SFM Cloth Dolls with Attitude! NZ

Friday, November 11, 2016

Steam Punk Pincushion!

In 2002 I made this Mixed media doll pincushion for the first Steampunk Exhibition I entered.  The idea of Steampunk is: Tomorrow as it used to be!  It's all about gender, belief, sexuality, roles, and  industrialism, including metal, leather cloth, mechanical, as well as time travel, fashion, contemporary and futuristic!  All symbolic!

This doll now belongs to my eldest daughter, who uses it as a pincushion, as well as a work of art.   Recently I visited, to find the head lopsided, and very dusty, so  I thought I would tidy it up, only to discover most of it was just pinned together!  I had not finished it!

Off came the head, out came all the pins, brushed off all the dust and shook all the fur, cleaned it all up and stitched (where it had never been stitched before!)  Here she is, all fresh and ready for the next 14 years!  Haha!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Merman v Mere man!

Hmm! Mereman - or Merman? Someone challenged me to make a merman to go with my mermaid. I was not thinking of the mermaid, (which is rather conventional), when I made himself!


My first thought was to make this doll with coloured dreadlocks, and that was my inspiration.  When I had made sufficient, I began with the trunk of the body of course - to see if I could make some muscles, because mermen can be half naked and no-one thinks anything of it!






Now the next obstacle - how to display him, with only a fin, and he can’t lean on anything.  Deciding it would be very manly to insert a wire hanger into his back muscles, (to show his strength and courage of course), high enough to be hidden beneath his cropped, shoulder cover thingy! That worked! 
I tucked his body into a tail - armatured with my favourite skinny coat hangers, so I could shape it later and to give it some 'body'!


Next, suitable arms, and I had to think what he might be doing, so one straight and one half bent. Ideal for tattoos, and to hold something.

Then the head. Had to be manly, so this head has a bit of shape. (I never know how they will turn out when I start.) Thinking of a good jawline when drawing it out, I feel I am slowly getting there with that one. I am pleased with the mouth shape, which is incorporated in the initial pattern drawing.

The next part of the process is how to present him. I thought of Steampunk, and went with that idea for a while, as I have seen a few trendy looking steam punkers, and so I added a few such embellishments, but in the end, I settled on something that reveals his alternative, feminine, creative, and caring side.  With the sea themed tattoos, (done by his local swordfish), the Paua Shell embellishments and neck bling, and his artistically arranged dreadlocks (styled by his local octopus, who is renowned for her creative agility to twist things around – tentacle-y speaking!)






With a critical eye, I noticed there was an imbalance between the body and the tail, so I connected them with the strap of a man bag, anchored to his belt!  I made the trident, but did not want him to be holding it – unwieldy for packing and sending anywhere – so made a strap that could sling it across his shoulders and be a prop.


The dreadlocks draw the eye down and connect the head with the tail, and I addressed the imbalance of the length of tail with the pet fish, hanging from his hand on a harness, to bring the eye right down.



 I could do more with the tail if I wanted to, but I liked the simplicity of his message:  Here is a mereman, not afraid to show himself as he is, usually found in deep water, vulnerable to predatory fish and the elements, but with the strength and resilience to deal with whatever life brings him. Happy with who he is, willing to intelligently stand for right, and with a care for the wellbeing of his fellow creatures!  Yes, there are Mermen like this!