Our newest doll, Mariel, is Sophie's first creation. She drew the face and spent an entire Wednesday learning to embroider and embroidering it. She then attached the face to the back of the head and stuffed the head. A few mimosas were consumed, but the results you can see for yourself. As for me, me encanta Mariel!
I spent last Sunday assembling her, but first, there was some disassembly. When Mariel was imagined, we visualized brown or black hair, so we made the back of her head black. Since then, we tried different colors by pinning bundles of hair on her head (such a fun part of making a doll - deciding on the colors of the eyes, hair, arms and legs, dress, petticoat flowers and necklace!) Sophie decided on "dirty blond," which is taupe, in the
world of tee shirts. So I took off the back of the head and replaced it with off -white muslin, then re-stitched the head, staying as true to the original shape as possible. Luckily, with a new, razor sharp seam ripper, the disassembly went smoothly.
As I was sewing on the two foot long "bundles" of taupe hair, a Strauss waltz came on the radio. Mariel and I looked at each other for a split second, then started dancing. (My dolls are designed for dancing, as you can see by their full-skirted dresses, petticoats and long limbs.) Mariel got a little carried away and started doing cartwheels. That was when I realized her hair was too heavy for her neck, which was bending back as we whirled around the room. So, I gave her a haircut. Alas! Too short! So I spent this weekend cutting and bundling more hair and sewing it on. I also made her a blue-green taffeta dress. (Thanks again, Evette!) The blue-green dress ended up not working, but Carmen generously offered her blood-red taffeta dress and purple petticoat in exchange for the blue-green, Voila! Mariel was finished and Carmen had a new dress. The finishing touch was a ruby red necklace, like Carmen's. Photos will be posted soon!
As you may have noticed, I missed my blog post last week. But I can't wait to tell you about the Moulin Rouge Dancers at the Hollywood Bowl and my newest creation-in- progress, the first of the "Dugout Buddies,"Andre Ethier!
Have a great week!
"Really, there is no one but Matisse." I wasn't sure why Picasso said this when I first read
it on the back of a Taschen book on Matisse, because up to that point, I thought Picasso
was the greatest painter and didn't know much about Matisse. But after Picasso led me to
Matisse, I understood, and am now entranced with both of them. And with Giacometti,
Toulouse Lautrec, Monet, Van Gogh, Vermeer, and so many more.
After I started making dolls, I wanted to learn how to embroider and make beautiful faces, so I started buying art books at a wonderful used bookstore in North Hollywood. It was there I discovered Toulouse Lautrec's posters of dancers from the Moulin Rouge. I started dressing my dolls in crinkling taffeta dresses, ruffled petticoats and bloomers.
The same thing happened with music. A few years ago, while working on Paulette, who was to be a dancing doll for my niece on her eighth birthday, I heard the "Suite Parisienne" by Jacques Offenbach from his comic opera, "Orpheus in the Underworld." It was the "Can-Can!" It made me jump up and dance around the room with Paulette!
I told my sewing partner, Yvette, another Los Angeles area doll maker, about it. Together, we googled Offenbach and saw the dancers in their bloomers and petticoats and fancy dresses. We decided we would make a chorus line of "Can-Can" dolls. That
didn't quite happen, but we've both made lots of dolls since. Yvette shared some of her vintage taffeta with me and I shared the huge purple petticoat from the 1950's that I found at a thrift store with her. (To learn more about Yvette, visit her etsy shop AllAboutEvette)
Making dolls put me back in touch with art, the way one experiences it as a child: a total, uninhibited embrace. I am so inspired by the great artists when I design a doll and energized by Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Scarlatti and so many other composers when I sew, that the hours fly by and I end up hearing some incredible music in the process.
While putting the finishing touches on Carmen, my latest doll, I heard a lively, exotic, piece of dance music that seemed written for her: "Fandango" by Boccarini. So everything is jumbled up with doll making: art, music, work and dance. I feel like I'm back in kindergarten and have just been given a box of beautiful, waxy crayons with
exotic names like "magenta, " "heliotrope" and "vermillion," and my only job is fill a giant sheet of art paper with anything I want. Maybe you have something in your life that makes you feel that way.
My next blog post will cover seam rippers and Strauss.
See you next week!