book Crossing Artist's contribution -- I had promised something for their bookplate fund-raising project and had been wracking or racking my brain to think of something I could contribute (which could meet their stipulations that the piece also be available to them for auction after printing as a bookplate, that it be something different from other images they'd printed, that it have someone reading, and that it be done as a special piece for them), and so it grew.... first on my dresser ...

The idea:

I took the head from Luisa's body transplant (a Rio Christie) and put it on Luisa's old body, and tried a sweater on her which I had knit, and propped her up on a faux-sheepskin remnant of a dog toy next to a G.I. Joe, and then replaced him with an "International Peacekeepers" doll for the uniform and the equipment, thinking of a Book Crossing sign between them as the basic image and a good way to remember service personnel overseas in the random acts of Book Crossing kindness. It seemed timely and appropriate and a good project for me to spend time on as a contribution, as it was entirely different from anything I had done before, in terms of art.

Stage Two:

Stage Three:

Stage Four:

Stage Five:

Stage Six:

Stage Seven:

Stage Eight -- nearly complete -- complete enough to show:

... just some finishing touches to add and perhaps photograph with photo floods for heightened clarity.
At this stage, it needs the pages put into the books (Blacklist and The Da Vinci Code running throughout) and the sandbags sewn shut, and maybe a change of color on the middle wall, and Barbie's hair fixed nicely, and we'll have a picture of a Book Crossing drop off in a theatre, the next person to have it boxing up a bundle to send to soldiers stationed in the Middle East -- both to meet their wish lists for books and to give them a chance to communicate back via books and the internet -- and being read there by a serviceman.

Stage Nine:

at this stage the picture snaps into more clarity by the addition of a blue-green in the jacket and wallpaper (and the center doll is out at Ali Baba's Spa getting her hair done)

and an experimentation with angle -- to try to get all sections important (which the blue-green did, but the soldier and his attention on the book should be the focus of the entire piece.

...and once again, as above, the finished project:

...and a couple of shots of individual scenes within the diorama:

the theatre drop-off and Barbie's hair all done up after a visit to AliBaba's Spa

...and here the book is sharing thoughts with a serviceperson overseas, including him in the life that goes on here:

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As to my designing this for use as a bookplate for BookCrossing: because of the detail (it just grew and grew -- honest! -- I had no control over it once it started....), it was not deemed usable as a bookplate; further, I was told, their guidelines clearly state that it must be a traditional medium, i.e. not photography (that this was sculpture didn't count). I will try to get something a little more conservative together for them -- but who knows when the spirit will move me again, so right now am setting my sights on using this page also to promote support for the troops overseas. Whether you "support war" or not is of no consequence; if you are interested in sending care packages for the mind to servicepeople stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am continuously adding links to places which will use APO's to send care packages overseas. I am also interested in selling the items used in this diorama in order to help pay the postage on books I send. I don't know if there would be any interest in buying sets of photos here for that purpose also. If you are interested in purchasing any of the items, if you have a link that should be added to the project, let me know. Be warned in advance, I have no price in mind. Thanks for looking!

Care Packages for the Mind:

Books for Soldiers
Marine Moms
Any Soldier

More on this project

(pages in progress)

More about this page: The Diorama itself: how it was made; how it looks in scale to the real world.

collectibles archives

My eBay "About Me" Page:

Other Links

My Art Pages
Back to Ali's McArchives
Ali Baba's Books
My Eclectic Bookshop Page 1 of Featured Dolls
Page 2 of Featured Dolls
Page 1 of Doll Clothes
Page 3 of Featured Dolls(not open yet)
Page 4 of Featured Dolls: Alison's Wonderland Fur Salon for fashion dolls
Page 5 of Featured Dolls: Alison's Wonderland Fur Salon for fashion dolls

Luisa's Story: how I got involved in dolls; Luisa my travel doll (seen on this page delivering books)
More about this page: The Diorama itself: how it was made; how it looks in scale to the real world.
Mrs. Johnson's Launch Pad
My ESL Teaching/Learning Pages
Theatre of Arts ESL Pages
Legal Disclaimer: I am, by the way, not associated with Mattel (but if they want to hire me to design, I'm available!).