I have been sewing for nearly as long as long as I can remember. Before that, I watched my mother sew. Over time I have gathered a collection of sewing notions. Some are leftovers, or were purchased for a project that never happened. Some were salvaged from throwaway garments. And, once in a while I buy a bundle of treasure at a thrift shop or an estate sale. The button I used for a hat on this girl has been in my button box for at least 45 years. I may have played with it when it was in my mom's button box.
The idea of using sewing notions and ephemera in my work has come to mind recently as I try to figure out how I can express my personal and family culture in my dolls. Using these treasures fights with the desire to keep and save them. But the time has come to let them go where they can be enjoyed. I see lots of possibilities in the shadow box figure idea pictured here. Her body is made from paper mache covered with polymer clay. The head and arms are polymer clay. She is embellished with buttons and part of a zipper.
The story of the Mary Jane Garment Company would fit here, but deserves more time than I have now. I'll begin to look through the collection and scan some photos for a blog post in March.
How about a few more "Hoop Skirt" dolls? I retired this style after making a group of six pieces in 2014. This was one of the first doll styles I made and sold in 2009. This success began a series of over 100 pieces in the smaller size (26" across the base) and 30 dolls in the larger size (about 23" across the base). The shape of skirt changed a bit over time and I tried a variety of design strategies, always relying on machine quilted fabric collage for the skirt But, finally, enough was enough! I recently pulled out the few pieces remaining in my inventory, thinking I would like to present them this spring. Well, they just didn't look that good! So, I am in the process of making at least two more.
The piece below was painted about this time last year. it was part of a group of fabric paintings using free brush strokes and printing. This piece got pretty wild! Parts of this are great, but taken all together it is a bit much. I decided to use part of this in a skirt for a large hoop skirt doll.
I was hoping to have this finished for the blog pictures. As it turns out, the photo makes it easier to see a few more adjustments to make. I have now broken up the patterned blocks a little more with strips of black, and I have painted the bottom stick and the bodice turquoise, adding wood finials on each side of the base.
I am happier with these design changes. But for some reason she doesn't hang straight, kind of drooping down on the right side. I haven't figured that out yet. Also, I discovered that there isn't quite enough skirt fabric to wrap around the edges, so I'll have to add a narrow bias strip on each side. I'm beginning to remember why this style was in retirement! I to share a photo of the finished doll soon!