SFM Cloth Dolls with Attitude! NZ

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Merman Heads.

Experimenting with faces. From stuffed to needle-sculpted, to coloured. These heads are all the same colour fabric.


 Different lights make them look like different colours. The original fabric colour is the one with the ears pinned on. It is a mottled, creamy colour, quality quilters cotton.

I am designing a new pattern and I think it will have to include a drawing lesson! Is this a bit much to put in a pattern? I worry that my patterns are too involved for the learner dollmaker, and yet, I recall how I needed more of a challenge when I learned most of the techniques of dollmaking, not realising I was leaning towards art.

I know these end up being works of art, but I do want those that need more to be able to take the next steps towards their own artistry, to have the opportunity to learn what else they can do, to develop their own talent. 

Like all artists, writers and musicians, I do something every day, and I am most surprised what happens!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Soul Sisters

I was thinking about refugees when I made these Soul Sisters.

I found the wood amongst the firewood and was attracted to the torn limbs. It is macrocarpa, branches from an old established tree, still standing. Storms broke the branches off and they lay discarded for some time, muddy and weathered, with the bark peeling off. The branches had been gathered up with other fallen branches, and eventually cut up for firewood. As I weighed the wood in my hands, they felt solid. Too good to burn!
I sanded the bases evenly, so they would stand on end, and the wood is beautiful and strong. I peeled the outer layers of bark off and the colour of the wood is beautiful. The heads I made fitted snugly into the torn elbow of the branches, and the torn pieces reminded me of wings.
As I worked with these pieces the story of the wood reminded me of refugees, torn from their countries by the storms of war. Separated, weathered and discarded and eventually stripped of everything, cut down to size and redefined culturally, spiritually and emotionally. Yet at heart there is a strength born from hardship, there is comfort, protection and the hope of peace.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Daun's Saloon Doll

Daun wanted a doll for a Tree topper that would reflect a little of her sense of humor and personality, so I started off with this one based on a Jill Maas pattern.  

I made it in Quilters muslin, but it was not satisfactory as the fabric doesn't have enough stretch and was not as conducive to an expressive face as velour.

I made a second doll with a different Jill Maas body and I like this one better, although I loved the body shape of the other!  

I modified the pattern slightly and though the head shape is mostly Jill's, the needle-sculpting in mine.

I like the flexibility of the arms and legs on this!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Shady Lady 2016

My last doll for the year!  Made from my Marie Antoinette Bust pattern, I enjoyed making this one for our new Gallery in town, called CRAFTED: Waitaki Artisans Gallery!

I love the green  with the midnight blue and the int of black velvet, which lends itself to frame this moody face.

I particularly liked making her little broomstick brooch on her hat! I have made this doll a few times now and marvel at how different each one looks!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dame Whina Cooper

 This is my very poor attempt to capture this amazing woman, called the mother of the nation, in doll form! 
Dame Whina Cooper ONZ DBE was a respected kuia, who worked for many years for the rights of her people, and particularly to improve the lot of Māori women.























I made this face in deer suede, as the colour was good, but found it hard to define the features well in this fabric, although It needle-sculpted not too badly. I might try it in something different. There are a lot of things I would do differently, but 
not too bad for a first attempt at something completely different!




Dame Whina Cooper ONZ DBE was a respected kuia, who worked for many years for the rights of her people, and particularly to improve the lot of Māori women in Aoteroa, New Zealand.


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!