the story thing…

I am going to explain why I don’t write stories for my dolls, but first-

sometimes I go away for a day or two and it’s hard to get back to the blog. I am in the middle of an ocean of wip’s right now, so nothing really to post. Just a lot of potential…

The post has to have a photo though- I received an email last week asking if I was the M. Kirchner who made the mugs in the photo attached to said email. Asking if I was still making them. Her mom collected them and she wanted to continue the collection- it was wonderful to know that the old work is cherished.

Many people have suggested that I write stories or bios for my dolls. Many other doll artists do this and do it very well. This is why I don’t.

1. When I was a senior in art school, I was finishing up a ceramic sculpture. Someone came over to look at it and started describing what they thought was going on in the piece, what they thought the story was. I was amazed at the richness of their narrative- much better then I could do. I realized that, left to their own imagination, viewers would come up with much more interesting stories then I every could and they enjoyed doing it.

2. When I made functional pottery, I pictured the user contemplating the images on their coffee cup or cereal bowl. The image might draw them into their own fantasy world (away from the real world) and inspire different stories each morning. I hoped to make a world in bowl- or at least a little vignette.

3. A few years ago I bought a doll from someone who wrote rich and wonderful bios of her creations. I did not see the bio before I received the doll. When I read it, I was taken aback. I’m not quite sure how to say this- I didn’t like her (the doll) from her description… I mean, I liked the doll itself- just not how she was described in the story… I thought- I would never be friends with this person- she would totally intimidate me in real life. She was smarter, more popular, more accomplished… I don’t know- the kind of person that I feel completely overwhelmed by. That certainly clarified the issue for me-no stories.  Resolve is easy when you don’t want to do it anyway!

I want to make characters that will inspire peoples imaginations- viewers will come up with their own stories. The dolls will be a catalyst for the imagination. No static story lines. I absolutely LOVE when people tell me who they think my dolls are- it always makes me feel successful when my work creates a spark.

I don’t want to sound like I have anything against other people writing up stories for their work- it just isn’t what I want to do.

starting up again

This is my desk after I cleaned up. Yes. It is.114deskb.jpg

I know it really isn’t cleared off. It must have been for a minute or two, but then I got started on something. While I was clearing things, I kept finding little sketches that I’ve done in the past few months- things I was thinking about, but I was in the middle of something else.114ideas.jpg

Now that it is time to get back to work, there are so many possible directions to go in. Which ever one I chose will very likely lead me down a path where these other ideas get forgotten or at least delayed a lot longer. They are all calling to me! So, I freeze up. But I know it is important to do something, anything, start somewhere. Start on the thing that has a deadline of sorts. So I am making Valentine postcards and Valentine robots-

above, that is my work table. Below, the ironing board. All surfaces are covered again. In my studio, that seems to be a good thing.


getting inspired

In the last few days, I’ve had several people ask what inspires me so I thought it might be a good idea to post about it, i.e. give it some actual thought. Years ago I took my son to a talk given by Philip Pullman. He was absolutely brilliant. One of the things he talked about was that people often ask where he gets his ideas. He said something along the line of- the ideas come to my desk and if I’m there, I get them. If I’m not, I don’t. I loved that explanation! So much of the art is just being at your desk and working. I googled “Philip Pullman inspiration” and I didn’t get that story but got this explanation. (the first paragraph) Not as funny but also excellent.

I am inspired by materials (these days beautiful fabrics), things that I touch (robots with the sewing notions for details), the seasons, the little stuff going on in my life everyday, some odd thing that I’ve read about (example- fat fairies), the photos of what everyone else is doing all over the craft blogging world and Flickr, a new technique that I’ve learned, my family, color. And if I am working on something, and if it doesn’t have a face, I probably won’t stay interested for too long! If I hit a dead end, I have 2 ways of recharging that usually work. I go back to my older work, look through it and try to come up with a new approach or simply do another one. I have found lots of inspiration for the postcards by going through old photos of my pottery. The other technique is to go through all my materials. That way I get 2 things accomplished- clear out some stuff and almost always find something that sparks an idea.

I didn’t know that…

It never occured to me that you could use that double sided iron-on stuff- you know, like Wonder Under– to stick fabric onto cardboard. We had a demo at doll club a few weeks ago and we all got a pattern and directions to make this- a folding bin, very handy for a trashcan at a workshop. Here is is open-


and closed-


I didn’t know that…

It never occured to me that you could use that double sided iron-on stuff- you know, like Wonder Under– to stick fabric onto cardboard. We had a demo at doll club a few weeks ago and we all got a pattern and directions to make this- a folding bin, very handy for a trashcan at a workshop. Here is is open-


and closed-



I am in the midst of a massive clean-up and reorganization of my studio. I was feeling like I was drowning! And I couldn’t find anything. I really should go through all my stuff once a year just so I remember what I’ve got. It is very inspiring.

I enjoyed the post on names over on Wee Wonderfuls and thought I’d post something I’d saved from one of the Yahoo groups I read. Someone sent in a list of names that was printed in UFDC’s “Dolls News” in an article from August 1959. The list was gleaned from The Godey’s Ladies Book of 1857. On some of them, I’m not sure if the spelling is correct so I’ve put a (?).

Alba, Adelia, Alida, Athalie, Annot, Arabella, Berthanalda (?), Corilia, Claribel, Clotilda, Clarina, Euphemia, Elfrida, Euphrasie, Eulalie, Endora, Elfie, Elmira, Emmeline, Esmeralda, Ermengarde, Linette, Fidelia, Florinda, Floribelle, Fennilla (?), Georgianna, Hermione, Hortense, Hilda, Ione, Imogene, Imalda, Lanthe, Isodora, Keziah, Lilla, Lucretia, Letitia, Minnie, Maude, Mara, Maja, Melecent, Medora, Myrrha, Mira, Nyia, Parthenia, Selina, Sara, Sophronia, Telkla, Thyrza, Victorine, Zara, Zitelle, Zelica, Zayda, Amy, Agatha, Aurelia, Annabel, Aimee, Alida, Angeline, Blanche, Cora, Camille, Cecily, Dora, Dorcas, Delia, Ella, Elfrida, Fanny, Gertrude (Trudy), Geraldine, Henre, Ida, Iona, Jeanette, Jessica, Juliet, Josephine, Katrina, Lydia, Marcia, Monica, Mildred, Matilda, Natalie, Naomi, Nydia, Olympia, Pamela, Penelope, Rosa, Rosalie, Rowena, Renee, Rosabella, Rosette, Sylvia, Sybil, Sophia, Susette.

I am going to use one of these names for my latest doll- you can try to guess which one. I will show her with her name once I get her shoes done.

cat softies

Loobylu has a Month of Softies project that anyone can join in on. This months theme is vintage catwalk. I have been thinking about participating this month.

Over the years I have done a lot of “cat art”(?)…
on hats-

cat hat


cat sweaters


cat bowl

I am going to try to knit a kitty- knitted stuffed animals always have a vintage look in my eyes.

knit cat

I was really pleased to find this image-

jazz cat

in Meggiecat’s blog… which I found through In a Minute Ago– a treasure trove of valuable links and information! The blue sweater is excellent!

notes on ladies

I said a few days ago that I was going back to work on my mannequin doll and am trying to improve the pattern. These dolls are inspired by antique wooden dolls, but then they are also leaning toward some early china dolls. The right hand doll is Angela undressed. She was the first one I made in the series. When I made her male companions, I made some improvements, and now I want to make a better lady doll. On the left is the same pattern with better feet… the limbs are not attached yet- she is all just pinned together.

mannequin 1 and 2

My improved feet are the same as the male version. There is a separate sole on the foot, and a piece of cardboard inside so it keeps it’s shape. In my next version, I have made the foot slightly smaller and the calf a bit thinner. Also changed is the knee joint- aiming for something closer to what a carved wood joint might look like.

I wanted a more “womanly” figure. I adjusted the pattern for the body front- I widened the front body piece and adjusted the darts. I ended up with the right hand torso. My most recent copy of Antique Doll Collector magazine has an article on early china doll heads and I just had to try adding a bun!

body 2 and 3

side view

and I changed the arm so that it only has one side seam. Simpler is better.


trying to get organized

I have been working on the photo gallery for my virtual open studio, but after I took the first set of pictures, I realised you couldn’t really see much except piles of stuff (ADD decorating). So… even though I had originally thought that the beauty of a virtual tour would be that I wouldn’t have to clean up, that is exactly what I worked on all day yesterday!

I am always trying to be organized as I work, but it is a constant struggle. I make parts of the doll and then, a month later can’t figure out which of my patterns I used. As I work on the dolls, paper pattern pieces are always disappearing- where did this disappearing paper come from anyway??? When I sew the cloth pieces together and stuff them, they can change shape dramatically, so trying to match paper to 3-d form usually doesn’t work.

I have made a lot of baby steps towards being organized with the patterns. I have all my doll pattern pieces numbered and organized in a notebook in plastic sleeves. I mark the pieces as I cut them out- but that part of the fabric ends up on the inside so that doesn’t help. I have tried marking the dolls on the bodies, but it seems like messing them up.
This is my latest idea-


I got these file sleeves at Staples. I put every piece of pattern paper and muslin mock-up into it. I trace the body pattern pieces onto a new paper and put that in also. I could use the outside to make notes, but haven’t gotten there yet. I use it as a way of cleaning as I go along… just put everything in the sleeve and then when it turns out something I need is lost, well, I know where to look!

my creative process?


The individual parts of this doll seem to be finished and I am feeling very dissatisfied. It might worry me except that it happens every time I get to this part of the project.
I keep thinking of E’s essay on the writing process. Different but the same.
My process goes something like this- Something plants the seed of an idea; a photograph, a painting, a piece of fabric or trim. The idea ferments, usually for months. Finally I get to work. I go through waves of satisfying flow and then frustration until I get to this point and I hate what I’ve done… then I tweak it and can usually get to a place where I am happy.
I am looking at what I’ve got. The face needs something. I keep seeing a shadow of Michael Jackson. Scary. Maybe it’s the hair. The hair isn’t right… hmm. A hat? Would that make the difference? The pants need to be shortened. They are rolled in this picture. The cape? Lining? An environment?
Oh, jeesh, I don’t know.