Monday, September 29, 2008

Diving in!

I should go without a sewing machine more often -- I have not had such a creative week in years, LOL! (On the other hand, I am becoming VERY annoyed at the delay, and will be picking it up this weekend whether it's ready or not. 5 weeks for a cleaning? Sheesh!)

Does anyone remember this piece? I know I blogged it, but I can't find the original reference. She began as an experiment with Genesis paints on fabric, then morphed into a game to see if I could sculpt a face in profile. I never really did take her very seriously - in fact I almost threw her away in the last purge of my studio because I just didn't know what to do to her. That was BEFORE my experience at the Retreat in Iowa!

This week I sculpted and attached her hands and forearms, draped some hand dyed silk in blue and purple over and around her form, and draped cheesecloth over that. I had another piece of cheesecloth billowing up and off to right, but I had to take it off. I forgot to stir the Paverpol before adding the fabric, so it never did get hard and it drooped rather depressingly. I am going to replace that piece tonight -- it really needs it to balance the extreme curve of her body -- and I WILL remember to stir the Paverpol this time.

The pebbles, shells, and sand are attached to her base and skull with Aves apoxy sculpt. I gathered all of them myself on various trips to the Coast over the years. I think Jake is relieved to see the results of my beachcombing finally being used in something at last.

I know this piece was a favorite of my mother's. I am happy to finally be finishing it -- I just wish I could have done so while she was alive to see it. There isn't much left to do to her, but each layer has to dry before the next is applied, so it is taking time to complete.

To kill time while each layer dries, I started playing with something else. Just for fun you know, and to see if I could pull it off.

Judi Wellnitz makes the most fun artsy pincushions in the shape of severed hands. She issued a challenge over on the Doll Street list for others to try making them too, and *this* is the idea that just popped into my head. It doesn't really conform to the rules of the challenge so I probably won't enter it, but it was SO much fun to make.

The bones are sculpted in polymer clay on a 99 cent Goodwill wine glass. (Would you believe it only took me about an hour to sculpt those bones?) The red is several layers of alcohol ink applied to the inside of the glass, and the pincushion is needle-felted wool. I got a little carried away with the "bubbles" of potion oozing over the edge, (large and small holeless beads and glitter applied with glue) but I still love it. I can't help but smile when I look at it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Better Photos

I apologize to everyone for the poor quality of yesterday's photos -- I was in a hurry to post pics of my doll and seem to have forgotten everything I ever knew about setting up my camera for proper white balance, ISO, etc. Sorry 'bout that!

Here are some better photos taken with a little more care and forethought, as well as a better background fabric. (Just in case you didn't know, if you click on a photo, you will get a larger view.) Here's a front view...

... and from the side. (Yes, she is supposed to be pregnant.)

The back view doesn't show much more detail except of the curve and sway of her posture. I'm not quite sure how I managed to achieve that, but I really really liked it!

I hope my glue and microbeads come soon. I really am dying to finish her. In the meantime, I am rescuing another piece that I almost threw away, using these techniques taught by the incomparable Jean Bernard. Oh, if only I had whole uninterrupted days in which to work on her!

I really AM grateful for my day job, but...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Home Again

Sigh... The Dollmaker's Retreat, led by Sherry Goshon and Jean Bernard in Marshalltown, Iowa is over for this year and I am safe home again. I had the most wonderful time -- exhilerating, stimulating, exhausting, but completely and totally wonderful. The artists who attended, many of whom I have known for years only through online correspondance all felt like old friends immediately. And the talent! The air in our workroom was crackling with creative energy.

Most of my best photos of the retreat itself are posted on Jean Bernard's blog . The woman holding the camera wearing a blue shirt and a goofy grin is me. :-)

Here is my almost-finished doll.

I want to add a little more embellishment, especially around her headpiece, but I have to wait for my glue to arrive. Jean highly recomments Grrrip glue, and know I know why. The stuff is fantastic. It is not commonly available, but I found a source at Dollmakers Journey.

I am indecently proud of her. She was a delight to create. Every moment spent working on her was pure joy.

By the way, I want to put in a plug for one more online resource for One-of-a-Kind artists. Judy at My Wycked Ways offers a marvelous assortment of beads and baubles, papers, fibers, and films -- enough to keep a person as devoted to the adoration of sparkly things as I am mesmerised for hours! If you visit the site, be sure to click through until you come to the page displaying her wonderful wings. Of course I ordered a pair. (I am still without a sewing machine, and my sprite wants her wings!)

Two last pictures before I close for today... Jeff Kantrowitz, an artist from Reno who does incredible things with eggs and other things, taught a miniclass for us on Friday night. These "Dragon Eggs" were simple and fun to do.

The one on the right is mine, and the one on the left was a gift to me from Jean Bernard. They are going to get some extra bling as well once my glue arrives. I think I may need to make some more. Can't you see a whole bunch of them set out as the most wildly oppulent display of Easter Eggs ever?

I am already plotting how to save up to attend next year's Retreat.

Monday, September 08, 2008

An Interesting Creative Exercise

My sewing machine is still in the shop so I am painting this week.

I was stalling on painting my Day of the Dead skull. To be honest, I was having yet another crisis of confidence. (It's looking doubtful that I will ever outgrow that. Sigh...) Anyway, being without a sewing machine pretty much forced me to pick up some brushes, lay out some paint, and get started. Once I painted in the eye sockets I got on a roll and just kept going!

My idea was to create a doll that celebrates my family's Dutch culture and heritage. Deciding on the idea was the easy part!

The colors in these photos are not true; her base color is a lovely rich white and the dark bits are all the shades of blue you can find on Delft ware.

The designs are traditional Delft motifs as well.

One of the reasons I hesitated to begin painting was because I was never very good at tole painting. Something must have just "clicked" in my brain once upon a time though, because once I got into it, it was pretty easy.

Working on this doll as been an unexpected challenge for me. Making her is definitely plowing up new soil in my brain -- she is bordering on inappropriate both from the viewpoint of my Dutch heritage and my upbringing. Halloween was never much of a big deal for us, and was usually downplayed in preference to remembering Reformation Day. And Death itself is surrounded by a lot of tabboos here in North America. (Would you think I was too weird if I said that the skulls that are so popular even on little kids clothes these days kind of freak me out?)

I guess what I mean to say is that my thoughts have been travelling down some new and interesting paths since I started work on her.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Do you LOVE tomatoes?

I love fresh garden tomatoes more than just about anything else. Hmmm... maybe even more than chocolate, LOL! Unfortunately, the weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest have been much cooler and wetter than normal this year, and my tomatoes, being tropical plants, are NOT happy. Ordinarily my garden would be awash in fresh tomatoes in the first week of September. This year, not only is the crop very small, it's very late. I was beginning to think we would have no fresh tomatoes at all this year, but today we had the first ones.

Now the problem is... how do you divide a measly 3 tomatoes among a family of 4 greedy tomatoes lovers? Why, a BLT of course.

This beautiful sandwich is not just any BLT either. The "Caprese BLT" is a family favorite that I make every year. I found the recipe a few years ago in a magazine where it had won a prize for creative sandwiches. If you love tomatoes as much as I do, you have to try this.

Caprese BLT

2 medium tomatoes, sliced thin
1 loaf ciabatta bread
1 1/3 cups packed fresh basil, divided
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and crumbled
4 romaine lettuce leaves
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Place tomatoes slices on several layers of paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 15 minutes, then press with additional paper towels to extract excess moisture.
Slice bread in half horizontally and use your fingers to remove and discard all but about 1/2 inch of interior crumb.
Puree 1 cup of the basil leaves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor until smooth.
To assemble the sandwich, spread basil mayonnaise on both cut sides of the bread. Sprinkle the bacon on the bottom half and cover with the romaine leaves. Spread the tomato slices and cheese slices over the lettuce as evenly as possible -- be sure to use them all!
Mix the oil and vinegar together in a small bowl and drizzle over the tomatoes and cheese. Spread the remaining 1/3 cup of basil leaves over this and replace the top half of the bread.
Cut the sandwich crosswise into 2-inch thick slices and serve. I recommend lots of napkins. :-)

Enjoy -- It truly is as good as it looks! All I ask is, if you MUST use fat-free mayonnaise or turkey bacon, please don't tell me about it.