What is this I see? Why, two heads staring back at me. I was hoping to have everything finished by this week and now, upon reflection, I see that was an unrealistic expectation on my part. I haven't been able to squeeze as much work time as I had hoped out of the last week, but the moments I did carve out for work proved to be productive. Head number two is finished and body one is very close to done. This head is a bit different from what I have been doing. I was feeling slightly experimental and wanted to play with larger facial features on the same skull size. I am still not sure how I feel about it. I am very eager to move on to the mold and casting phase.
First a bit of business about the September update... well, there isn't going to be one. But, wait you may say... there are five dolls that should be available. And you would be correct; and they will be posted for sale soon. But, with SPX last weekend and trying to finish up two dolls for an upcoming show I just don't have the energy or time for the rigmarole of creating listings, packing and shipping. So, all five of the austere umber mimics will be listed in October. I'll post more about it in the coming weeks.
Now on to the good stuff... what I am currently working on... two mimics for the upcoming Dollmakers V show at the Cactus Gallery in L.A., opening on October 8th. A little background on them...
For at least a year now I have had this idea for an extensive project that will blend illustrated writings, dolls, and film to tell a four phase story. I have loosely started it in comic format by fleshing out the basics of the second phase with the one page stories Verdun and Prelude. Moving forward I am going to be incorporating this overreaching story into a lot of the dolls and writings that I work on. These two mimics are from that drafted second phase: Wayfarers from 'Prelude to Verdun'.
I feel relatively accomplished this week... and I have the scary bloodshot eyes from working late into the night to show for it. Along with five pairs of umber legs finished a couple of days ago, I just finished five dresses as well. Everything is sewn by hand and dyed with coffee + cinnamon. I dry them in the oven, giving those little burnt touches. Man, does it smell good when they're heating up. My nose keeps telling me there must be a fresh cake around and I somehow get tricked enough to feel disappointment when all I see are little dresses. My daughter and I keep sniffing the dyed legs like fiending addicts. It reminds me of fall... and for a moment I can forget it is unbearably sunny and hot outside. I have a defect body and head that I use to make patterns that I had try on the dresses for reference.
I probably won't be able to do any casting this weekend, as I am all booked up with personal things. But, I should be able to finish the arms next week and cast the following weekend. My goal is to be able to have these five done by the end of the month.
All of the vermilion + honey mimics have been sent on their merry way and now I can fully jump into a new project. In the last week or so I have been reevaluating what I have done in the first part of the year and how I want to move forward with the second half. When I originally started making mimics back in 2013, they were meant to be austere versions of my dolls so that I could have lower priced dolls as well as the more expensive one of a kind, original sculpt. This year I have moved away from that plan and made the mimics fall somewhere in the middle. While I don't mind that shift in the least and really enjoyed the sets I made this year, I want to change course a bit for the next update in September.
I will be making a set of more muted mimics as well as an original hand sculpted doll. I have really missed sculpting and I can feel my fingers losing their memory. These mimics will be all in the same fabrics, no embroidery and will be around half the cost of the previous mimic sets. Each will very slightly in hair fiber & style as well as face paint. I have almost finished a set of five legs, all dyed with that ever fragrant coffee + cinnamon... lending to this set being called umber.
This week has turned me into a complete bundle of nerves. I will be moving in the next couple of months and (hopefully) buying my first home. This week has been devoted to figuring out the whole mortgage thing and picking a lender. The area I am looking in is historic, so all of the houses are from 1930s or older, going back to the 1700s. As long as I can remember I have wanted to live in an old house in a old, small city. Now that I am trying to make it happen, I realize it brings a certain level of stress. Old houses have problem areas, sometimes a lot. It is devastating to go see a spectacular house and think "this is it!"... and then you take a look at the bones and guts (piping, roof, foundation, etc.) and realize it is going to be a money pit. On top of all that there has been a certain whirlwind of drama (for lack of a better word) that has sprung up; although it apparently has been brewing for some time. It is nothing that I am prepared to discuss fully as of now, but I may come back and divulge more about it at a later date. All of this nameless-for-now hoopla has left me feeling drained, disappointed, hopeless, and just plain sad. It has been a rough week and I don't smoke or really drink anymore, so I am really grateful that my husband bought a box of Hostess Snowball snack cakes a couple of days ago.
Through all of this mess, I have still managed to make progress on the last doll of this batch, vermilion no. 2. I don't really have much choice, Awesome Con is quickly approaching. I am finishing up her arms today as well as her cap. The wig will probably have to wait til tomorrow. My goal is to have her complete by this weekend so I have next week to work on the ornaments.
So now I lift up my high sugar, high fat creme filled snack cake and toast to more relaxing days that are hopefully to come!
Two honey mimics are moving right along. The bodies and heads have been cast and sanded. Their limbs are complete. One dress is complete (although, I still may make a small ruff collar for her) and the other is about a third of the way finished. A have a bowl that is multiplying ornaments. I will be filling any holes from air pockets tonight and will start painting tomorrow or Wednesday. My goal is to have these two finished up this week. Here is a peek of them unpainted with their limbs and clothing pinned on. All of the fabrics are dyed with either tea or turmeric... or a combination of the two.
Everything has to be finished prior to June 3rd for Awesome Con. I have to really kick myself into high gear this month. I know there is more that I wanted to comment on, but I am feeling rather brain dead today and am drawing a complete blank. Oh well, I will assume it was nothing of great importance. Time to get back to sewing!
This month has been going smoothly without any progress stagnation. It is so refreshing after the first three months of this year being so bumpy. I believe I mentioned before that I had to move all of my mold making and casting from my home when my daughter was born, so I am only able to work on casting on the weekends. My time was limited last weekend, but I was able to cast the first honey mimic and a set of ornaments. I did not, however, have time to sand, drill, and glue the doll and ornaments. I will get to that this weekend and be able to paint her in the next couple of days. I was able to finish (or nearly) the honey dress this week. I still have a bit of embroidery to complete on the skirt and I am going back and forth about whether I want to make a cap for her. I ordered some new fiber today for wigs, so I will more than likely hold off completing her until that arrives. This dress was a lot of work, but I am in love with it.
I am including a few bonus pictures of the vermilion mimic no. 1. It is a nice overcast day today and I wanted to take some outside shots of her. I managed to get three test shots inside before my camera battery completely died. I really need to be better at checking how much juice it has more frequently.
I have been productive as a bee this week, even with the weather taking a dive back to cold. Over the weekend I had enough time to run one round of casts that yielded one mimic and three ornaments. With the vermilion doll now painted, her limbs completed last week, and progress on her clothing being at about 40%, she should be all finished up next week. This go around I will be finishing dolls up one or two at a time, so by the time the shop update rolls around in June you should know everything that will be available well in advance. I think this will be a lot less stressful on my end. I may have said all of this in my prior post; I can't recall and the squirming toddler on my lap isn't giving me the time to go look.
Anyway, back to the progress from this week. As I said, the vermilion doll has been cast and painted. I still need to seal her this evening and I am toying with adding some splattering to her. I tried dyeing fabric with turmeric for the first time. The first round wasn't great. I added way to much ground turmeric and became distracted, leaving the fabric soaking much too long. The color came out way too bright and saturated for my tastes. I dyed the fabric again with some black tea, hoping that would help darken and dull it. That seemed to do the trick. Round two of turmeric dyeing went much better. I added very little and took the fabrics out quickly in intervals of 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 15 minutes. I was more than pleased with the results. I am incorporating all of the dyed fabrics into the honey mimic by sewing very small honeycomb shaped pieces together to make her bodice. It is a lot of work, but I think the end result will be more than worth it.
What a lovely week it has been. There is a certain calmness that I haven't felt for much too long. All of the illness and residual lethargy that follows has evaporated, outside has been touched by gentle warmth, and all of the charcoal & oatmeal mimics will be flying the nest. I have been busy packing up all the dolls for their journey to the post this weekend while finding time for outdoor romping with my lit'le.
Excitingly all of this cheer (and getting a few consecutive full nights sleep) has boosted my energy levels and I have jumped right into starting the next batch of mimics. With the last group being rather dark and having quite a bit of avocado and cranberry dyed fabric piled up, I want to give the new batch a bit of color (faded color, but color nonetheless!). I am going to have a go at dyeing more fabric this weekend with turmeric. As of now, I am calling the batch Vermilion and Honey based on the threads I am using for the embroidery. I have completed a set of vermilion arms and legs and am working on a set of honey limbs. The shop update for these will be in early June. I will have a table at Awesome Con in Washington DC the first weekend in June and will be debuting this group there, the online shop update will be immediately after that weekend.
One last thing, I want to try adding something a little new to my weekly updates. From time to time I am asked about what my influences are. While I sometimes have images I reference for when I have specific ideas (for instance, fungi pictures when I made Humi and images of Great Depression era children for the charcoal & oatmeal mimics), always my biggest influence is music. I like to think I have a fairly diverse musical palette. Anyway, I figured I would post the music I am currently playing while working to help give a better look at what is actively influencing the dolls being created.
This week I've been playing the soundtrack from The Wicker Man (the original, not the laughable Nicholas Cage remake). Specifically, Willow's Song has been on repeat quite a bit. It's such a feminine and beautiful song (although fairly naughty), one that just screams out "Spring" to me.