Monday, June 29, 2009

Merle's World

What every creative person needs is their own fan club. Having a young, hip, decidedly cutting-edge fan club is quite the best, dontcha think? It assures your longevity as an artist and just makes you feel warm all over :)

Meet my next fabulous friend, the Marvelous, Multi-talented Merle Pace, AKA Rowan DeVoe de Le Fresne Chateau. She actually calls it a "castle", but I like rhymes :) Merle has her own fan club. REALLY! I am now a card-holding member.

Okay, perhaps I am not that young, hip or cutting edge. But certainly in my own mind I am all the rage! Merle is a lovely gal, whom her fans love, and she's also quite beautiful (she will fiercely deny it), and nice, too. She's letting me join the club.

I know Merle because my friend Ivy introduced us. It turns out Merle and I have some things in common. We both make dolls, for one. We both love mermaids and fairies and believe in them, too. We both like bright colors and fancy shoes. She believes a fine lady should wear a crown, tiara or other mark of royalty. I believe each one should wear a hat.

Where Merle stands out, though, is in the amazing number of materials and processes she has mastered to evolve her impossible to imitate, singular style.

Merle is a self-portrait artist/photographer. She belongs to a group called The Female Self Portrait Artists Support Group. They put out books featuring self-portraits created by their members. Merle is included in their works: "She Took Her Own Picture" ( "In her Own Image." To be honest, before meeting Merle, I didn't even realize there was such a thing as a self-portrait artist. I had no idea there were so many talented people working in that genre. Apparently I don't get out much!

Merle also paints. In that arena, she is unbelievably prolific. Her paintings, which I ADORE, are a bit hard to describe. You really just have to see them.

Merle's paintings impart the imagery of folklore, fantasy and magic, of cats and ravens. She draws from the Gothic and Greek, Roman and Egyptian, Medieval and Pre-Raphaelite, and even Art Nouveau, mixing them together to create her own very unique style. Her colors are sometimes vivid, sometimes muted, sometimes blackened. She uses an array of materials to create her original paintings. The base is done primarily with watercolors. She may add gouache, metallic inks, pastels, and/or colored pencils to the mix. She tells me she has made paintings using even Crayola!

She also makes monotypes, creating rich, deep colored monotype prints with her own printing press. Apparently this is a very complicated "312-step" process, as she has explained it to me 3 times and I still haven't grasped it!

From either of these processes, she will also make smaller reproductions onto archival paper that she then decoupages onto plaques of found wood, adding bits of
this and that to fancy them up further. They nearly jump out at you, depicting kings and queens and saints and cats.

Merle also creates dolls.

They are art dolls for serious collectors. They are intended to hold their own space and not the type of doll to be placed on a shelf. In some ways they are more sculptures.
She has done a series of birdcage ladies that combine her ability to paint, sculpt, sew and many other things. They were shown last year at the Indianpolis Art Center at her show "Love, Loss, Resurrection." If you are lucky, you can catch her work there from time to time.

As usual I've rambled on for my bit. I really just want you to see Merle's incredible work. I hope it inspires you to do your own. So, I'm going to leave you with some more photos to tantalize and arouse your interest.

Please check out all of Merle's available work at her Etsy site,
her blog
and her website

She's put out an amazing amount of work, some of it for sale. She is also happy to do custom work for those of you who require something in particular.

Keep on cranking out the good stuff! Thanks, Merle, for making the world so much more interesting! You rock!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Here's Looking at You!

"A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you."

-----Brigitte Bardot

"Under the August Sun" July 1965 by Clyde Keller

I was saying to myself just the other day (yeh, I do talk to myself occasionally) that I wished I had better digital photography skills. The whole macro thing has got me in a spin, frankly. I love making dolls. Photographing them, not so much. Wouldn't you know just about the time I was feeling woefully inadequate in the photography arts, I ran into (no, not literally--on the internet, silly) the Fabulous Clyde Keller, Photographer Extraordinaire.

I initially found Clyde on his Etsy site ( I checked out his work and his profile and then went to his main site ( looking for more information.

I am a people person. I love to see what people are capable of. I love being inspired by their seemingly endless creativity; but I also want to know all the tidbits. I want to get the real scoop!

For someone whose professional career has spanned 40-plus years, whose work has received world-wide recognition, I have to say, I don't think Clyde is one to do much flaunting. Maybe he prefers his photos to do the talking...In any case, after viewing an extensive selection of his photographs, I'm here to report that Clyde is a PHENOMENAL photographer, a true master of his craft, and should seriously consider doing a little flaunting!

What I like most about Clyde's work is that he seems to truly care about the people and places he photographs. His lens, as an extension, mirrors that caring beautifully. As the American photographer Paul Strand said, "It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness." In that capacity, Clyde Keller is unquestionably gifted.

Vancouver BC, VICTOR'S WORLD, Delany's Coffee House regular,
Clyde Keller 2007 Photo.

"One of my favorite images from the many trips to Vancouver, Canada... Victor offered great conversation and an undeniable graphic appeal with his checkered shirt and flowing beard. In this impromptu photo, I struck up a conversation with Victor and was able to photograph him as we made our exchanges."

Scoggin Valley Pioneer FELIX McCULLOUGH with 1925 Tractor,
Clyde Keller 1977 Photo.

"One of my favorite images from the 1978 Valley People Documentary Series, this portrait of Felix McCullough, was quite popular when it was featured in our "VALLEY PEOPLE" Photographic Calendar. Now, 30 years later, with much of Washington County engulfed by change, these photographs are a precious historical rememberance, capturing the unvarnished flavor of its heritage. Scoggin Valley in now under water... McCullough's farm no longer exists. I asked Felix if he would demonstrate his 1925 tractor for a photograph... the resulting portrait memorializing the event and the end of an era."

Clyde takes photographs of a lot of things. His home base is in a lovely, scenic part of the world known as Bend, Oregon. He has taken photos galore documenting his time with the people and landscapes in those parts. My favorites are the ones he has made of people. I get the sense from his photographs that he takes people just as they are, without judgement, finding their unique tendencies interesting and worth documenting.

Of special interest to Clyde has been photodocumenting historical political events. Many of his photos have gained him world-wide acclaim, particularly his extensive collection of Robert F. Kennedy photographs.In 2008 when the Triborough Bridge was renamed the RFK Bridge, Clyde worked with the RFK Center for Human Rights and the New York Transportation Authority in their promotion, thereby placing his photos throughout the NY subway system.

I'm going to leave you with a few of Clyde's non-people photos that I especially like so you can get a view of just how talented and versatile this guy is.
Please head over to Clyde's sites and take a gander at the incredible wealth of photographic art you will find there. If you love photography, I'm pretty sure you are not going to find a better bang for your buck.

Thanks, Clyde, for doing your part to make the world a more lovely place to be!

Here's looking at you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scrumptious Pulchritude

Okay, so I'm getting reaallly inspired now! When I started this blog business last week, I was seriously wondering what in the world I would possibly have to write about. You want to hear about the dolls I am working on? Perhaps. A few pictures are always fun. But, what I reaallly want to do, and what it seems I have already begun, is to write about the remarkable people I have met who are doing the stuff that I'm pretty sure you truly DO want to hear about.

Okay, so this next gal, no joke, is Queen of Half the World. She's probably Queen of the Other Half, too, but let's be realistic. There is only so much ruling one can be bothered to do, and the other half of the world is probably asleep when she's awake anyway, so why bother. Not only is she Queen of Half the World, she comes with her very own fairy muse, who is Princess of Pretty Much Everything Else. And soooo, while you're waiting for me to get on with it, I'll introduce them. They are Sheela Goh and her daughter, The Lovely Eve Low:

Aren't they lovely?!! And this is not even a glamour shot. This is just them hanging out at a coffee shop! Would you believe they live in Borneo?! Have you ever met someone who lives in such an exotic place?

According to Sheela, she is "a neurotic, paranoid Gemini, self-proclaimed advocate of the overachiever syndrome; a kooky, exceedingly klutzy and unabashedly dorky ex-journalist who's still chuffed to bits whenever something she designs actually sells." I don't know about the rest of it, but relating herself to the "overachiever syndrome" is putting it mildly. This gal seriously must NEVER sleep, in which case, perhaps she IS ruling the Whole Entire World! If she actually does run for the post of Queen of the Whole Wide World, I will be quite happy to be one of her loyal subjects, because I am quite sure it would be a beauuuuuutiful world, and we'd all be wearing jewels like this!

Sheela is all about the business of beauty and loveliness, Scrumptious Pulchritude, if you will. Not only is she quite beautiful and lovely herself, but her work, which is opulent, decadent, truly one-of-a-kind, jewel-encrusted wire wrapped jewelry, is truly fit for a queen. To see what I mean, just check this stuff out! You have never, believe me, seen anything like it.

And she just cranks the stuff out. I don't mean because what she does is easy. I mean, she must be at the table, lights on until the wee hours, working away at the craft she loves, while the rest of us are sleeping. If you check out her Etsy site ( and her blog (,you will be inclined to believe she has been at this for decades. Not so! She is so naturally talented, that she is actually relatively new at this Big Bling Business. I find it hard to believe, but she claims she's been at it for less than a decade. How did she get to be so good so fast? I think she really truly doesn't sleep. Either that or this is her tenth life as a jewelry designer. :)

And did I mention, she also designs couture clothing and accessories?!!( Good lord! Okay, as my friend Stella Pesci ( says, I now feel like a "snail in a coma"!!!! :)

I could go on and on and on about Sheela. She is just that marvelous! But I also want to tell you about her lovely daughter, Eve:

Eve is 10. Eve is also beautiful, talented and lovely. Eve draws like not many 10 year olds can. I have a 10 and 8-year-old. I even taught elementary school in some long forgotten past life. I know exactly how 10-year-olds are "supposed" to draw. Eve doesn't draw like that. Eve draws like this:

If you contact her (, she will draw you, or your mom, aunt or best friend as a fairy! And she'll make you a set of cards to send to all your friends! Now how cool it THAT?!!

And did I tell you she also models? Just check out her mom's blog ( Eve, like I told you, is her mom's fairy muse. She wears clothing and jewelry like a supermodel and she's in most of the photos Sheela takes.

Okay, so one last photo and then I'll leave you to it.

Go check out these beautiful ladies' sites. Get yourself some BLING! Be inspired. And keep on cranking it out! Sheela, Eve, my hat's off to you. You go girls!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Marilyn

I have been thinking about what kind of doll I want to make for the Dimensions in Dollmaking 2009 event. I've never entered before, but really want to this year. The theme for 2009 is "Make Me Laugh." So, yesterday I pulled out my DVD of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" to see if I could get any costume ideas for another Marilyn doll. I wanted something funny. Actually the costumes on the front of the DVD cover would be excellent, but I have no idea if I could pull off those roses. Maybe I could get Stella Pesci to help :)

I like this one, too. The red is quite fab:

A couple months back, if you know me very well, you probably know I made a Marilyn Monroe doll. I drew up my version of her face on a flat-faced statue doll and designed my own costume. Nothing exactly like she had ever worn, but I wanted something green and couldn't find anything on the internet in that color. Apparently she was buried in green, but I didn't really want to copy that...

So anyway, I want to show you my Marilyn doll, if you haven't already seen her. I'm really happy with her.

My lovely sister-in-law said I made her look ambivalent. I think that's right. She really was, wasn't she.

The costume is green silk charmeuse. I dyed it to a color I particularly like, and also which I think would have been an appropriate color for the times. It's a medium to deep green that is slightly drabbed. I machine-brocaded it with gold thread and added seed beads throughout the dip of the skirt. It has a halter-style neck and a low back.

The cape is deep green velvet with marabou feather edging. I really like how that turned out. Very sumptuous indeed!

Her hair is made from fabulous mohair locks that I got from my friend, another lovely dollmaker extraordinaire, Colleen Athens. You can see some of her work on her blog (

This is one of her dolls.

The hair she sold me was just the right shade of platinum blond. I discussed it with her previously and she assured me it was the correct color and consistency. She was spot on! Having not a clue how to deal with mohair, I emailed Colleen back and forth quite a few times and finally determined that a doll curling iron and quite a number of hair products would be just the thing to use. I combed the hair out as best I could, sprayed it endlessly with a Paul Mitchell working spray she recommended and set to work with this mini curling iron. I wish I had photos of me trying to pull this off! It was quite ridiculous, actually. I am decidely NOT a hair stylist. In fact, at the moment I could really use one myself! I think the Marilyn hair turned out pretty well, though my own is still a mess :), but I have to tell you, I am such a klutz, I pretty much could have torn my own hair out by the time I was finished. If you look at Colleen's blog, you will see that she can style her own hair and that of her dolls quite well. I, on the other hand, am not so talented. But, in the end, I think it turned out pretty well and I still have my hair! Thanks Colleen, You Are a Doll!

Keep on cranking it out people! Be inspired, do what you do and please visit Colleen's site so you can see just how talented she is!