Sunday, November 27, 2011

Spirit Dolls

I had one on-line friend ask about the spirit dolls and my making of them. I've got a few pictures.
In this picture you see the little pod. I start with an egg shape that I trace on the wrong side of a piece of fabric. I chose the wrong fabric here - it is a piece of an old tie, maybe one of my long passed uncles - but it is dark. I pin the fabric to the other fabric which will be the back and then hand stitch around the outline. I then cut out the fabric leaving about a 1/4 inch all around.

The fabric is then snipped on the back to form a slit, turned inside out and stuffed. Then I glue on a face and let that dry while I make a few more of the little fabric bodies. In the picture to the right you will see the face glued in place and waiting to dry. The face is made by my friend Steve Smith of  Talking Earth Pottery and they are some that he has given me. He told me that maybe I could use some to add to the dolls I make. He uses the faces on some of his pots. I add the beads around the face to secure the face on the fabric. I don't want to have it fall off so I use the type of beading used in making cabochon jewellery.

More beads are added for surface decoration as well as the picot edging all around. This picot edging also stabilizes the seams because it is stuffed quite well. The surface beading follows the design on the material and beading it flattens out the doll to some extent. When it is all beaded I add legs and arms and I cover the back with a piece of felt that I sew on with the blanket stitch. This piece of felt will cover all the stitches.

These dolls to the right (in the bad lighting picture) are some that were finished a few months ago. I can either sew pin backs to them or add a magnet so they can hang on the refrigerator or filing cabinets. I try to also sew on  what we used to call a fetish a long time ago when I did other kind of bead work. In the one to the left you will see a bear and the other one has a bear as well but it is dark blue. These seem to be the only fetishes I can find right now. I've got to go to Toronto to find different bead stores to find more. Sometimes I add a tiny heart or a pearl or fancy button if I can find them in the stash. The hair that you see them wearing are beads that are sewn on and hang like dreadlocks.
So, that is it. The dolls in progress are just two that will be made from ties (I experimented) and then I'll go back to the brightly coloured fabric in my stash. Have a good one

Saturday, November 26, 2011

American Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving was and probably always will be my favourite holiday. I used to live in New York State and have fond memories of thanksgiving dinners with family and friends. Last year I was invited to have dinner with my friend Chandra and her family at her mom's. This year my friend Sue had invited me to go to Michigan with her to her family's dinner but then she got invited to speak at the University in New Zealand so Michigan was out.
This year instead of going to visit family or friends in the good ole USA for thanksgiving dinner I finished cleaning the studio space and started on the spirit dolls. This picture above is the shelving unit where I've removed the mess and organized the things I use most in my art doll making. I've removed the paint and drawing materials and have yet to set up that space. The picture to the right is the table I use and even though there are beads on this table it is nothing like it was.
Instead of going to Black Friday sales (which I've never done and will continue to never do) I helped my friend Joan do more packing of her studio for her big move and no I didn't take a picture of that - she'd never forgive me.
Next task is the make a space for the Zentangles I love to do and the drawing and painting I've been yearning to do.
Have a great one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm not finished yet

I did clean and rearrange my art space and while doing that I discovered that I'm not finished yet. Lying in bed at 5:30 this morning - just before getting up to start the day - I thought through my list of interests and things that I have supplies or needs or wants for. Besides my painting and drawing, which includes the Zentangles that I'm sadly neglecting, I have "stuff" for ATC's and or art journals and other art pieces in mixed media, I have materials, beads and baubles for art dolls and quilted wall hangings. I have photographs that need to be scanned so that someone - not me - can make scrapbooks for family members, and I have all the paperwork for genealogy.
I was feeling overwhelmed so I started to clean the kitchen table and realized that I need to send the information to the librarian for the upcoming conference in February that I will attend because I am a library trustee. I really enjoy being a library trustee but it does get frustrating. I was told by the chairman in an email the other day that I sounded cranky, after reading a response of mine. He added "rightly so" and that I guess was to say he understood my crankyness over politics.
So what am I saying? Just that all the above means that I am scattered to the wind in case you are wondering.
I don't know how to not do all those things so sometimes I just get depressed and sit and read a book or go away. Today is not one of those days tho because today is mom's 87th birthday so I am taking her to lunch and to buy her the ingredients for the Christmas Cake. I told her that I didn't think I needed to buy any more Christmas decorations for her. We could start a store.
I love going to her house and seeing all the "stuff" she has to put out. It breaks my heart that she can't decorate the way she used to because of her frailty, and we don't need any more broken bones, so we go and decorate for her. Usually the four sisters and maybe a grand-daughter or two. She tells us what to put where. After we are done, she goes and re-arranges things and we just giggle when we come back to her place and see things have been moved.
So, no pictures of the finished room sections. Just a bit of an update. have a great one

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Changes

Well I figured out how to not be so frazzled. Now to put it into practice eh? It is the doing too much and not concentrating on what I love to do. I love to write but I don't love writers meetings if there is no reading and/or sharing of the writing so I won't be going back for a while.

I really love the sewing and the beading but I don't like the messiness of the table when I do that. So, today is a cleaning day. This is a glimpse of a portion of the "studio" right now. You can't see the table with the coloured pencils and the paints. You can't see the book shelves with the reference materials and the gnomes whose pictures were shown a post or two back. Maybe that is a good thing.

I spent the majority of Saturday just puttering. I didn't have to go traipsing off in the car so for the most part it was parked. That is what tires me out the most I think, driving. I wrote once somewhere that if I could figure out how to lose weight by driving I should have disappeared by now.

While I spent most of Saturday and Sunday at home I worked on finishing the one doll and like I said the Turquoise doll hollered because she wanted a crown.  I didn't get a good photo of them but you will see what I mean by the crowns or hats. Remember in the last post I said that the Turquoise Doll wanted a crown instead of a ribbon - well I did finish it. The other doll she just spoke up quite loudly and she was finished in all her glory as well. Here they are:
I will show better pictures of them when I get better lighting. Maybe after I clean and re-arrange.

And now I'm off to clean the messy desk before the outing and some music. Have a good one

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Is that how you spell worn out, exhausted, at the end of the rope? Frazzled? It isn't as bad as all that. I do like to exaggerate some times. Guess it's the writer in me.

Frazzled from doing too much and going in too many places. My friend Pat and I get to talk on the phone about every four months because we both do too much and go in too many directions. Our mutual friend Joanne tells us that we need to imagine that every day when we wake up we have one hundred marbles. We need to put energy values on each marble so that we don't over spend our marbles and our energy for the day. Today I think I'm into the year 2020. Overspent.

I don't do anything that anyone else wouldn't do in my circumstances. I have an elderly aunt that I take out to shop once in a while, to the harvest suppers when they are on at the various churches where she comes from and to lunch once in a while. I take her to get her hair done, to eye and dentist appointments etc. I love being with her and listening to her tell me about the activities and the people in the retirement home. I also like to visit my elderly mom once in a while - she has three other daughters near by to take her places and I do go and take her once in a while to an appointment if they are stuck with work or something. But my sister said, "it's your job to look after auntie as she has no one here to do that." So visiting mom or taking her to lunch is more fun than sitting in dr's offices or grocery shopping.

My problem is that I make art and I love doing that. I make art dolls. I make art dolls that take a long time. I put beads on them. I also have ideas in my head that need to come out into the day light so that needs to be done. And then I look at the "studio" in the middle of the little living room area of my apartment and I cringe because it seems that while I was dressing the last doll all the beads and ribbons and lace decided that they would have a fight to see who would be chosen. Well, they figured they couldn't be chosen if they were in their proper storage boxes and drawers - ooohhhh nooooo! So, there is that to do as well - clean up after them and chase them back into their proper places.

Oh, and did I mention that I also like to write? Well, that too can take a bit of time and energy and then pretty soon, I haven't picked up my paints or coloured pencils that I've been wanting to get at - they too jumped out of their hiding places and are dancing around on that little table over there. I will put them in the space where they will be in full view and I will today get at them.

You see I cannot decide what I want to be when I grow up. There isn't enough time to write, draw, paint, sew, embroider, bead, never mind get into music. I have the illustrations to do for that Strawberry story and I really want to do that but - it is only partially started. All these things keep yelling at me and so I go outside for a walk in the fresh air and sunshine or cloudshine and come in to the ... what's the artistic word for mess?

Friday, November 4, 2011


Just a quick note to let you know the reading was a success - as far as I am concerned. The book, in case you've forgotten is titled "somebody's child". I did cry, but not buckets. The hardest part of the reading is the part of being in the hospital and getting to hold my son for that full week of six or seven days knowing full well that he could not go home with me. I cried buckets there in the hospital and I cry whenever I read that. I also cried buckets at the Children's Aid Society where I had to sign papers a month later to let him go. I got to hold him one more time and then let him go to another family.

The reading at the university was with another mom who also gave her son away. It was on a lighter note and by that I mean it was her decision to give her son away to another mom. She too reunited with her son, because she had known the mom who adopted him. That lady had her mom with her. My friend, another artist in the community came to hear me read. The audience was made up mostly of journalism students and of course there was a lot of questions both during the talk and then after.

I am used to doing readings whenever asked at the publication of a new book and I must say that they are all different. This was an emotional reading for me and a few of the audience members. I did get them to laugh a bit though when I prefaced the talk by saying - This is my story, it is the truth as I remember it and I have a philosophy - if I tell my story and I tell my truth then there is no room for blackmail. Have a good one

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Learning

I've just spent a few days with my three lovely aunties. The one I spend most of my time with is 93. The one who came to visit is only 16 years older than me and has some form of dementia. The other aunt that I drove the two to visit is 83 or 84, I'm not sure.

It was a new experience for me to be around someone who has dementia. Someone who I've always seen as the beautiful, capable, smart lady who worked her way up a corporate ladder and went as far as she could up that ladder to only be stopped by genderism. That is my word for gender bias, gender crap. Anyway my learning is that I cannot look after someone for a little while who has dementia when I am not familiar with the disease and I am not familiar with what my auntie is like on a daily basis.

I think it was scary for her. We ended up in emergency because she started to get heart palpitations, shortness of breath and dizzyness. I ended up exhausted but she was okay. I don't do well with little sleep. The visit was great when we were together. All three sisters visited in the kitchen of the apartment and my cousin Ron and I visited in the living room. Ron is also an artist, but we both love cooking shows and we watched those while we waited to go to lunch.

In hindsight we've decided, her daughter and I, that she will not come to visit alone anymore. We've also decided, my 93 year old aunt and I, that we cannot go and visit them because it is a 6 hour car ride or more - depending on the border - and my aunt can't do it. She said she is getting tired just going to Toronto/Scarborough to visit the other sister. I hate to think about that time coming.

As to other news, I'm to give a reading at the University tomorrow night pertaining to the story in the book "somebody's child". I've had to take the story and re-work it to make it only a ten minute reading which means cutting out a lot of it. Do come by and join me if you get a chance. I'll be the nervous woman crying buckets while I relate the story of having to give up my son for adoption and crying more buckets this time buckets of joy for reuniting with him 36 years later.