This Wish is Real

As I was driving back to my friend’s house (where I stayed after installing The Wish) I got teary-eyed as I thought of the community that contributed to this project. I mean, seriously, it takes a village, and I so prefer working in community to working in isolation! I could not have done this project without the enthusiasm, encouragement, contributions and physical help of my physical and on-line communities.

This is part one of a multi-part story about how my installation project, The Wish, came to life.

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I cannot remember the exact inception of The Wish, but I’ve been fabricating it in my mind for at least three years. In fact, two years ago I had an intern make this sketch of my idea before I moved to Colorado from Portland…

Model for The Wish by Leah Moch Uvodich

Model for The Wish by Leah Moch Uvodich

At the time, I knew that the sketch was a step towards realizing my dream. I also knew that I had to continue working on the project because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But the voices in my head were arguing with me:

  • “But you don’t have a place to exhibit or install it.”
  • “There isn’t an income stream to rationalize making this project”…
An early 1/2 mock-up of The Wish

An early 1/2 mock-up of The Wish

About 18 months ago I began collecting wishes on-line through a form builder called Wufoo. Lo and behold, wishes started trickling in from all over the world.

Here are some things I noticed when I read through the 200 wishes I’ve received:

There are different categories of wishes:

  • Wishes for HumanityI wish people would un-plug and reconnect to nature… leaving their media perpetuated fears to blow away in the wind and take root somewhere else.
  • Personal Wishes: I wish I was the prettiest girl in my school with the longest prettiest hair that stop at where my elbows end.
  • Family WishesMy wish is to save the invisible connecting thread with my parents through distance. Моя мечта – сохранить через расстояния ту невидимую нить, которая соединяет меня с родителями. 
  • Wishes about PlaceI wish Pakistan will be a peaceful and safe country for ourselves and for our kids.
  • Fantastical WishesI wish to be the greatest artist of my generation.
  • Health WishesTo walk again.

I also noticed:

  • I have many of the same wishes!
  • It is empowering to read other’s wishes – to discover what they are thinking.
  • All of the wishes I received were positive wishes! Some were sad (wishing for the end to suffering, droughts, etc.) but every one of them elicits a sentiment of hope.
  • I need to interview children, because their wishes won’t be self edited.
  • Some wishes can be personal and global: I wish for love and understanding.
  • Since I’m an artist, I received many art-related wishes: I wish there was free access to all museums in the world!
  • Most wishes were contributed by women.
  • Some wishes cannot be fulfilled: I wish I had one more day with my mom and dad.
  • And some wishes say it all: May the collective creative energy of all innovative thinkers, tinkerers and artists open the doors to solutions for reviving our environment, achieving enduring world peace and ending poverty of both body and mind.

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In the meantime, I got down to the business of making my sketch a reality. This is the wooden core of the actual Wish. The most challenging part of the project was figuring out how to map out 300 uniform holes on a sphere. It turns out that this is an age-old math problem! My friend Brian Queen advised me to make a small triangle (he calculated the size, equilateral with approx 1″ legs) which I moved around the sphere, connecting the dots and marking the points. 

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My childhood friend Alicia Ruch-Flynn (a math and physics teacher) helped me determine how large the inner core (which was hand turned by Jay Huiting in Denver) needed to be, how many holes to drill (300) and what diameter the paper disks should be (taking into consideration the size of my paper mould and the way I wanted the disks to look).

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And then the whittling began. My 14 year old son became an expert at cutting the ends of these 3′ bamboo stakes to fit the holes in the wooden core. This was one of his jobs last summer. Intern David Broomfield and I finished the job this spring. We went through at least 500 bamboo stakes to come up with 300 good ones: the ends of some were too weak, the tips of others didn’t work with the attachment mechanism for the paper seeds. 

I’ll pause for now, and I’ll tell you all about how I found the library that commissioned The Wish as a permanent installation in my post next week. In the meantime, I’ll gladly accept your wish if you care to leave one here

4 comments to This Wish is Real – Part One

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About Me

Hi, I'm Helen Hiebert!
I'm an artist working primarily in handmade paper; I write how-to books and make films about papermaking and paper arts; and I love learning about new techniques and methods for working with paper! You can learn more about me at http://www.helenhiebertstudio.com

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