Friday, February 27, 2009

Guardian Angel

Just a little something for today...

Unable to fight the urge to wire some random things together, I just started playing around with an old doll head, some fine brass wire and a woven potpourri basket that's hung in my closet for decades, filled with old lavender buds.

Karl made the inlaid wood wings and the lathe-turned base the round-bottomed basket stands in, years ago. She's wearing a guardian angel medallion and her halo is a sterling silver bubble wand that "Auntie O" gave to Katera when she was tiny.

I'm not sure she's finished yet, but my studio time for the day is about over. I spent some of it today trying to figure out if my silly little camera will reveal some hidden functions and redeem itself as blog-worthy after all... but I'm afraid hope fades.

I set up my etsy shop yesterday. If all goes well, my friends, you may see something actually listed in it soon! My user name there is bungalowgal, but I'll post a link to the shop as soon as I take that Big Step!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fairies and Felting

The time I spend with my granddaughters is more fun than anything I can imagine, and even better when we make art together. Iris (age 9) started a fairy while she and sister Stella stayed with me on Winter Solstice Eve... but we only recently got back together, just Iris and I, to finish her up.

Iris chose all the colors, the flowers and felt. With just a little guidance from me, and following Salley Mavor's book, she wrapped the arms, legs and feet with embroidery floss on her own. She also painted this lovely face... me helping only with the nose. I embroidered and constructed the felt jacket and attached the wings. We'll focus on learning embroidery stitches next time.

Then, Iris chose gorgeous flaxen mohair locks for the hair and we worked together to style and finish it up with a sweet acorn cap. While the glue was drying, we got side-tracked into playing with my collection of wool felts and bits of fleece. Iris has decided she loves needle felting and still wants to do more of it, despite bloody fingertips from stabbing herself several times with those pesky barbed needles!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mermaid Marionettes

Since my new projects are coming along so slowly, I thought I'd just catch up by posting some older work here. These are photos of some papier mache mermaid marionettes that I made for my two granddaughters in 2007. I'm wishing now that I had taken some more close-ups of their faces after they were finished.

I found this project at the incredible website, The Paper Mache Resource

The heads are blown-out eggs, with features sculpted from paper clay, covered with basic homemade paper mache, finished with several layers of tissue paper, then painted with acrylic paint and sealed with gel medium. The bodies are built using a nylon stocking, with the torso and tail sections constructed out of newspaper-stuffed cardboard inserted inside the stocking, and separated by rubber bands until the final drying step. The nylon serves to keep the whole thing connected as one piece, with flexibility allowing the tail to move and "swim".

Each section is layered with paper mache... with much drying time in between each layer (did I mention this was a very labor-intensive and time-consuming project?!?). Then paper clay was used to sculpt the shell-bras and the arms and hands.

I painted the fish scale designs on the tails, consulting a book about fish species, using metallic acrylic paints of various shades of green, blue and purple... with a wash of a white opalescent paint and a final coat of gel medium.

The marionettes are strung from four simple points... the crown of the head, each hand, and the end of the tail. Kudos to my husband, Karl, for crafting the wonderful wooden crossbars! I happened to have the most perfect eyelash yarn for their hair in my yarn stash, and the wigs turned out brilliantly, even though I was winging it at the last minute.

Needless to say, I got almost NOTHING else done that Christmas, but my darling girls loved them, so what else matters?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lost in The Process

Some good intentions rose to the surface recently. I made a decision to create a doll for possible entry in an upcoming challenge, in the category of "Famous People". This will be a first for me, and there is a distinct possibility that I will not actually enter this piece... however, I have made a commitment to FINISH it, and to keep it in my personal collection. After much brainstorming and list making, I decided to make a Frida Kahlo doll, since she's always been a favorite figure of mine.

I have now checked out every book our local library system has in it's collection about her... and was thrilled to discover more inspiration online. I just discovered the 2007 title, Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida's Wardrobe: Fashion from the Museo Frida Kahlo.

What a jaw-dropping book! It is the culmination of a monumental effort to document, catalog and restore Frida's huge clothing collection that was finally seen in 2004 for the first since her death, when her dressing room and bathroom were finally opened. Diego had ordered those two rooms to be locked when she died in 1954, and not to be opened or entered for 50 years... and his wishes were honored. Some things had disintegrated quite a bit, but others were well-preserved. OH, the COLORS... the embroidery, the lace, the hand-woven embellishments! Preservation and restoration experts are repairing and storing each piece properly now.

Numerous others have made art doll versions of Frida, of course, and I found some wonderful examples. My plans are to focus on her clothing and to make a representation of Frida as she was in life, not from any of her self-portraits. I have been sketching her face over and over... have made one test head/face...

and am just immersing myself in Frida's freaky world while I plan this piece. She causes the strangest emotions to come up for me. I've even found myself resenting the fact that she got to lay around doing nothing but paint and smoke cigarettes for years! Very strange and mixed feelings are churning around. We will see where this leads me!