Tuesday Tutorial

August 26, 2008 at 10:00 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi guys! You’re reading my old blog — come on over and check out what’s been going on lately at my new site, www.needleandclay.com.

I’ve been posting links to new tutorials every Tuesday, in addition to my weekly doll art review. Plus the layout is a lot prettier! I’ve been working really hard on it, so please come and see and don’t forget to update your links.


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Elsita Mora’s Flower Girls

August 1, 2008 at 10:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Check out my new self-hosted blog for this week’s artist review, as well as my new Tuesday Tutorial feature and a bonus news article.

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Alarming Antiquities — Melisa Matkin

July 26, 2008 at 9:32 pm (Uncategorized)

Check out www.needleandclay.com for this week’s post about Melisa Matkin of Coppermouse Dolls!

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Editorial Note–the future of Needle and Clay

July 15, 2008 at 9:09 pm (Uncategorized)

Dear Readers,

In the coming weeks, some things are going to change around here. I’m going to move this blog to its own domain, with a new theme, and I’m going to start using ads and affiliate programs to earn some money. I realize that some people get annoyed by monetized blogs, but I feel that I can do this without causing too much distraction, and if I can earn some money at this, I can afford to give you better content and service.

I want to assure you that my number one priority is maintaining the quality of your reading experience. Your attention is extremely valuable to me, not just in terms of money but also in my personal feelings of success with this venture. To that end, I want to offer you these promises:

  • I will never, ever, charge money to read this blog. If you wish to contribute by clicking ads or offering donations, that will be up to you, but the content is free, and it’s going to stay free.
  • I will do my best to make sure the ads that you see here are relevant to your interests and do not inconvenience you in any way. I may not have much control over their relevance at first, but that will be my goal as I move forward. And I hate pop-ups as much as you do.
  • My editorial space is not for sale. If I have a personal or financial relationship with any product, service, publication or artist mentioned in this space, I will be up front about it, and I don’t endorse anybody for money. Any opinion I express here is my actual opinion, and worth no more or less than that.

Before I can start earning anything, I have to move this blog to my own domain. WordPress.com is a great blogging site, but they don’t allow ads. Besides, I need better metrics than I can get here. Moving to my own domain means a new theme because as far as I can tell, the ones for the free site aren’t the same as the ones for self-hosted blogs. I was getting tired of this one anyway, and I want a third column to place ads in. I hope to customize the new theme so that it can be both pretty and functional.

I already own http://www.needleandclay.com, and I spent most of this past Saturday trying to get this blog moved over to it. (You can see my efforts at www.needleandclay.com/needle.) So far I’ve managed to migrate all my posts and pages, but not your comments, which is very frustrating, because I love everything you guys have posted. After I get everything running over there, I might post my reviews in both places for a while, until people get their bookmarks updated.

Once that’s settled, I’d like to start bringing you some new content. I’ve been thinking about offering product reviews and comparisons, and compiling a list of links to dollmaking tutorials. I’d also like to offer dollmaking news and possibly interviews with dollmakers. I might also put up a calendar for doll events.

Sounds ambitious, I know, but I’d rather plan for excellence and fail than plan for mediocrity and succeed. Here’s where you guys can help: Are there other doll-related features you’d like to see here? What kind of questions should I ask dollmakers I interview? What products would you like me to review? Leave me a comment or drop me a line to let me know.

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The graceful proportions of Angela Jarecki

July 11, 2008 at 8:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Today’s featured artist is Angela Jarecki. According to her blog, she seems to be living in Texas these days, but she used to work at Hallmark and live here in the Kansas City area, so I am fairly sure that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at some point, during my early days of fangirling all the doll artists in town. I’m sure she doesn’t remember me at all, though.

In any case, what I remember about her was that she made the most beautiful cloth mermaid I’d ever seen. There’s just something about the tail proportions that she gets right and hardly anybody else does, or at least did at that time. All of her cloth dolls are characterized by an unerring sense of proportion and fantastic fabric choices. I love the color choices and the textures of her Abundance, shown below in the orange coat.

Her sense of proportion spills over into her hard medium sculpts too, which have the most delightful faces. The fairy pictured above is such an unusual scale. I love how she fits right in the palm of your hand.

I must confess, though, that her bears and bunnies are my favorite pieces. They don’t have the same kind of faces as traditional teddies; instead they seem to be patterned after modern plushies. Again, we see her fabulous grasp of proportion in the size and placement of the eyes and other facial features. It amazes me that many of these bears are crocheted. I neither knit nor crochet, but if I’d known you could do this kind of thing with it, I might have learned. Even her bears have gorgeous little costumes, and most of them come with an even tinier friend. If you go to her website, you can read their little biographies, which often include their best friends’ names and favorite snacks.

Jarecki teaches online classes at DollStreetDreamers, so go and check them out. I love to see an artist with such varied interests — it gives me hope for myself!

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Happy Fourth!

July 4, 2008 at 6:01 pm (Uncategorized)

Hello and Happy Fourth of July to all of my American readers, even if you’re not actually in America today. In fact, even if you’re not an American and you’ve never heard of the Fourth of July, I hope you’re having a great day anyway.

In honor of our country’s birthday, today I’m going to post some patriotic dolls from Etsy:

A hilarious pair of red, white and blue sock monkeys from Hoffeeandanuffin, who seems to specialize in hosiery primates.

These wonderful Americana sculpts were done by Middleburg Folk Art Studio. These aren’t even my favorite pieces out of this shop (check out their bluebird wedding cake toppers and flying pigs) but I love the patterned paper in Betsy Ross’s skirt and the windswept look of Uncle Sam’s beard.

PolkaDotToadstool has a shop full of dollhouse minis and very creative sculpted dolls, including a toadstool art doll, a little old lady surrounded by her carniverous plants ( Is that a piece of bacon she’s feeding them???) and this Punch-and-Judylike Uncle Sam.

Parkerart offers a bunch of these joyful, poseable Uncle Sams. I love the way they dance and hop around on their skinny legs.

I hope you enjoyed all of theses pieces, and I hope you’ll have a great weekend!

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Update — wonder if he’ll do my back yard?

July 2, 2008 at 1:02 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Check out this terra cotta art by Aussie Bruno Torfs. It’s got me trying to think of statues to make for my own garden… hmmm….

See more art at his website, and this Flickr set.

Oh, and for the record, polymer clay really can’t stand up to being outside, but there’s a new product that’s supposed to seal it so it can. It’s called Paverpol, and you can get it at ClayAlley.com. I’m very interested in trying it, but haven’t scraped up the money or time yet.

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Du Buh Du Designs — Christine Alvarado

June 28, 2008 at 12:40 am (Uncategorized)

Today’s featured doll artist is proof that you don’t need genius technical skills or phenomenal attention to detail to be successful. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that Christine Alvarado doesn’t have those qualities — but the charm of her dolls is their sketchlike simplicity. I would call them folksy or primitive, except for their luscious, urban-styled costumes. I want to pick them up and play with them.

I haven’t discovered yet what they’re made of, but Alvarado’s dolls are simply sculpted (or maybe cast from molds) and heavily painted with dreamy, cartoon-like faces. They have simple shoulder joints, and some have bent arms. The legs seem to be jointed too, although the leg joints are firm enough to stand, at least when propped against something. The dolls have costumes that range from simple print dresses to luxurious velvet coats.

The costumes are half of the charm of these pieces. I love how Alvarado uses graphical prints, just the right amount of texture, and unexpected trimmings. Some of the pieces have crocheted lace for scarves or fancy braid for necklaces. Many of them come with extras, like little cats to hold in their laps, masks that actually fit them, or painted portraits of themselves. And then there are her equally lovely mermaids, which have less costume but more embellishment.

You can see Alvarado’s work on her blog, her Flickr site, or her Etsy store. Her pieces are very reasonably priced, for art dolls.

By the way, I’m not exactly sure (and I’m too lazy to look it up) but this blog is about a year old now, and I want to thank everybody who reads regularly. Please leave me a comment — I love your feedback!

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Update — call for doll category on Etsy

June 25, 2008 at 4:13 am (Uncategorized)

Go here to sign a petition asking Etsy to create a high-level category for dolls and miniatures.

Anyone feel like we need the same thing on DeviantArt?

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Yikes — Sharmanka Automata

June 14, 2008 at 6:48 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

What’s the difference between kinetic sculpture and automata? I’m not sure where the line is. Either way, though, this studio’s work is creepy and amazing at the same time. Visit the first, second and third YouTube videos from Sharmanka to get a better idea of her pieces’ kinetic action. How do you build something so huge? Goodness.

Sharmanka is actually a collaboration between sculptor/engineer Eduard Bersudsky and theater director Tatyana Jakovskaya and based in Glasgow, Scotland. Apparently their work is exhibited as theater, which makes sense, I suppose, given how large and complex it is. Check out their website for more pictures. Sorry, I’m not going to copy any here; it’s too late at night.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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