Saturday, January 6, 2018

A wrap of of 2017 dolls and stitching and tutor recommendations :-)

Well its 2018 and I am back in the saddle after 2 months of no posts.   But in the interim I have been busy travelling and stitching and doll making.  

In late October 2017 I went to the ContemporaryCraft Retreat at Canberra and did a workshop with Bobbi Oliver – a doll maker from the Central Coast NSW.   I highly recommend her – she is generous in her skill sharing.   After two days I came away with “Mago” – a fixed doll with wired, padded and wrapped armature and sculpted polymer clay head and hands.   I was chuffed.

I also did a class with Lex Sorrentino using Makins Clay.   Lex always  seems to comes up with techniques I want to try.    In Lex's  workshop  we made a  hollow fish form - the wire armature was covered with Makin's and partially covered- a bit zombie like.   

Zombie Fish WIP

November was a busy month.

I made the plunge and exhibited a selection of works at the  Albury Horicultural Show.  And was staggered to be awarded  Best of Show.   I entered a painting, a paverpol Llama, some stitchery and a cloth doll and a small mixed media doll.

I travelled to Swan Hill Vic and lead a Paverpol weekend with 9 ladies at a CWA craft retreat.   We made bandaged birds, a small person form and a larger lady.   It was bags of fun.  They were a great bunch of women to spend a weekend with πŸ˜Š

Circque de Soliel inspired girl - yet to be named

Pietro - my medieval inspired boy
At the end of November and early December I had a catch up with some girlfriends at the Gold Coast and we had a crafty few days with doll maker Susie McMahon.   We sculpted faces with Creative Paperclay and after three intense days had completed a cloth doll with a paperclay face mask and sculpted a full head with a shoulder plate. Susie's technique included covering the sculpted face with cloth.  As a textile junkie I really like this look.  Susie was generous in sharing her moulds and I also came home with a baby face mask and a child face mask.    

Lots of learning and lots of fun.  I am in love with the other worldliness of these two dolls and will make more in the format.  Susie will travel to conduct classes and I highly recommend her to you.   

Add to this mix a workshop with textile artist and tutor Sue Senewiratne (and sequin lady extraordinaire) where we sampled and sewed sequins in a Bollywood Bling style.    Sue loaded her car up and travelled 4 hours up the highway from Melbourne to Albury with an amazing selection of sequins, braids and beads.   Her workshop instructions included a number of Indian style motifs.   I was so enthused I did another two motifs and a sampler in the next few weeks.   Sue has a lovey easy teaching style and coped with my dive into the deep end approach!

Two of Sue's examples
My sampler

Last year was a great learning year.  The challenge is to incorporate what I learnt into my projects this year 😊.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Some more rabbits from Tempestuous Nature exhibtion

Harry  is possibly my favourite character.  He was also the most difficult to create and I had several attempts at his face.     I settled on air dry clay over cloth to make his face.  Then I painted him. Harry is a hirsute hare in the modern fashion with his bit more than 5.00 o'clock shadow and not quite a beard.                                                                                                              And he is a bit of a dandy.    Harry’s clothes are made from a discarded mens shirt.  (I loved the fabric in this shirt and have used it several times.  It’s just about all gone).   Harry’s lairy flared pants are made from an old tie.  I enjoyed adding the details to Harry's costume. The buttons on his pants come from the shirt used to make the shirt.  Small beads have been added to the front of his shirt to represent buttons.  Harry's ears have been stiffened so that they remain standing.    

Grace is a ballet student.  This bunny is heading off to her ballet school concert.  A temperamental prima donna in the making. She came into being because of her feet.   They looked like they wanted to dance on point. Grace’s leotards, tights and shoes are painted on.  Her skirt is an old scarf that a friend gave me.  The trims came from my collection.  Grace carries a wrap in case she gets cold in the wings.     Grace's muzzel was needle felted and her stage eyes painted on :-).


Houdini  is an excitable boy always getting out of trouble after getting into mischief. Pipe cleaners make him poseable and lend to his demeanour. His bright red pants reflect his nature.  They are made from a fabric scrap supplied by Leanne.    Houdini's eyes are embroidered on He is sitting on top of a gorgeous yellow and red dot felted bags made by Leanne.

These bunnies are looking for new homes  and are for sale.  Contact me via my web site for further details.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Rabbits on Exhibtion - Tempetuous Nature

Last night the exhibition Tempestuous Nature was officially opened at Creators Artspace, Lincoln Causeway, Wodonga.  

I was invited to join the exhibition by fibre artists Cathy Upton and Leanne O'Toole.  Cathy has on display results of eco dying on silk, cotton and wool cotton mixes.  Leanne's works are in the form of bags - cloth, felted and both.  Also on display were two felted wearable art dresses on which Cathy and Leanne had collaborated. One of the dresses was a winner at the Wool Fashion Awards in 2014.  Their work is amazing and I was really chuffed to be asked to contribute work - but rabbits?   Well it worked. 

Henrietta is the bunny that started this journey.    Leanne had seen Henrietta and thought that rabbits would fit the eclectic mix of fibre the exhibition.

Henrietta is a true mixed media creation.  I wanted to try clay over cloth which is how her face came about.  Her ears are florists wire and papier-mΓ’chΓ© made from tissue that came with a new pair of shows. Henrietta’s little jacket was a failed felting experiment.  The felt came up a treat in its new guise.  Pants were made from a scrap left over from some long forgotten project.  

Bunnies in the buff posing with One of Leanne O'Toole's Cloth bags
and two of Cathy Upton's eco-dyed scarves
 Bunnies in the Buff

These little fellows are made from a test scrap of cotton fabric that Cathy eco dyed.    I just loved the colour and the bunnies have such an exuberant feel about them that I couldn’t clothe them.   

I just gave them simple  embroidered faces and lovely fluffy tails made from unspun sheep wool.

 The Border Mail gave us a nice write up.  You can find it here.

In making my bunnies I have tried to imbibe them with something of a tempestuous nature.  If you look you may find that they are have elements that are emotional, passionate, intense, impassioned, fiery, unrestrained, temperamental, volatile, excitable, mercurial or unpredictable.

I have endeavoured to stick to the principle of not buying anything in making the bunnies. Remembering where lots of the bits came from has added to the fun I have had in making bunnies for this exhibition.
As adults, we often eschew childhood toys and forget the joy they gave us.   These bunnies are toys for adults and can be hung on the wall or sit on a shelf.  I  will post more photos over the next couple of weeks.  I hope my bunnies give you as much pleasure as they do me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cactus Country

A visit to Cactus Country -  friends' gardens hidden on a farming property at Strathmerton (on the Victorian side of the Murray River).

Click here for  a u tube for a bit of a look see as Jim talks about how he came to have acres of cactus.

The garden had more than enough flowers and lovely spiky plants to make our visit memorable. There is lots of inspiration for some textural embroidery and painting.    And an upcoming exhibition of art for the garden or comprising fibres from it in January 2018.  πŸ˜  

Also exciting - I will have an exhibition of garden art and some workshops in the garden in January 2018.

Here are some flower photos to wet your appetite:

Friday, May 12, 2017

The value of play

I have been very strict with myself recently.  I have not let myself digress from a big project which must be ready by the end of the month for photographing.

The project is comprised of three disparate parts which I have been working on irregularly over the past year and a half.   I have spent so much time thinking about the project and collecting materials that I thought I was much further on than I actually was.  Add to this a measure of procrastination and boredom (because I had over thought it all) I was feeling over the whole thing!  The project seemed to take forever to come close to finishing.   Drag on execrably in fact!

Anyway, the long and the short is that I decided to give myself a play day and do anything I wanted to – have a play 😊.     And I did.   I made some very simple doll forms (cat shapes) and stuffed them and painted them with gesso.   All so I could play with a bit of paint on cloth.   And I started to paint.

It was fun to do and took my attention away from 'The Project'.  

What I discovered was that whilst I was working on the cat forms I solved problems I was having in the design of an astronaut doll body which is to accompany one of the parts of the series of works.  
As the cat forms had to dry I had time to start the astronaut.  And I was happy to do so .  At this time all I had was an ear less head with no neck or body.

The day flew.  In the time I stuffed and painted the cats I worked out how to progress with the astronaut. Here is a photo of him in his skin so to speak.

His head is sculpted from polymer clay.   His gloves from Makins clay.    I have added some aluminum wire (which is baked into his shoulders) which allow me to pose his arms. I will paint is boots and gloves and I have some lovely aluminum foil snaffled from leftovers of a recently installed ducted heating system which will make his suit.  He will float in the air in front of a mixed fabric and felt “spacescape”.     And I worked out I could make a papier mache helmet and to stop fussing about a glass visor.

Conclusion:   Play gives you time to creatively solve problems.

Resolution:   Let myself play at least once a fortnight so I can step away from bigger projects which go to make a body of work.

What do you do to keep yourself happy and on track with your projects?  I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Playing with paverpol

Had a play day with my daughter and we made diva's.   Well that's what they looked to me :-).

Materials -  Timber, wire and alfoil armature, interlock body, lace and braids all stiffened with tinted Paverpol.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Working towards exhibion, visits to Melbourne and Sydney

Part of Grandmother's Garden Installation for exhibtion in mid 2018

What have been up to since last post?   Not really hands on in the creation stakes.   Spent time in Melbourne keeping appointments and dodging rain.

I did get to op shop though and was pleased as punch as I picked up a lovely vintage tea pot, sugar bowl and milk jug which will complement the Grandmother's Garden installation I am working on. I am recylcling old and vintage embroideries  and playing with the hexagon shap which us the basis for the quilt pattern Grandmother's Garden.   In doing so I am remembering special times with my own grandmother who always set a "proper" table with embroidered table cloths and napkins.

And I picked up a couple of books on drawing fantasy figures.   Thinking they will have some inspiration for sculpting faces and different body forms.   One of the books set out its drawings based on the skeleton – much the same as the life drawing classed I had been going to.  Sadly the classes have missed out as they are on a Sunday and I seem to have been away from home for about the last five!!

And this last weekend I went to Sydney and caught up with an exhibiting group I am part of to finalise plans for our joint exhibition in 2018.    The deadline for finalising works to photograph is 1st of May – only a month away!    There will be a bit of panic between now and then as I have looked at my calendar and a lot of time has been blocked out already.   But I am a long way along and  when I review what I have done much closer to completion than I thought.

Whilst in Sydney I was taken to Designers on Show exhibtion.   It showcased and sold work of  Australian artists and designers in all mediums and included fine art, jewelry, homewares such printed designs on linen, hand made one of a kind hats, bespoke shoes and knitted items.  I could go on.  But instead I will go again next year.  It was inspiring.  I purchased a couple of cards of works by Jane Stapelford and one of her peg people.

I have been reading up on Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilizations and got information and a couple of sketches into my visual diary.    It has been fun and I have started a collection of ideas for a body of work.  

I am intrigued by the saying “as drunk as 400 rabbits”.   A group of Aztec gods called the Centzo Totochtin (also known as 400 rabbits) were associated the agave plant from which an alcoholic drink called maguey was made.  They partied hard it seems!  It was belived that the rabbit first discovered maguey by nibbling on an agave leaf.  Maguey was a ritual drink in Aztec times and the population at large were not permitted to drink it.    If you are interested you can find a little more information here .

My mind is humming with the thought of cartwheeling and leaping rabbits and how to make them😊

Not quite a self portrait

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

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