Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One of the New Dolls

It seems like I have been working on a group of new dolls forever.  Their work keeps getting interrupted and I have to put them down and then getting them going again is really hard.  Plus, for me, making my dolls takes forever.  I never knew how to make a doll the way I wanted to make it and there were no books about it when I started(only just a little ways back because I am only 21! I was living on an island where there were no books). 
  "Art dolls" wasn't really a term yet and people still wanted their dolls to look well, "doll like".  I wanted to combine sculpture with textiles and my dolls is what I came up with.  I had no idea anyone would be interested in them or that other folks were trying to figure out the same thing themselves.  Here is one of the dolls I have been working on.  She is on her way to being finished, but is not there yet.  Right now she is simply "the Red-haired Doll" for now and is wearing one of my hand beaded headpieces.
I kind of made up my own technique and based the look of my dolls on ancient Greek and Egyptian sculptures I studied while living and going to school in Athens,Greece and the Greek Islands.  I  took the idea for my little dolls and made into a much larger scale to make mannequins at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis that could be made larger or smaller to fit the textiles which would keep them from being damaged by mannequins that came in only one size. No more squeezing precious textiles into too big mannequins. I also made wigs which were complete sets of hair made of yarn so they could be styled and restyled. One day a long blonde wig was styled up in a Victorian updo and the next it was done and a bit wild looking for a Viking-cool!
So, my 312 step process probably needs to be updated but, I am not very good at cutting out steps.  All of my dolls have wire armatures, I sculpt with Creative Paperclay and wait for each layer to dry.  I sew on "muscles" with batting and then start my costumes.  
Each doll(if a lady in a dress-I have also done animals and other beings such as mermaids and faeries, you name it-it's a doll, I can figure it out hopefully) gets a pair of bloomers and a corset first.  Then there are petticoats.  Next, there is an underskirt followed by an over-skirt.  Now I can add a bodice and sleeves and more details.
Finally, I move onto making a wig for the doll.  This gets difficult if my little cats won't leave all my balls of yarn alone though.  After the wig, I go back and add more details and accessories like capes, scarves, jewelry, crowns, and hats.  I also paint the arms and feet of my dolls.  After years and years of making teeny shoes, I went a little nuts so now I paint on the shoes-I so hope this isn't cheating!  Here are her little pointy green Medieval shoes.
I hope this lady is done soon!  She has been awfully patient! Here she is with my little girl cat Sister Blackberry Bijou! "Sister" guards everything and everyone.  She is the big boss around here and to her 3 older brothers.  Do not mess with Sis!
I think she looks so lovely sitting in my favourite antique aqua velvet chair(I guess it was teal at some point.  Both colours are great with me!).  Sister Bijou is still hanging out above her.
Here is a sneak peak of someone else who is on their way...
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! And, time for me to get busy on other art.


KatinkaPinka said...

she is beauteous! i wish my hair looked just like hers!

and eeks! look at that pretty peacock feather print on the fabric in the last amazingks!


Queen Of Småland said...

What a beauty! I love her expression and the way you painted her face.
Great gown too!
Peace and Magic

Fleur de Boheme said...

Merle - I LOVE that doll!!! It´s gorgeous! Such a strong yet feminine expression. Well done - it was worth the effort! Where do you sell them?

Hope you´re fine, take care,


Carousel Dreams said...

Merle, I really enjoyed reading about your process of doll-making...this one is indeed a beauty! I love the colour of her hair against that antique chair...mmmm. And I am with Katinka about the peacock feather - you know me...anything peacock x

m said...

How lovely she is. A magical lady.

RowanDeVoe said...

thank you, everyone, for your comments! i appreciate them so much! i have sold my dolls in many galleries around where i live here in the midwest. but, at times, they have been very much misunderstood. they mostly sell in galleries here when someone comes in who is visiting from another country or from the east or west coast. i also have sold a majority of my dolls on commission. people will tell me their ideas for a doll-usually their favourite things, colours, stories and i combine them all together and a doll is born. they do take me a while to make so i am thankful that the folks who have ordered them so far have been so patient!

Little Brown Sparrow said...

You're only 21!?! ONLY 21!?!?! Holy crow, my love, I thought you were older than that! Not because of the way you look (certainly not because of that!!) but because you've done so much and had so many adventures. Wow. I feel like such a lazy lay-about now in my aged 36 years!!

And your dolls are so exquisite, of course. Painting the shoes is cheating, I should say so- get out there and grow some leather!! And you should be weaving that yarn for the hair, and making the pigments for the paint. Dear oh dear, I shall just call you short-cut girl now. :P

Stella Pesci said...

I LOVE this doll...and the next one with the peek at the peacock feather skirt! SO BEAUTIFUL!!
Talk to you soon:)
Stella xx

RowanDeVoe said...

ha! penny golden, i was kidding! i am just a wee bit older than 21! you are not a lazy lay about silly!

thanks about the doll. i am the short-cut girl. i do miss making the shoes-they were pretty. i wonder why i did stop making them? i made them out of felt with ribbons so they weren't so hard. who knows. i think i started feeling like a giant in my house and that freaked me out when i had been up for days working on several commissions-i got really, really freaked out and i remember looking around at all of the dolls and little fairy dolls and thinking, "i am the biggest person here! i don't think i belong here!" and i felt this weird perspective thing going on-hard to explain!

a few weeks after that i was applying for my museum job! ha! i decided i need to be around people my size for a while. hehe-now that story sounds so funny and silly to me-it is a cautionary tale.

thank you stella! i love peacock feathers-they have such gorgeous colours in them and i have great plans for this doll as well.
take care.

jasmoon-butterfly said...

I am totally inspired by your dolls - they flow that wonderful ethereal essence! Luv 'em!
Maybe you could offer an online doll/ clothesmaking class?! I am trying here lol
love & light
Trace x

Heather said...

Wow Miss Merle, you've outdone yourself! She's really gorgeous, and love the fairytale lovely!~

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CatHerder said...

Oh Merle, you know im one of your biggest fans...but this one is just STUNNING!