Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Traveling Doll Project - Last Doll For Me

Yesterday I mailed out the final doll I would be working on for the Art Dolls Only Traveling Doll Project to its originator in New Orleans, Colleen Downs. I sent the doll in 2 separate boxes, as I have done for all the dolls. I'm the one who adds all the heavy stuff, and with these clay dolls, I am so panicked that something will go haywire with them, that I put all their accessories in a separate box so nothing breaks. Colleen should get both boxes some time this week.

It's been a fun project for me to be part of. I have loved working with the women in my team, and have gotten to know quite a few outside of that as well. There are some really terrific artists in the group as a whole, and some genuinely solid, interesting and talented people. I think the project, which won't be completely finished for some of the groups until September, will have turned out to be a lovely success. I forgot to mention that we made it as a feature article into the July 2010 issue of Doll Collector Magazine. I had sent in a proposal to them earlier in the year and with the help of some on-it artists, got enough photos and other things together to make our project interesting enough to publish. That was fun. I think 6 of our early stage dolls made it into the magazine along with a nice piece about the group as a whole. I am told that there will be a follow-up piece in November, so that's doubly good.

My final doll for my part in the project was called Hester Bates. She started with Colleen Downs in New Orleans as a sculpted unpainted face and wired/padded body, traveled to Tasmania to Susie McMahon for a face-up and a sculpted bundled baby, went on to Upstate New York to Nicole Johnson, where she got a recycled white silk dressing gown, some stockings and hair and finally to me in Vermont for a chaise lounge and some hats.

When the doll came to me, she looked perfect as she was. I really didn't want to mess with her too much. Colleen had put together a journal with old newspaper clippings and letters and things from a woman who had become a new mother in about 1920 in New Orleans. She wanted the rest of us to continue the doll keeping this woman's story in mind and to fill in our comments about motherhood. Susie added a softly painted face and a newborn infant, Nicole added the clothing and hair and really, the only thing I thought she needed was a place to sit and put her feet up. So I made her a muted blue chaise lounge so she could curl up and relax after a long day. I then got to thinking, since I was in hat mode, that a mother wears so many hats throughout the day, that I should supply her with some. As a mother, the chances that you will be chef, confidante, chauffeur, artist, soother, arranger, cleaner upper, friend, companion, what have you, all in one day are pretty high. I sent Hester with 6 hats so that, should she need to, she can change the hat she is wearing at will. She's a cool doll. I'm happy to have been a part of her creation. What a great project! Thanks to everyone who worked along with me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Isabella from Tasmania

For those of you following my traveling doll work at my art dolls group, Art Dolls Only, here is the story and photos for the second doll I worked on, Isabella. She started in Tasmania with Susie McMahon, a very talented art doll/sculptor/artist it has been my privilege to work with. She was, well, naked at that point, with a lovely face and hair. She then went to Nicole Johnson in Upstate New York, another lovely and very talented artist, who gave her some beautiful, very colorful tattoos and ratted her hair into a crazy bird's nest. She added a clay bird with a nest and an egg that sits atop her head. From there she came to me, and this is her story from that point.

Isabella arrived in Vermont hoping for sunny skies and high temperatures. After being in Buffalo with Nicole, she couldn't think of anything she wanted to be rid of more than the blasted SNOW! No luck. Upon taking her out of the box, I actually heard her let out quite a sigh, "Not again!" Here in Vermont it was 25 degrees and 2 feet of snow when she arrived. Sorry about that Isabella. I put her up on the shelf for a few days, not knowing how to make her happy. I painted the walls of my work room, hoping to attract more light. I tidied everything up, hoping that something would come to me, some way to make her smile. Nope. finally after she had been here a few nights, I had a dream that the thing that she needed was a surfboard! She doesn't really look like a surfer. More an old fashioned girl. But why not? A doll has a right to some fun. I haven't been to Tasmania, her home of origin, but I am pretty sure the Australian coast is the land of the surfer. Lucky for Isabella, I just so happened to have a doll-sized surfboard on hand. Only trouble was, Isabella can't stand!

Well, the obvious thing to me was to build her a beach chair, attach it to the surfboard and fashion her up a surf chair. Well, about this time, the parrot on her head started chattering and squawking. He was fine with the surfing, liking water and all, but he really doesn't like to get too much afternoon sun; bleaches his feathers, he claims. We don't actually have too much afternoon sun here in Vermont this time of year, and nowhere to surf either, for that matter. But not wanting an unpleasant parrot on my hands, I thought the thing to do was to give the surf chair an umbrella, which would shade the parrot, and look nice attached to the beach chair. He seems pretty happy with this arrangement. The trim matches his feathers and that pleases him immensely.

In the meantime, Isabella needed some clothes. I'm not one to leave a naked doll sitting around in the chill. Except for some lovely tattoos she was showing off, Isabella arrived pretty naked. I gave her some underwear: Long knickers and a camisole, careful to keep the tattoos, which she is so proud of, on display. She tells me she likes this set-up and it reminds her a bit of summer clothes, which she would be wearing this time of year in Tasmania.

I also gave her a skirt from some vintage fabric I had in my stash. Remarkably it has the colors of her tattoos in the print, so though quite busy in pattern, it matches in an odd way. So far, so good. I figured I had better stop there or there would be nothing for Colleento do in New Orleans. Besides, Isabella is getting quite antsy.

She really is not happy in this northern clime and insists she is on her way to somewhere warm and sunny. She tells me first chance she gets she'll hitch a ride to the coast and set sail in her surf chair, hoping to find good waves and good company, the kind that prefers sunny warm weather. Good luck, Isabella! I wish you well!