Friday, September 25, 2009

Changing Directions

This past week I thought about what I am good at and what I am not in terms of my doll making, mixed in with a good portion of what I love to do and what I do not. I think my doll faces are coming along nicely. The painted flat faces seem to be something I pull off pretty well, and I like doing them. I guess it goes back to my years doing portraits, though then I did them in bits of cloth and they were 2 or 3 feet high at minimum! Scaling back to the 3-inch size required for a doll face has it's own challenges, but I enjoy them.

I also like making my own fabrics from what starts out as white silk. And I love making fancy costumes, though sometimes the challenges inherent in that send me about over the top.

What I decided I would really like to do is make Victorian ladies. I love the long, highly ornate dresses and gowns of the time, especially the very latest point in the Victorian era. So, this week, I began and finished my first Victorian doll. I don't have a name for her yet, or even a real story. She brings to mind for me the Thomas Hardy short story, written in 1894, "An Imaginative Woman". Mrs. Marchmill, waiting for her elusive and yet unseen poet crush.

"It was about five in the afternoon when she heard a ring at the door and the editor’s brother's voice in the hall. Poetess as she was, or as she thought herself, she had not been too sublime that day to dress with infinite trouble in a fashionable robe of rich material, having a faint resemblance to the chiton of the Greeks, a style just then in vogue among ladies of an artistic and romantic turn, which had been obtained by Ella of her Bond Street dressmaker when she was last in London. Her visitor entered the drawing room. She looked toward his rear; nobody else came through the door. Where, in the name of the God of Love, was Robert Trewe?"

I have posted pictures here of my first Victorian lady. You will have to let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Something's Brewing

As I said in my last post, I joined a terrific art doll group, ADO, or Art Dolls Only month they are having one of their quarterly challenges. The theme is all things Halloween. I've never made anything purposely, well, unattractive, before. I really wanted to give it a shot. I came up with 3 witches in the stew pot. I think they came out pretty well. I had quite a time working with polymer clay to make the pot. I have to say, I have a ton of respect for polymer clay artists! It's tricky business.

ADO is also having a mini challenge for the month, with the theme being clowns. I'm busy working on that entry now. I have to say, these folks, with all their marvelous talent and upbeat attitudes are really inspiring me. It's just what I needed!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Much ADO

Lately I've been thinking about why I chose as my medium something that sometimes seems so frivolous to me, namely art dolls. With all the talk about economic issues and people in general feeling the need to scale back, I often find myself in a quandry. Shouldn't I be doing something more practical? When I made portraits years back, at least that seemed more, well, necessary. But dolls? I have to ask myself, does anyone really need another one? And yet, my personal fascination with the human figure, and the human face in particular, leads me to think that YES, dolls are pertinent, and in fact, maybe even necessary.

Here's the thing, with painting you are working in 2-D. No matter how expert you are at depicting perspective and depth and everything else that goes into a painting, it is still, well, FLAT. No way around that one, is there? You can't put your hand out and feel the contours. Your mind can, in a fashion, and that is lovely for sure and even what may make a painting so exciting. But, you can't really reach out and touch a painting, now can you? But with dolls, which are 3-dimensional by their very nature, the first thing you really want to do is reach out and touch. Now granted, like most art dolls, my dolls are not meant for children. A lot of flipping, flopping, twisting and poking around is not really advocated. Getting on my high horse, they are sculptures after all; 3-dimensional representations of my idea of human form, even though distorted and comical in a sense. My particular dolls are soft, though, so really, you can get away with a bit of squeezing. That feature alone adds something to the finished work that you just can't get with a flat painting.

So, in the midst of all my philosophizing, I was recently contacted by an art doll team on Etsy. The Art Dolls Only team, ADO for short. I have to say, I am usually not much of a joiner, so joining any kind of group is a big deal for me and I am careful about who I join up with. In their literature they quote Wikipedia's definition of an art doll:

"Art Dolls are made using a wide variety of styles and mediums, some are abstract or tribal, while others are incredibly realistic. Art dolls do not always move. The term Art Doll can refer to human-like dolls. However this is not always the case. Art Dolls can depict animal, mythical creatures or abstract beings. They differ from baby dolls, Barbie dolls and other mass manufactured dolls. Even though the word 'doll' is attached, Art Dolls are not meant for play and not intended for children. The intent of an Art Doll artist is to create a work of art."

Okay, well that sounds pretty good, right? A work of ART. I mean, by that definition, what I do begins to make sense! So I joined. I can't tell you how glad I am I did. You wouldn't believe the artists in that group. I think there are about 100. The talent contained within that number is quite simply, amazing. Here's a little sample (taken from etsy shops) of the variety of human form artists in the group were able to come up with.

Etsy Shops Pictured: DollMakersMuse, nenufarblanco, AnAngelAtMyTable, PeachStreet, bartonoriginals, littlebitwired, lynnery, freakylittlethings, PolkaDotToadstool, dollproject, dellaraedezines, CateA331, mealymonster, ArchetypalTheater, Youngish, NancyWiley

Okay, so you can't see that up close as well as I want you to (click on it, though, for a bigger shot). So what you are going to have to do is go over to etsy
and type in "ado".

That's all you really have to do. Just type ADO in the search bar, and the dolls and items available from these marvelous artists will pop up. I'm seeing 26 pages worth of stuff at the moment there. You can also type in any of the shop names I have listed above to get you started.

While you are at it, go over and check out their blog:

If you are an art doll artist and are interested in joining:

You can also join them on Facebook: