Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cage Doll Challenge

 I knew very little about Santos Cage Dolls when my doll making group set us a challenge of creating our own interpretation of a cage doll. The image below which I found on Pinterest is a lovely illustration of these historical figures.  
Image : from the board, Santos Love 
 Here is more information from“The Santos dolls take their name from the Spanish word for Saint, and are also known as Santons (French) and Santibelli (Italian)…Originally, Santos were used as in- home altars especially in small villages which did not have a priest, as well as for when it was not possible to travel to church, such as during times of war.  Their development flourished in Europe in the 1700's and 1800's, primarily due to these wars. European Santos dolls were also brought to the Latin Americas during the Colonial age of Spain's settling of the New World.  The dolls were used to aid in the conversion of the Native Americans and Central American Indians to Catholicism. Many of these original dolls, along with the art that inspired them, were destroyed while trying to settle the West.  Therefore, antiques in good shape are rare and very expensive. It is not uncommon to see an antique Santos bring 4 and 5 digit figures.  In more recent years, fine and folk art has emerged to replace these dolls.  Santos dolls are designed and created by "Santeros" or "Santonniers" (loosely 'saint maker'). As the art form has progressed, the Santos has become recognized as a true artistic doll.  Some dolls are rustic carvings, while others have magnificent details. Santos, particularly the females, exhibit a most loving expression that is also complex and thoughtful. Their shape is often rustic in nature, yet with delicate details.  They are sometimes painted in rich colors with detailed eyes …Some dolls are basic and rustic, and others are refined and dainty.  Each doll shares the same beauty.”
 My doll is tiny (only 20cm /8 inches high) and was a great challenge for a number of reasons. I don’t usually make dolls in a rustic style, and I don’t usually work with wood. I also used for the first time, Apoxie Sculpt to try to create a more rustic, carved look to the head and body of the doll. Apoxie Sculpt is a two part compound which combines the sculpting qualities of clay and the self hardening quailty of epoxy - I think I will definitely use this product again. The main problem I had was with the wood...  I  experienced some trouble hand drilling the very small and thin pieces of wood , but in the end I was pleased with my efforts at trying something out of my comfort zone. A coat of  acrylic paint, a face and hair paint job, and a wash of brown antiquing gave me the look of  a relic I was aiming for.

Many of the Santos cage dolls wear crowns, so I devised a crown from a silver plated  ring blank, and a  bead cap which I opened out by snipping it and spreading it to cover the front of the ring. A little piece of tatting seemed to work well at the painted neckline and I made  a mini "PEACE" banner   from linen and lace   as the finishing touch to my Santos Cage Doll. She may be small and rough, but with an air of serenity, she gave me a lot of satisfaction in the creation. 

Update : Here is a link to photos of all the dolls in the Santos Cage Doll Challenge

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Arty Places #11 : Maitland NSW

" Welcome to Maitland in the beautiful Hunter Valley. Maitland is made up of a patchwork of places, townships, colourful communities and immense history. As you explore the various destinations on offer you will notice the uniqueness and warmth which makes Maitland, Hunter Valley the wonderful area it is.... "  This is what  is written for tourists to Maitland, but nothing is said of  its art culture.
 I had a wonderful day in Maitland last Sunday. The Hunter Art Bazaar had its annual Winter event in the grounds of the Maitland Regional Art Gallery. With over 70 stalls of high quality hand made creations, the bazaar was such a stimulating and inspiring experience. I particularly loved the colourful fibre and felt wearables and was drawn to the outstanding quality silver jewellery and handcrafted silver art pieces - so much artistic talent in one place! 
photos courtesy of Bobbi Oliver 
It is always such  a great opportunity to catch up with friends and to chat with the artists. 
Bobbi and Jane -LamboArt 
I also took the opportunity to wander through the gallery - something I always promise to do more often.
image from
And if all that wasn't enough arty-ness for one day,we stopped for a late" lunch" at the Central Park Cafe at the Information Centre which offered another arty  surprise - an exhibition of knitted "local produce" by the Maitland Knitters. Every imaginable vegetable, fruit and even bottles of preserves in wool... I added an image of a little pattern book I found because I just wanted to come home and knit a whole vegetable garden. 

I also want to add that the food at Central Park Cafe was beautiful - highly recommended ! And the view from our table on the verandah was fascinating, too-  art on tree poles which also register the Maitland flood levels of the past. This park called Ministers' Park( named after the government ministers who have planted trees here  during  visits to Maitland)  has long been a favourite park of our grandchildren, but it was lovely to sit back with a cuppa and admire with fresh wonder what beauty there is locally!