Friday, December 10, 2010

Ancient Lady

This is an original mixed-media collage I did with specific intent... to get another jointed paper doll image to use for my bamboo pendants. This piece again utilizes writing... typed and handwritten text... from my grandmother's stories and notes, as well as some circa 1902 newspaper that was in a scrapbook my grandmother had saved for years. The face is an image I tore from an art book... a third century Coptic encaustic work that is in the Louvre, titled "Portrait of a Young Girl". I call my piece "Ancient Lady", because those are the words that ended up on her right calf. She has obvious religious undertones... including the text across her torso, and the name "Maria" collaged to the background on the upper left.
The basic paper doll is heavy cardstock, covered with vintage papers of all kinds and sealed with matte medium. The skirt is dress pattern tissue, coated front and back with gel medium and fan-folded. The doll's torso is mounted to the acrylic-painted background on a strip of foam core... which raises it off the surface just a bit, allowing the brad-jointed arms and legs to be moved and posed. I also used two great vintage buttons in this piece... and silk flower petals behind her head, giving almost an "Our Lady of Guadelupe" effect of radiance.

The pendants... not as clear an image as I had hoped. The scan was poor, so I intend to try again with photographs, have them re-printed and try another batch.

Ancient Lady's lovely leg...

Bazaars R Us

It's that time of year. Long tables end-to-end, covered with black cloth and wares of all kinds spread out for viewing, ooohing and aahing. Last weekend was the annual "Hometown Christmas" event in my small community, which for me involved sharing a table again with my good friend, watercolor artist Carolyn Sawyer. If neither of us sold a darned thing, we'd consider it a day well spent... as we've spent it together.

This was a one-day bazaar, December 4th, and was not quite as successful for me as Birdfest. I brought some of the same bamboo bird pendants I did for that event... and some new pendants that featured my own collage artwork. They're definitely unique... not for everyone... although I was sometimes surprised at how well received they were by people I would never have guessed would give them a second look!

I also had some bead crocheted necklaces this time. The bead and button strands drew the most interest and sales. Thanks indeed to that creative young lady in Stockholm that I borrowed inspiration and ideas from in making these fun pieces! (You know who you are!)

The pendant on the left (below) features a print of a collage I made a year ago for my sister's daughter (photo used for the face is from an ArtChix collage sheet). My original OOAK collage pendant on the right was purchased by the lovely Jenine.

Carolyn's phenomenal paintings in greeting card form... they were wildly popular this year!

It was great to see some old friends... and to make new ones. I bartered a pendant for a lovely little bag of old buttons, and another for a one of Carolyn's prints... her new "Spirit of Christmas", a snowman and a magical fairy gifting him with some sparkling fairy ju-ju!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hallowe'en... the Costume

I was recently invited to a Halloween-themed event, which will be a fundraiser for SHARE house, our local homeless shelter... a great organization. The hostess has told us all to wear "funny hats" instead of full costumes, so I immediately started brainstorming some way of integrating collage into my hat to make it completely unique. A trip to Goodwill was fruitless... nothing there (at least nothing collage-able) to fit my oversized skull! So, I went home and tried my hand at constructing a simple witches hat from posterboard. Turns out that wasn't quite as simple as I imagined... but I finally turned out a pointy hat. It is a bit small, confound it... but, I'll wear it anyway, secured with a ribbon under my chin. Luckily, it fits my daughter perfectly, so she'll wear it for trick-or-treat night!

I had a stack of old... and I'm talking OLD... newspapers from Missouri and Iowa that my grandmother acquired many years ago from a neighbor of hers. The dates range from the late 1890's (when my grandmother was a young child) to around 1910. It is all in terrible condition... literally crumbles in my hands, so I've used it for a few collage projects, slathered liberally with plenty of gel medium to hold it together and preserve it.  For this project, I selected quite a few old advertisement, plus (since it's also "that" season) political cartoons and headlines... and anything to do with gruesome events such as murders and horrific natural disasters... to complete the dark theme that surrounds Hallowe'en and the Day of the Dead.

I just layered these fragile bits of paper on and covered the entire surface of the hat... and the underside of the brim and created a collaged witches hat. This was so much fun... reading through some of the articles and editorials, and imagining the mindset of midwestern America prior to World War ONE! There were still ads for buggies and surreys... not yet for automobiles. This was before antibiotics... so there were many ads for various elixers and tonics that would "cure" anything from catarrh to syphilis!

I pulled together a really eclectic mixture of interesting things to see and read... and spent exactly zero money on my party hat (unless you count that half jug of gel medium). I added a wee bit of distress ink to the edge of the brim of the hat... but most of the aging and distressing is natural! Once the collaging was done, I dressed the hat up a little bit with some vintage rick-rack and ribbon, then wired on some plastic skeletons as spooky-funky accessories. I'm looking forward to using it as a centerpiece, as well as a costume hat! Now... just enjoy a few more shots of the project in process...

Friday, October 15, 2010

News Flash: Hot Flash, the book!

Pamela Hastings has just released her latest book, and I am am absolutely thrilled and so honored that she asked me to be a contributor. My copy just arrived in my mailbox today and I was so jazzed, I had to take it over to a friend's house before I could even open the package. Had to share the joy.. and make it real!

Pamela has included (on pages 60 through 65) two of my collages, my Mad Hatter doll, one painting, and two of my art journal pages... along with quite a lot of my own writing, in sort of a "profile" piece. It actually includes some really personal thoughts about my own particular life and about moving through this "change of life" thing into my cronehood.

But, I'm in good company! I recognize the names of several of the other women artists in the book, and am pinching myself that I'm being included alongside them. Yes... yes... ME!!

I know these photos aren't terrific may not be able to read the text much, but I just had to share my pages. So fun to see that since Pamela included the collage I made for my granddaughter, Iris, her lovely face is smiling at me from the book, too!

I'm not sure where or when the book will be available for sale. I don't see it up yet on Pamela's website, but I'm sure that will happen soon.

What a great year this has been for me, so far. Can't wait to see what's next!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Time for Halloween!

Time to get out the bats and skeletons... I'm ready to rock Halloween! I really meant to spend all of September and October making prim witches, bats and skeletons, but got a little side-tracked by Birdfest. Had a decent first day there yesterday. The bird pendants are a good money maker. I'll sit down there selling pendants again all day today, but my mind is already in the mood for stuffing and painting dolls! I'll bring my sketchbook and make some plans while sitting at my Birdfest table. 

This photo is of the Baron Samedi Day of the Dead doll I made for my son's birthday in August, as I just noticed I failed to post this to my blog! He's from another wonderful pattern designed by Donna Veal, the Goddess of Prim! Can't wait to make more of these... he turned out so well. I scaled him down to 60% of the original, so he's about 16" tall.

The leaves are turning, the wind is blowing... it's time to get spooky... my favorite time of year!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bird by Bird

Getting ready to share a vendor space with my good friend, Carolyn Sawyer, at Ridgefield's annual Birdfest and Bluegrass event, coming up October 9th & 10th. I wasn't quite sure what to do at first. Most of my work is not typically bird or wildlife oriented. But, I've been playing around with making Scrabble and bamboo tile pendants and charms using vintage bird images, and I think I might have found a winner.
I found a great vintage bird collage sheet on etsy and have been (pardon the pun) "winging it"... figuring out how to best stick the images down, seal and finish them. The trickiest part has been trying to remember my wire-wrapping techniques to make these pre-drilled tiles into pendants. I'm playing with different ideas, and think I have it worked out.
My personal favorite is the black annealed steel wire. It's a little stout, so I've got to hone my wrapping technique... but I think it looks great when burnished with a little steel wool. I may add beads and charms to the bottom loop, and am determined to use up what beads and wire I already have in order to keep my overhead very low for this event!

These Scrabble tile charms were fun. I had them lying around... already drilled and outfitted with wire loops from when Karl and I were doing jewelry forever ago.  I used a one-step crackle glaze by Ranger as a finish over these, then highlighted the cracks using Distress Ink.

Fooled around a little bit with some quickie bird-themed collage pieces. Here's one that's not quite finished yet...

It needs some added elements yet... a few border highlights and an aging treatment. I did decide, though, that the polar fleece & Keens-wearing, Subaru-driving Birdfest crowd probably isn't quite ready for my *ahem* more "eclectic" work.

Have I mentioned how much I love crows? Ravens and crows are my favorite birds of late, so I started with that and went off in a bit of a strange direction that I'm afraid only I can appreciate. Will keep working on some of these ideas, and do more crow-related things around Halloween. Stay tuned!

By the way, be sure to stop by my friend Carolyn's website and take a look at the gorgeous paintings in her gallery! She will have prints and greeting cards of many of these at Birdfest.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Collage Break

Thought I'd take my blog on a little side trip and post a quickie birthday collage I made a couple of weeks ago for my son's girlfriend, Nicole. This one incorporates some torn text and pages from my grandmother's writing and college notes, which seemed appropriate since she and Nicole share the same birthday, July 27th. Other elements include a clipping from an 1892 newspaper, magazine images and some Chinese (I think?) newspaper that came in a package I received not long ago. I'm calling this one "Something Infinitely Precious".

Nicole came out and spent part of a day with me recently, getting indoctrinated into the world of doll making. She got her hands into some paperclay for the first time, and got off to a good start on two dolls that are now finished and pretty impressive! Looking forward to some more artsy-crafty afternoons with her.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'M PUBLISHED... in fall ADQ issue!

Can a girl get more excited? Maybe so, but this is a definite high point in my summer! Somebody pinch me!

I received a copy of the upcoming August/Sept/October issue of Art Doll Quarterly in today's mail, and there I was... the first doll in the Show and Tell section. Wow, what an exciting moment for me! In March, I submitted the witch doll that I made last fall, and haven't seen her since. I figured that might be a good sign. Little did I know, the next time I'd see her would be in the glossy pages of ADQ!

Here's your sneak peak of the cover...

This issue isn't out yet, so you'll all just have to wait until it arrives in your mailbox!  No, that's not my work on the cover this time... but I'll get there. :)

And now... (drum roll, please) here she is, in a double spread with FOUR photos!

This was a goal of mine, to have one of my dolls grace ADQ's pages... so goal met, and it's on to the next! Thank you Art Doll Quarterly, this is truly an honor and a thrill. I hope there will be many more! Now, hurry home, Brunhilda... well, at least in time for Halloween!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole... Wonderland Blog Event

Welcome to my own little corner of Wonderland. The day has arrived and I can finally introduce you to my Wonderland challenge doll. This was my first doll challenge ever... and I had such great fun! Here he is in all his finished and completely mad glory... The Mad Hatter.

My Hatter is inspired mostly by Tenniel's classic Wonderland illustrations. I'll admit there are hints of the goofy Disney version and his wavy red hair pays slight homage to Tim Burton's recent incarnation, played by Johnny Depp, but the similarities end there.

He is 13 inches tall from the top of his hat to the toes of his striped stocking feet. The head and face are sculpted from Creative Paperclay, over a base of aluminum foil. Hair is hand-dyed Romney wool fleece. The body is a stuffed and weighted cloth construction; forearms and lower legs are polymer clay. All clay body parts were painted with acrylic paint and sealed with matte acrylic spray.


I used cloth-wrapped wire armature for the upper arms, as I was shooting for the particular pose in this Tenniel drawing, and needed extra stiffness and support.

Costuming was by far the most enjoyable part of this doll, once color and fabric decisions were made. The hat... possibly the most distinctive and essential part of the Hatter's identity... turned out just exactly as I'd planned, which made me a very happy hat maker! It is made from muslin, painted with several coats of thinned acrylic paint and trimmed with a shimmering bronze grosgrain ribbon.

The Hatter's jacket was a challenge to my garment making skills, as I was starting from scratch and designing my own pattern. I made a scrap cloth "mock up" first to do his fittings and fine-tune the pattern. The lightweight pinwale corduroy turned out to be just the perfect weight... and the result was quite a handsome jacket. Glass beads serve as buttons on both vest and jacket. Collar and cuffs are starched white cotton, stitched in place.

I wanted to make his vest from the same vintage cotton madras plaid I used for his pants, but he chose this bold Hoffman batik instead. He even has tiny wool felt shoes... but can never manage to keep them on!

Here's my original working sketch...

Oh, my.... tea parties can be so exhausting!

Thank you all for joining me... it's been grand!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wonderland.... sneak preview!

Just can't help myself. I'm having so much fun creating this challenge doll that I can barely wait until the event (one week from today! *GULP*). I've decided to tease you all with a little advance peek of the "work-in-progress".

My character of choice was the Mad Hatter... mostly because I thought there would already be plenty of Alice's, and because I really wanted to try making that top hat!

No, I haven't seen the new Alice in Wonderland movie yet... so I'm not trying to recreate Johnny Depp in doll form. My Wonderland preference is for the original book illustrations by John Tenniel, so I've printed off copies of his Mad Hatter drawings for guidance and inspiration. My Hatter will be my own interpretation, but definitely informed by Tenniel's vision.
So here are just a few WIP photos to whet your appetite, should you have one!

His basic body parts have now been completely sculpted, constructed, painted and assembled. I'm down to dressing him and attending to details. One prototype hat has been made, but I may work on at least one more and choose the best for the final product. Enjoy... and please join me here, one week from today on July 8th, as we all fall down the rabbit hole together!!

 More construction details will follow on "the day".

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wonderland Blog Event

Art Dolls Only is having a Wonderland blog event... and I've decided to participate!  I will be making some kind of doll that is inspired by Alice in Wonderland... I have no idea which character yet... by July 8th, and will then be part of a weekend long "blog visit" where we all share our Wonderland creations!  I've never entered a challenge or a blog event of this kind before, but I'm really looking forward to it! My entry will be posted here on Thursday, July 8th. Stay tuned! And be sure to go visit the Art Dolls Only blog:  ... and look for them on Facebook!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cashmere Critter

Go ahead, ask me...  How much fun is it to cut up an old cashmere sweater and make something crazy fun for a kid? It is incredibly fun... once you get past the scariness of taking shears to cashmere! My granddaughter, Stella, is turning eight this week, and I've had a blast creating this silly stuffie for her.

This is my own design... part bear, part monkey... and a little bit blue monster.

This oh-so-very-soft critter is about 14" tall, completely stitched by hand and stuffed with polyfil. She has darling little shaped pink ears- one big, one small. The head and body were once a sleeve, and the hair is the knitted cuff, simply  gathered up tight and wrap-stitched at the crown, then snipped into locks. Her weighted bum sports a rolled and wrapped tail with a fringed-out poof at the end.

She may look a little worried... but she's really quite adventurous, in her own quiet way. She likes to sneak up and surprise you!

 My darling girl was running a fever today and feeling punky... but cashmere is SO comforting. :)