Thursday, September 06, 2018

FishBoy FishHead

In honor of Rosh Hashana, which starts this Sunday night, I want to share what my doll has <<slowly>> been evolving into.


He still needs eyes, which are missing because I didn't notice that one was bigger than the other until I colored them.  I had to add clay and do some sanding.  But don't you just love him?  I do. 

I got rid of the"kissy face" that I started some time ago and set aside.  (Yes, it's the same doll.  I just didn't like it, which is OK!)  I'm happy with the way he's coming out now, and that's what counts.

Rosh Hashana

I wanted to share my progress in time for the holiday, because of an interesting Jewish tradition:  we place a cooked fish head on the table during the festive meal.  "Why would you do that," you ask?

Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year.  Fish are a symbol of fertility and life, and the head of a fish shows that we want to go into the new year like a head... and not a tail.

So, I thought (uh-oh, here we go, Rivkah!)
not only is my doll still just a head right now,  (because I didn't make him a body yet, since I didn't know who he wanted to be)...he's actually wearing fishy-wishy hat on his head.  So he's my New Year's doll.  (I'm sure nobody else has a Rosh Hashana doll.  I am the only weirdo who does that.)

He needs to get some eyes though!  

What color should they be?

I won't make any resolutions other than promising myself to be more creative.  I miss having more time.  Maybe that makes me love and appreciate art even more.  

And with that, I want to wish everyone a good and healthy, prosperous art doll New Year.  

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Sunday, April 01, 2018

Kissy Face

Quick update on the new sculpt I'm working on:

I'm not sure who this doll wants to be yet, but it looks like some sort of kissy person.
I like kisses.

I think the doll needs a whimsical component like some sort of hat.  Something ridiculous.

To be continued...
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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Artful relaxation

I've been reading about art blogs lately - what makes them interesting and successful, and of course, why some go south.  One excellent bit of advice I came across several times is not to be a perfectionist.   People want to read about what you create, but they also want to read about YOU.  It's important to share what makes you create what you do, what you feel, and so on.  So instead of apologizing for not having incredibly interesting techniques to share all the time, or "disappearing," it's better to just share some of the little things.  So, here I am and here I go.

But first, what prompted me to start talking about this today?
I'm sick.  It happens to all of us.  But this time I got really sick and it's not fun.  I have shingles.  It's very painful.  At 47 years old, it really jolted me.  Why did this happen?  I thought only older people get this.  Apparently it's not true.

My doctor said the chickenpox virus, which stays dormant forever, sometimes activates years later if the immune system is down you're too stressed out.  It makes sense.  I have two jobs - I am a tax manager for the Comptroller's Office of the City of New York, AND I'm a have my own tax business, which I do when I come home.  The emails are incessant and the work is nonstop during tax season.  I live in NYC which is extremely expensive, and I work nonstop.  I have to ride a crowded stressful subway every day.  I don't sleep enough, I don't exercise enough, and I for sure don't do enough art.  Who has time?  I knew I was running out of steam, and here it is, loud and clear.

So guess what?  I stayed home from work and I'll be out until next week.
I'm not doing taxes.
I'm not doing laundry.
I'm not even cleaning for Passover.

I am resting and doing what makes me feel extremely happy and relaxed - I'm working on my doll.

I'm using watercolors to paint the face.  I learned this technique from Marlaine Verhelst and Ankie Daanen.  Watercolors are very relaxing.  I mix the colors, and add water to lighten them up.

Just a tiny drop of paint on a white dish is all I need.  I love my Pottery Barn dishes, but I love them more when I can use them for paint!

Here's my palette:
  • Rose Madder Lake
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Warm Sepia
  • Deep Ultramarine
  • Blue Indigo
  • The pupil will be black acrylic paint
  • The white of the eye is done with white gouache
I want to go to an art class.  The last time I went was the "Dutch Touch" class in Florida two years ago with Ankie and Marlaine.  It was wonderful.  Very soothing, very relaxing and very healthy.  I realize that I must make time and save money to go again.  My family will just have to understand that I need "alone" time for a few days.   I saw a portrait sculpting class in NYC that I would like to try, but I have to clear it with work first, since I would have to leave early.    

I like to teach doll making because it gives me a chance to "be myself" but that isn't what I need right now.  I teach tax classes and although it is rewarding, it takes a lot out of me.  I teach a freelance tax rules class as well a special class for international students in universities around NYC, and I am also developing a program for performing artists.  My classes fill up with about 80 students.  Teaching is wonderful but I would much rather teach art!  However now is definitely not the time.  I need to be a student and create for myself.  And I need this tax season to end so I can relax and plan to make it easier on myself from now on.

I just wanted to share this with you today because sharing art = happiness, especially when you are not feeling well.  Today I'll work on my doll until I've had my fill, and then I'll put it aside.  I work pretty slowly, and that's ok.  The process itself is so worth it.

This has taught me a great lesson:  Don't stop doing art or whatever it is that you love.  Hobbies are essential to life.  Don't stop socializing with people who share the same interests.  This has opened my eyes and I am realizing that I have to have art in my life more, so I can stay healthy.  I am not sure how I'm going to cut back on all the work I do, but I am going to have to.  Art is too important and being successful does not mean allowing yourself to become depleted in the process.

I hope that you will leave a comment and perhaps share what you are working on.  

Happy Dolling in good health,

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Gotta Hand it to Her

Life has a way of steering you away from the things you love to do sometimes, but eventually when the time is right, you always find your way back.  So with great beaming pleasure, I present my newest major "playing with dolls" episode.  And my fingers are tingling.

I have no clue who this is as of now, but I still like this doll.  She / he/ started talking to me a little :-)

I guess the first thing I want to talk about is the hands.  They are sanded down and ready to go.  I think they're simple and sweet-looking.  

I should have made some photos as I was making the hands but I didn't think about it at the time.  What I do want to say after-the-fact is that I didn't really enjoy the "hand making process" very much because there were no wires in the fingers.  This made it harder, and a bit frustrating.  Rather than building the fingers on an armature, I took a shortcut.  I just made these little "worms" and blended them together to form a hand.   

The result:  It was a little difficult to control the pose that way and the hands came out sort of "arbitrary."  In other words, I'm not quite sure what this pose is.... but I do still want to play.
Next time, I won't take such "shortcuts."  I will try to make more realistic hands using a proper tape and wire armature.  (Photo tutorials to come in the future!)
In the meantime, I am happy with these hands and I'm sure they will be just fine.

Here is a closeup of the head.  It was built on a styrofoam egg.   The egg is considered an "armature," meaning it serves as a foundation on which to add clay and form the features of the face.  You wouldn't be able to take a lump of clay and start sculpting, because the weight would begin distorting the face as you sculpt.  

In any case, that being said, I honestly can't tell what this face is.  I'm not one of those incredibly talented sculptors who can make a face that resembles a photo.  I just go with the flow and enjoy the process!  I'm happy with the way this is turning out, even though it's totally random.  I think it's a She, but I am not sure what she is.  A lady?  A Fairy?  Maybe she drives a Bus?.  I just can't tell.  And right now it doesn't matter.  I'll bring it to life later when I paint her.   I can't wait to post photos of that! :-)

This ear looks more like a little bean or a potato.  But it's perfectly cute!

Yes, they are chicken legs. With curvy little footsies.  And they make me happy!
I am not sculpting the legs more elaborately because I intend to "dress them" with fabric.  I don't know what I want to do with the shoes at this point.  Should I paint "shoes" or make some leather - like shoes?  Maybe I should just make some kind of socks out of knitted fabric?  I don't want to decide now.  Sometimes I like not knowing what I'm doing.  I like allowing myself to come back to it later.

Well, that's that for now.  Toodeloo and more to come!
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Transgender Doll

Just in case you found this post accidentally, or opened it because the title seemed a little shocking - wait.  Don't go.  I want you to meet someone.  Please meet Dianne Nicole Joy.  She is a transgender boy-to-girl doll with a very pensive expression and a [true] story to tell.

This doll was made by me two years ago during a class with Ankie Daanen and Marlaine Verhelst, two wonderful and inspiring Dutch artists.  I usually work in fabric, but I wanted to practice something outside of my comfort zone - clay.  So off I traveled to Florida for the class.  
At the time, I had discovered that someone very close to me is transgender.  
A doll class was a much-needed escape and naturally, my feelings took shape through my art.   It has taken me two years to share, but I feel ready today.  

The doll we were making was supposed to be a harlequin holding a little clown toy.  Understandably,  my doll didn't feel like like playing.  I was in pain.  I was in a LOT of pain.  I was the first person that knew this big secret, and it was very shocking and devastating to me.   My friend loathed himself for it, and that was probably worse than the confusion of acknowledging that he was essentially born a gender that he could not always identify with.   Of course this isn't about me - it's about my dear friend.  I can't go into all the details, but suffice to say that it was absolutely tremendous at the time. 

My doll doesn't want to be a clown.  He wants to be someone else.  He wants to be a girl.  But he doesn't WANT to want to be a girl.  He is very ashamed.   He's not like all the other harlequins.

The doll sits on top of an antique calculator in my home.  I'm a tax accountant by profession and it's part of who I am.  That's why she sits there - because I am a safe person for her and she can trust me.

Instead of holding a toy, my doll holds his feminine self in his hands.  This is because Dianne Nicole Joy hides inside.  She feels pain and can't express it.   She cannot be herself.  

He has a very pensive expression.  He is wondering what to do and how to go on, and pondering other things that only two years later, I have only begun to understand.  

It is difficult for me to share this with you.  Dianne Nicole Joy doesn't follow my blog, and I hope that she doesn't know I wrote this.  It's not that I'm hiding, or doing anything wrong.  I think she is a beautiful person and I can only just begin to imagine what he is going through inside every single day.  I just need my outlet.  I need to share this with creative people like you.

'Transgender' is something that society has only began admitting in recent years.  I am not sure if I am as accepting because of society today or because someone I love is "trans."   It may very well be my own first-hand experience.  Ten years ago I would have thought it was ridiculous, and today I see how real and how serious it is.  I only know one transgender person, and so I can only talk about this one experience.   I am glad I have my art.  I believe that dolls take on the feelings of the artist, and here is living proof.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for letting me share.  Please leave a comment if you can find the time.

Happy dolling!
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Saturday, September 09, 2017

Quilting Up a Storm

This blog post is dedicated to my parents, who are hunkered down at home in Anna Maria Island, Florida, awaiting Hurricane #Irma.

I'm quilting because of them.  Read on and I'll tell you why.

My parents live on a tropical island surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay.  They have various reasons why they did not or could not get off the island, and are staying put.  First they thought Irma was moving towards the East coast, but now we see it's going west and headed straight at them.   "The traffic is too bad, the bridge is up, we have nowhere to go," etc.

 Though I've tried very hard, I realize that there's nothing I can say or do to make them evacuate or to make this go away.  If I could, I would be there with them but I can't do that either.  So all I can do is hope.

My mother is a jokester and says she's taking a sleeping pill tonight.  Rather than worrying all day I spent it doing something very meaningful that reminds me of my parents.  I pulled out an old, unfinished quilt project.

 I'm quilting up a "storm."

I first started this quilt project 11 years ago, and actually brought some of it to Florida once when visiting nine years ago.

I had written about it here on this blog back then, and a couple of really nice people made a few blocks for me.  I still have them.  I hope when I finally finish the quilt, I can let them know.

The pattern is based on a very old photo that I saw somewhere, I can't remember exactly where.  I just found it intriguing.  I also know that it was not easy figuring out how to put the pieces together to get a peacock block.  I wrote instructions down but it is still like a puzzle.  That might just be the reason this project became a "U.F.O. (UnFinished Object) for so long!
my peacock block pattern and instructions

The blocks really are interesting.

some finished blocks
Actually I was living abroad when I started this quilt.  At the time, most fabrics at my disposal were from India.  There wasn't any American cotton quilting fabric around, really, so I ordered online.  The company didn't ship internationally.  I had to have it sent to my parents, who then shipped it to me.  I don't know if I even like peacocks anymore, or the fabrics I got.  But I know that I'm going to love this quilt once it's done because the whole history of it is special.   And I really must finish it this time.

funky fabric

I am so glad I did this today.  What a wonderful, happy feeling to reconnect with something that has been set aside for so long.  It reminds me of my parents and since I couldn't convince them to leave the path of the hurricane and can't be there with them, this was a big help to me today.

Yes, life has been busy for me, and I haven't had the time I want for sewing, dollmaking, or art.  I know that will change eventually,  but this quilt is important and I don't want to wait until the coast is clear.  Maybe I will make a doll using some leftover fabric.  Hopefully it won't take another 11 years to complete!  But I am not moving this project until it's done.  It's staying of that ironing board.

just getting started
Maybe in my own way, this is me assuring myself that everything will be fine.  The unfinished quilt will get done, and Irma won't harm my parents.  Everything is going to be ok.   That is why I say that I am "quilting up a storm."

Happy Quilting!

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Something Fishy Going On

 I'm back!

And I've gone fishing!

Thanks to a little inspiration from a wonderful artist, Marlaine Verhelst.

She has created a wonderful doll called "the Elf and his Fish."  I haven't felt creative lately but I think Marlaine is just what I needed.

The fish is just the beginning.
He is made of a toilet paper roll, a styrofoam egg, and Paperclay.
His eyes are supposed to be marbles, but I had a couple of Swarovski crystals lying around and they were the perfect size.

I decided that he has to have scales so I made them by cutting a drinking straw at an angle, and pressing it into the wet clay to make a pattern.

Eventually fishy wishy will get painted.
Keep posted and I will show you my progress!

Happy fishing!

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Monday, May 30, 2016


Today is Monday -- Memorial Day -- and since I had some time off from work I took the time to make some photos of my most recent doll.  She was done some time ago but I haven't shared her yet.  Here she is!  Her name is Anaïs and she is made entirely of fabric.  
She is some sort of eclectic mix between Persian princess and victorian sass.  She loves orchids and feathers, and so do I.

Here are some "details":

Swarovski beaded bracelet

"trapunto" hair
Trapunto is a quilting technique where yarn, batting or stuffing is added inside the layers of fabric to give pronounced "stuffed" effect.  The doll's hair is sewn on and "stuffed."

Thread with a crystal on top, "growing" on the orchid

Anais was a lot of fun to make.  Happy Memorial Day and Happy Dolling!
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

She's Collared!

The bodice is making progress and it's turning out to be very intriguing.   It's a very high collar that stands up and makes a big statement!  I've been working on it for some time and I'm finally happy with the design. I feel like something really good is going to evolve from this.

It almost looks like a flower...

The collar is made up of two layers.

From the back, it looks quite regal!

Standing pretty, waiting for more.

My next step is to finish the sleeves and decide what's going over the chest area.  I want something ornamental but I don't want to detract from the "poof" of the collar.  

I'll post more photos along the way.

Happy Dolling!
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Friday, July 03, 2015

Drafting a Dress

So today I'm off from work due to the 4th of July holiday, and I'm using my "day to play" on what else?  My doll, of course!

I'm ready to design the dress bodice, which is one of the trickiest parts dollmaking for me.
I've drafted the pattern, transferred it onto paper towels and taped the pieces together to see how the bodice fits.   It's not quite there just YET, but I will cut, tape, tuck, tweak and try to get it right.

The moral of this story is:  
If you have paper towels, a felt tip marker, scissors and tape, you can drape a shape right over your doll to make a bodice.  If you don't feel comfortable designing your own, use one that you've already made or that you like a lot, and try to modify it right on your doll.  It's a pretty good method :-)  If you're good with computers, scanning and resizing things can be helpful.

The bodice is the main part of the dress.  Once it is done, the whole dress should come together really quickly.  I already have my fabric picked out!  Hopefully I'll have some more pictures to show you soon.

Happy dolling!

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