My husband has a way of finding the perfect book for any gift giving occasion. My recent birthday was no exception. I was thrilled to receive a copy of Historic American Indian Dolls, by Forrest Fenn. He was listening to me chatter about my "Apache Medicine Bag" doll idea! I will enjoy absorbing the stories about these dolls and their children.
I realize that it would be impossible for me to make an American Indian doll, and probably inappropriate to even try. That is not my plan. But, this book is full of inspiration about textures and details that I can incorporate into my work. For example, I noticed that most of the dolls have shoulders and arms that curve around the figure instead of sticking straight out to the sides, as in my current design.
In the process of working through this idea I discovered that the arms on my figure were a bit short. I've been back to the drawing board on this so many times now, why not make another trip? The new arms are more complicated to construct, but make a more graceful figure.
I have admired encaustic paintings for some time. The deep glow of the wax surface is hard to resist.
I finally found an interesting opportunity to take a short workshop last fall at the Encaustic Art Institute here in Santa Fe. I loved it! I invested in some very simple tools and supplies so that I could give a try at home.
" What stinks? It's giving me a headache!" were the comments my efforts prompted. And, truth be told, I had a headache, too, and my eyes were irritated. More ventilation needed! So, fast forward to this fall. I set up everything in the garage, opening the double door and using a large box fan. Ventilation still seemed to be a problem so I finally moved the whole operation to the back porch on a few fine fall afternoons.
It is pretty easy to see that I don't know what I'm doing here, and have almost no control over anything. That is part of the charm! There is a lot to learn on this, but it is all on hold again until a warm spring day.
I began this year with a round of fabric painting. I really enjoyed that process and was able to use one of the painted fabrics for a skirt on this figure. (Arms needed!)
So, with that result in mind, I went back to work for several weeks in October. I painted a variety of pieces that I hope will become bag dolls. This is a heavier weight of fabric than usual so I'm not sure how the idea of quilting will work out. I may need to find coordinating light weight fabrics to use for the sleeves.
For some reason this process seems so much easier than painting on a canvas, as in creating a painting. I'll have to figure that out!!
I love projects where my idea is clear and all the steps fall into place quickly with stunning result! Sometimes it happens that way. But not in the case of my 'medicine bag' doll idea. The "bag" body was too short, the arms were too long, she did need hands, and I couldn't seem to get the bottom and back to coordinate with the front. I ended up cutting and re-cutting, painting and patching.
After I had finished (finally) this doll I realized that, of course, there was an easier way to make the "dress" pattern work around the neck and shoulders. Didn't I grow up making doll clothes? I don't like to give up on something with a glimmer of potential, so I made a few more attempts. I designed a new pattern.
In this doll I made use of a fairly detailed collage quilted scrap from a long ago project. This dolls turned out more smoothly, but I still had to patch up some adjustments at the lower edge.
On the third attempt I decided to use a quilting idea that I had experimented with in the Uncommon Quilt Challenge earlier in the year.
This doll wears a dress quilted with postage stamps. I used the stamps as they were originally stuck to the plastic mailing envelope. I solved most of my construction issues and I am happy with the overall results. However. I think i'll avoid a white background in the future. Oh, and guess what? The stamps are beginning to become unstuck.
We did some sight seeing in southern New Mexico last week and happened to walk into a history museum in Lincoln, NM. The Apache Medicine Bag, pictured above, caught my eye immediately from across the gallery because I thought it might be a doll. It wasn't, but it could have been... with the addition of a head and maybe some arms. We were in a small art gallery a few days later where I saw what I think was a figurative sculpture hanging on the wall. It interested me because a tube of clay had been used to represent the outstretched arms. This is not a new idea, but thinking back to the medicine bag something in my imagination clicked. I've been hoping to come up with a simple idea that would combine my interest in making a detailed head and a richly decorative garment. As soon as we got home I made the doll pictured below.
I made a polymer clay face and used a part of a fiber experiment I made some time ago to embellish the garment. She hangs on the wall. So simple! I could make lots of these. Right? I made a second 'bag' garment. I got so caught up in the quilting and bead work that I failed to notice that the whole thing was too wide and too short. This made the arms look too short and skinny.
And guess what. The head was too small. It is never as easy as it ought to be! I have revised all my patterns, and have 2 more heads ready to go. And I will eventually make a larger figure to wear this cute dress. I am pleased with the potential of this idea and hope to have other results to share soon.
This is a little project I made in the early weeks after our move. I can never resist the formed paper packaging materials, so when I noticed this one in the recycle pile I snagged it. I quickly realized that I would like it better with a frame. This one is made from a couple layers of cardboard and covered with a few layers of paper. I painted it, first with the primer I was using in the kitchen, and then with acrylics. The size is about 8" wide x 14" high.
I set it aside on the counter in my studio and as has happened so often, it started communicating with its neighbor!
The red piece on the right is a fabric chenille that I made earlier this year. I was disappointed with the project for a couple of reasons, but I realized that I would like it a lot better if I could add a shadow box style frame, and that the texture of the fabric chenille would be an interesting way to create a center. Anyway, I've whipped up a few more frames and experimented with some 6 inch square chenille centers. The only finished piece so far is pictured below.
I would like to spend some time developing this idea, so maybe by next week.....
September 1, 2019! Yes, I've been able to hold to my restART date! This weekend I've fiddled around with a bit with a new idea and hope to have something ready to share by next Friday. My work space is more or less set up, but not really. That will take awhile...
In the meantime I want to share these wonderful figures. We recently explored the Ernest Thompson Seaton Archive at the Academy for the Love of Learning near Santa Fe. These two guys are displayed on the cabinet there without any information about the maker or origin. I got the idea that they were one of many things of this type that Seaton brought into his campfire talks of the 1930's or earlier. They are about 3 feet tall and carved from wood. It looks like the arms were made separately and then added. Weathering adds to their charm.
If I could make these...I would. Maybe they will inspire something.
I give up any pretense of working on my art (or my blog) until further notice!
The opportunity to move to a different house came up rather suddenly and I started packing up my studio on June 24, when I arrive home from a week-long get away. We moved on July 17, and just today I was able to begin unpacking a few things in my new studio.
Our new house has the interesting feature of a gold fish pond in the front courtyard. We thought it was too crowded with fish, most about 8" long. We found a guy who was willing to come over to take as many as he could catch to move to his pond. We helped him catch 23 fish. My job was to hold the plastic bag open in the water to receive the fish as they were dumped out of the net. None of them landed on my head, although it felt like a possibility each time. I was reminded of my "Fish Out of Water" sculpture. By the time we had stirred up the pond for an hour it was such a mess, we gave up knowing there were a few left. This morning we counted nine fish that emerged from the depths to feed. The plan was to get rid of all the fish, but I think we will keep these after all.
The good news about out move is that I have a few new ideas that have blossomed while I was unable to put my hands on any art supplies! My goal is to be ready to start working again on September 1. Check back again in a month to see if anything is happening here!
My sister was the first to spot these treasures as they were being unpacked in the store. By the time we returned they had been sorted into bundles of 6 potholders for $1.50, so what could I do except buy a bundle. Of course they bring back happy memories of making these when I was a kid. The colors combinations here are a bit surprising and I like them. The 2 pictured on the left are my favorites. I've been working with grid ideas this spring in some painting experiments. The 6" x 6" painting below seems just a few steps away from a potholder, but not as functional! I know I will enjoy using these little gems.
I posted a photo of this Uncommon Quilting Square a few weeks ago, lamenting that my zipper supply was almost gone. LOOK WHAT I FOUND.
That was the best item, but not the only treasure I found. Check this out: a bag of crewel embroidery threads, a couple of bead necklaces and a short string of large wooden beads. It would be fun to work out a little sculpture that uses a bit of each of these things. I'll need some time to figure that out. Stay tuned!