Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Babies

An upcoming issue of Soft Dolls and Animals magazine is requesting photo submissions related to the theme, "Babies"... and I'm thinking this one might fit the bill.

This is a pin doll that I made for a shower gift for Sarah, when she was expecting twins, Ruby and Larkin, in June of 2007.

The baby dolls are made using techniques learned from Salley Mavor's book "Felt Wee Folk".

They are 1.5" tall (yes, you read that right) and are made with pipe cleaner armature, wooden bead heads... hand-painted faces, wool felt dresses and bonnets, wool fleece hair. What do you think? Should I send it in?

The Wonders of Wire

I was fascinated by the black wire sculptures of Leigh Pennebaker (www.leighpennebaker.com), after seeing her work in Home Companion a few months back, and tore out the article to save in my endless pile of "ideas and inspiration". It resurfaced during my recent "upstairs studio" move, and needing something creative to dive into, I simply couldn't stop myself from buying some black steel 19 gauge wire at the hardware store and seeing what I could do. It was FUN and FAST... and I actually ended up with something that faintly, though rather crudely, resembles Pennebaker's incredible wire-sculpture gowns.

This first attempt is 15" tall. I even made a few of the tiny wire coathangers. Am thinking about experimenting with adding fabric and ribbons... weaving some different materials in with the wire, and/or creating an actual full doll figure with wire, and taking it from there.

In progress...

Here are two dolls that are still "in the works".
On the left: I call her "Trust". This was my attempt to get around my perfectionist nature and just quickly throw together a "prim" doll, without using someone else's pattern. I very quickly traced this out by hand... on the fly... and managed some pleasing proportions. TRUST... is the word that popped into my head when my "self-critic" tried to take over and tell me I couldn't possibly do this successfully. I forged ahead and "just did it". Her skin fabric is cut from a vintage bedsheet that I found in between the front and back of a log cabin quilt I bought YEARS ago at a garage sale, for $1.50. I used my own version of Donna Veal's recipe to "age" the white cotton... with espresso, cinnamon and cocoa. She still smells WONDERFUL! Her limbs are button-jointed, and I now know that I need to buy a LONG needle for accomplishing this in the future. The felt heart is covering a hole that sort of got bigger during the stuffing and rinsing and whatnot. She is still waiting for me to conjure up some sort of appropriate clothing.

On the right: "Aqua Girl" - This one is made from a Patti Medaris Culea pattern, from her book, Creative Cloth Dolls. I had no skin-colored fabric on the day I was driven to put her together, so I used a great aqua/teal batik fabric I had on hand. I absolutely LOVE the legs on this particular pattern. They are capable of so many flattering poses! Her face is drawn on with Prismacolor pencils and Pigma Micron pens. I refused to follow the book's face formula, and just did it my own way, finishing it off with a purple jewel bindi. The hair is Romney wool fleece, hand-dyed to this exquiste deep burgundy color by my fiber-artist friend, Eileen. It needs a bit more tidying up, and perhaps some hair ornaments glued in. Her blouse is made from an already-beaded Indian cotton top I picked up at Goodwill and cut up... her skirt from Fabric Depot remnants; burgundy satin and teal tulle. Her waistband is a jade bead necklace that my neighbor, Diane, bought for me in China. I think she wants me to finish her off with a corset made from a thrift store jacket I bought recently... a very thin rose-colored suede. This would greatly enhance the illusion that she actually has something other than a totally FLAT chest!

They both perch up there on the top shelf... beckoning me to FINISH them... while I am drawn on to other projects.

New mini studio!

I am way behind on keeping this updated.... blogging is time consuming! And sitting on my a$$ in front of the computer is not good for me, so I try to do less of it these days.

Here is my new upstairs mini studio space... complete with bright ORANGE wall... which is supposed to inspire me to sit down and work, but so far, has only enabled me to do small amounts of mending. Some of Katera's stuff is still housed here, which will hopefully keep her from clearing all of MY shelves.

See my beautiful new IKEA storage boxes? Such a bargain at $1.50 each!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Here is the Parisian girl that I finished for Angie after she returned from the City of Lights in May of '08.

I'm not sure what she's decided to name her, but I was thinking "Gigi" was appropriate. Madeline was already taken. :)

She hasn't yet found her bags and passport, so she's a little frantic at the moment... or maybe she's planning on marching in the streets, protesting the war?

I was so inspired by the color of her stockings, that I painted the wall of my new "mini-studio" this very shade!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Parisian Fashionistas!

May 2008- These little dolls were a custom order, made for a special group of friends who were traveling to Paris together.

The design and construction was very much inspired by the techniques in Salley Mavor's book Felt Wee Folk, but the costumes are original designs of my own. They are 3 inches tall... and dressed in wool felt, with wool fleece hair and black wool berets. Each carries a bag containing her own tiny passport, and stuffed full of wee Euros! They are ready to shop.... mais oui!!

Aunt Mimsy - 2006

This is the first doll of my current collection that is entirely finished. The design was inspired in part by Denise Marie Warner's Oh La La Garden Fairy, which was the cover feature in Art Doll Quarterly's Spring 2006 issue.

Aunt Mimsy is constructed from a basic wire armature... foil, tape and cotton batting... wrapped with cloth, attached to an old candle holder base. The head is cloth, with a sculpted mask made from polymer clay, detailed and accented with acrylic paint. She is clothed in wrapped strips of lush velvets and skirted with velvet, tencel and ribbon. Details include a snippet of antique lace that belonged to my grandmother, an antique button at the bodice, and a "dingle ball" for her little handbag (dingle balls have snaps on them and were once for holding mink stoles in place, circa 1930-ish). I've used various ribbons and silk flowers for her collar, bustle, underskirt and bonnet.

She was exhibited at the Columbia Gorge Art Festival in Corbett, Oregon in May of 2006.

Starting Somewhere

This will be the first installment in this blog, totally dedicated to my artwork... and especially doll making.

Celebrating taking myself seriously today. On orders of Julia Cameron, I'm supposedly practicing reading deprivation this week... but I'll assume writing is kosher. My next assignment is to describe myself at age eighty and list some things I did after fifty that were "fun". Daunting INDEED!

Many thanks to Anne for the nice visit today... for appreciating my humble work so far, and for sending me away with many goodies to play with. I liked your elven gal very much, and hope you'll assemble her, despite the blood stains! That just adds character! I loved her slender fingers, loved her ears, loved her eyes, loved her funny feet... and especially her mossy hair. Pllllluhhhh, to all the people who don't get it!

I'm forcing myself to set things in motion... and so, fear aside! Universe... consider them moving!