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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Update — Butterfly wings, ball joints

July 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm (my work, Sewing and costuming) (, , , )

Hi, just a couple of things for you to check out.

I have a confession to make. I found out about Adele Sciortino’s doll costume newsletter way back when it first started up last summer, but I never really got around to reading it until this week. Boy, was I missing out! Each issue takes a specific topic in dollmaking costume, whether it’s a genre like fairies or clowns or a historical period, and gives you specific instructions for making such a costume, illustrated with the work of other professional artists, like Marianne Reitsma and Martha Boers or Charie Wilson.

The first issue, Summer 2007, included general instructions and patterns for no fewer than eleven types of doll wings, including flower-petal angel wings like the ones seen in my report on Sleetwealth Studios. So, for those of you who are following my search for fairy wing tutorials, go and sign up for the newsletter.

The newsletter is free; you just have to sign up. Go take a look, it’s worth the trouble of signing up just for the fabulous pictures of Reitsma and Boer’s work. There are also book reviews, articles about organizing a studio, using silk flower petals in doll costumes, and more.

Finally, while surfing today, looking for the next doll artist to feature, I discovered a pattern on CD for what seems to be a ball-jointed cloth doll. The artist is Allison Marano and the link is here — scroll down to Henley the House Gnome. The description says his hips and shoulders are button joints but his elbows, knees, wrists and ankles are “bead joints.” I’m not sure if bead joints are the same as the ball joints I’ve been working on, but it sure looks like it. If anyone has made this pattern, can you leave us a comment about how the joints work?

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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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Sleetwealth Studios — Beauty with an edge

June 20, 2008 at 6:39 pm (Halloween/creepy or goth) (, , )

Forgive me, but before I start this review, I just have to say that today’s featured artist, Anita R. Collins, has a fabulous website. Not only does she post skillfully made photos of her work (as as I have often state, I admire good photographers because I’m not one), but she also includes commentary on many of her art dolls, which is always my favorite part of any website. Besides that, she has a great “bio” section which is really more like an artist statement, and a dark, moody theme to the whole site that complements her work perfectly.

But on to her work. Collins isn’t just another eBay fairy sculptor. Her work is certainly above average in its realism, beauty and detail, but beyond that, shes creates a sense of mood in her work that is really something special. Her pieces have a distinctly adult edge, displaying their anatomical correctness and sometimes showing evidence of violence, tattoos or scarification, but there is still a haunting beauty that shows through in each piece.

One thing I love about her work is her unflinching use of media. Many artists are wedded to either sewn costumes or sculpted ones (and I have long maintained that the popularity of fairies as subjects is partly because sculptors who don’t like to sew can wind a little cheesecloth around them and call it costume), but Collins’ figures wear either medium equally well, depending on what the artist is trying to accomplish. Their costumes, hair and accessories often display a careful attention to details and their effect on the work as a whole.

Everything about Collins’ work is fresh and reexamined. Her mermaids don’t have scaly tails. She makes crowns out of polymer clay and microbeads. Her angels have wings instead of arms. She makes animal-human hybrids that go beyond the usual centaurs and fauns to include seals, octopi, cats and — I swear to you — coral. Really. See the picture at the top of this entry?

Visit Collins’ website for a great viewing experience (and I haven’t even mentioned her cool dragon-head beads or her adorable netsuke sculptures) or her DeviantArt account for a few more pictures and commentary.

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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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My new hero — Mimi Kirchner

May 29, 2008 at 5:16 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

As much as I aspire to maintain an attitude like Maddy Nupp McDonald’s, I want my work to be like Mimi Kirchner’s.

I’ve been hearing Kirchner’s name around the doll scene for years now, but mainly for her gourd dolls and historical reproductions. Even though neither of these genres really interest me, I love the round, stylized faces on all of her work. You can see lots of these in her Cozy.org gallery.

But what’s really gotten me excited is her newer work. She’s been making fabric sculptures for sale on Etsy and other places that really knock my socks off. Her pink robot, one of a whole family of soft-sculpted robots, was a finalist in the Softie Awards this spring. Who ever thought of a soft-sculpted robot? They’re round and sharp at the same time, slightly reminiscent of vintage tin robot toys, but with all the warmth of fabric.

But even more charming are her “Church Ladies” and “Tattooed Gentlemen.” What I think sets her apart from so many other fiber artists is her original use of trims, prints and embroidery to create the parts of her robots and dolls. I really want to learn to make felt flowers like the ones that adorn her Church Ladies’ dresses, and I love the use of toile to represent tattoos on her Gentlemen.

It’s almost like she’s camouflaging her embellishments as something they’re not. Check out the bugs in this picture. At first glance, they just look like they’re made of crazy fabric prints, but as you look closer, you start to see that they’re made of perfectly ordinary sewing notions, like ric rac trim, beads, and dress hooks.

I really hope my work can be this creative someday. Be sure to check out Kirchner’s blog, Doll, and her Flickr Account. Also, browse her Etsy shop to see if your favorite is for sale. Have a great weekend!

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Experimental Dollmaking Update

May 17, 2008 at 4:32 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Here’s a quick update on my cloth ball-jointed doll. Several people pointed out that Judi Ward has a class for a cloth ball-jointed doll available on DollNet. This is being offered for a very reasonable price and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest — and any cash, which I don’t, so I won’t be able to take the class for a while.

One of the secrets of Ward’s construction, I am told, is using plastic grapes, cut in half, for sockets to cover the ball joints. (There has to be more to it than that; I’m also told the doll is strung like an Asian BJD, which means there must be a hard infrastructure underneath, but you’ll have to take the class to find that out.) i’m not sure the grapes will work unless I find them in exactly the right size, and I think the joints in my piece are a lot smaller than Ward’s Bluette. Then again, Bluette is only 11 inches and my Experiment is around 12. However, I still think Bluette’s toddler-proportioned joints are larger than mine.

Meanwhile, I went to the craft store for more round beads to make Experimental Version #2 (I really must name them), and discovered something interesting. They have miniature wooden spools which I think will work better than round beads for the hinge joints in my doll. I got some in two sizes to play with, and I’m seriously considering attempting double-jointed elbows and knees, like many BJDs and Marina Bychkova‘s new work.

Finally, I discovered a serious error in the leg construction. Remember how pleased I was with the hip movement? Well, I made a mistake with the way I attached the legs. In its neutral position, my doll has the legs attached on the outside of the hip joint, when they should be in the front. I realized this when the doll was sitting with its legs stretched out to the side. The result is that the knees bend the wrong way. I will take some pictures so I can show you more clearly. I may actually take the knees off and reattach them correctly, just to see how much better that works, but I want to take pictures first.

Here’s a preview of something else I’m working on:

I hadn’t decided to use this head with it when I chose the felt, so the hair doesn’t match her dress, and I haven’t decided how to do the arms and legs yet (although I’m thinking polymer clay and stripey socks…). This is intended as a prototype for something I can sell in my Etsy shop, which has been empty since February. What do y’all think?

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Friedericy Dolls

May 16, 2008 at 6:35 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Today’s featured artist is actually a team of artists. Lucia Friedericy, an award-winning costume artist, used to paint, dress and style the dolls sculpted by her brother, John. After his untimely death in 1990, the artists’ mother, Judith, took over the sculpting duties to continue the family tradition.

Together they produce dolls with dreamy, naive faces and lucious costumes. I especially love the tableaus and shadow boxes that create “stages” for the dolls to stand in or step out of. Like a children’s book illustration come to life.

Neither their site nor the site of their photographer, Rob Greer, indicates how big these pieces are, but these photos taken by Cynthia Malbon at Magnum Opus 2007 indicate that they’re much larger than they look. The dolls are wax over porcelain. I wonder what you paint wax with? Does it sink in, or just sit on top, like with polymer clay? If anyone knows, can you leave a comment?

I’m going to post again about my experimental ball jointed doll later–several people offered suggestions and I’ve just realized a major error in the leg construction, which I want to photograph so I can show you.

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Update

May 9, 2008 at 4:33 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Oooh, I’m so excited, I couldn’t wait to show you what I found today! Marina Bychkova, whom I previously blogged about on these pages, has redesigned and updated her website, but even better than that, I’ve just discovered she has a DeviantArt account, and a blog! Check them all out, she has some amazing new work for you to see, and now you can follow her creative process on her blog. I love this artist!

P.S. Keep an eye out later today — I’ve been working on an experiment, and I’m going to post pictures. I hope it will be thought-provoking for all of my readers who make dolls. Stay tuned…

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Beyond sculpting — Alexander Mergold

May 3, 2008 at 5:46 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

What do you do when you’re such a great sculptor that it’s no longer a challenge? You start playing with engineering, of course. That’s got to be the story behind today’s artist, Alexander Mergold.  Or maybe he’s just a brilliant puppeteer who also happens to be an incredibly talented sculptor. Either way, his work is really something to see.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an artist with such a huge variety of different pieces. His website includes marionettes, stick puppets, table top puppets, hand puppets, portrait dolls, caricatures, fantasy figures, and more. He works in air-dry clay, papier mache, polymer clay and epoxy putty. He even has a bas relief and a life-sized doll on his website. Wow.

The picture at the top of this post caused a double-take when I first saw it. If it weren’t for the marionette strings visible in the photo, I would have thought it was a real person. I also love his “Yawning Dude” piggy banks, which are available in his Etsy shop, as well as the soulful Pamina, pictured below, from his Magic Flute series. Would you have guessed both of these were by the same guy? Amazing.

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