Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend : Work or Play

Model United Nations Delegates and Secretyary -General 
My schedule for last weekend:
Friday and Saturday :  Secretary -General, Model United Nations Assembly, Muswellbrook ( in the upper Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia)
Saturday night: Miriam Margolyes Performance, Dickens' Women in Civic Theatre, Newcastle
Sunday : Workshop, teaching an updated version of the message stick art doll. Newcastle.
Much of this may be considered "work" but it was all so enjoyable, I think it could be said I have had a weekend of "play". .  However, it was still  an over-scheduled weekend and I still felt tired....
Model United Nations Assembly 2012

The Model United Nations Assembly is an initiative of Rotary District 9670 where senior students come together, as representatives of member nations of the United Nations. The delegates debate world issues from the point of view of their designated countries - a very difficult task, but executed with great knowledge, understanding, some diplomacy and a lot of lobbying and negotiation. As Secretary- General, my role is to moderate the debates and I was certainly "kept on my toes" throughout the Assembly with many well - constructed and strategic approaches, some complicated amendments, and always keen debate, discussion and argument. Congratulations to the delegations  representing Timor Leste  and Cyprus for outstanding debating, and although it seems hard to believe , the winner of the Peace Prize was Russia, for their efforts in promoting world peace . In this assembly Russia articulated some strong proposals as resolutions to  difficult global problems. I always come home from this, thinking perhaps we should hand over governance to young people?
We then drove a couple of hours to get back to Newcastle in time for the theatre. At midnight, after coming home from the performance, I was still setting up for Sunday's workshop, so I was hoping that I had done enough for the day to run smoothly. What a wonderful day it turned out to be. We started off by having a stroll in the bush near our place to find some sticks to create message sticks art dolls. It was a beautiful sunny and crisp Autumn morning ( by the afternoon, it was wet, windy and cold...) And then we talked, laughed and created for the rest of the day ( and of course,we ate a cake or two! )
Workshop demonstration supplies 

Workshop set up - participants' kits. 
Workshop assistant preparing morning tea. 
Wrapping - concentration+
Unique dolls created in the workshop 
Each participant created in her own style. 
As a footnote, I must also recommend experiencing  the highly acclaimed Miriam Margolyes' performance of Dickens' Women - outstanding, entertaining, fascinating and intriguing . As another critic puts it " ...her unique ability to deliver everything she promises is without parallel. Margolyes has been pretty amazing for decades, these days superlatives are inadequate." - 
Phew ... what a  great weekend! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Women at Work - Art Dolls

This week , Anzac Day is commemorated in Australia - a remembrance day for those lost at war. April 25 was also the day when women in Columbus, Mississippi decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in 1866. This act of generosity and remembrance helped establish "Memorial Day" holidayIt always seemed ironic to me that, during the war years, women were considered able, equal and competent and  were respected in many fields of work, denied to them because of gender in previous years and sometimes in subsequent years. 

Medical Doctor 
My " Women at Work" series  was created to remember the struggle of women to establish themselves in the workforce.  They are quite different from my usual style of dolls. They are all simple  shapes with machine embroidered outlines.  From a distance, and even in these photos, the lines look as though they have been drawn onto the fabric, but it's all stitching. I have added a splash of colour to some, but  I have kept to the  same style for all - plain brown straight machine  stitching on cream cotton fabric .
Home making 

All the lines are stitched, but on the back of each is a story  or message about the particular job. It surprised me when I did the research  that women were not considered "serious"  in floristry, a field that I had always considered "women's work" ... 
back of Owmen at Worl 
April 25 was also  Ella Fitzgerald's birthday. I think her words should be remembered . " Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong. " Anzac Day - Memorial Day - Lest we Forget.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fish and Sticks : Art Dolls

This week I've been working on fish and sticks ....  The sticks are the message stick art dolls which were very popular, attracting some attention and a few orders at the Wise Women exhibition. Each of the message stick dolls are from the Wise Women series, each with her own personality and  message of wisdom, handwritten on a handmade timber tag. I gather the sticks during my walks around my neighbourhood and the tags are made from special bits of timber, some collected by me or  my husband or from off cuts gifted to us  from another doll making friend whose husband makes bagpipes. These dolls start off very simply with a wrap around a stick, in the general shape of a body.
'Naked" message stick dolls - strips of wadding wrapped around found sticks. 
 Then I usually wrap other layers of fabric, wool, and/or fibres, over which I do some simple embroidery. I sculpt  or mould small face masks for these dolls. I really like using "sari ribbon" as wrapping strips as these photos show, but I also use hand painted cotton, silk, cheesecloth,  free form machine embroidered and layered fabric, felted and embellished fabric, re- purposed knitting and crochet .... anything from my stash.
Smaller dolls with messages : The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate  (Oprah) 
and Those who lose dreaming are lost.  (Aboriginal  Proverb)  

Message : The best thing to hold onto in life is each other ( Audrey Hepburn) 

Message: Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is success. (Corinta Kent)  

Messages: Peace begins with a smile (Mother Teresa)
Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud ( Maya Angelou) 
The other project I've been working on are some little fish for a display by my doll making group, Hello Dollies. We will be showing our work , with a 'water" theme at the Dobell Art and Craft Festival at Rathmines on the first weekend in May. I've modelled my fish on a little fish pin doll made for me by a friend but  have adapted the size, shape and construction. So now I have made the prototype , I am hoping these will multiply quickly.    

Monday, April 9, 2012

Art Doll: Nest Eggs

During the Easter weekend, I have been doing some" catch up" work, completing some orders and finishing a little art doll I started a week ago as well as eating a chocolate Easter egg or two and going out to dinner  and movies with friends  - perfect weekend!  Here is my little Forest Friend, rescuing a nest of eggs at Easter... and here are the basic steps:
1. Have a good friend to inspire, motivate and help...
Bobbi (Lambo Art) explaining anatomy and armature
2. Make an armature from wire and check the proportions against an anatomy chart.
Wire armature, secured with insulation tape.  
3. Flesh out the armature by covering with lots of  aluminium foil.
Armature covered with foil  
4. Make foil bases/ armatures for head, hands and feet
Foil armatures 
5. Cover and sculpt with polymer clay. I used Sculpey" Living Doll" and I made two pairs of hands because the first lot looked like lobster claws!   Cure in an oven at 130 degrees C for 30 -40 minutes.
Sculpted pieces ready for the oven. 
6. Colour the pieces.  I used acrylic paints, powdered pastels and chalks and wax rubs. I also sanded the face a little to smooth out a few wrinkles I didn't want - I did leave a few.
Head : first colouring. 
7. Put the body together.  The hands and feet and head fit onto the wire armature. I also added and stitched a thin layer of batting to the foil armature, and then another stretch layer of underwear ( like a skin) - I used a sock.
Work in progress ; layer of batting, and"underwear". 
8. Now that the doll's personality is beginning to make itself clear, add some clothing. I intended this doll to be a Russian woman like a babushka, but he wanted to be a little forest friend, a bird lover and protector. All the clothes are recycled from old bits and pieces, discarded jumpers and scraps of fabric.
Clothes from re-purposed jumpers and fabric scraps. 
9. Make accessories. In this case,  this forest friend has rescued a birds' nest , so I made a nest from painted and textured wire and some birds' eggs from polymer clay (a mixture of translucent, turquoise, and pearl white Premo Sculpey) .
Nest and eggs 
10, Straighten out the wire limbs and pose the doll  to stand up on its own.
Whatever your beliefs are, I hope your  Easter weekend was filled with peace, love, laughter and creativity.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter : Themed Tags

Easter is a special celebration in the Christian liturgical calendar, so if you celebrate , Happy Easter. In our family, we usually have an Easter Egg hunt in our garden, but with all of our family away this weekend, we will have a much quieter and more reflective time. These photos are of tags I have made over the last few weeks  and are inspired by Easter related themes ( some have been shown before). They are mixed media tags, using all sorts of materials - paper, card, polymer clay, wire, embroidery, fabric and various combinations . It has been a lot of fun being part of the blog group challenge Tag Tuesday - a tag on a theme each week.
Tag Tuesday: Easter Eggs 
Tag Tuesday: Easter 
Tag Tuesday: Goose 
Tag Tuesday: Mad March Hare 
Tag Tuesday : Bird/Nest 
Please check out this link to see more beautiful tags with an Easter theme. Easter Blessings to family and friends.