Saturday, May 31, 2008

May TIF - still working on it

Well, actually it doesn't look like I've gotten very far, but I'd say it's about half done. The fill-in for the doll's body is a lot of stitches!

The month of May has not gone at all the way I expected. I had this design worked out early in the month and was ready to start stitching when my sewing time started to dwindle. By the middle of the month I was so involved in family issues that there was NO stitching time! Add into that a wet basement - and workshop - and I'm feeling pretty good about what I DID manage to accomplish!

So, this post is about the Take It Further challenge. This month, Sharon asked ". . . what do you call yourself and why?" in relation to your creative activities. This question has raised a lot of discussion of the old "artist" versus "craftsman/woman" controversy. My feelings have agreed with many of the comments of my fellow challengers. Deb commented that she has resisted calling herself an "artist" and she has a pretty good statement of what an artist does do. I really like Kay's discussion of the word amateur and how the root comes from love. And I really love Jocelyn's choice of a butterfly because she "flits" from one thing to another!

But . . . what do I call MYSELF? I have always planned to be an artist when I grow up. (DH would jump in here to point out that hasn't happened yet!) I studied many different art subjects in school and have taken classes in several others since leaving school. BUT - apparently I am conflicted about what is an artist. I realize that one need not be a professional (ie, make money) but I hesitate to claim the title without the income. Does that make sense? No, of course not. On the other hand, I have always felt that "crafter" and "craftswoman" are not quite professional enough. After all, I DO have all that training! Well, I guess my prejudices pop out every now and again. I have tried recently calling myself a "fiber artist" but it is not a comfortable fit.

So, when someone asks me what I do (now that I'm retired), I usually say "I'm a dollmaker." If they are interested in hearing more I might talk about fiber arts and figurative arts, but most people are happy with Dollmaker and I like the fit. So this piece is called The Dollmaker. It is hand embroidered on 22 count Aida. I'll post more pix when it is finished.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Life Gets in the Way

It looks like the month of May is going to be one of those times. I have gotten very little creative work done this month. As much as I love my dolls and fabrics, family is - and always will be - more important. This is how it should be.

In the interim, I will share with you some things I found in old sketchbooks. These are from my younger days and I would like to incorporate some of them into my work some day.

This was a scene in my college dormitory - obviously a rainy day. I don't remember the umbrellas being very colorful. But, of course, if I use them in a fiber design they will be a riot of color!

A self portrait at the ripe old age of . . . seventeen! I don't dare try that nowadays. LOL!

A quick sketch of our doberman sleeping on "her" couch. She had been known to crawl into your lap if you sat on the couch past her bedtime!

Ideas for a library poster. I saw a dragon character in a book or something (it was a very long time ago) and did several sketches of this dragon with the idea of a series promoting the local library. I don't remember actually using any of them, though. Rats!

I hope to be back in the studio before too long. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jumble of Journals

I am packing up for a family visit for a few days, so there is not much time for a lengthy post. But I wanted to show off the journals I have made lately. I finished the class with Sue Bleisweiss, but have not posted all of the class journals. The last pictures I posted were here.

Coming up - pictures of the last two lessons:

In Lesson 4 we learned a faux leather technique. Quite interesting! I used a map from a calendar for the insides and it made a nice, masculine journal. My brother has it now.

The Lesson 5 journal was a good "list" journal, so I kept it for myself! I am an incurable list-er. And by the way, I love shoes! Ya think?

I was having so much fun, I had to do an extra journal - like for extra credit? This one was to keep all the lessons - and the wonderful tips and inspiration from my classmates and so forth. It will be easy to add to this journal, because Sue is working on a follow-up class. Can't wait!

Last, but not least: I had so much fun making the faux leather that I had to do more! Some of these will be Mother's Day gifts. They are all very similar - and all very different. Had a ball using up stickers and rub-ons and pretty papers.

I think I am journaled out for the time being. I'm sure I'll come up with some ideas later on. For now, tho, I am ready to start May's TIF challenge. More to come later.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Goals Review May 6 - er - 7

It's that time again, boys and girls! Not that anyone cares that much, but I committed to doing a review every six weeks, and we all have to suffer through this! At least it gives me a nice, lengthy post once in awhile! I even include a few pictures!

So let's get started:

Goal #1: Participate in the Take It Further challenge

How am I doing: Not as well as I would like, perhaps, but meeting the minimum goal at least. I dithered around with the April concept and finally went with the color challenge because it was faster!

Lessons Learned: I started April too late to do what I really wanted to. This is what happens when you put it off. This is my number 1 goal and it should take a higher priority than I’ve given it so far.

Next Step: I’ve made some sketches for the May challenge. It is coming together in my head – just need to get it onto cloth.

Goal #2: Participate in the Stargaze Tome group’s Tome Page-A-Month project

How am I doing: I am pleased with the work I am doing on this project. April is not quite finished (see the front at right), but it is getting quite close and I am ready to start May. (You can see March's page here.)

Lessons Learned: I need to plan better for the unexpected (?). Being sick for almost two weeks really upset the apple cart!

Next Step: Finish the April page and start on May

Goal #3: Complete the Hatmaking class I took four (!) years ago

How am I doing: On target. Still working on getting more elaborate and ornate, but I am comfortable with the way this project is going.

Lessons Learned: I tried making two hats one right after the other last month. Hatmaking takes a degree of concentration – it’s a different type of art – and it is easier for me to make two or three while in the mode - or mood or whatever.

Next Step: Hat for May is a turban style. There’s opportunity for lots of ornamentation!

Goal #4: Use a book or tool to explore new techniques or refine un-mastered skills – preferably incorporated with the other goals – at least once a month

How am I doing: In April I used the Square in a Square ruler to complete the TIF piece. I am using lots of design ideas from various books I’ve collected. The Journalmaking class helped me use up quite a bit of fabric and paper stash.

Lessons Learned: This is actually proving to be harder than expected. Perhaps a case of “too much input.” I am struggling a lot to decide what to do next!

Next Step: There are some more quilt templates to try. And LOTS of books and magazine articles!

Goal #5: Keep doll making as a focus for my creativity

How am I doing: Finished Iris for my doll club’s Over the Rainbow project. Also prepared and taught a “class” (pretty informal) on making puppets. Mr. Toad is sewn and stuffed and almost ready to dress.

Lessons Learned: I am enjoying learning new skills with my online classes, but there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of a finished doll! I guess I really am a dollmaker.

Next Step: I’ll finish the Toad and then start looking for the next doll project.

Goal #6: Enter the Hoffman Challenge – and any other appropriate challenge as they come up

How am I doing: I have sketches and fabric for the Hoffman Challenge. Just found out I won second place in the Doll Crafter & Costuming magazine hat challenge! See the July issue - cover illustrated to the left. You can see the hat above at Goal #3.

Lessons Learned: The next step needs to be better defined when doing these reviews. Last one was pretty vague and I have not progressed very far with this particular goal.

Next Step: Time to ramp up on this project. I will be sewing a test muslin this month.

Goal #7: Review the above 6 goals every 6-weeks and blog about my progress

How am I doing: This is the third review. Oh, um, yeah. It’s a day late. I DID start yesterday – does that count?

Lessons Learned: Watch the calendar! I lost a day there somewhere and spaced on when this one was due. Jeez – old-timer’s disease!

Next Step: June 17 – almost halfway through the year. Hope I do better!
Okay! Phew - glad that's over! If you missed previous reviews you can see them here and here. I elaborated more on the goals themselves here. So, until next time . . . that's all, folks!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Somewhere Under the Rainbow

Today I finally have pictures of my Rainbow challenge doll. I posted information about the challenge here. Basically we were given the six rainbow colors and a pattern choice to make a doll. After thinking about it and searching through my stash, I decided to make the actual doll white! After all, the obvious thing to do is to use the rainbow colors to clothe the doll - and I NEVER liked doing the obvious! Besides, you would not believe the amount of white fabric and lace I have in my stash!!! It should come in really handy when I am ready to dye trim. LOL!

Anyway, this is Iris - whose name comes from the Greek word for rainbow. Iris was also a character in mythology - as well as being a beautiful plant (one of my favorites) and a host of other things.

I used a pattern from one of Patti Culea's Cloth Dollmaking books. She is wearing a silky teddy undergarment, a handkerchief skirt - made from real handerchieves - a lace and bead jacket, lace "stockings", and satin slippers. All in white, of course! Her umbrella is from the challenge fabrics and a rainbow striped ribbon.

This doll was very satisfying to make and helped me remember why I started making dolls in the first place. I enjoy combining my fiber art skills to create something completely unique - and MINE.
And ,yes, she was the only white doll in the challenge!!