Saturday, March 18, 2017

Up date on doll making

In November last year I posted that I had become interested in doll making.

Whilst I haven’t written about it since but I have been slowly progressing with my skills.     

I got two craft orientated presents from my better half this last Christmas a: doll pattern by Cindee Moyer and an online course  with art doll maker Deb Wood through A for Artistic (no affiliations).   Deb's course was polymer clay face making over four weeks  I haven’t quite made the soft female faces that Deb makes but my faces have improved leaps and bounds.

Meet Arnold -  not quite the beautiful smiley girl I set out to create.    But he is alive with humour and is patiently waiting for a body.

The next face I made was more like an old crone.  But Deb kindly said she reminded her of one of her fairy godmothers.  I have made a few more and there are more faces in the pipeline..

Cindee's pattern was called "the Gatherer" and involved simple needle sculpting and a a lot of mixed media :-).

In the past I have resisted courses because I didn’t want to duplicate other peoples’ work or replicate their projects.   Silly me!   Very rarely is anything ever exactly the same.   And now I realise that have missed opportunities to learn.   But most importantly I have missed making friendships and connections in the creative community.  

And of course like everything in life, if you want to get better one must practice, practice, practice.  Which is fun, fun, fun when it comes to creating.  

To this end I have been working on a small series of cloth dolls which I have called Garden Girls.   They are simple skittle shape and the  purpose is to practice painting faces  and designs on cloth.  This is Lily who is singing in the garden.

I have heaps of idea to work on  - recorded in my visual diary   The trick is to remember to look through it occasionally :-).

So where am I going next in this doll making adventure ?   I will keep at the faces and bring embroidery back into the bodies or the costumes that I put on them.    I have ideas tucked away in my visual diary for garden girl variations and will remember to look at them.

And I am finalising pieces for a group exhibition with Six Running Feet.   We are five textile artists who have each worked on pieces which reflect what "off the beaten track" means to us.   We have a date next year and I will tell more next week.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Reasons to write and draw in a journal

I write just about every morning and record my thoughts.  It’s a habit I kept after reading and completing the exercises contained in The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.   I haven't quite got this discipline with the blog and when life is full, as it has been the last few months, the blog loses out .

Sometimes my pages are meaningless… verbal blah about family, garden and domestic chores.   But I keep writing.  There have been occasions I write about the fact that I don’t know what to write about for 2 pages.   But by keeping writing the subconscious bubbles and ideas rise to the surface.

A very recent example  of this relates to a discussion with a Garden and Cafe venue I have been having about mounting an outdoor show .

The garden is are broken up into subcontinental regions such as Africa, the Americas etc and I had got caught up in trying to do something which would reflect the whole of the gardens.  My ideas were becoming too broad and my research for inspiration too far reaching!   The solution came out of the blue when writing one morning.  So obvious – stick to one region!   I had got so caught up with the idea of capturing the whole the gardens I couldn't get past that point.

I have an interest in pre-Columbian history so the Americas became the obvious choice.   Since then I have narrowed the theme down to Mesoamerica: early settlement in the Mexican basin and south to the areas which encapsulate Columbia and Peru.

Ceramic figure of seated woman (AD50- 200) – trace of red pigment 

Serendipity also played a part in this choice.   I am an op shopper and if given the chance will not pass up the opportunity to visit and op shop.  Very recently I came across (and away) with a publication called El Dorado Columbian Gold.  This book accompanied an exhibition of a selection of ancient gold objects from the Museo Del Oro, Bogota, Colombia in the major galleries in each of the States of Australia in 1978.    It is full of amazing photos and very good text.    This complements  other books in my library which focus on textiles, architecture and sculpture in the region. 

An anthropomorphic Tairona bat pectoral (AD900-1600) . Photograph: Museo del Oro, Colombia
Now I am chock full of ideas that can be interpreted in both assemblage, contemporary clays and metal work embroidery.  Bliss.

Image result for peruvian textiles books

Next step is to go one further with recording and start getting ideas from a text format to sketches.   The hardest part for me.   This is, I think, because I have been mulling ideas over in my head for quite a while and just want to get on with it and get my hands dirty or stab some cloth.   But I have learnt that my design and execution is almost always better when I do this step.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Inner City Vibes

I have forgotten how vibrant and busy an inner city is.  Not only the traffic and people but the streets:

Banksy in lane way in inner Melbourne

Lane ways in Brunswick East

Bicycles near a cafe

Surpise in a shop window

Art work by 23rd key outside Banksy exhibition

And the old and the new juxtaposed in the streetscape

After six weeks I will be glad to be home to the quiet of my country town.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello 2017

Goodbye 2016. 

You were a ride! 

We moved house – not just across town but across the state.     

Sun set

Our house is up high and we have the most entrancing views across the town of bush covered hills and an ever changing ‘cloudscape’.  Some days it is difficult to actually move from the table – weather watching can be so absorbing.

We made some new friends and managed to stay in touch with old ones: and have even reconnected with people we haven’t seen for 10 years plus!

I have a new and, even better, established garden which I love.    And a dedicated space in which I can make.   But old habits die hard and there is a definite ebb and flow of all sorts of materials from my studio.

I have managed to keep making art – though that has been a bit sporadic of late.

And most wonderful of all my partner has a new kidney … thanks to his donor brother.   They both came out of hospital on Christmas eve and both are doing well J.   We are in Melbourne till the end of January and then home.    (So miss my bed – it will be about seven weeks away by the time we get there).

With a gift of a kidney comes a new freedom and we are no longer tied to a machine.   We will be able to take more than a night away and we plan to explore the country about us – free range road trips.   Expect to see some photos posted during the year of the world about me.  

 And I will keep making.   For Christmas I got a book on Scottish Folk tales.    Look out for more fey folk inspired by tales of brownies, bogles and selkies.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Filling the creative well

I have been back and forth to Melbourne several times in the past couple of months.  Add to that a trip to Sydney, a trip to Canberra and one to Swan Hill.  Travel has taken its toll on creative endeavours.    On the plus side, I have seen new or revisited familiar vistas which add to the well to be drawn on at some time in the future.

Entrance to a café in Seymour:

The Mangoplah Pub:

 Canola paddocks between Albury and Wagga Wagga ;

Public Art in South Bank:

Mural at Victoria Market;

Murray River at Swan Hill:

And amazing clouds  just about very trip:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Canberra Contemporary Craft Retreat - Laughing and Learning - Dolls

Well it’s been a whirl wind few weeks.  I am exhausted from learning and laughter.  Not to mention travel.

I went to the Contemporary Craft Retreat held in Canberra, ACT in late October and did  workshops with artists Susie McMahan and Janice Laurent. 

Susie is a doll maker from Tasmania.  I only had to travel 3 ½ hours to get to Canberra.   Susie had 3 times the distance to cover.   I am so glad she did.  As well as coming home with 2 completed projects I came home armed with heaps of new skills.

Susie showed us how to make and paint two dolls she has designed:  her Sukeshi Doll and Sorry Doll.  I really wanted to learn how to draw and paint on fabric to create faces.  And I did J .  Not to mention learning some practicalities of soft doll making which I hadn’t done before.     

my Sukeshi Doll

The Sukeshi doll was fun and I learnt how to confidently apply paint to cloth.  The little doll had a simple form so I didn’t get lost – just face and hands outlined then filled in and then other decoration added as desired.  It was fun and Susie is a generous teacher.  It wasn’t until I was on my way home I remembered I had done an online class several years ago with American mixed media artist Suzi Blu on drawing faces.   I had forgotten.   Back to my notes now to combine what I learnt with Susie and Suzi J.

Embroidered but faceless cloth babushka

Some Paint applied
The back - added a kerchief
 Anyway, I got home and painted up a couple of little babushka type dolls which I had embroidered.  I was interested to see what I could apply from Susie McMahon’s lessons.   This is the result.  They need some refinement – and also the ‘canvas’ was not large.  Interestingly, the one I was least happy with and kept overpainting ended up being the one I like the most.  I think the under layers of paint give more depth. 

And that was something Susie talked about and showed us in the Sorry Doll.

My Sorry Doll

The Sorry Doll took 2 days of full on work and concentration.  Susie supplied us with a head and pattern.  The body was sewn and cut out at home.  The fun began at the Retreat.   With the encouragement of new friends Monica and Kay I made hands with separated fingers.  I had opted for a simpler hand but Kay had cut and sewn a spare pair.  Monica and Kay chivied me along when I made mistakes, burst through seams and decided to revert to the original.  Thanks girls – so glad you did!  

On the last day I did a class with Janice Laurent making a relief face in Makins Clay.  I love working with this clay and it has been a while so it was a good fun refresher.   The face is still a work in progress and I hope to finish it before Christmas.  If life events permit (which are also taking lots of time at the mo)  I will finish the face before Christmas and post a photo J.

The weekend following I went to Wagga Wagga to see “Tryp(s)tych” - an embroidery exhibition.  It was put on by a group I belong to and the work the members of the group does is amazing.  I didn’t take any photos and am hoping I can get hold of some to show you.

This last weekend I went to Swan Hill and did a gold work techniques class at the CWA Craft retreat there.   Again I didn’t take any photos. I will write a separate post on this too.      But I did sleep over with these two vintage girls at Carols house :-)

Monday, October 3, 2016

More Fey Folk = Art Dolls

Feathers from a vintage duster and an old silk scarf

Gum leaves for wings

Paper bark wings and recycled fabric

I have found that I have been working in a series by default.    I have been making these little art dolls for a while and finding that by repeating I am learning and exploring.  All that I have read and heard has said this but when I have set out to do this on purpose in the past I have failed.  I was encouraged to make more (thank you Penny) and ended up with a number of little art dolls. :-)

I have been using odds and ends, buttons collected over time, vegetation collected from walks with the dog and from the garden.  I have recycled/repurposed/upcycled clothes and fabrics given to me.
Friends know I have an interest in repurposing and I get given great things,   I love the vintage feather duster I was given.   You can see I have used some feathers in one of my fey folk above.

I have made little faces from either polymer or air dried clay and then made molds with which to easily create more faces.  They distort a little when I pull them out of the mould do they have familial sort of resemblance but are not exactly the same.  There are some that have no relatives -  the fellow with the bottle brush twigs wings in the photo above is one.

Not quite a self portrait

Not quite a self portrait
small 8' quiltlet with embroidered hair

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