Monday, December 12, 2011

Look What Susie did!

I have so wanted to make time to update this blog, but I have been a bit busy and quite ill with a flu.  But I am better now, and I have something to show you......

Well, as you may have gathered Susie McMahon visited Adelaide in a week that flew by, and now another week has flown by since she left!  But I was fortunate enough to have Susie stay with me, and in her quiet manner she gently nudged me to spend some time on doll making.
She is a brilliant talent, and when she found a forlorn stray unfinished dolly she said "I can fix her problem. I'll do that for you when I have a moment.."  ... and she did.  Just look at this beautiful face
Now this is not a very good photo at all.  (I seem to have moved my camera to the new office, so it is somewhere in an unpacked box.)  But you should have seen this sad little misshapen head before Susie worked on it.  This was a mask face doll that was glued a bit wonky (to say the least) and quite a lumpy bumpy face.  Yet when Susie painted her face this ugly duckling turned into a swan and she is the sweetest little thing.  Now I have to dress her and finish her - isn't that the sort of inspiration we all need sometimes?
As for inspiration, well you have seen the photos of the workshop dolls coming together.  Because I was quite unwell on the workshop day, I didn't progress very far, however...........................
look at this........................

From this.........
I just started to do a little at a time. 
(I learnt this mind set in sales training - it's called the Salami method, where you have a big job to do and just start to slice it into small bits to get through it)
One morning before work, I just mixed some acrylic paint and watered it down and then brushed it all over the body.  I was able to leave it all day while I was at work and then I decided to glue the muslin to the head.
I left a bit loose to go around the chest and then just glued the whole thing to the body.
Left it to the next day and decided she should have muslin hair and her little chest cavity should also be lined with muslin.
Once I started to shred the muslin into hairy lengths, I thought just a bit of PVA glue would help the tresses twist and stay in place.  This all sort of evolved as I looked at what the next step should be.  The doll really does create herself.  The Muse is absolutely the right name for her. I really needed a Muse.
So thank you Susie, I thought I would never have time to think about dolls, but it seems I do!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Susie McMahon is coming!

Well it is less than a week now til Susie McMahon visits us here in Adelaide.  We are lucky enough to have Susie teaching 2 workshops for our Cloth Doll Club.
I discovered Susie's work a few years ago, just surfing the net.  I even found old footage of a brief interview on the Carol Duvall Show on the HGTV network. 
But if you are not familiar with the type of dolls Susie does just click here and you can see the wonderful art she produces.
 The last time Susie visited I made this dolly.  I'm not sure who my dolly is, but she seems to work in an odd way.  She kind of ended up being a little girl in strange clothes with strange hair.   She is holding a sad looking clown doll and she has an odd expression. The doll has a mask face and all cloth body.

 This is Susie's Moxie as a little fairy...................
(I just checked back and it was December 2008! I kept thinking it was only last year or the year before - where does the time go???)

 But then I found this version which Susie has made herself.

So with any type of creative art, it is all open to interpretation.  Fairy or little girl?
In that last class I also sculpted a doll which is still dis-assembled in the cupboard.  I should find her and put her together.  Hmmm.....
I just haven't been able to focus on dolls since working full time now.  We will see what happens....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

OMG! Have you been naughty or nice?

It's the 24th October today and I have to tell you that it is just 19 more sleeps to the Adelaide Christmas pageant when Santa comes to town! Now I know this is true, because when I went shopping on Sunday, I was confronted by this as I entered the local department store........

Then as I skirted around the displays using considerable constraint to prevent myself from snapping up one of the Jim Shore Santa's  (I am a collector you know...) I then left the store and was confronted by this!!

With Santa's chair ready and waiting...............

and one redeeming feature.........
A Nativity Scene.

I have to admit, I am a little bit excited.  I LOVE Christmas.  All the build up to the big day, decorating the house, putting up the tree (on the day Santa comes to town)!  Lots of  parties, food, drink, shopping, cooking.  And all the pretty decorations and weird gifts in shops.  And the fake snow!
Don't forget we will be in full Summer.  The Christmas pageant can be a sunny 32 degrees Celcius!  Sometimes it rains.  But the pageant has never been cancelled..... or was it -  only once during the war....
Anyway take a look at what we have to look forward to  here .
The pageant is really for the little ones, and as an adult it is 'not nice' to go and stand in front where a child could have full view of all the wonder of the floats that lead Santa to his Magic Cave.  And with crowds lining the streets in the thousands, I could enjoy the pageant like I did unexpectedly last year here .
It just isn't the same without little ones to take, and I am not a grandma yet!
Last year I got all interested in  Nigella and her Christmas recipes - but I ran out of time.  Christmas snuck up on us so quickly.  So now I will have another chance to make that chocolate christmas cake and the gingerbread christmas cookie tree.
So with Santa making his list and checking it twice, I want to make sure I make it onto 'Nice'.
We still have some time...............

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Now I understand why it takes so long

I do miss making dolls.  There have been a few that made me very excited during the whole creative process. When you are really in tune, you can feel the life coming into your creation.  That must be what I miss.  I admire so many doll makers, and their different styles and imagination.  Sometimes I think I have no imagination.  I am very good at copying others work.  I can see how something has been put together and I love the challenge of trying to make 'that'.
But I so want to create in a style that can be recognised.  Like - There is the doll...... and you know the doll maker.
The problem I have had in the past, has been in taking classes from my idols, all I can produce is a doll that looks like a knock off of the designers doll.
In the last post, I listed the stages of creativity.  This has helped me realise I am on the path. And since exploring that, I found an interview with Cindee Moyer  in the newsletter by Adele Sciortino
Cindee has stood out, having surfaced only in the last few years.  (I started doll making 10 years ago)  Her style is very distinctive.  It has been, right from the start.  Now you may not like her style of doll, but nevertheless - she has a clear style which cannot be copied.    Cindee is just one example.  There are so many others.
Anyway, the one thing that stood out in the article was that Cindee had also learnt from experienced doll makers.  She had explored different styles and mediums, and, after making many many dolls, started to develop her own individual style and techniques.  !!!!!!!!! So that's it.  You have to make and make and make the type of doll you want, and eventually your own style WILL emerge.  I do believe this.  I just have to make and make and make.  So now that I only have time on the weekends - (I just can't think dolls in the evening at the moment) it looks like I will have my own style in the year 2020!   I will only be 63, that's still youngish............

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More inspiration.....

I found this on a blog, but I have no idea who it was, so my apologies - but this is good to know.  I am intrigued by the process of art.  I plan to explore this in the future..............

What tips would I give to those looking to designing their own :
Well, first of all, enjoy yourself! Work from your heart and let your fantasy free. I read in a book that they are 5 stages that artists go through;
the first is: the primitive stage - art as children practise it - intuïtive and you can sense that it was so much fun making the piece!
The second stage is when you notice that you are starting to improve your technical skills, you are getting the hang of it.
The third stage is when you become inventive in your art, you are starting to experiment.
The fourth stage is when you become innovative.
And the last stage - which not many artists have managed to reach ;-) - is genius!

So what I'm trying to say is: if you really love what you do, this will reflect in your work and people will notice it. And then later on, if you have had time enough to practise and to grow, your work will start to evolve and it will get more and more beautiful and refined.

Thank you for that insight.  I can't wait to practice, practice, practice.............

Monday, September 26, 2011

Being patient, trusting, beleiveing....

I found this on  blog by Christine Alvarado
This really resonates with me.  I know I have had to make a lot of dolls to find my 'style'
And I have made a LOT of dolls.  But I am still dissatisfied.  And this inspirational piece will remind me of what I have to do - and why.  I know this to be true.  Time will tell.............

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I love birds - I think?

Yesterday I decided to walk the 3 kilometres from home to our new offices.   I have always enjoyed walking, but I can be lazy and tend to get too busy to make time for exercise.  Well, because our office is only 3 kms I thought - I can do that - 1/2 an hour - I do an easy 1/2 hour walk along the beach, so off I went...........
Who would have thought I was in danger????  No my friends, it was not a criminal of the human kind, it was not the busy traffic or the gum trees (which can drop huge boughs when they feel like it)..........
It was...............
The BIRDS!!!!!

Now, here in the Southern Hemisphere Spring is in the air.  And if you know anything about the birds and the bees ......well trust me they are all doing it!  So as I walked happily across the local park to my surprise and concern I was encircled by 'the birds'.  Not one or two but at least a dozen actually circling me and flying into my 'personal space' in a threatening (or protective) manner!  At first I was a little frightened - you do remember that movie..................

And I was being surrounded - for the whole length of the park (300 metres at least) they kept circling and flying toward me.  But I was brave (like Tippi) I stood my ground and forged ahead.  It was bizarre.  there were no other people around at the time, just me, and the birds..............all around me! Beleive me, I was glad to get across that park.  I have to assume there were a whole lot of nests in those gum trees.  And just for the record, I guess I should admit - the birds were little swallows! 

Such lovely, cute little birds.  (Remember Tippi had a problem with sparrows in the really can't trust those little guys.)
Well this saga has not ended.........I then made my way through the leafy suburbs, avoiding the busy main road with the trucks and cars.
So I am walking along the path and there in front of me is not one, not two, but three magpies. 
They were obviously catching breakfast - but I was on their turf. 
Again I had to steel myself and nonchalantly side step around the trio.  These are big birds, with pointy beaks and they have a reputation for being very territorial.  People in country areas have been swooped on by magpies protecting their nesting areas.  They will take your eye out!!  Children have stuck big eyes on the back of their hats to detract birds's true.......
Well anyway, they let me pass.  But I decided it was a bit dangerous walking that way.  Today I tried a different route.  I still had to cross the park, but there were only 4 swallow sentries out today, it was a different time of day too.  But see how hard it is to just get a bit of exercise?  There is danger everywhere..............  But i still love birds  :-)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A strange thing is happening to me.........

I have not made a doll in months.  I have been working 8 hour days, my routine after work is cook dinner, do chores, sit down in front of the TV, turn on my laptop and search blogs, or play cards or put that away and do some knitting.  Well, then I get bored with knitting.  I just need something that will give me quick results.  Our generation of instant gratification.......
So in my travels searching the net, I stumbled across this web site
I always check back on older posts, just to see the threads and any other interesting things on the site.

So I found these cute little animals........
And I was so taken with how cute and small they were.
I wanted to make one.  Just a small teddy (I have made quite a few teddy bears in the past.  Enough to know, I like to make small ones, hand sewn from mohair - not that synthetic stuff.
Well I was able to buy an e-pattern and now I
will have to make the time to sew up a little creature.
But can you see what is going on here......?
I can't leave crafting alone.
I need to try new things, keep my hands busy and do something (while I am sitting in front of the TV)
Now, I know many of you would say why do you plonk yourself in front of that thing anyway?
Well, for those who have not heard this before, I like it!  TV is my friend.  It talks incessantly, but if I don't need to hear it, I can press mute and just look at the pictures.  A lot of people would say there is a lot of rubbish on TV.  Believe me I agree.  But I am selective, and if there really is nothing that interests me I turn it off - that is as long as my DH is already asleep!  But I have always felt a little guilty, just sitting there, not doing anything and watching stuff.  So to feel like I am actually not being lazy, I find some sort of craft to occupy my hands - and my brain.
Amazing what the brain can do, absorb TV shows while working out how to create craft as well as controlling heartbeat, breathing, blinking and digesting coffee and chocolate!
So thankyou to Gingermelondolls and.......
Thankyou to all you bloggers out there who make, and do, and share your work.  Know that at some stage, someone, somewhere will be inspired by your work and it will keep some idle hands busy, and bring some joy from the achievement of being able to say "I made this" - while watching 'Inspector Rex'!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

My first doll, not my last

I thought I would show you my very first doll.  I was so excited when I made her.  If you know your dolls, you may be able to recognise who the designer was.  But I must say, if I was the designer I would either be horrified as to how my doll was interpreted, or possibly be stifling hysterical laughter.  This is not a pretty doll.  She looks like she has varicose veins in her arms, and her legs are twisted in a strange position.  She has a lace neckband - to cover the awful stitches attaching her head to her body - she sort of ended up with no neck!  She has fantastic wired fingers - that was what made me want to create this doll in the first place.  As for her costume, I chose to make it from velvet, which tended to disintegrate  as I sewed it.  At the time, I had just started to sew, but my skills were more limited than my enthusiasm.  Her socks were an innovation, I wanted them to look crocheted, not knowing how to crochet that well - I cut up a doily.  I'm not sure if the shoes are meant to look like slippers, but they do.
When I first saw the pattern for this doll in Australian Dolls Bears and Collectables  I didn't start to make it for about 6 weeks.  I scrutinised the pattern, went and bought fabric for the body,  the nylon curly hair, the stuffing.  I had to go to the city to buy the coloured pencils and find the pens to draw the face.  I would lie in bed at night, planning how I would start to make the doll. Then, I spent a whole day - and half and evening making her.  When she was finally made, I was so pleased with myself.  And I started to plan my next project.  I made a lot of dolls in that first year.  Each doll I made improved as I gained the skills in drawing the faces, making the bodies and wiring the hands.
I can make a reasonable doll now, but I would like to do better.  I won't have time to make one for a while, but we will see what will be. 
But tell me............who do you think designed this doll?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Living with a cat

A while back a friend forwarded me this little clip.  As we are both cat  owners  er... slaves I found this to be a very familiar scenario in our house.  Not quite though, Tiffany has not mastered the baseball bat yet!

Tiffany's birthday is around the end of July, she will be 15 years old
That's 105 in cat years!
She looks pretty good for 105!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Little Girl Giant

I found this amazing clip a couple of years ago.  When I first discovered it, it took me a few moments to register what I was actually seeing. 

How wonderful are these people who travel around with these enormous puppets.  The puppeteers work furiously.  You can google other clips of this unbelievable art.

Here is a link with more information.......

I must give credit to Melisa Matkin  it was her blog where I first saw this.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fascinated with Beatniks!

I've just worked out how to embed videos into my blog so let's have some fun........
I love these ads with the beatniks.

Check out the Larry Digman Trio – so 1960’s
It is a silly commercial for Insurance – forget that.  I have always been fascinated with the style of Beatniks!

So cute - I really 'dig'  Larry Digman.....................

Remember Maynard Krebs?

So French

And the eternally gorgeous Audrey....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's Winter, so I knit

I am in love with knitting again.  In my early 20's (which were the 1980's) knitting was all the rage.
Crazy, loud, bright knitted jumpers were everywhere.
Here in Australia, a young designer called Jenny Kee was making a name for herself.

She designed fantastic colourful unique creations, and I so wanted to own one of her designs.

But, back then, her designs were a little out of my reach.
A jumper I was in love with was a little over $400 about 2 weeks of my husbands wages!
So being the innovative type I was, without a pattern - just heaps of pictures from magazines - I copied her design.  Yes, I did it.  I just bought lots of coloured balls of wool, drew up graphs and knitted every chance I got.  It took me nearly 12 months to make but I did it.  And it was quite good too..........

Here is Natali modelling it.  It is a little tight on me now, but back then I wore it with pride.  Being the fashionista I was, many people asked about the jumper, I always gave credit to Jenny Kee, unfortunately, in the circles I moved - hardly anyone knew who Jenny Kee was!  I actually can't believe I did this without the pattern.  I don't think I could do it today.  Well, I guess I could...........I just need to get some wool.
I have not had any good quality wool for some time.  I have inherited lots of bits and I have been knitting squares for blankets to donate to the local Animal Welfare League.  Knitting for charity is a good thing, and without a big project to think about, you can do small stuff and it is helping someone else.  It is also helping my mother who has been a little depressed and so I had the brainwave idea that she could put the squares together if I knitted them up.  She can still crochet beautifully - at 84 - and I dislike crochet.  I love the clik clak of the knitting neeles and the variety of designs you can get with knitting.  Crochet always looks like crochet dc or treble - boring.
But I need to get some lovely wool to knit for myself.  I just did a search for the Yarnbarn in Rostrevor and the website doesn't work and the local business listing is missing.  Has it closed down?  I really liked that wool shop, there are not many here in Adelaide, and that had the nicest ambiance - if you know what I mean.

Here is something I found while surfing.  It is a youtube ad, but the concept is quite interesting. 

How cute was that?  The kettle on the stove was the best.

So, I am now returning to knitting - my first love.
Let's see what I can come up with this time round.
It is going to be hard to top the Jenny Kee jumper - don't you think?