So what would you do with an XXL mens wool sweater when it started to fall apart and had a few holes in it? This is what I did…
of course I have a bit left…
My favorite doll-makers?
Helen Pringle, Susan Fosnot, Dorothy Heiser. I have a gallery with reference pictures- those are dolls that inspire me. http://www.cozy.org/pics/morgue
I am also inspired by- Tudor portraits and paintings of the Ashcan School in New York. “Realism” painting of the 20′s to the 40′s. Folk art portraits and flowers in the garden.
Right now I am working on a doll inspired by Angela Barrett’s illustrations in “The Hidden House” by Martin Waddell. Her illustrations inspire me.
Helen writes- I have a question for you…it relates both to art and to dolls..or any other creativity. Do you think it is possible to be original with anything
creative any more? Because I have looked at so many dolls, read so many
books, and seen so many, I feel sometimes that I don’t have an original idea
in my head when it comes to making them. Has that ever happened to you?
I wrote- My original dolls come from a tradition of old style dolls, but no one would mistake them for old. I think I make my newer dolls as a sort of family. They look friendly to me, beings I could know. I often find it hard to connect with people, maybe making my own people is easier? I don’t worry about “original” or derivative… I just do what I want to do. If someone thinks it is similar to someone else’s, great! tell me who it is so I can track them down and study their work! I have always found that being original is the worst thing you can do if you want to actually make any money… if buyers can’t fit you into a category, they aren’t willing to take a risk. This was true with my pottery.
Helen writes- How did we get to dolls? Why dolls? Can you answer that? I can’t. Why the
kinds of dolls we do? We’re both making vintage dolls. We have both done
funkier dolls in the past. Why vintage dolls? Why dolls at all?
I know inside my head, I’m just not sure I can explain it.
Dolls? I have always been interested in figurative art- not at all by abstract. My brain works towards the figurative- when I look at abstract, I see figurative. I have always been most interested in depictions of people- in any art. Painting, sculpture, life-drawing. When I did pottery, my work was all about fitting a figure onto a 3-d space or form. How to put a figure inside a bowl, on a plate, around a cup. That was what drove my interest. I have always had a desire to make dolls in the back of my mind. I am sure I was thinking about it even when I was in Art school. I just never seemed to have the time to explore it and to be honest, the guts. Right before the fire, I was so sick of doing the pottery that I decided to take a sabbatical from it. I started painting and print-making. On my list of things I would explore was dolls. It wasn’t until after the fire that I tried my hand at it. Once I started, everything else dropped away.
I love the 3-d, the materials, the high level of craftsmanship that has grown for me. I love turning a flat piece of fabric into something with life! Every figure has it’s own set of problems that need to be worked out, so there are constant challenges. Plus, I collect stuff- and everything I’ve saved over the years can be used with the dolls. It seems to incorporate everything I am interested in, inspired by and curious about.
Vintage? I started out thinking about wooden dolls, like the wood artist mannequins. Also, I was working to dress two antique porcelain dolls of my MIL’s. I was taking every book about dolls out of our library, but mostly historical. I was and still am, very interested in the old copyright drawings for dolls like the Izannah Walkers and the Chase dolls. I never even looked at any patterns that other people were doing until I joined the doll club and then took a Gail Wilson Workshop. That was about a year after I started, and when I was getting very serious about it. I think that was when I found and joined VCD. I like making the vintage dolls because I feel like I learn a lot by using the original patterns- like reading a book in the original language or something! Sometimes I make the dolls I wish I could afford to buy. If I had unlimited money, maybe I wouldn’t bother! I don’t know… but I think I would because I am so curious about them. It takes me into their place somehow- When I was taking care of my in-laws in the fall of 2002, I was very focused on dolls of 1910 – 1925. It made me feel more connected to my MIL who had Alzheimer’s.
I’ve been having an email discussion with someone I’ve never met through one of my online doll groups. It has been an exercise for my brain…
about why I am blogging-
I am thinking a lot about connections… I worked in an Artist studio building for 11 years and then it burned down in 1999. Since then, I have been working at home. The real tragedy of the fire (for me) was the loss of community. I have found it to be irreplaceable. I have been searching ever since. One attempt to find a community has been my blog. So far it hasn’t generated anything, although I think it has been a useful tool for me- helps to have a place to record progress, and writing out ideas and thoughts help make me think more clearly. I am a bit writing phobic, so pushing myself is good. I tend to get WAY too isolated, working at home, alone. It is not good for me.
A pattern for Clover’s petticoat. 11 1/2″ doll
This petticoat is made out of a nice, old linen handkerchief that already had a lace edge on it.
(step 0- go to your stash, sort through the 500 vintage handkerchiefs you have and pick out a nice plain one with small scale lace on the edge!)
1. Cut the lace off the side edges of the handkerchief.
2. Fold the handkerchief in half and cut across about 1/2 inch from the top. This gives you a one inch wide strip which will be the waistband.
3. Sew the side seams. Stop sewing about one inch from the top on one side.
4. Measure the doll’s waist. Gather the top edge to fit the doll.
5. Sew the waistband onto the gathered edge- first from the inside and then topstitch on the outside. Hand basting helps. Use a button, snap or hook for a closure.
Iron and your done!
This is Clover. She is 11 1/2″ tall- smaller then I usually work. She is part of a project put together by Ike Putney. Ike designed a pattern and made up 12 of these dolls and she sent them out to be finished by various doll makers. We have a yahoo group to report progress and post pictures. After we finish the dolls- put on a face- we dress them, make a pattern and then send a photo and the pattern back to Ike. She is going to put it together into a book. Lots of fun and great to see how differently everyones dolls turn out.
ï¿¼Here is Clover sitting on Agnes’ lap. Clover- 11 1/2″, Agnes- 33″
I went to an opening today at Brickbottom Gallery. The show was paintings, and 3 out of the 4 artists were former tenants of the Kendall Center. Also, a lot of the other people attending the opening knew me from the Kendall Center. I was introduced several times as a potter… I don’t think of myself that way at all anymore. Also, when people ask what I am doing now, I can hardly even say- Dolls. When I do say it, I feel like it is almost a challenge… like OK- now say something.
What I hate most that people say- “dolls are always so creepy…” huh?
and lastly, there is Archibald. He got the top score of 98. He was entered into the same catagory as Haze.. professional, Cloth, Original by Artist entrant.
I wrote- This is “Archibald”. He depicts a wealthy, Edwardian gentleman in his lounging clothes. His body is inspired by wooden mannequin dolls, and also by some of the china-head dolls. He is cloth painted with acrylics.
The judge wrote- “Interesting and well designed concept. Would like to see the jacket lined. Well done!” Minus 2 points in the costume section.
and my take on this one- I think she is right. It would have looked better. I never even thought about it.
All in all, it was a great experience. I wish I could have gone to the show and seen all the dolls. I am pleased that none of the judges mentioned the doll stands. Hopefully that means they were successful.