Monday, September 19, 2011

A Citrusy Girl

This is my most recent Book Girl doll... a commissioned girl, ordered and made as a birthday gift. I loved watching her evolve beneath my fingers and needle & thread. I have one more custom doll to finish this week and then all my focus and effort will be on my fall dolls. I've been sneaking in time to work on them... in between these commissions and so many other obligations and time-eaters.
Hope I can post photos of them very soon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

This Is Where I Work

 In the summer... it is damn near impossible--what with the heat and oppressive humidity-- to work in my studio, in the upstairs of my house. I chose the room--long ago--when we first moved in, for it's coziness and the fantastic light; two features that work completely against me in these New York summers. We don't do air conditioning in my house; ceiling fans, table fans, floor-standing fans, cool clothing and lots of icy drinks... but no A/C. So in the summer--more than usual-- I have a mobile studio arrangement. By mobile, I mean bags (lots of bags) of current projects that get carried and lugged around everywhere and set up as needed.

 My 'cutting table'-- a simple cutting mat and sturdy card table I inherited from my mother-- sits in the hallway between the kitchen and t.v. room... next to a sometimes breezy window. This way I can work on tracing out patterns and measuring & cutting fabric and also keep an eye on my cooking in the kitchen and whatever movie or television show is providing 'background' inspiration at the moment.

This is my primary sewing space-- the couch in the t.v room. Summer or Winter, most often you'll find me right here, surrounded by "chaos in a bag"...bags of fabric, bags of thread, bags of felt, bags of beads and pom-poms, bags of whatever is required for the project I'm working on. With the computer nearby and the telly for background... I get a lot of stuff done and manage to keep connected with the world at the same time.

And then..... there's this....... one of my favourite sewing spots. On days when the weather is particularly perfect for working outside... I love my chair under the tree. Nature all around me and the way it lets my mind "go quiet and relax". I can fall into the rhythm of my sewing or my drawing and let it carry me for a while.

Recently, I had to express to someone the fact that my "office" is at home;  I work from home. Probably because of the comfortableness of my environment.... it doesn't really seem like work at all.
I know different. Many long hours are involved. I have scars and callouses and have sweated & laboured hard for what I create. Looking at these pictures it's hard to think of these as 'work' spaces. But they are. And--maybe most importantly--they are spaces of great peace and happiness. I truly love what I do. And I truly love the spaces I am able to do it in.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Playing with Barbies* Again...

See this little darling girl? In a few weeks she will be coming to live with me.... in my yellow house.  And maybe someday.... in the old dollhouse that's sitting in the attic... but, that's getting ahead of myself. She's not here yet. This morning-for an hour or two- I thought that maybe the universe wanted to convince me that I'm too old to play with dolls.
Well............................. I'm not.
And I just have this feeling that, when this sweetie arrives, the little girl inside me will come completely out of hiding. That's important to me right now. Being a grown-up is stress and worry and more stress and more worry. We all need an outlet. Some way to just fritter some time and not think about to-do's and chores. Some way to be a little kid again.
When I was a girl, my sister and I had quite the collection of Barbies and Barbie-type dolls. We spent hours, on weekends--after the chores were done--playing with all our assembled dolls and their clothes, etc. We improvised a "town house" using the bookcases in the downstairs playroom. We "made clothes" from tissues and fabric scraps. We escaped...... for a tiny slice of time into our own little world.
Not that long ago.... my magickal little niece Madeline got a Coraline doll. She was so excited. Coraline was ordered off Ebay and Maddie counted the days until she arrived.
When Coraline arrived she was elated. Already, she's learning how to stitch little skirts for her. Little girls--when they can just be little girls-- often dwell in a magickal world populated by fashion dolls, princesses, faeries, elves, unicorns and little animals: sometimes there's an occasional truck or car.
We get convinced--as we grow older--that living in this world; playing in this world is something we should wean ourselves off of. We give up our magick...
I was never the little girl who easily gave up on those wonderful magickal things.... I think I'm lucky because I somehow managed to carry them with me into adulthood.  I saw Madeline... so happy with her new doll and so excited about dressing her up and "playing" with her..... and I wanted to have a tiny bit of that. Something to dip into when I feel like everything's beating me down.
So............. after some few weeks thinking and looking and doing some research......... I made an impulse buy... and in a week or so.... my own little doll will be here. Maybe-- if I'm lucky-- Maddie (and Coraline) will play dolls with me.

* Of course my new "Barbie" is actually a Blythe doll. Miss 'Simply Mango Blythe'....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Grey Lady (on the road to Burlington Vermont)

 Every time I make the four to five hour drive up to Vermont to either drop off or pick up my son from college; I look forward to seeing all the amazing old (ghostly) barns, houses, train depots,etc. that dot the roads.... set in the most stunningly beautiful pastoral landscapes. Rolling fields and farmlands with forested mountain back drops.
 I have fallen completely in love with this one house. I pull off the road every time and just sit for a bit looking at it and "feeling" it's history. I swear it's as if I can see the people and the family it once sheltered and was a part of. It's such a gorgeous structure; backed by rolling fields.
 This past spring, as we were heading back home (with a carload of college stuff) my son and I pulled off the road and took this series of photos. We didn't go onto the property itself (although I would love to explore around and inside that house); we stood on the roadside and took our pix.
 The time of day (nearly sunset), the time of year (spring)-- all contributed to the magick of these photos. For me anyway. I would love to bring my dolls up there and stage a photo shoot around that house.
 I don't think I ever will. But I am writing a story in my head ( and someday on paper) where my gray lady dolls live in this wonderful house and roam the fields and woods in moonlight.
 Their gardens are full of white and silvery flowers and plants, such as lily of the valley and dusty miller and lamb's ear. To the unknowing eye it all appears as a tangle and an overgrown ruin.... but for them, it's lovely and cozy and warm and a perfect hideaway from the world.
Even if this house never holds another family within it's walls.... it will always hold my imagination and my creative heart. I think it is so beautiful.
I'm also going to get back into the habit of carrying my camera with me all the time. So, when I see some amazing old, abandoned building that captures me eye and imagination.... I can just snap a picture.... and have it forever to inspire me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Getting This Blog Up And Running Again...

It has been so long since I posted anything here...  Not for lack of thinking about it and writing up notes and 'practice posts' in a journal.  I've been on a journey.... through my own creative processes and struggles; a Heroine's journey of sorts. I had to focus on each step and task and creative struggle on my own. I needed to go into a kind of vacum and stop absorbing so much of other artist's processes and journeys.

Blogging is such a community activity. Even as you sit on your own, writing and contemplating, you are reaching out to others. You are becoming a part of a large circle. You feel that, when someone extends themselves to you through a comment or through their own art, you need to acknowledge and respond and you can't help but absorb their influence in some way. Artists are sponges.
I felt that I was becoming one of those overmixed, overblended colours we often get on a pallette.... something muddy and unsure; too many things together all at once. I needed to go away, find a cave, isolate myself and explore my own creative soul again.

The journey was long... (it's still ongoing) and I felt so bad and guilty for abandoning my blog... but the result has been wonderful. I found her again! That artist-girl/woman inside me who sees/hears/touches/feels the world around her and transmutes it all into fertile creative seeds. I found my own "girls/women" on the pages of old books. I found them in piles of colourful felt and fabric. I found my own niche again. I opened myself to EVERYTHING that inspires me... including dark artists and artwork, books, nature, colours, folklore, fairy stories, vampires, gothic fiction, herbal lore, traditional handicrafts.... on and on and on.
While this was all going on.... my sons went off to college; one in Philadelphia PA and one in Burlington VT. My "little birds" are grown into two beautiful young men now. I am adoring how-- every time they come home for a weekend, or on a break-- they are so new to me. They have their own experiences and these other lives and relationships...  so many new facets to them and yet, they're still my two boys. That is inspiring me too. I'm not quite an empty nester yet, but I'm getting there.

Creative rebirth is a hard thing. I've been through it before... But I really feel that this time, this moment is my first true big step to being the artist I've always dreamed of and wanted to be.
This past spring myself and my art-soul sister Cindy... truly stepped out with our Sundial Sisters art biz. We did a MAJOR local craft show: Crafts At Rhinebeck @ Dutchess County Fairgrounds. It was a big deal for us. A huge investment of time and money to get it all done right. It was fantastic; we had a great time and got a great response to our artwork. The show was also a catalyst for me... to FINALLY get my stuff into our Etsy shop.  There's more to list, but it was a really daunting step for me... it took a long time to feel confident enough to do it.
We're looking to the fall now and a full schedule of shows and even a Sundial studio tour with the local arts council. One step leads to another and another and another and another... and pretty soon, you're not just talking the talk.... you're walking the walk too! This is what I went into my creative cocoon for.

 **these little gals  are my Book Girl dolls... birthed from my own design and pattern based on my Book Woman drawings and paintings. They are entirely hand sewn... a very long process, but completely worth it. They are 'my little art daughters'; I love them... each one is so unique and has so much to tell me. I adore the way the hand sewing looks. And best of all............. when the girls made their debut at the Rhinebeck Craft Show... little girls loved them.... and wanted them!!!  My inner little girl always dreamed of making/having dolls like this... I lovelovelove that other little girls love and want them too.