Thursday, June 17, 2010

Work In Progress -- A Wall Doll

Flat as a flitter, this one.  I got to thinking about those old-fashioned pillow dolls and thought, well, let's just rethink this.  This could be a canvas or a soft assemblage.  So, inspired by my latest cabinet card find ...

Of this sour-faced little fellow, who most likely detested the lace-trimmed skirt and yearned for knickers, at least, or perhaps had hayfever, or maybe all of that, I thought, hmm, yes, a wall doll.  It works with the flatness.

Here's as much as I got done today, posed on my lovely old leatherette horse-hair stuffed and pleated piano bench.  His arms are not attached yet, but I have a provisional array of sardine can key, rusty beer bottle cap ("Rogue" brand), driftwood and a torn lesson page from Third Reader, a turn of the century school book.

Check the original out over there -- how is that expression?  He seems focused on the focuser with quite a bit of uncertainty, possibly contempt, but then again, it could be the hay fever, the lace ruffles, or itchy underwear.  Poor tyke.  I do like the proscenium arch above him, so that he seems enshrined.  He could be a little saint in the making, but he could also be going in the other direction.  Who would know now?  There's no name on the back of the cabinet card; all we know is that the picture was taken in Portland, but which one? It's a 50-50 chance that he's either a down east Yankee or a pioneer.  Don't you just wonder how these wonderful images have escaped their families and names?  There's a story there, but you will have to write it yourself.  Give these lost ones new life.  As you peruse this image, don't neglect the wonderful boots with scalloped edges.  They look soft and well used.  Must have gotten passed down to him from older siblings, even, EWWW, sisters!  Egad!  NOT the skirt and collar as well?

On to the WIP; here's a closeup.  I cropped the photo after uploading it and printed it out on cheesecloth, did some photo tinting with my trusty Prismacolor pencils, and used various "schmutzes" to fix the cloth and image, to prevent further fraying and fading.

Making the face out of scale with the doll's body has changed the boy's expression somewhat.  It seems more dreamy.  Maybe he's dreaming of scratching that itch.  You can't see the little tuft of stiff horsehair topknot.  I used a felting needle on that, but next time I'll handle it differently.  Horse manes are not very cooperative, although they do have that springy, wirey linear quality that I really like.

I used a matte varnish on the wood pieces, but they still seem a bit shiny.  A little sanding, maybe?  These things have a way of going on and on and on, until I think they are finished, and that's always much later than I expected when I started the thing.  I expect it's because the piece gets developed as I go along, so that the "cooking" has to be a low simmer; don't want it to stick to the bottom of the pot.

At the end, I think he'll get a bone counter (you knitters know what that is; I have a pile of them), sewn to his back so that he can be put up on the wall.  If I still like him when I'm done, I'll save the pattern and do some more.  I like the figure as a foundation for the patches and small scraps of old things that I have saved.  Itty-bitty fragments of unknown and unremarked time.

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