I have finally started putting some of my remaining doll inventory in my etsy shop. There are some samples of old favorite styles.. You will find the prices to be at least 25% off the original retail price with free shipping!
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I started to experiment with this idea a few weeks ago quite by mistake. Perhaps my "prim" figures are a reaction to the very cute girl dolls. Or, maybe I'm just feeling a little bit of Halloween! Whatever the reason I am having fun with them.
Most of the figures will hang and have a full body with arms and legs. This is the only one that has made it to completion so far. At 28" tall he doesn't fit into the photo very well. A Stick, parts of a cedar trellis found in the back yard, pieces from a coconut mat, metal, beads, bone and buttons make up his body.
I've started a few more faces just to try out different materials and ideas. It is really hard for me to stay away from the face I usually make. I have one more head ready and some others with details that are just too funny. The head on the left has hair made from rusty staples removed from the trellis. I used tacks and clay to make bug eyes. In the center is a mouth I love. (The rest of this head is a zero.) The head on the right has clay "ears" that I made early in the process, instead of adding them at the end., and a great nose.
I still plan for most of these to be heads on hanging figures, but I also tried a few heads on 4" x 6" boards, painting a striped background. These would be great hanging on the wall in groups of 2 or 3. I love the wire hair!
And, guess what. I need to get out and find a bunch of sticks! I had thought maybe I'd moved past that. But, no.
This is the second doll I have made in my quest for simple hanging doll. I wanted her to be a bit abstract and she is! Her flat pillow body/dress is sewn from hand painted fabric. The arms and legs are sewn from a knit fabric. I eventually figured out that I could use the cut off legs of some clothes pegs to fill the legs, making a pointed toe, and to make the hands. I'm surprised that the grubby marks on her face show up so much more in the photo than they do in person. Note the eyebrows! I've avoided making eyebrows in the past, but now that eyebrows are "the thing", I'd better practice making them.
I'm happy to report that the doll I wrote about a few weeks ago is finished! For some reason the process was more difficult than expected. I kept making body elements that were too small for the size of the face. (The total figure is 23", with a 3" face.) I sewed several bodies and made 3 different sets of legs before I gave up and used the second pair. These are sewn from light weight canvas, stuffed and covered with many coats of gesso, tissue paper collage and paint. The simple arms are paper mache over wire. The wire loop that connects each leg to the torso was more awkward looking than I had hoped, so I added the tutu skirt to cover it up a bit.
In the end I have a hanging figure that can twirl around with dangling legs. And, on the plus side, I have 2 extra pairs of legs that I can use for something.
I feel like I have this idea under better control now and I look forward to working out some other variations and embellishments. Before I do that I plan to return to the idea of a very primitive hanging figure that I started exploring in the most recent post..
While I was following my own foot steps around the block, I decided to revisit some very early doll making ideas. One of my early design favorites was the the "Stick-hanger" doll. These dolls had a swivel built into their heads so that they could turn easily, and their bodies and legs hung on the stick shoulder. This is probably the origin of the flat head style that I have continued to use. The ballerina dolls at the La Veta Gallery this summer were the last in the line - so far. I like the abstract aspect of these figures and the movement in the shoulders and legs.
I realized that this idea had more possibilities that could be explored, so I made the head you see above. Making the face is always fun for me and usually comes together rather quickly. I ran into problems with the body and legs. This is not intended to be a realistic figure, but the first body I made was just too small and the legs were just too short. There are a couple of other adjustments to be made when I get back to this project.
I had cut out and drilled 2 heads, so while I was working on the girl's head, I kept looking over at the second raw wood form. Primitive dolls have always appealed to me. You have to look no farther than to Range Walker Series to see that. So, with "primitive" in mind, I just dabbled. Look what happened! I am very excited to develop some variations on this idea. I have lots of treasured items to use, beads, seed pods and little rusted bits. Its a good thing that they survived my recent studio purge.
Several weeks ago I wrote about the head with 3 little heads poking out of the top. This is the finished piece. I realized that it didn't really show up very well hanging on the wall. That problem was solved by framing it in a small tray that I painted. The scraps of music in the sky make it clear that these guys are singing.
I liked the idea of developing a relationship between several characters, so I made these guys. The rounded piece of wood as a base takes the place of the head. The irregularity of the sticks tilts the heads in an interesting way, but I would like to suggest a body, not just a long neck.
I decided to try a cone of paper mache to suggest a body for each figure. Words cut from the comics suggest overheard snippets of conversation from these 3 little gossips. A small painted box used as a riser for both pieces helped set up the photo and suggested that each could benefit from and additional base piece.
These are some other small pieces that I have made in the past couple of years. The pair on the left were planned to be game pieces for a game board that hasn't been made, yet. In the center photo small heads decorate a pair of storage jar. The girl on the right is perched on a jewelry rack.
Gotta say, I'm kind of annoyed. Over the past couple of weeks I thought I was on the way to developing a new idea, but as it turns out, I'm just circling the block.
I have decided to experiment with some small pieces that have figurative elements instead of making a whole doll with arms and legs, clothing and so forth.. Along the way maybe a new idea will present itself. The piece pictured here is a small collage built on a 5" by 6.5" panel. Again, sewing pattern tissue, spools, lace and buttons are used. I love the illustration of stylish shoes. The 1.5" depth of this panel has interesting possibilities that could be developed more fully.
In the process of creating the doll, "Maybe", I made a second head on a small pillow form. I have started to work with this, hoping it could hang on the wall as a small sculpture. I discovered after I had cured the face the first time, I realized that I didn't like the eyes. In the meantime I had cut holes in the top of the head for the sticks and used plenty of paper mache to hold them in place. This morning I worked on the eyes again before I discovered that there is still a soggy place in the paper mache. So, this little project is on hold for now.
Always on the lookout for new ideas, I quite like the three little heads just on their own. I'll be thinking about that.
This figure began to take shape early in the year, but was set aside due to other concerns. I had originally planned to make this a small version of a pedestal doll with the torso supported by a single dowel. She is about 18" tall. The skirt was to be made up of multiple strands of beads draped from torso to base. I didn't have enough of the right beads on hand and the draping process was not working. She got sidelined.
I've been a bit at loose ends with my doll making after the push to get the La Veta Gallery show open, so it seemed like a good time to finish this up. I changed my plan to make use of some of my bountiful supply of antique lace. The lace skirt needed a bit of support so the pedestal dolls became a cage doll with the addition of 6 skewers glued on to bridge the space between the torso and the base. The lace is glued and stitched on in tiers around the resulting skirt form. The in-progress photo below shows the skirt structure.
Beads at the top of the skirt and a tiny piece of tatting at the neck were the finishing touches. Speaking of loose ends, I tried to make a bird nest for her to hold in her hands. Paper mache, dryer lint, twine and thread came into play.
I plan to continue this blog twice a month, writing about doll making topics and projects. I've thought for some time that I would also like to paint. Finding that the discipline of posting regularly helps me structure my ideas and work, I have started a new blog. Click here to see my new blog about my painting adventures.
Take a Sneak Peek at "Isn't She a Doll?"
The La Veta Gallery on Main will be open for ART WALK on Friday evening, July 24, 5:00 - 7:30 PM.
I started making dolls when we lived in Huerfano County, so I was really pleased when The La Veta Gallery invited me to exhibit a special collection of work this summer. My exhibit plan changed several times over the spring months I designed an interactive game and later a "Shelter at Home" doll house, and then set both ideas aside. I completed several larger, difficult-to-ship dolls that ended up staying home with me. I hope the time will come to make and enjoy these pieces.
Mary and Karen at The La Veta Gallery used the dolls I was able to send them. Thank you both for creating an imaginative show!
I hope you will visit the gallery in person if you are in the area. If that isn't possible, please visit my website for a sneak peek of everything. The La Veta Gallery is handling sales on all these items. You will find a few of these dolls in their on-line shop and they can help with any others, also.
If you choose to visit in person, please check with the gallery for current open hours and restrictions
I've been planning to take a break from doll making, maybe a long one! Very soon after I made that decision and put away materials so that I had some elbow room I had another idea. What if I made a head form by sewing a simple cloth shape, stuffed it with fiberfil and sculpted it with a bit of hand stitching? I could build it up with layers of paper strips and paste. That was easily accomplished with our hot, dry climate shortening drying times to almost nothing.
I made a face on the surface of the dry form with polymer clay. My original idea was to stack several heads together with a cord running through the center of each one so that they could hang like a big necklace. I scaled back my plan and made the character you see above. The wooden box I used for his body became a puppet stage. The puppets represent those competing inner voices that urge us with a "Yeah" and a "Nope". The arms were donated by a doll I made years ago. I was unable to remove the pinwheel without damage to the arm, so it stayed.
He is thinking maybe,"Yeah", or maybe, "Nope". The answer depends on which way the wind blows.
This piece will be part of a show at The La Veta Gallery on Main, La Veta, Colorado, beginning July 24.
What happened to that sketchbook I bought more than a year ago? Not much. I recently pulled it out of storage and started making doodles and marks, mostly with crayon pastel and pencil, then adding puddles with watercolor. These are the simple materials I enjoyed in elementary school!
I have been trying to work quickly and intuitively without giving any thought to purpose or result. Maybe I'll be able to look back at these in time and find shapes, compositions .. and marks that will lend themselves to a bigger purpose. But for now, no rules, just doodles!
I finished up with a large painting project this week. Painting as in walls. This is what I found when I reamed out the paint tray as much as possible for the last time. Nice work!
I had resolved to enjoy a little break from my studio but I needed to take refuge there while I processed a roller coaster of emotions prompted by the events of the last 10 days.
A little bit of fabric collage was an easy choice. I enjoyed doing a lot of this type of design when I was making the Hoop Skirt dolls, but it has been a while. I started by digging into my supply of hand painted scraps.
Then I laid out some of my favorites. The background needed more interest and depth, so I painted the base fabric. I love painting wet into wet, first using black paint only and adding a rust wash when the piece was almost dry. Then I transfered the collage onto the painting. Below is the result.
This was fun, so I made 2 other collages just using available scraps, eliminating the painting step.
All 3 of these could be greatly enhanced with free motion machine quilting. I seem to be out of batting, and sewing machine needles at the moment, so that will have to wait. I'd like to continue with a few more, and then just quilt the best ones. It is hard to say how, or if, this will fold into future work, but it is not important to know that now.