Black-Eyed Suzie

Dolls. Words.

Prezzies

Dolls (Mine)Your Name6 Comments

Happy New Year!  Does anyone else out there feel like every year since 2000 has sounded like science fiction/ make-believe?  I don't know if I'll ever get my head into this millennium...Anyway, I hope all your days of late have been merry and bright!

I thought I'd share a few photos of Christmas presents I made, some of which I'll soon be adding to my shop as prints.  Yes, it's time to bring back the prints.  I never meant to leave them out for this long, but I looked up after my little boy was born and suddenly a year had gone by.  It scares me sometimes how quickly it goes by.

Birdgerhl

Bird Gehrls I & II, named for one of my favourite Antony and the Johnsons songs.  I have a few little left cages, so I'll be making more of these.

Birdgerhl (2)

And one more ballerina...I think I'll make more of these eventually, too.  This time I used silk organza for the tutu instead of tulle and liked it even more. 

Tasha close

Making it reminded me of how I once insisted on wearing my ratty pink tutu to school (paired it with a plaid shirt).  My poor mother...she relented, and now that I have a baby I understand why. If we could somehow harness the willfulness and determination of young children, we could solve the world's energy problems.

Tasha long

Alexander

Artwork (of Others), FashionYour Name6 Comments

I didn't post about it at the time, but I was very saddened by Alexander McQueen's suicide last year.  Though I spend most of my time in jeans and Adidas, I love extravagant fashion. To me, McQueen was an artist; his clothing was dramatic and structured, romantic, dark and sometimes aggressive. Often breathtaking. Mcqueen dresses
Lately, I've been trying to think of ways to challenge myself with my dolls because for a while I felt I was in a bit of rut.  I want to experiment with the structure of the dolls themselves (I have a few new ideas for joints), but I also want to do more interesting things with clothing.  So, I've started my next group of dolls with the incredible architecture of McQueen's clothing in mind.  It seems almost too bold to say so, but I'll get bored if I don't keep trying new things.

Mcqueen asian dress

If you're anywhere near NYC, there's a McQueen retrospective at the Met that looks amazing. Savage Beauty is on until August 7th and it emphasizes both his exceptional designs and his skill as a craftsman of bespoke clothing.  If, like me, you can't there, the site for the exhibit has great photos and  video (both of the exhibit itself and footage of some of McQueen's runway shows). 

Mcqueen flower dress

The Alexander McQueen website also has video of all his runway shows, which were as dramatic as the clothing itself.  'The Girl Who Lived in a Tree' (Fall/ Winter 2008) is a personal favourite, and you can find it under the runway archives. I don't know yet which dresses I'll look to for inspiration, but I'm so excited to try!

Oyster 2

 p.s. Thank you so much to everyone who commented and emailed with kind words about the Black Swan dolls - they have all been adopted and are off to their new homes in Toronto,the UK and Australia!

 

Love is Merely a Madness...

Dolls - Literary CharactersYour Name12 Comments

It has been a busy few weeks, mostly because my family was visiting from Nova Scotia, so there were six people (including two teenagers!) crammed into my two bedroom apartment.  It was a lovely visit, which included visits to the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral, walks along the canal and the new Star Trek movie; from the sublime to the ridiculous, as my grandmother used to say!  (But ridiculous is not necessarily bad and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.)

On a less pleasant note, my computer crashed and now I'm stuck using my husband's ancient, 7-year-old beater of a laptop.  It's amazing and frightening how much using a slow computer detracts from one's quality of life, as everything  takes about 5 times longer.  So, this will be a short post, and hopefully I should have a more efficifient machine very soon.  Ros mask
Here is my most recent creation and a commission, the cross-dressing and mask-wearing Rosalind from As You Like It.  Now I'm all for love, so it's Rosalind here has some other thoughts to share:

Love is merely a madness, and, I tell
you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip
as madmen do; and the reason why they are
not so punish'd and cured is that the lunacy is
so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.

Ros long

Happy Summer Lovin' to all you madmen...

Duchess Bunny

Custom DollsYour Name12 Comments

This week I finished one of my favourite pieces that I've made (that sentence sounds gramatically offensive somehow, but I'm too tired to fix it). This is a bust of the lovely Ashley D., who requested something blue and Burtonesque bunny ears:

Ashley ed

Ashley has the most amazing profile and piercing blue eyes, so I really wanted to try to capture those features.

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I also finished two busts of a couple (who prefer to remain nameless) that will be an anniversary gift from lovely wife to handsome husband.

Eug blog

Mike blog 

(Can I just point out in a moment of self- congratulation that I even made her tiny hoop and multiple stud earrings in doll version? )

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I just have to give another cheer for The Turn of the Screw, which I linked to in my last post. SO. GOOD.  What a creepy, spine-tingly, beautifully-written little ghost story (little in length, but do dense and fascinating in content).  Right now we're reading Deliverance, which I always thought  was all Burt Reynolds and "squeal like a pig".  Who knew it started as a book? 


Happy Anniversary Rocelia & Gino!

Hanging Dolls & OdditiesYour Name6 Comments

One of the nicest things about custom doll-making is when someone asks me to make a gift for their loved one.  There is something so lovely about people I've never met trusting me enough to send me their personal photos and turn them into something they will give to their amant (I use the French for lover, because 'lover' sounds a bit seamy in English).  I've had a few requests recently for anniversary portraits, one of which was my first custom order for a wall hanging.  This is an adorable couple, Gino and Rocelia, whom I recently had a lot of fun sculpting:

Rocelia & gino2

Gino's hat looks a bit wonky, because it's not yet permanently affixed, but this gives an idea of how it will turn out.  I plan to do more portraits soon, and maybe a few that are painted a bit more abstractly, just for fun.  Now how gorgeous are these two?
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Other than the six custom orders I plan to finish this weekend (eek! hands, don't fail me now!) I am getting in bed with Henry James.  I just finished reading The Turn of the Screw, a great, turn-of-the-century ghost story.  I'm giving a seminar on it this weekfor my American Gothic course, and so feel I have to read it once more to really grapple with the formal aspects of the book.  It's  quite spooky, and much shorter than my last recommendation, The House of the Seven Gables, which apparently a lot of the people in my class found tedious and overwrought, so my apologies if anyone has sought it out and felt the same. I confess I have a weakness for useless beauty...


Picture 9 

...but then I would argue beauty is never useless....

Pretty Miss D.

Custom DollsYour Name9 Comments

Well, it didn't take me long to fall off the post-every-three-days wagon...I guess I forgot the rigours of academic courses.  I love the class I'm taking (American Gothic) but it does entail about about 100 pages of reading a day, and I'm a slow reader, so that translates into several hours of reading per day.  But it's fascinating stuff; we just finished Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, about the legacy of a puritan who accuses a man of witchcraft in order to wrest his property from him.  It teeters on absurdity at points, but is a great read nevertheless, if you like incredibly verbose, extravagant 19th-century prose, which I do. The real House is in Salem, Hawthorne's birthplace, but is not nearly as interesting-looking as one would imagine it after reading the book; the book cover is much more evocative.
Picture 2
I already have some pictures of doll versions of Hepzibah and Alice Pyncheon forming in my mind....


Some weeks ago I was contacted by the lovely Diana who asked me to make a custom portrait doll of herself.  You will see from these pictures of her why I would be happy to say yes:

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 She has stunning eyes and a sweet but somewhat mysterious smile, so while I'm incapable of making smiling dolls, I tried to capture some of that mystery in her doll.

Diana blog 

I still need to give her a richer skin tone, and get the darker make-up around the eyes, as well as finish an adorable little outfit that Diana designed herself.  I'll post some final pictures when she's all dressed, properly wigged and has her face on!

Ophelia in progress

Dolls (Mine)Your Name5 Comments

Currently, I'm participating in the Shakespeare challenge being put on by ADO (Art Dolls Only), a team of doll-makers of which I'm a member.  Participants have been interviewed on the ADO blog for the past few weeks, so I thought I'd share my little interview here. 

Oph blog close

1)  Why did you choose this particular character?

I have had an ambivalent relationship with Ophelia over the past 15 years.  As a teenager, I was attracted to tormented characters, and mad women in particular.  I had a print of Waterhouse’s painting of Ophelia over my bed, and went around with a velvet-covered notebook, which I filled with poetry about beautiful women losing their minds.  Your average death-obsessed adolescent.  When I was a little girl, I eventually rebelled against my beloved Barbies by cutting off all their hair and snipping off their toes.  Similarly, as I got older, I started to resent the highly romanticized portrayal of women as frail victims who lose their minds over every little torment.  Eventually, when I saw Kate Winslet’s portrayal of Ophelia, I made peace with the character; Winslet played Ophelia as a stronger character who is driven mad not simply because Hamlet is a jerk, but also because she is a woman with no real agency who is surrounded by people willing to manipulate her for their own ends.  In other words, the whole incestuous, Danish monarchy is mad and Ophelia is just the one who most embodies that madness because she is the one with the least power to affect any change - all fairly true for young, unmarried women of that time. 

Picture 4  
2) What techniques did you employ? Why?
I chose to make Ophelia as a polymer clay figurine (ie. Head, torso and arms only) to emphasize the idea that she is not entirely whole. But I gave her white hair to counter the usual depiction of her as fragile and waif-like. To me, she has aged a lifetime in her madness, and cannot bear to carry on living knowing the cruelty of which people are capable.

Oph wip long

3) What are your associations/ experiences with Shakespeare in general?
I’ve always loved Shakespeare.  As an undergraduate literature student, I studied his plays and I also taught them when I was a high school English teacher.  While there is much debate about his female characters, and whether or not they are misogynist, I think that, like most of his characters, they are complex enough to be read many different ways.  And ultimately, the guy made up his own words – beautiful words – and he could string a hell of a sentence together, and that means more to me than his politics.

I'll post some more pictures of Ophelia once she's finished (and I've taken those cruel pins out of her head!)



Something New

Adornments & WearablesYour Name14 Comments

One of my many goals for this summer and all the delicious time it promises is  to update my blog every 2 - 3 days.  I must remember that I can include short posts as well; sometimes the pressure of thinking up  a full post causes me to avoid it altogether. So here is an attempt at a short (but hopefully sweet) post to get me in the habit of being a better blogger!

I have made my very first piece of jewelry as a custom order for a sweet lady in France.  It was fun and not as difficult as I thought it would be to work in a very small scale. This pendant is only 2" x 2" :

Pendant blog 

Making the teeny tiny eyes and the eensy weensy wig was pretty fussy, but I'm happy with how it turned out and plan to make more.

Pendant neck narrow

And, apropos of nothing in particular (I guess I'm not yet totally at ease with the micro-post!) I'm working on a commission of a Shakespearean character.  I won't reveal the details just yet, but as I've been looking through my husband's ancient copy of the Bard's Complete Works (mine was purloined while I was in university), I came across one of my favourite lines from King Lear.  I used to teach Lear to high school students; you can imagine the sheer enthusiasm expressed by all the guys in gold chains and baggy pants and the girls whose hot-pink g-strings peeked out conspicuously above the lines of their track pants (g-strings and track pants??  What the what??) Anyway, what made it tolerable was getting to reread the language over and over.  (That and the fact that we got to see Christopher Plummer as Lear in the Stratford, Ontario production...swoon!)

So here are the play's final lines, perfect for this grey and melancholy day:

The weight of this sad time we must
obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to
say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are
young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.


The Divine Ms. Kelly

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A few weeks ago I posted an in-progress photo of a custom order I've been working on; it was commissioned by the lovely Ms. Kelly.  Kelly asked for a self-portrait figurine in black with a Victorian costume, and I absolutely loved making her.

Kelly antique
Part of the fun was making my first quasi-authentic 19th Century bustle.  The originals were made from wire cage and fabric, so I used window screen instead:

Kelly bustle body
I also gave her a deeply pleated skirt and a five-piece corset:
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And of course, a ragged little parasol for all that melancholy  wandering about in the rain so de-rigeur for Victorian ladies (well probably not really because they were always cooped up at home with the vapours, but that's how I like to imagine them ...)
Kelly full
Here is the original Kelly:

Kelly Airport

I've also added two more 3-D illustrations to the shop. These were a lot of fun to make, and nice also because they don't take nearly as long as a doll, so I get to see the results more quickly.  I'll be offering them as custom orders later this week.
Deer sis long etsy
And finally, after marking over 100 papers in two weeks, I am finished my teaching contract!! I am officially unemployed, which is both scary and exciting.  The dolls are coming!

More Customs and Even Closer

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 Last night I invigilated the final exam for my course; I still have to grade half their final papers and the exams, but then I will be done!!!  My new goal in life is never to grade another paper, so I'm very much looking forward to having the summer off to concentrate on dolls, Etsy,  blogging and general stuff-making.  I'm taking a course in American Gothic Fiction (lots of Hawthorne and Poe) and I have two words with which to express my feelings about that:  Yippee Skippee!  Dolls and spooky stories?  What a way to spend a summer...

I'm still working a way on several custom orders, and have recently completed two.  One very special project was creating a doll that was meant to embody the spirit of Sapphire, the beautiful cat pictured below, who has passed on to kitty  heaven. Linda, her  'owner' (I don't really like that term in relationship to animals, especially when  I feel more like I exist in service to my cats!)  asked me to create a doll that could help her commemorate Sapphire, and as a cat lover myself who has lost felt the pain of losing a beloved pet, I was honoured to have the opportunity.

Picture 5

Sapphire has that beautifully superior, slightly cranky look of so many cats,  so I tried to capture that in the doll's expression.  I also used Sapphire's beautiful grey and black coat as inspiration for the doll's clothing.

Sapphire w: kitty

  And I made my first attempt at a clay pet; far from perfect, but it was fun to try and I will definitely be making more.

Sapph kitty

You can read more about Sapphire and see some of Linda's lovely illustrations here.

Sapphire long

I also made another version of Ghostly Minka, who was my one Hallowe'en offering last year.


Minka 2 grey

This Minka has the same punky hairstyle but a slightly more demure expression.  I need to braver with short hair styles, because I do love how they turn out. 

Terry close 3

And speaking of Hallowe'en creepies, if you have a vampire fetish, you should check out the BBC series my husband and I just finished watching, Ultraviolet.   You can find it on netflix in the States or zip in Canada, and here are my top four reasons to watch:

1. It's about vampires
2. The almost absurdly handsome Idris Elba (you might know him as Stringer Bell from The Wire, but he's even yummier with an English accent.
3.  It's good
4. It's funny (yet frightening) to see how hilariously passé clothes from 1998 already look (lots of shiny suits and unfortunately shoulder-padded leather jackets.)

Also, if, like me, you watch all things vampire, you might also recognize Stephen Moyer who plays Bill Compton on True Blood.  Ten years ago, he looked positively petite and fey compared to his more recent vampire incarnation. 


Oh so Close...

Dolls (Mine)Your Name11 Comments

...to the end of the semester!  I only have one more week of classes left, then two weeks to mark my students' exams and final papers , then done!  I don't think I've ever been so excited about finishing a job as I am about this one.  The marking has been overwhelming - eight months of having nearly thirty papers to mark almost every weekend.  Blech.  No wonder both students and teachers hate Composition courses; they have to write so. many. essays.  And then we have to mark them.  But not for long.    Freedom, I almost taste you.  I'm taking a class in American Gothic literature this summer, about which I'm very excited, and other than that I'm writin' fiction and makin' dolls. Yessssssssss.... Thank you, by the way, to everyone who left consoling comments on my last post.  Clearly, the whiff of liberty has me feeling much better...

I've had several, great custom orders projects, most of which entail working from pictures.  It's a fascinating challenge, trying to capture someone's features and personality while still representing them in my own style and aesthetic.  Her eare some photos of one I've just finished and one that's on progress.  Behold the lovely Hilary:
Hilary main
Hilary 2
Of course she has those enviable high cheek bones and that gorgeous hair, so my early attempts focused on those features.
Hilary shadows 2  
Hilary requested antlers, an Elizabethan collar and puffy sleeves, all of which were fairly straightforward...
Hil final
But she also made an off-hand remark about it being too bad you can't get steampunk goggles for dolls, which I then took up as a secret challenge.  I put my nerdy (in the absolute best, sexy way) husband on the case, and he came up with a bit of sheer crafty genius.  These don't yet have lenses, but they give you an idea.  How I love learning how to make new, odd things!
Hil w: goggles
I've also been working on a commission for the beautiful Ms. Kelly, the world's foremost collector of Black-Eyed Suzie Dolls (thanks, Kelly!) 
Kelly Airport

As you can see, Kelly has the most amazing bone structure, so that was my focus with her doll. She is still in the early stages, but this has been such a fun project for me.  I have some beautiful costume books out from the library, and the eighteenth century is calling to me for this one.   She already has a charming little five-piece corset:
Kelly right
Now I'm feeling all gushy and grateful...how lovely is it that I get to recreate these beautiful  people in my own little way?  You're nearly dead to me, day job!

A Pretty Print For You

PrintsYour Name39 Comments

As promised weeks (months?) ago, I'm finally doing a giveaway.  I'm very excited to have prints in the shop fr the first time, so for the next two weeks you can leave me a comment here to enter; a funny story,  suggestions for doll names, or just a quick hello - anything will do.  (You can also email me if you have any trouble leaving a comment.) I will do the drawing on March 24th, and the winner can then choose their favourite print.   Here are a few of my favourites:
Waiting gate detail
I took this picture in front of a beautiful old church near my house.  It was soooo cold that day, but it was worth it to get the lovely, snow-white background.

Back alley

I took these photos of Willow in the alleyway behind my apartment. (Also very cold).  Winter branches 8.5 x 11 print

Rather than complain any longer about the weather, I'll share with you something that has been keeping me sane over the past few weeks.  I have fallen in love with "This American Life", which I had heard before on the radio when visiting the US,  but being able to listen to it as a podcast is SO great, especially at those times of day when there is nothing good on the CBC, which is my usual source of news and ad-free radio programming.  The CBC also has some great podcasts, but they are fairly recent whereas archives for This American Life podcats go back to 1995.  (I'll link to some of my favourite CBC shows in the next post, but for now.) If you're an artist or crafter, I highly recommend these shows to keep you company during those long hours in the studio.  It makes all the difference to have something interesting to listen to after you're all music-ed out and need a good story on anything from an lay-person's explanation of the housing crisis (something I'd never thought I'd really understand) to true scary stories for Hallowe'en. (A long way off, I grant you, but is it ever too early?)

Happy Days in Suzie-Land

Dolls (Mine)Your Name11 Comments

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, what with all the lovely feedback I got from the Handmade Portrait on Etsy, which you can see by cliking on the link, or in the post beneath this one.  Thank you to everyone who commented - it was so nice to read your thoughts.  A few days after the video went up, I was Etsy's featured seller for two days, which was also very busy but wonderful.  Lots of dolls going off to new homes, and several custom orders to keep me busy for the next few weeks.Featured seller screenshot

You can read the interview that accompanied the feature here

There were a few dolls who only lived in the shop for a day or two, so I thought I'd include them here.          Jane sit 2
Slightly awkward Jane might not be the prettiest girl at the dance, but she is probably the smartest and most interesting. She has read all of Proust's A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (in French!) and she take you down at seven card stud. She knows 27 bird calls by heart and can play 'Heart and Soul' on the accordian.
                          Cora long 2
At the tender age of 11, Corabelle ran away from home to join the circus. She's tired of finding bits of straw in her hair, but the evil ring master became enraptured by her alabaster skin and will never let her stray. But Corabelle is tougher than she looks, and is planning her escape...it involves Ambien and some very malnourished lions...
                    Isabo mid.etsy
Rumour has it that Isabeau is the older sister of the Little Prince. She lives on a tiny planet that neighbours B612, and instead of a rose, she tends to a tiny grove of talking Calla Lilies. Before her brother left, they used to visit frequently and share tea with jam sandwiches. Ever since the Little Prince left, she has missed him terribly.     
                   Smg2 mid.etsy
Much like the last Sad Match Girl, this woeful lass has had her spirit - not to mention her snow-white locks - ruined by the crush of industrialism. She even had polio as a child, making one leg slightly longer than the other, and she must stand on those uneven days all day long! Poor match-girl...she has seen better days, before she was made to go work in the match factory, her stockings torn and dreams deferred.

I also added some prints to the shop, but I think I'll save those and make them into a giveaway for next time.  The next few weeks will be busy with custom orders, so I'll be sure to include some work in progress shots...Thanks again for all your supportive words...I was told by the powers-that-be at Etsy that the video got 400 hits from this blog alone!  I had no idea so many people visited my little corner of the interweb, but thank you all!

An Etsy Handmade Portait Video

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I had the very good fortune to be featured in this month's Etsy 'Handmade Portrait' video by the lovely and talented Ms. Tara Young, aka. weirdwolf .  In the video, you can learn a bit about how the dolls are made, as well as see some beautiful  exterior shots of Montreal.  You can see the video in its original context here, or watch it below.

Tara also wrote a short article, and  TeenAngster curated an art doll treasury to accompany the video, so I'm including these as well. Thanks, guys!  Thanks also to Espers for the beautiful music.

Canadian artist and writer Sarah Faber aka Blackeyedsuzie started making art dolls while she was living in the woods of Maine, unable to legally work in the States. Sarah tired of constantly being in her own head as she worked endlessly on her first novel, so she decided she needed to do something with her hands. She chose doll-making because she could build on her experiences as a young girl, helping her crafty mother make beautiful dolls. After buying some books Sarah started experimenting with polymer clay, and eventually paper clay.

Blackeyedsuzie's style was influenced by her love for Gothic novels, Victorian and Elizabethan costumes and Dame Darcy's comic Meat Cake. Her dolls are infused with the same elongated, wide-eyed traits as the characters of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton. However, Sarah's dolls have their own style: Victorian beauties with a dark side — card sharks, bourbon drinkers, albinos and vampires...

Sarah doesn't necessarily consider her dolls to be Gothic, although some are dark and contain elements of the supernatural or uncanny. She considers them to be "Victorian, with a certain edge." The dolls' descriptions tell tales of dire lives of Victorian England, but not without a certain playful wink.

Doll treasury  



A Newsletter and a Little Piece of my Heart

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I've been toying with the idea of publishing a monthly newsletter for some time now, but I didn't want to send a boring one filled with nothing but text, yet I know virtually nothing about HTML and know myself well enough to know I'm not going to learn anytime soon. After considerable web-combing, I finally found a place that offers templates that don't make me gag, so I've been playing around and have come up with something I'm quite happy with so far:

Newsletter
It's not quite ready to go, but should be by the end of this week.  I realize reading both someone's blog and their newsletter might seem a little redundant, but I'm offering for some people who might not have time to keep up with a blog, or who just prefer the immediacy and efficiency of a newsletter.  There's a little buttony signy-uppy thingy in the right-hand column.  And, of course, I promise never to spam or share your email address...I am a hater of spam!

So, do I have any news worth a whole letter?  I do!  I can't go into details just yet, but it involves plenty of dolls, and here is a little preview of some things I've been working on:Wips 2
I used those soft focus, fuzzy edges to mask what is in fact a very messy studio.  And here is little Simon, who get his own picture because he just looked so sad, I had to try to cheer him up...Simon

In my last post I added some photographs of my grandmother and her mother in Brazil, where she and my mother were born.  Those photos are so dear to me, because they are a record of my family but also because they are so beautiful in and of themselves, and  - as  someone who tends to romanticize the past - they evoke a time and feeling that I can never really know.  Looking at them again made me think of a  movie I love, Black Orpehus.  It was made in Rio in 1959, is set during Carnaval, and is based on the myth of Orpheus.  It is funny and beautiful and dark in places - basically my three criteria for good art.  The very last scene is so sweet and charming, and I yet I always cry when I watch it...isn't it strange how you can be nostalgic for a place you've never been, for a time in which you've never lived?

And if that doesn't make you want see it, here is the trailer...love, beauty, magic, music, evil (but vanquished!)....sigh.

Oh Rio, Rio

Dolls (Mine)Your Name7 Comments

For Christmas, I gave my husband a book of beautiful retellings of Greek myths called The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony.  I then promptly stole it.  Well, I prefer to think of it as borrowing, and for a good cause.  I've been researching the Persephone for my own flailing little book, as I'm so in love with the imagery of that tale.  Ya got flowers, ya got Hell, ya got pomegranates and snatched maidens and a bad-ass mother prepared to go up against the lord of the underworld to get her daughter back...good stuff.  So here is my figurative take on the story, entitled Persephone Ascending:

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While gathering flowers in the vale of Enna, Persephone was seized by Hades and hauled off to the underworld. She just couldn't resist that pomegranate seed! And now her mother Demeter grieves for her, chokes the harvest and cloaks the world in winter for half the year. Come back to us, sweet maiden!

And with my new love (er, I mean camera) I finally got some decent pictures of Willow, who was rather underserved, I think, by those dreary shots in my last post.

Willow main 2

Willow wanders hither and thither, through wide meadows and verdant valleys, over babbling brooks and sibilant streams. So slim, she bends with the breeze, whispers with the wind's song, wonders where her love has gone...

Willow long

Finally, for reasons that cannot yet be revealed, I scanned some beloved old family photos this weekend.  My mother and grandmother were born in Brazil (though of American, British and French heritage). And so I have many wonderful photos of my Vóvó (Portuguese for grandmother) and her parents dressed in the most beautiful Edwardian and Victorian clothes against lush, tropical backgrounds.  Here she is with her mother:

Vovo baby

And here is the beautiful statue of Christ that overlooks the harbour in Rio de Janiero. Any children of the 80's out there?  Any closeted Duran Duran fans?  Well, me too.  But in this case, I meant the city!

Rio christ statue

Fancy Schmancy

Dolls (Mine)Your Name15 Comments

Last weekend I bought a new camera and it is just awesome.  (thank you, Christine!)  I generally try not to fetishize technology, but it is not unreasonable to say that  this camera has actually improved my quality of life.  Before this, I had a ten-year-old camera that my father very kindly bought for me on a business trip to Japan because they still cost a small fortune back then.  When I told my friend this, she asked "did they even have digital cameras ten years ago?"  Well, just barely.   And considering it is so old, it has served me quite well, but the new one is a revelation. Taking pictures is now a delightful activity instead of a tedious chore.  Observe:
Heart main
This is Mme. Frontenac (available in my shop)  and a little story that, I confess, is a mishmash of fact and fiction...

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According to legend, the Governor General of New France, Louis de Buade de Frontenac, was heartbroken when he discovered his wife was having an affair with the Sun King. He eventually forgave her, but left explicit instructions about the treatment of his body upon his death. After he died, Madame de Frontenac received a special delivery: her husband's heart in a lead box. So, be true to the one you love and Happy Valentine's Day!

I also had the good fortune to be featured in the Spring issue of Art Doll Quarterly, which came out this week.  The dolls in the magazine are three that I made last summer.  First there is Ivy... Porches 2009 037

...and Peggine with the Huntsman's Daughter:
Porches 2009 040

 There is also a brief article (written by moi), a portion of which I'll be posting on my 'about me' page.

Tata for now! I'm off to tidy my studio, which is a true horror...

Snow White

Dolls (Mine)Your Name13 Comments

I don't know if it's all the snow we've had in the past week, but I've been making some very pale dolls of late; white faces and white dresses.

Pinky done

I don't yet have a name for this young lass (am open to suggestions!) but she was not very happy about me showing her in her skivvies, so I had to promise to put the 'after' photo before the 'before' photo, if you follow.  I used some boning attached to lengths of ribbon to make her skirt hoop, which makes her look a bit like a circus tent in the picture below:

Pinky WIP

I'm nearly finished this somewhat troubled looking waif; she needs her wig and the source of the red stain on her dress (hint: it's not blood.)

 Perseph WIP close

Both she and the pink lady will be similar to Agatha in that she won't have legs, but rather is supported by a stand.  Another of my deconstructed-y dolls.  I'm having fun with their clothes; lots of ripping and pinning and sewing in place.  I feel freed from the tyranny of the teeny, tiny pattern pieces that have plagued my poor eyes these past years.

 Perseph WIP long

And of course, I can't call this post 'Snow White' without some pictures of snow.  I know I've had a few of these already this year, but it's winter in Montreal - this is all I got!   

 Snowy window

It will hang around for another two-and-a-half months at least, so I'm trying to embrace the aspects of it I find beautiful in order to cope with aspects I find horribly, painfully, terribly frigid and interminable.

 Snowy lane

It was a shocking -30 the past few days, but look how pretty!

The Magic Toyshop

Dolls (Mine)Your Name10 Comments

The most amazing part of doll-making for me is the transformation between a bare, clay face and once the face is painted.  While I often have an idea in my mind of how the doll will look, I am almost always surprised.  There is always some little detail, some quixotic expression - the particular arch of an eyebrow, the tint of the lips - that seems to arise out of nowhere.  I think of it as the doll demanding its own character, and it is so delightful.  Just like in so many fairy tales, books and old episodes of the Twilight Zone, the doll seems to come to life.  Here are a few ladies I'm currently working on in that nascent stage just before they become who they are going to be:

Dolls naked

Even the shape of the face tells me relatively little about how the doll will end compared to she gets her make-up on and her hair did.  Exhibit A: here are two of them all (well, partially) gussied up:Pink & green 

Even if I do have a particular vision for the doll's hair and clothes, this will often change once she has her face on and I begin to feel like I know who she is, and what her story might be.  Wraith 

The tricky part is making the hands ahead of time in a gesture that I think matches my idea of how the doll will eventually turn out.  If she evolves along the way, then I have hands that might not seem right with her final form.  We'll see how these do (shown here in their rough stage):Hands raw 

Or these, which are a little further along:

Hands finished 

And I have all these naked babes waiting for faces, waiting for stories...Naked bunch 

What will they tell me?