Friday, November 20, 2009

Obsession again

Since I rediscovered my obsession with Izannah Walker dolls, I've been fascinated by the reports of the process she used to make the dolls.  After I finished the first few dolls, I realized I wasn't completely happy with the dolls surface and feel- that there is something about the dolls made out of all cloth that appeals to me.

Then again, I was the 15 year old who made a full size  Irish Chain Quilt  top with 1 1/2 inch block completely by hand because it was authentic. (too bad the 1970 partly polyester fabric wasn't !).  I have since convinced myself that anyone who had sewing machines used them, and that it is in the spirit of quilt making to use a machine.

Just like Maria Montessouri would have loved computers!  I think.

Anyway, I haven't produced a doll yet, but have learned a lot in the process.

A- a cotton batting when wet or saturated with paint is very easily molded.

B-It works better if you start with a very firmly packed head.

C- Getting impatient and putting on a stockinette layer before the batting layer is completely dry is a bad idea- the first doll is still moldable after many coats .

D- the final finish of the doll does feel very different that the paper clay heads- she has  a softness that the dolls I made with paper clay don't have, both in finish and texture.

I'll show the process once I figure it out!  here is the head before I remolded her and painted the base coat.

You'll see that she is still shifting when you see the next stage.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Session at the White Hart

Every other week I indulge the other part of me- there is an Irish session (music get together) downtown at the White Hart. For so long we had no place to play in Lynchburg.   I really, really meant to get a picture of the session, but all you get tonight is a picture of the White Hart- which is in the coolest part of Lynchburg.

Luckily I live with this wonderful person is an enabler in a good way- I get to play!

I guess if you don't play Irish music, it is probably hard to understand being tune mad. I've calmed down, partly because I learn them more quickly (always by ear now) - I used to sit for hours and work on new tunes.

For a long time too,  I didn't understand the concept of "getting inside the music" with other people- egos go by the wayside because it is a group effort to present the tune- so if one person messes up, another covers.

Good thoughts for living too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Esther Chandler's new clothes

Kids and dolls

My daughter brought two friends home from college yesterday. They are about 45 minutes away at Sweet Briar (and yes, they wore their pearls) , but wanted to do some baking. They wore me out of course, with their energy, all their wonderful interests and drama- but it was when we went to my room and saw the dolls that I enjoyed myself the most. My daughter got  one of her first dolls , in a little white bassinet, at Christmas when she was one. She proceeded (the first girl after two boys) to say ,"Train", and to chug the bassinet across the floor making train noises. She did have a few favorite dolls, but still talks about the body parts all over the house while she was growing up.

But when I showed her the dolls I had made , she picked one up and said, "Really- you made them?"
And her friend Noel, who had talked about dinner about all sorts of  worldly issues, picked up Esther Chandler and carried her around cradled to her body. I realized that the appeal of dolls is real - no wonder the Izannah dolls still have their magic.

My newest acquisition- and Effanbee Lamkin - I love her!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Fiddle

I've played a lot of instruments in my life- the piano for the longest, the flute (high school band), french horn (high school orchestra), the hammer dulcimer (one lovely summer) , the recorder (high school madrigals) , the banjo (every Tuesday night for lessons) - but the fiddle has been the biggest influence on my time , life and mind.

I've owned a fiddle for 25 years- but it spent at least 20 of them in the closet , with no bridge and a bow with no hair. I suppose it was actually a series of closets- because it braved college , graduate school, first apartment, married life (did I?) , and then finally got strings when my oldest child was about 5. So then with strings and haired bow , it sat for another 7 years until I began to play at the grand age of 42. I am REALLY unsure about that math- but you get the idea.

Some of you are going to ask- what is the difference between a fiddle and a violin. There are lots of snappy answers - but  my answer is always, the tradition in which the instrument is played. I play Irish. I get in lots of trouble with fellow musicians , because I play only Irish- not old time anymore and not Scottish.

So - a fiddler who loves dolls?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What gives a doll character?

I listed some old dolls on Ebay tonight.  All with some damage of some kind (I'm a sucker for a fixer upper I think) . What I realized was that none of them ever "clicked" with me. With some dolls there is some kind of strange emotional attachment- the behaviorist in me (did I mention that I'm working on becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst?) knows that something about the doll was paired with some other reinforcing.........- we'll leave that alone.

This little lady just makes me chuckle now and then-  but no emotion attached.

This one has some emotional attachment- but only because she sat in a chair that was my children's grandfathers as a child , with an antique Christening gown that he wore.

Some dolls just seem to have a spirit to them, others are just pieces of plastic , or composition or cloth.

Of course - for some people, dolls are scary. A friend stayed in my living room one night- and once she left , I found that all 30+ dolls in the china cupboard had their heads turned away from the couch she slept on that night!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Esther Chandler - Basic?

I recently became an "empty nester"- after 25 years of kids, the last left home. So , since she left in August, I've redecorated my room (with hand colored wallpaper border), completed a quilt top, refinished a bench ...... and started a new endeavor which has been at the back of my mind since I was a child- to be a dollmaker!

I can't think of anything else I've found so completing engaging and relaxing, which is of course the point. Other than learning to play the fiddle- more on that later.

This is my first doll- Esther Chandler. She is an Izannah Walker inspired doll that I created from a pattern from North Dixie Designs. Her creation was painful - she almost ended up in the UFO pile. My hope is that at the end , she will have a trunk and a wardrobe!