Last Christmas, the dolls had a Mad Hatter's Tea Party with the porcelain tea set made by my Montana sister Vera. Here you can see Delphine, Carmen, Mariel and Mimosa in their party dresses, enjoying tea and Christmas cookies. (Please note how many dresses Delphine wears for this photo shoot!)
This adorable hand painted miniature porcelain tea set is from MUDDSLINGER Pots in Montana!
On January 24, 2012, Raphael and I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's preview
of "In Wonderland," an exhibit of surrealist women artists from Mexico and the U.S. which
includes several works by Frida Kahlo and friends. "In Wonderland" is a reference to Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland" and the introductory notes state that the works show a different perspective, as if these artists had been "down the rabbit hole," both in the sense of their personal lives and trauma that happened to them as children, as well as in the fact of their being women.
We arrived at 8:00 p.m. on a beautiful Thursday evening in L.A. where we met the friend who had invited us, Meg Hunt. (Nom de Plume alert!) After some wine, a delicious salad with walnuts and apples and a visit with our tablemates, two women who had driven up from Palos Verdes for the event, we ambled into the exhibit and each lost ourselves in the art, bumping into each other occasionally over the next hour. The show, which is part of the ongoing Pacific Standard Time series, consists of paintings, sculpture, photography, "constructs" and architecture. Not surprisingly, many of the works have dolls in them. There were lots of paintings of women, but no female nudes in the manner you might expect to see in paintings by male artists.
At ten, I found Raphael and Meg, whose feet were hurting as much as mine were, as we both
wore heels. [Meg and I, not Raphael!] On the way to the parking lot, we discussed our favorite works and artists from the show. It was liberating to see women depicted from a female point of view. I liked Frida Kahlo's wedding portrait with her husband at the time, Diego Rivera, where he is gigantic and she is tiny, and a painting by Dorothea Tanner, who looks strangely modern in a 1930's era self-portrait in black pants, sitting astride a stool, looking young, beautiful and powerful. There were too many works to adequately describe here, so I want to go back and delve into this exhibit in greater depth. I also want to explore the connection between Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and some of these works. More on this soon!
Well, Veronica has thrown down the gauntlet. Again. First, I am to make a friend for Winifred. That's the easy part. But also, Vera tells me that Winifred wants a puppy. And it has to be a St. Bernard. And three-dimensional, with tee-shirt "fur." It's always a challenge, but I'll give it a try.
First, the dolls: Vera has already named this one "Cordelia," who will be a variation of Mimosa. [see pictures of Mimosa on the "dolls" page and in an earlier blog post, where she models Winifred's studio outfit.] Another doll, Hyacinth, a red-head, is named after a character in Mary Gaskell's 19th Century novel, "Wives and Daughters." [More on that next week.] These dolls will be the first in the "Tomboy" series. You can pictures of Cordelia, Hyacinth, Donette and Mitzi modeling their current hairstyles here. It's fun to imagine how to redesign their shoes, bodies and clothes to make them more tomboy-like. I'll be posting pictures as the dolls move from the drawing board, literally, through the creative process. And there's a new Raggedy Ann in the works, who'll have brown eyes and brown curls. [Wait till you see the new curly style!]
Liz [Nom de Plume alert!] and Malekai are working on some wire-framed dolls, Also, Liz
promised to send me one of her drawings for a new doll and I can't wait to get started!
It's going to be a busy year. Now, go see some art! Till next week….
_I'm at the Farmer's Market at Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles, having a hot chocolate
with just the tiniest bit of whipped cream. All around me are holiday shoppers, grabbing a quick bite between purchases at the nearby Grove. I'm thinking about my sister,
Veronica, who was here two years ago and fell in love with this place. (Veronica is a nom
de plume that I chose for her. All of us at dollsbysasha have noms de plume, including
Raphael, Sallie, Colleen, Sophie and Sophie's partner in Costa Rica, Malekai Lucien, who
wins the prize for noms de plume!)
_I'm also thinking about Veronica because she challenges me in my dollmaking. It was she who requested that her birthday doll, Winnifred Harmonia, have highlights. As a result, I had to figure out how to work gold embroidery thread into the rust colored braids. Later, the idea of highlights inspired the ribbon-streaked bundles that are now my signature hairstyle for all dollsbysasha.
_But highlighting wasn't enough for Veronica. (Veronica is a potter in Montana who made the doll tea set that you may have seen here. You can visit MUDDSLINGER POTS facebook page to see some of her work.) After toting Winnifred back and forth to her studio, Veronica realized that the green taffeta party dress wasn't going to work for her little assistant, so she requested that I make the following: khaki pants, a white tank top and a denim artisan's apron.
That was in March and with all the doll making this year, I didn't get it done and it has been preying upon me. So this week, I set up Santa's workshop, heated up a pot of hot chocolate, and got to work. You can see the finished product here, modeled by Mimosa, with of one of Veronica's vases and a bowl.
_ Mimosa looked so cute in Winnifred's new outfit, she didn't want to take it off. The saucy little khaki pants seem to have brought out the tomboy in her. And hence, another inspiration has given birth to the Tomboy Doll, to be launched soon! I'm so excited about it, I haven't even told Sophie and Malekai yet. (They've been busy working in Santa's Workshop, Puerto Viejo, on some clothespin dolls and chocolate, which sound like a great combination!)
_I can't complete this blog post without telling you about Sallie's holiday dress, which I made last Sunday after we finished her doll, Lucia. The dress was a challenge, as I only had so much green taffeta. Luckily, I had a black taffeta vintage skirt that I was able to piece with the green to make wide stripes, with just enough green left over for the bodice. I finished with black straps and a little black ruffle at the neckline. We both especially like the back, which is tied with black and green ribbons.
_I think the reason I've been enjoying this holiday season so much is because I have re-discovered my creative side, which is the child in all of us. Remember standing in front of that easel in kindergarten with pots of paint and that long-handled paintbrush? Did any of us have the slightest hesitation filling that paper with ocean-liners, suns, giant flowers, or our entire families in front of imaginary houses?
The more I sew, the more I dip into that childish delight in drawing, creating and figuring things out, coming up with new ideas and putting them into action. So, discover your inner child and let your creative side bubble up. You'll be amazed at what you will find.
Have wonderful Holiday, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or by any other name.
"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!