Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Time Travelers and Goddesses

I was invited to participate in a collaborative doll making project last summer with Pamela Hastings and six other doll artists. We're doing it "Round Robin" style, each starting a doll and mailing it to the next person in the circle for them to add something to and send on. We've been through five exchanges now, taking one month to add our contribution to each doll. Our original dolls will come back to us next spring, as the circle is completed. Each doll has a journal that accompanies it's travels, in which we document what we've done and add to the story. Below are the two most recent pieces I've been working on.

First is the spectacular "Gears of Time" doll, begun with the clockwork torso by Lori Grassette. I've been calling him "Time Traveler Steampunk Dude".... aka, "Time Traveler" or just "The Dude".

After Lori, Lynne Sward added the wired cloth arms, then Mary Klawetter did his sculpted paper clay head and heart. Thea Roy did the marvelous spindle, wire and sari silk legs. We just go with what unfolds and let the dolls suggest what they have in mind. I think this is the first doll in this project that has taken on a male persona.

For this round, I added black wire hands. They're sculpted from old plastic-coated telephone wire and attached to Lynne's cloth arms by wrapping around some beads she added at the wrists. I tucked the wire ends up neatly under the blue-green quilted cloth "cuffs" that Pamela added, along with a majestic Aztec-ian headdress.
I also added this old key.... which allows him to be the "Master" of his very own Universe.

Time Traveler has a "winged companion", which I decided to attach at his left shoulder. She is a little fairy spirit that gives him some much needed divine guidance.

Just learning how these new hands work!

This is the journal The Dude carries with him. I added a cover today, to rescue the poor thing which was falling apart a little.

Here is the "Sacred Porch Spirit" that started with a seriously amazing two-sided head done by Lynne Sward...
The bodacious body was done by Mary Louisa Klawetter... the legs by Thea Roy. Thea picked up the bird theme in Lynne's porch spirit's face and gave her long heron-like legs. Pamela was next and added the whimsical bird feet.

From there, how could I go with anything else but.... WINGS? With each design element, we're not only challenged to work with the pieces and parts that have been added before us, but must make sure it will be durable enough to survive packing and shipping... and fit in the box! These wings are made from painted Tyvek mailing envelopes. The top edge is wired for strength and shaping, so they could be flexed and curved slightly forward around the body.

Inspired by Eric Carle's wonderful textured collage papers, I dragged a comb through the wet paint to created the feather effect. Each triangular snippet is glued in place with heavy gel medium. I pulled the end point of each feather between my thumbnail and finger... like you do with curling ribbon, to make them swoop up on the ends and stand out, adding dimension. 
The wings are secured to the back of the doll's body with C-lon cord, threaded through punched holes. She has a face in the back, too... so it might look like her wings are on backwards. Confusing? Ahhh... but that's by design! Evil spirits beware as she protects Lynne's screened porch next summer!

Friday, November 2, 2012

La Catrina and Etsy... finally!

It's official. My Etsy shop opened for business yesterday, at long last... on November 1st, 2012!

Bungalow Gals was established there in 2009, but has been sitting empty all this time. I wanted to grab and hold onto that shop name, but wasn't ready to "get real" with the business end yet. Naturally, it took me an eternity to gear up, jump through all the business-y hoops and learn how to set up. I got my official registration papers from the state just a couple of weeks ago and despite much trepidation and some technological hassles, I managed to write listings for my first few offerings. I pushed myself hard and got them uploaded last night, wanting to mark a memorable date. Dia de los Muertos... the Day of the Dead.

Now, that association might seem a bit strange to some of you, but let me explain. The most recent piece of art I've created is a Dia de los Muertos "La Catrina" calaca doll that I made for the current Art Dolls Only challenge. I do intend to list her for sale, though I didn't manage to get her all the way to Etsy quite yet. Consider her "coming soon". I suppose there may be little interest now that the holiday has past but all the better, as I need a little extra time to enjoy looking at her before I can let her go!
This doll started out wanting to be a decorative Day of the Dead calavera wand... in other words, just a painted "sugar skull" on a stick, with ribbon streamers, like these which I made for my granddaughters... and my niece, whose birthday was November 1st!

But, she decided instead to morph into a full-fledged 16" doll. I added a wire cross piece at the shoulders, shaped a very thin torso from cardboard and tape and painted over it. I was originally intending her upper torso to show, perhaps draping a shawl around her bony shoulders, so she actually has a layer of black with white ribs painted on under her clothing. But, once I started playing with this gorgeous length of marigold silk sari ribbon, I decided I loved it too much not to wrap and wrap and wrap it everywhere. She obviously loves it, too.

Her skeletal hands and feet are sculpted, woven and wrapped from old plastic-coated telephone wire. Many thanks to my brother-in-law, Frank, for hoarding that stash of wire all these years, and then gifting it to me! Her skull was sculpted from polymer clay, then painted. The lace at her bodice and hem is hand-tatted and probably close to 100 years old. The only thing I hate worse than cutting that old lace up and using it for artwork is leaving it stashed and forgotten in a drawer in my studio. Her skirt was up-cycled from a favorite shirt of mine that I bought at a thrift store a decade ago and wore until the collar was frayed to bits, just because I loved the colors so much. On her necklace is a small version of one of my black steel spiral pendants. A friend gave me the tiny white bone beads that flank it, which are just creepily perfect for a Dia de los Muertos calaca skeleton to wear.

The crowning glory of these sunset orange flower petals was the perfect way to finish and frame her painted skull.

La Catrina presided over my little family Day of the Dead altar yesterday...
Now I will forever think of this doll as the icon of the launch day of Bungalow Gals on Etsy! Please come visit me there: