Sunday, September 18, 2011

Doll Trunks

I have been fixated on doll trunks recently. The first couple of images are a trunk for doll house size dolls (in this case some antique german dolls) , although they poor dears lack some clothes ! But I wanted to experiment with collage and 'mixed media' techniques. I think the little purse trunk is cute, and I really need to prioritized some clothing. The idea behind this one was a travel trunk to a vacation spot - the beach! As is typical for me, I gathered 5 times the number of images I need, and this little purse is only 7 x 5 inches! This is also my first attempt at textured techniques using stencils and artist pastes, and using Golden's interference acrylic paints. My they are addictive, and something I will have to use with caution, or everything I paint will glow in the dark!

This second trunk lid, will be for an Izannah Walker reproduction doll I will make at a Gail Wilson retreat in a couple of weeks. I must say I am embarrassed on how poorly the painting is coming along. I think this is clearly a case of where my painting skills are slipping , and I need to devote more time to them.... This trunk is also a papermache oval hat box shape, and will be covered with fabric ( civil war print) . The lid is also covered with fabric, but I have tried to paint a folk art style portrait . I think its the three quarter view which has me all screwed up. I will let this dry ( oils) and see if I can add more detail and depth next time. She's looking too cartoonish for my tastes! Also antiquing is a marvelous way to hide all ills!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Challeges of sculpting Historically Referenced dolls

To begin with , I want to credit doll artist Susie McMahon with introducing me to the term 'Historically Referenced' dolls, a term that fits very nicely with allot of my doll work. I love old dolls, and often use them as a jump-off point for my own work. But how do you know if you have something timeless, like the old dolls you love, but also make the doll your own ?

I am taking an online class with Gail Wilson where we are creating a Queen Anne doll , including a marvelous hand carved body. I encourage you if you are interested in making your own Queen Ann, to check out her class. Its a real bargain considering you end up with a wooden doll, completely hand made. You can get more information at . I am a big fan of Gail's style of historically referenced dolls, because she gets the balance of recreating the 'essence' of the original doll, but also puts her own artistic stamp ( her original sculpts).

I was overly ambitious with her class, and decided to order an extra body to carve, which I wanted to add my own hand sculpt head. So I will end up with a doll of Gail's design, and one hybrid doll with Gail's body, and my head. The pictures summarize my first efforts to sculpt a head. There is allot of refining left to do on this head, but honestly, I am disappointed with what I made and am trying to decide if I should start again, or press on with this one. I am not sure it 'goes' with the wooden body. This brings me to what I wanted to blog about, how to find the balance in a historically referenced doll of your own style, but make clear what classic doll is inspiring your work!

My original idea was to make the doll look like a peg wooden of the 1910's and dress ala Jane Austin style. I had looked at some carved wooden dolls, but didn't refer to them as I sculpted... I just wanted to go with it... and I am not sure I like where I went. I will add sculpt hair on this one, and will wait to judge if she belongs on the wooden body.

So what is it that you need stylistically to get a peg wooden doll that nods to the 1810s ? I am looking at these dolls ( from John Darcy Nobles book) and although there is often a high degree of realism in the sculpting, there is also some stylistic elements. Namely the features are further down on the sculpt ( bottom third to half of the head) than my head. The rest of this, I am trying to figure out. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment.

It is my opinion my own sculpting style works well for late Victorian and Edwardian style dolls. What do I need to do to reflect an earlier time period ?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wigging and Clothing the Naked and Bald

I have had a trying spring in terms of my favorite creative outlet... doll making. At the end of May I was bothered by a pinched nerve in my upper back which caused numbness and weakness in my right hand. I am allot better now, and healing, although I am still have trouble with the right hand, so I am not terribly motivated to work on painting or sculpting projects and ruin something in progress. But like many doll enthusiast, I have quite a backlog of old doll projects. So pictured is a group of porcelain dolls I finally wigged and dressed. I want to point out that I DID NOT make these wigs, but rather these are beautiful creations from Wendy Feidt who makes the most wonderful mohair wigs. These porcelain dolls I painted and I am partial to, and wanted them to have nice hair. For those of you knowledgeable about antique dolls, these are reproductions (Long Face Jumeau and Laughing Jumeau) but I did not do faithful reproduction. I painted the eyes instead of using glass paperweight eyes and the lashes and brows and not either true to the original nor really a modern style either. So I have broken all of the rules here, but I enjoy these dolls and they will stay with me.

Wendy also created some incredible wigs for a pair of original porcelain dolls I did. I am still trying to figure out how to put their heads onto their bodies ( right arm isn't working too good right now) , but I hope to have them finished soon and will post. They are looking spectacular.

I couldn't resist. I included are some pictures of the heads waiting for bodies and clothing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Can you really see ?

This title probably sounds ridiculous, but I have a hard time deciding if I am getting the affect I am after when I paint. I think the reason I paint with oils is so I have to wait until a layer dries, and I can stare at what I have done to decide the next step. So color on this picture isn't great, but I think I need to stare at these heads a while to know what the next step will be.... I want to colors on these dolls to be transparent, delicate, and not too bold. I am not sure I have that yet.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Progress on AFIC dolls

This is a self-serving posting. I want to track my progress on these three dolls I want to bring with me to the April AFIC conference. So as you can tell, I just got started on painting them. in oils I am trying to pursue the painterly,portrait style, so am doing this slowly, with layers, and letting them dry before adding the next. It probably looks like I haven't done anything! I have some base skin and hair tone on, and some blushing . Probably I will tackle the eyes next, and then go over everything again to harmonize, blend, and add depth. Also I just got some excellent advise from a trusted artist friend, to focus on the faces and add as much expression as possible and pursue a simple costuming strategy... I want to follow this , so I am putting it down in this posting!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baked Heads

I am refining some sculpts that I want to turn into dolls for the upcoming AFIC conference in Columbus this April . I am not sure about you, but I get a lot of teasing from the family when I am baking heads . These gals are getting the final once over, sanding, finding imperfections or holes that need filling, more baking , more sanding, and hopefully will get their gesso tonight.
I should add, please ignore the dirty oven. I have more important things to do than scrub the oven this weekend, like working on these gals!
I have a theme in mind, "Kindred Spirits" , a color scheme, and lots of fabrics to keep me inspired. My road block is designing a better cloth body than my default muslin box body. Since this is a fabric figures conference, I have decided to challenge myself to creating a better all cloth body design to go with these heads. Any ideas you wish to share or resources on body sculpting, woven cloth versus knit cloth, etc. These will be 15-16 inches dolls, just to give you some idea of scale. If you are not familiar with my work, my stuff is folk art style, but I do try to have realistic proportions, etc.