Friday, May 15, 2009

A day with elinor...

Was this a fun day... or what?? I had an incredible time at the home of one of the Queens of the doll making world today... the amazing elinor peace bailey , who just happens to live in my home town!

She had an Open House... and took myself, and several other awestruck visitors, through every room in her fantastic place. What a rare and wonderful opportunity. I felt like I was in a doll maker's fantasy museum!

Each room was filled with quilts, handmade books, paintings, mixed-media collages, collections of tiny things. And (big surprise) dolls, dolls and MORE dolls! SO many things to look at, and so much COLOR, of course! elinor is ALL about color, in case you hadn't heard. :)

A group of us were on hand for elinor's demo on face painting, which really started with a quickie tutorial on needle-sculpting, which she showed us on a pre-stuffed head that someone had sent to her. I only wish that I'd had a video camera, and could now re-play it in slow motion. elinor is so deft with her #7 darner, threaded with good old button and craft thread... she made it look incredibly easy!

She then quickly sketched features with a fine-point permanent pen in dark brown (never black... too harsh!). Those oh-so-elinor eyes, with exquisitely long lashes, just came flashing out... and we saw the secret for drawing eyes evenly. Simply flip the head over and draw the other eye upside down! She filled the irises in with brush markers, in several shades of blue and a bit of ordinary crayola crayon, in midnight blue, extending some strokes of blue up into the lashes, "because color reflects everywhere".

Then the nose, cheeks and all the shading in pinks; the lucious lips of a smiling open mouth in two shades of red. "The top lip is darker, you know... it's in the shade". She painted the teeth with a dollop of white acrylic paint, squirted out onto her favorite "palette" (the top of a coffee mug handle). A dot of red marker in the inside corner of each eye and VOILÁ! A glorious face in ten whirlwind minutes! We were dazzled!

Now, all during this face-painting demo, elinor was dispensing essential wisdom, as well as basic doll making tips. She talked directly to us, seriously impressing upon us the imperative that we must find out who we are... whether we are 70 or 50 or 20. To forget about blaming our angst on our parents or whoever in our past that might be "holding us back". To grow up into our separate selves as adults, find our style... and then JUST MAKE ART! How did she know just exactly what I needed to hear?

I would have loved to stay for several more hours, but had another appointment. I bought a large bag of scrap fabrics which are just delicious... and one of elinors pattern CDs. I can't wait to play!

I'm over-flowing with inspiration, between today and my wonderful weekend with Pamela Hastings two weeks ago. I realize now that I never did blog in detail about that weekend, and that is a shame. I'll have to go back and write something belatedly... I'm still walking on air from that fabulous experience! Lucky, lucky me!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Zero Percent Blonde

Fresh from last weekend's workshop in Corvallis, I had to dive into something right away. I wanted to make something fun, quick and easy... and knew that I wanted to try something similar to Pamela's pieced bodies. I drew my own pattern for this doll, but based it on some of her simple two-piece designs with button-jointed arms. I used some new batik fabric, and some vintage velvet, and a lovely vintage rose, machine-appliqued to her bum. Don't ask why, I was working intuitively!

I decided early on that this one would be a gift for a friend's upcoming birthday. Of course, that automatically meant I had put pressure on myself! The body was really free-form, fun and easy... but the head. OH, the head! Let's just say it went through several incarnations. This is the fourth one! I learned a lot about what I won't do next time.

The face is stuffed muslin, painted with thinned acrylic paint. The features were drawn on with Prismacolor pencils and Pigma Micron pens. I then sprayed the face with a clear acrylic sealer.

Her name is Zero Percent Blonde... which is sort of a private joke between the doll's new owner and I, based on a silly time-wasting quiz we both took on Facebook.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekend worshop with the "Reel Dolls"

What an amazing weekend! Imagine fourteen doll makers huddled around tables and sewing machines for two days, all being patiently instructed by the amazing Pamela Hastings. It was a rare and wonderful event!

I'm currently far too exhausted to go into great detail, and must go bake an anniversary cake for my husband, but you can see the rest of the photos I took here: