Well, I'm back at my yellow-topped table at the Farmer's Market on a Thursday afternoon, trying to figure out why is it that I will happily spend hours without food or drink, (or even a bathroom break!) to pin, cut, sew and rip out stitches on a scrap of material, wire and poly stuffing, which, at the end, is only this inanimate thing called a "doll."
I was talking to Erika about this recently and we agreed that the doll, during its creation, becomes a little bit alive. The best example for me is my doll Delphine. I made her right before Christmas 2010, and as soon as she was finished, I noticed that she looked like Eva (nom de doll alert!), my younger sister, who passed away in March 2008. Delphine definitely looked like Eva. And Eva had chosen Delphine as one several names she had used during a period of her life….
As enchanted as I was by Delphine, I had finished her in a hurry because I wanted her to be done. Now, I didn't like it that her arms were too long and lumpy and her body was too big for her head. Also, I had made her a red dress for the holidays, but preferred the black skirt and pink petticoat that I put on her originally. And I was anxious to try the new hairstyle I had just invented called "highlighted bundling." So I refashioned Delphine by cutting down her body, reshaping her head to be more square,
replacing the blond braids with highlighted, blond bundles, and made new arms and legs from black and white striped cotton with black silk boots. Then, I put her in a powder blue silk dress. But Delphine still didn't seem comfortable.
During this time, I was devising a technique for doll hair which I call "looped bundles." (I think I must have been half-looped when I came up with the idea!) I decided to try this style on Delphine in "dirty blond," made from a taupe tee-shirt. This shorter style and more muted color seemed to suit her. I refreshed her makeup and gave her a new sparkle. But then I realized that the black and white stripes weren't right any more. I have some material with pastel polka dots from which I have already cut out the arms and legs and will make these for her, leaving the black and white stripes for a future doll with a more stripey bent.
At some point, I realized, as if in a dream, that my remaking of this doll imitated Eva's remaking of her physical self in her life. For a time, she had a rounder figure. As she matured, she got slimmer. She also had darker hair when she was young, which she wore very long. As an adult, she became a beautiful blond with a shorter, curlier style. She loved vintage clothes and jewelry and always looked so delicate, feminine and beautiful in an old-fashioned way. Oh, it's hard to describe my lovely sister! And of course, a doll is not a person. Yet, when I look at Delpine, I think of Eva, with her sparkling eyes and her gentle smile…
Dolls are just inanimate objects. And yet, they become animated as I work on them. Even sitting on the shelf, long after they are finished, each one has his or her own special look and personality. And to me, they come alive in my imagination. Like a dream.
Have a great week!