Friday, May 31, 2013

I Want to Go to a Dry, Sunny and Warm Place

Our favorable weekend forecast, the hope of relief from a long spell of cool, rainy weather, just went pear shaped.  It'll be showery even on the other side of the passes in Eastern Washington; there's just no escape, except a retreat into my Imaginary World.

A place where I can wiggle my toes in warm sand and walk a tide line rich with treasures brought by the waves.  Can you hear it?  The whisper of foam, the retreat of brilliant waters sliding down the slopes of a perfect, secluded beach, the distant cry of sea birds, rhythmic surf beating on a sand bar.

Can you feel it?  The tickle of soft breezes blowing sand dry on your legs, sun warmed arms, the scent of salt and flowers.  You Are Somewhere Other Than Here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Matches, Idle Hands, Devil's Workshop, et cetera

Here he is, the nasty little wretch. No velvet britches, either. He's only 3 inches tall, and I like his legs with mother of pearl button joints too much to cover them; he's just perfect(ly obnoxious) as he is.

He comes with his own environment, a burned sewing console drawer, shabby, narrow and dark, with burned antique book endpaper and text on the back wall, littered with match ends.

He is recalcitrant, has no compunction, suits himself, has low to no impulse control, and unfortunately enjoys robust health, so it won't do to ignore his demands or turn your back on him. Really, it's a good thing he is so small; perhaps that will restrict his range.

The white porcelain knob on his drawer appears to have been cracked in an event involving excessive heat, and so does its pedestal, which was once a ceramic light fixture.

He's quite comfortable with the damage; it's slight, and the drawer does seem to have some fuel value left.

His head, hands and legs are paper clay; he has a ruff of handmade antique lace, and he holds his last incendiary treat in his left hand.  He can sit or stand and his arms are lightly poseable.  His innards are recycled sawdust and his torso and arms are linen recycled from a man's shirt, dyed with natural dyes.

You can stand him in the display drawer along with the evidence, or seat him; he is free-standing, but be warned, that means he can escape.

And it's just no use trying to discipline him or teach him good manners.

He throws tantrums.  Bad ones.

No good trying to warm his britches, either.  He doesn't have any.

We're shopping around for a reform school that will take him.  So far, no luck.  You should see the smoldering ruins.  Nothing left but the chimney stacks.  Just awful.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

WIP Status Report

Alrighty then, he's been painted and assembly begins.  I think I should shorten his arms a tad.  'Rummaged through my tea chest of old fabrics and found a bit of threadbare faded dark green  velvet that seems promising, but I am now undecided whether short pants or a skirt.  And I think I need to add some shadows to the insides of his hands.

Next steps, make pants or skirt and jacket of faded velvet with lace collar and cuffs; search for small buttons; decide how to stand the little wretch in his burnt sewing console drawer, I think on a pile of burnt matches with torched wall paper.  Maybe painted flames?  B Is For Burned? The plot thickens.

WIP Status Report

Now the parts are all made, legs, hands, head.  I will varnish them before painting, then paint and assemble.  The legs will have button joints, the arms will be simple linen tubes stuffed with sawdust.  I think the legs are a little out of proportion, too large, but I am betting the clothing will pull everything together.  He quit looking like Adolph, but now looks a bit like Nixon.  Oh well.  Morphing is what dolls do when they are under construction.

I know it's been done to death, but I do rather like the old salt shaker as a body.  Maybe that's a future project.  Even the trite and kitschy can be good, if it's done right.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Unfettering the Mind

A day hike in Icicle Gorge was perfect for unfettering the mind.  The air was clean and sweet with wildflowers and Ponderosa pine.  We saw lupine, paintbrush, many Calypso orchids, and still more to come with many wildflowers just budding.  One pitch of rockclimbing and then a nice hike in warm sunshine, just the thing.

We found a good hike, a new one for the area, Icicle Gorge, which meanders along Icicle Creek with bridge crossings, through a forest of hemlock, cedar and Ponderosa, on gentle tread, to a rocky gorge where spring meltwaters roar. We enjoyed viewpoints along the way in forest and meadow with distant views of snowy peaks Jena and I remembered climbing, Grindstone, Cashmere, and others.  Today, it was lovely to stay low in the company of the creek, roaming easily on soft paths of pine needles, fanned by fragrant breezes, eyes kept sharp for wildflowers.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rotten Firebug Boy II

Now that that the paper clay has begun to dry, I am able to refine the features with riffle files and snips of sandpaper. I have hollowed out the bust area beneath the shoulders to prepare it for a "spine" and after that a sawdust-filled linen body. Meanwhile, hands and feet are drying.  I think I might sand down the hair-do a bit; it seems to be out of proportion and looks a bit like little Adolph.  I am aiming for something like funny-wicked Hummel, not an evil horrid Hummel. Eyes have been added to the sockets, and that took a delicate touch and a wet brush to refine them and create an impression of eyelids. All in all, progress is happening, I think. What's fascinating to me is the crucial role proportion plays in sculpting; the wrong proportions create a little old man, not a toddler aged boy; the proportions of a doll are not the same as a living person (for this sort of doll, anyway).  It's also fascinating that, once you're in the swing of it, your hands seem to know where things belong, and amazingly lifelike detail and expression just seem to happen. I'm having fun. I guess we never lose the joy of playing with dolls, if we're honest with ourselves.

Next step:  Refine the hands and feet, sew the cloth body, stuff with recycled sawdust, plan the costume.  Wait till you see the box setting for this one -- it is a burned antique sewing machine console drawer with a cracked white porcelain knob, narrow and dark inside, just right.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

W.I.P.: Rotten Firebug Boy

So, here's the beginnings.  Head and right hand and antique photo inspiration.  I had a wonderful tintype in my collection (background), but found one even better, just the brattiest, at Etsy's Interior Vintage. Very inspiring! I grew up with three brothers, and I know the type, believe me. My theory about these Victorian boys is that they knew those lace collars and skirts were just plain wrong. I am imagining this one has a difficult name, something ambiguous like Winifred, and he is completely opposed to how things appear to be turning out in his short life. I have laces, ribbons, and fusty dusty black bombazine in my collection, so watch out you little wretch, you're gonna get another skirt to wear! I have locked up the matches, and if you continue to pout like that, your face will freeze that way.

Materials:  So far, just paper clay, small enough not to need an armature.


I am rather tired of making jewelry just now.  I have a doll in the works, but it will be slow going.  So, no new posts of my stuff in the offing.  But this should hold you until then, and, in fact, you might just prefer it to the usual.  Snitched off Terra Incognita (link over there on the right).  Really, you should take a look; it's refreshing and will remind you that an unfettered mind can be a wondrous place.  Off to unfetter my mind ...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Baltimore Oriole

The Audubon Society issued celluloid pin back buttons of American birds beginning in the early 1900s, around 1912, I think, and I found one -- the Baltimore Oriole, very pretty. I couldn't stand the idea of altering it, say drilling a hole, because I don't like ruining collectibles that are likely to become more valuable, and because it's a nice thing all by itself, anyway. The same for the sweet, soft, kiss-lock coin purse that was a give away from a banking company in Milan, Tennessee.  So, carefully, with a very fine twist drill, I drilled holes in the steel frame, on one side for wiring on a blue velvet ribbon, and on the other for connectors so I could add a chain. While holding my breath, worrying that the kiss lock might get skewed and not work. What luck, that didn't happen!

So here it is, a pretty, shabby chic, kitschy, rustic, Americana, coin purse necklace where you can keep, hands-free, your license and bank card. It would be easy to change the celluloid pin for a different look if you wanted some variety.

I couldn't resist a reprise of the lyrics to a favorite song by Hoagy Carmichael, above in a favorite version, by Bob Dorough.

Kitschy-kitschy koo!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Heraldic Style -- the Besmirched Escutcheon

Recycled tea tin shields with a faux bend d'or sinister on a field of scratched flame and smoke; niobium wires, painted swallows, French text, glass beads and crusty black tourmaline crystal chunks.  A little bit of drama, huh?  What fun!  I can see these worn with a corset or bustier and of course some decolletage.  Or a denim vest unbuttoned a good way down.  Naughty, naughty.  Think I'll call this my Bodice Ripper line.  Oooh, and pantaloons, gotta have some ruffled pantaloons with that denim vest.

Happy Mothers Day All!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Summertime Summertime Sum Sum Summertime

Temps shot up to the 80s here in the Great Northwet, which for us is sweltering, but for me, having grown up way east and south of here, it is . . . SUMMERTIME SUM SUM SUMMERTIME!  Some deeply wired expectation of delight and relaxation and, yes, freedom! rises to the surface and causes all those tight spots to relax.  Ahh.  Things are blooming, things are sprouting, my creative powers are refreshed.

And summer means bangles are back for those bare arms.

Creative refreshment for me means unexpected materials, banish the readymades, tinker and make do, resulting in something original and unique.  Here's my latest stack, a steel wire bangle with home made charms, a horseshoe nail, a rustic ceramic heart from Petra Carpreau, a glorious celluloid bubble button, a clamshell shard and doll's arm, and then my favorite part of this assemblage, a memory wire cuff of heritage corn kernels from TerraCantata, and fish vertebrae, with more from Petra, an oxide striped little disc on steel wire.  And the most unexpected, an experimental foray into textiles:  a thrifted steel bangle wrapped in banana fiber, parcel dyed in natural madder, and randomly lashed with old thread from momma's cake tin full of thread on wooden spools.  Often the thread is too far aged to sew well, but it still wraps, and this bangle was then, just for security, lightly waxed with encaustic medium and heated up to compress the spongy banana fiber.  Definitely not a commercial look, very rustic, tribal and mysterious.  Just right for those corn kernels.  Of course those have to be kept dry, or they'll sprout.  I'm calling it Thriving Tribal Plantings and just now listed it in my Etsy shop.  I'd love it if you'd visit and poke around.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Wooden Bell

Some time back, I netted this eucalyptus pod found on a curbside in Richmond CA, just for practice. It seemed at the time it had little to offer, ornamentally, but it began to grow on me. I love the cracked chippy silvery grays peeking through the swags of the netting.  It sat on a shelf, though, having a conversation with a battered salt shaker, and they became close, in fact, inseparable. Then along came a shipment of sea pottery from the beaches of the North Sea, in Scotland, and they bumped into a skein of handspun linen from Latvia and brushed up against a silvered glass coat button, all murmering to each other about their quiet, unappreciated beauty, their superb patina.

I had originally thought to do something crusty and chunky in frosty white, but somehow these chain fragments edged up and asked to join the assemblage. One of them is the counterbalance from a summer white glass necklace, probably mid century, and it peeks around the top of the neckline provocatively, but quietly.

I love this piece -- I want it for myself; it is the sort of thing I would wear even though I am not dressy and seldom wear my own work.  But I did list it. I may yet keep it for myself, unless it finds the right person to take it in.

This just in!  The doll's purse went to stay with Jennifer of Sacred Cake.  I am so pleased -- her work and lovely shop have been an inspiration ever since I began offering my things on line, way back in 2009.  You should visit her blog and see what I mean.