Friday, March 20, 2015

Recycling Doll Parts

After seeing a post about this artist: Tree Change Dolls, I got to thinking about all the doll parts I inherited from my sister, who worked in porcelain. I really like the idea of giving older dolls a new life, yet I had forgotten about the doll parts that never quite made it into whole dolls. While I have been working on prototypes that are all cloth, I have boxes and bins of heads, arms, legs, and other parts she made that can be used.

Since I do not work in fired clay and have no access to a kiln, I need to work out how to use the pieces. Some of them are fully fired. Some are only bisque fired, and some need repairs. It will probably take a while, but using them is a great way to re/upcycle the materials and pay tribute to my sister. It will also be a challenge, since they range in size from what she called "poppets," (about doll house size) to 20" or more.

I am considering different types of paints I might use, the addition of materials like cloth or Paperclay, or using some of them as molds. The possibilities seem exciting, and I am eager to dive into learning what is doable.

I would love to hear any suggestions you might have about how I can use them.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Artist's Voice

A couple of my friends recently moved, downsizing in the process, which reminded me of my need to declutter and reduce my possessions. My hope is that, when my husband retires, we will be able to downsize, too, but right now we have too much stuff for a smaller house. In light of that, I was intrigued by a method I saw demonstrated recently and the book written by its inventor: Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While I don't agree with some of her recommendations, I do believe her method of sorting through one's possessions warrants a try. So, I borrowed her book from the library and plan to attempt the process. (Thankfully, she states that doing it "quickly means about half a year.")

As part of my work on getting ready to set up a shop, I have also been thinking about what success looks like to me. I finally came to the conclusion that it encompasses three things: creativity, a flexible schedule, and supplemental income. Since I have health issues that are exacerbated by stress, it is crucial that I maintain a calm atmosphere and not try to do too much. To that end, I realized that I need to limit my work on the business to part-time. While that means I cannot do as much, it also means I have time to explore other interests and be available to my family as needed. (For example, I am also doing research for a book I want to write.)

I also recently purchased a copy of The Worldwide History of Dress as a reference book for clothing styles throughout the world. While it does not have quite as many examples of contemporary clothing as I had hoped, it gives details about many cultures that I know little to nothing about. For that reason, it is probably even more critical to my work, since I want my artwork to incorporate a global vision. Incorporating that vision is part of my artistic voice. Leni Levinson Wiener had an insightful post on this week about the artist's voice and how to find it. Though I have been creating for a lot of years, I have only just begun that work. 

What I do know is that I want to highlight the similarities between people around the world and my belief that we need to think more about how our actions impact everything on this planet we call home. That is part of the reason I want to downsize. I believe we use more of the planet's resources than is healthy for the planet and that people in many other countries aren't able to use enough, both for their own comfort and the health of the planet. It is also part of the reason I am a proponent of simple living.

I am looking forward to enjoying the simple pleasures of spring.

I wish you simple pleasures.


Friday, February 20, 2015


You may have noticed that I changed the banner at the top of my page this last week. Please let me know what you think of it. I'm concerned that it still needs tweaking.

The banner is part of the work I have been doing to get ready to set up a shop. One of the things I have been finding is that it is taking an awfully long time to deal with all the details necessary. At the same time, I have been trying to work through a bit of angst over fears raised by the idea of setting up and running a shop online.

While many of the artists who have shops on Etsy are very happy with their experiences, there are questions being raised as a result of changes Etsy has made in its policies over the last year or so. Abby Glassenberg has a blog post at about Three Bird Nest in which she talks about some of the issues highlighted as a result of those changes. It is the kind of thing that makes me stop and consider exactly what my best options are, what I want to get out of an online shop, and whether it will be possible given those options.

Some of my fears are, I'm sure, simply coming up because it is a new prospect for me. I tend to spend a lot of time planning things before feeling ready to move forward. In some ways, this can be detrimental. In other ways, I find it helps because I encounter fewer surprises along the way. The difficulty is in maintaining a balance so that I don't freeze in my tracks.

Speaking of freezing, I was thinking about the difference between Niagara Falls now and how it was last summer, when we visited.

I'm sure most of us in the deep freeze are looking forward to warmer temperatures and more colorful horizons.

Wishing you peace and all good things.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bridges from Past to Future

When I was a small child, my grandmother did a lot of embroidery work. Around the same time, she showed me how to sew on buttons and tried to show me how to darn socks. After she died, I inherited many of her supplies, including embroidery threads, buttons, needles, and darners.

From my other grandmother's supplies, I inherited a sewing basket my aunt had made.

These things bring me great joy, as I use the supplies and remember the women whose hands touched them in the past. I have also had the pleasure of showing my children how to do the things my grandmother taught me, and thus, had the opportunity to talk about her and my experiences with them.

It pleases me, too, to be able to sit quietly during weather like we have been having feeling connected with the past and creating anew for the future. I hope you have the chance to sit and enjoy quiet moments.

Wishing you peace.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Time Management

I have been busy working on a prototype for a doll or dolls.

At this point, I am not really satisfied with the parts or the direction. So, I may have to take a different tack with it. In looking for solutions, I stumbled across Agosia Arts. Not only is Carmen Alana Tibbets a wonderful artist, she is also quite generous in helping others who are interested in making dolls.

I have also been thinking about the other things that I need to start or complete to get the shop up and running. There are all kinds of details to work out in order to simply set up a shop, from designing a banner through writing out policies, taking pictures of products, even deciding on a name for the shop, which has to be different from anyone else's.

In addition, I discovered last week, after finally getting my blog post done early in the evening, that I have to monitor my stress levels more closely. One of the reasons for my desire to have my own business was the ability to take better care of myself by having control over my work time. As a result, I find that my ambition to post blog entries every week will have to be altered. In order to do my best on all fronts, including the blog, I will have to reduce my entries to once every two weeks. I may post my thoughts on smaller topics more frequently on my Facebook page.

Until next time, I wish you peace & all good things.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Making Do - Making Use

My mother told me a story of making do during World War II. One of the things rationed was clothing, so she used an old suit of my father’s and “made it over” for herself. Since Dad was over 6 feet tall and Mom was 5’2”, there would have been plenty of fabric. My grandmother, whether as a result of the Great Depression or rationing during WWII, repeated the mantra "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without" often.

Thinking about those things reminded me of all the heirlooms I have been given over the years. I have buttons from my grandmother and mother, embroidered handkerchiefs from a variety of women, crocheted doilies and runners, fabrics, a wedding gown, and much more. Since I have also been sewing and crafting for most of my life, I have a variety of items that are now considered vintage in my stash.

In addition, I have doll parts from my sister, who made porcelain dolls in various sizes; denim from jeans that can no longer be worn; orphan quilt blocks; beads, ribbons, and various items that started life in other capacities. All of these things seem to be begging to be re/upcycled. So,I am incorporating them into the products I am creating as a way of making use of beautiful materials and keeping them out of the waste stream, as I did with this piece.

Scattered Violets

It is also a way of using things that would have to be created anew and saving the energy that would be expended. That seems especially important in light of the report from NOAA and NASA that came out today: nasa-determines-2014-warmest-year-in-modern-record/

Friday, January 9, 2015

Simpler Times

What images come to mind for you when someone mentions simple living? For me, there are two different types. One is the family living off the land, providing most, if not all, of their needs themselves. The other is the type of life most people in this country lived not that long ago.

Most families gathered around the table for dinner at the same time every evening, sharing stories from their day or things they had heard about. The after dinner clean up was a shared experience, too, with one person washing and one or more drying dishes. Children would gather to do homework around the table, and then, the whole family might watch a TV show or several members might play a board game or cards together.

Even solitary activities weren't totally solitary, as family members gathered in the living room or at the table to read and do handcrafts. Many, if not most, gifts were created by hand, and possessions were few and cherished.

There were schedules for doing certain things, such as cleaning the public rooms of the house every Saturday morning, and preparing for church by shining shoes, taking baths, and curling hair Saturday night. Children wore school clothes, play clothes, and dress clothes; changing for different activities, which required a variety of clothing, but allowed school clothes and dress clothes to last longer and require less cleaning. When you got dressed up, it was special, and you felt it.

There were also fewer restrictions on children's time and ability to roam. While at least one parent was generally at home, children could go outside to play and didn't need to stay within sight. They could come home when they got hungry or cold and had to be in by a certain time for dinner and after dinner in the summer. (Usually the latter was when the street lights went on, since none of the children had a watch.) Sometimes, the parent would call or whistle for children from a front porch. Kids always knew they had to hightail it home then. There were also the Saturday movie matinees, which the children would attend without adults, spending all afternoon taking in double features, with a live show or activity in between, usually with prizes.

Adults visited in each others' homes. Occasionally, there would be a party for a holiday or birthday. They might have a garden, sometimes with vegetables, but mostly with flowers. If you were lucky, you might go on a vacation, but it usually was to the homes of distant family members.

In our shift to organized activities and love affair with technology, we seem to be missing a lot. Today, it is more likely that, even if the family meets for dinner, there will be little conversation. Afterwards, one person might load the dishwasher and run it, while the rest of the family retires to separate locations to watch shows, play on the computer, or runs off to practices. It is rare for a child to be able to play outside at all, let alone to roam freely without concern. Visits, too, are rare, with many of them taking place over the phone or via the Internet. We seem to be moving at a much quicker pace.

I suspect that much of the current fascination with vintage and some handcrafts is an attempt to bring back a bit of the sense of peace and slowness that was a part of those earlier times.

What about you? Does your image of simple living agree with mine? How does it make you feel?