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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Getting felt up

April 11, 2008 at 4:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Must… not… get… sucked in….!!!

I really, really don’t need a new hobby. Really, really don’t. In fact, fewer hobbies would probably make my life a lot easier. Needle felting is one of those things, though, that really, really tempts me. Argh.

Today I present to you a medley of excellent wool sculpture, also known as needle felting. I have selected these from Etsy because of their fine details and excellent sculptural qualities. I really have no idea how you start with a lump of wool and end up wih these awesome figures, but then, that’s what makes it so cool, right?

Etsy needlefelter

In literature, they have a term called “meta” which means a story that knows it’s a story, or a story within a story (Like the grandfather reading the book to the little boy in The Princess Bride). To my English-degreed mind, there’s something meta about a doll using a puppet. Go see this treasure at Snowman Central.

Fine Art Toys on Etsy Fine Art Toys from Etsy

Gosh, this owl makes me giggle, and I love the vivid colors in the cat. You usually don’t see this color palette in needle felting. Go and see Fing’s other work at Fine Art Toys. She also has some gorgeous matryoshka-inspired ladybugs, flower buds and caterpillars.

Handwork Naturals needle-felting from Etsy Handwork Naturals from Etsy

I think one of the coolest things about needle felting is that it can blur the line between painting and sculpture, something that this artist is taking advantage of. The two sculptures above, “Mother Earth,” and “Mushroom Community” are from Handwork Naturals.

Needle Felting from Etsy Needle Felting from Etsy Needle Felting from Etsy

Last, but certainly not least, is Rose Thistle Arts from Etsy. She has the most amazing talent for sculpting lifelike animals in wool. I can’t even sculpt portraits in my primary medium, so I have a deep respect for anyone who can. Rose Thistle animals aren’t just lifelike, though, they’re also beautiful. Sometimes it’s easy to do one or the other, but not both. Just lovely.

See you next week!

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Red Nose Studio

February 23, 2008 at 9:32 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Editor’s note: I’m sorry I’ve been away from the blog for a while. My husband and I are both out of work now, and it’s been hard to get motivated to do much of anything. But today I was inspired to post about Red Nose Studios, and I got to musing about dollmaking, so I thought I’d share.

Why do dollmakers limit themselves to sculpting individual figures? Are we so fascinated by the human form that we just aren’t inspired to art by anything else? Maybe that’s why so many people are passionate about dollhouses; they’d be making art dolls, only they like to design the whole environment. Traditional dolls don’t have environments because they’re meant to be handled and played with, but art dolls don’t have this limitation. Are we allowing our art to be limited by its links to traditional play toys? I’m not sure that’s a legitimate reason to limit artistic expression. But we have to draw lines somewhere, or we couldn’t categorize things in any useful manner (imagine if eBay only had one category called “Art”!).

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Okay, enough philosophizing. Today’s artist is Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio, and he is certainly not limited to creating figures. He sells his work as illustrations in magazines and books, and as such his pieces are very expressive. I love his way of stylizing not only the proportions of his figures and their environments, but also their colors. I wonder how much of the expressiveness of his work depends on his photography skills, rather than just his crafting. I envy people who are great photographers; I suck at it.

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His figures, with their prominent noses and streamlined profiles, remind me a bit of Edward Gorey‘s illustrations. I’m not sure what they’re made of; his website says his pieces are made of, “wire, fabric, cardboard, wood, miniatures and found objects,” but that seems to describe the figures’ environments rather than the figures themselves. To me, the faces look like air-dry clay or papier mache.

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The question is, are they dolls? I guess everyone has to decide that for themselves.

Check out Sickel’s work at his own website or his agent’s portfolio. Here’s a great article about his background and creative process on Illustration Friday.

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Bonnie Jones

November 13, 2007 at 6:11 pm (Christmas, Halloween/creepy or goth, sculpture) (, , , , , )

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Bonnie Jones is an ODACA artist who lives in Mississippi. Her career as a doll artist has traveled from cloth dolls, where she made her start, to elegant Old-World style Santas to fantasy figures.

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Her Santas are well-costumed, sometimes based on Santa traditions in other countries. They carry bags of vintage or vintage-looking toys and some of them are amazingly lifelike sculpts. I really like the one pictured above with Santa in his nightshirt titled, “The Night Before.”

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Jones has a taste for Halloween as well, and I wish I had found her when I was looking for Halloween artists. Her Halloween line is more vintage than creepy, but there are definite Goth influences. If her work is any guide, I have to say that Halloween at her house looks like a lot of fun.

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Jones uses her Santa-sculpting experience to good benefit in her fantasy figures, which include elderly witches, angels and wizards, as well as the typical lineup of youthful fairies and elegant ladies. All her pieces have a mystical quality and a kind of peaceful ambience that I like very much. Her costuming relies on texture more than color to draw your interest, and in my opinion does so quite well.

You can see a sampling of Jones’ work in her PictureTrail album, or visit her blog to see what she’s currently up to.

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October 25, 2007 at 10:33 pm (sculpture) (, , , , )

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As a former English major, I admire a ten-dollar word like the one above, which was invented by Meredith Dittmar to describe her imaginative figurative sculptures. I’ve admired her work ever since I first came across her on PolymerClayDaily, but her latest offerings take things to the next level.

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She started out sculpting her “Guys,” goofy little monsters in vivid colors, and selling them on eBay, several years ago. As time went on, her pieces developed environments and graffiti-inspired backgrounds, and this new group makes use of a sophisticated color palette. If you take the time to ponder them, you can see deep meanings in her work, having to do with the connections between life and the relationships of people with each other and their surroundings, but the amazing thing is that despite all that heavy stuff, it still makes me smile. At the end of the day, that’s all I hope for from my own work: to make people smile.

Dittmar is a “real” artist, as in one who shows in galleries and actually earns money doing her work, and I don’t know if you can call what she does “dolls,” but what the heck. To learn more about Dittmar, you can view a page about her most recent show at Compound Gallery in Seattle, or you can visit her adorable Flash site or read this article about her artistic process.

I’d like to thank Cynthia Tinapple for her fantastic blog, PolymerClayDaily.com, since I collected most of the info for this blog entry from there.

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More Plaza Art Fair artists

September 24, 2007 at 9:48 pm (doll events, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Here are a couple more artists I saw at the Plaza Art Fair whose work is pertinent to dollmakers:

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Anthony Pack gives personality to junk and vintage found objects and carves simplistic sculptures from wood. His little metal “robots” look like the Tin Woodsman’s offspring (perhaps appropriate, since his business card has a Kansas phone number on it) and his sometimes-naughty wooden sculptures fall somewhere between “primitive” and “post-modern.” Not pictured on his Flickr site are the hilarious little wall sculptures I saw in his booth, which were painted skin color and had little knobs and pegs in particular places. I’m a self-confessed prude, but they made me chuckle anyway. You can see a few more pictures of his work here.

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Thomas Wargin is a sculptor, not a dollmaker. I find myself uncertain as to how I’m supposed to respond to his work, emotionally. At first glance, his figures are dark and mysterious, sometimes a little tortured-looking as they interact with or transform into mechanical parts. But on closer inspection, you find that many of them have whimsical elements like bunny ears. There’s probably some kind of statement about the deep meaning of life there, but I’m clearly not educated enough to read it properly. He has an extensive and very professionally-done web page.

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Kina Crow is more my kind of artist. She loves caricatures and has a background in costume design, which makes her sound like a dollmaker, to me, but unlike most dollmakers, she works in earthen clays. Her whimsical characters illustrate abstract themes, sometimes bordering on visual puns. All of her work makes me smile, but I think her fairy with the flowers in her hair (seen here; I can’t grab the picture) is simply gorgeous. Her work is all over the internet, but check out her own site first, and then here and here.

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Karen Woodward

September 22, 2007 at 11:59 pm (doll events) (, , , , , )

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Okay, this is not a doll artist. She doesn’t claim to be a doll artist and I don’t even claim she is one. But I just got home from the Kansas City Plaza Art Fair, and it was the first time I’d seen Karen Woodward’s work. I laughed out loud at the rollicking personalities exhibited by her little “effigy sculptures” made from “flameworked glass.” (I don’t know the difference between flamework and lampwork, but she seems to also work in argon lights, so maybe the process is similar to that. Maybe someone who reads this will post a comment and explain.) What really heats her work up, though, are the goofy expressions on her effigies and the hilarious titles some of them have, from “Cotton Candy Man” to “The Chicken Thief.”

Her artist statement says that when you view her pieces together, the relationships they seem to develop bring a deeper meaning than their simple entertainment value. This may be true, or it may be what she has to write to be accepted by the “fine art” crowd, which she obviously is, but either way, I wholeheartedly endorse her statement that, “art does not have to be serious to be meaningful.” I hope she’ll decide to exhibit at more Kansas City shows so I can visit her work more often! For now I’ll have to settle for her website at www.karenwoodwardstudios.com.

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