Monday, October 21, 2013

Evolution of Message Stick Art Dolls

Message Stick Art Doll - stick, polymer clay, hand dyed & stencilled fabric with embroidery 
My  message stick art dolls  have evolved over the last couple of years. 
Why have I called these art dolls “Message Sticks” ? 
 I wanted to recreate a doll which was based on traditional techniques, so I have used ideas from a few different cultures.Many traditional dolls were made from wood - often wrapped with fibres. 

In Egypt, several types of paddle dolls have been discovered in tombs in Egypt. The dolls are made of wood, flat, and constructed in a shape has led the form to be called a 'paddle doll'. The dolls seemingly follow a convention for the female figure, emphasizing the hips and hair. The wooden figures are usually painted with a geometric pattern of lines and dots. These patterns may reproduce tattos or ritual scaring in female Egyptian culture of the period or represent clothing or jewellery.  A fine example of a paddle doll with hair constructed of string and sun-dried clay beads, found in a tomb in Ancient Egypt, is on display at the British Museum.  
 I also liked the idea of conveying a message. message stick is a form of communication traditionally used by Indigenous Australians. It is usually a solid piece of wood, around 20–30cm in length, etched with angular lines and dots. Traditionally, message sticks were passed between different clans and language groups to establish information and transmit messages.  Donald Thomson, recounting his journey to Arnhem Land after the Caledon Bay Crisis, writes of Wonggu sending a message stick to his sons, at that time in prison, to indicate a calling of a truce. In etched angles, it showed people sitting down together, with Wonggu at the centre, keeping the peace. ...  from Wikipedia

Message stick art doll - stick, polymer clay, silk waste 
 How are the message stick art dolls made  and what materials are used?  
The first ones were sticks with wrapped fibres, and the message they carried were written on the stick itself, following both the Egyptians and Aboriginal idea of etching a message on the stick itself. Then I began to attach another piece of wood on which a message was written. While the basic armature has remained a stick found in the garden or the nearby bush, the ‘female’ form has become more accentuated with wrapped fabric. The first dolls were merely whatever shape the stick was.  At first, I used scraps of commercial fabric and decorative yarns. Then I began to use handmade felt, scrumbling samples (free from knitted and crochet pieces) and frayed offcuts of sari silk. More recent message stick dolls have been wrapped with hand painted  and stamped fabric and hand dyed and eco dyed  fabrics of different textures. All of my message stick art dolls are embroidered and many also feature some bead embroidery.  Each of them has a polymer clay face. 
My first message stick art doll  and  below another early doll with messages written on the sticks .
sticks, polymer clay, beads, yarns, scrap fabric 

Mother and  child message stick art doll  machine embroidered fabric, sticks & polymer clay
below, the message  written on a wooden bead 

Here is a recent video of  art dolls I have made with sticks - many of these are message sticks .... 
Here are some more recent version of message stick art dolls and photo variations. 
Message stick art doll - stick, polymer clay, wood tag,  eco dyed fabric ( onion skins) and tea bag papers. 
Message stick art dolls - sticks, fibres, wood tags hand dyed  & overprinted fabrics, scrumbling
and below, computer manipulated photo 
Message tick art doll - eco dyed fabric, stick, polymer clay, beads , wire
and below computer manipulated image. 
If you want more information,please  go to the tutorial on the page listed above this blog post and here is a
 link to a  previous related post.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Arty Places #12 - Lambton Spring Art Show

St John the Baptist Anglican Church in Lambton ( Newcastle NSW) became Arty Place #12 in this blog's series of Arty Places last weekend.  This was such a great community event and I was so happy to participate in a local "arty" event right in my own neighbourhood.

The  show's opening was a special occasion, with my friend and local politician, Sonia Hornery, Member for Wallsend, officiating. This art show also had the best background music - usually at these shows there is pre recorded music over a speaker, but on Friday night, we had the most beautiful harp musical accompaniment and on Saturday, a very accomplished musician on the piano.

While the Spring Art Show has focussed on paintings, a number of artisans attended this year with displays of their work. Here is some of the work in the section of the show where I was.

I didn't sell much, but I had a really lovely time and enjoyed the opportunity to show some of my stuff.

As is my usual practice, if I sell anything, I use the money to buy someone else's art - this is the quirky little ceramic teapot I purchased.
And this is a beautiful handmade glass plate gifted to me by the lovely Libby Callaghan from Oceanlights Glass Art - my neighbouring stand at the art show.  ( see more of Oceanlights stunning glass art at the  Hunter Art Bazaar )
What a wonderful "arty" weekend ... thanks to all the organisers, fellow exhibitors and patrons.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Tag 39

Surely not another 'face ' after the 29 Faces September Art Challenge? Yes, I enjoyed drawing faces so much last month, I have transferred faces to my contributions to Tag Tuesday. This week's theme was Beads, Buttons and Bows. After thinking about the very old song, "Buttons and Bows" , I made the tag (pictured above) using a painted and stencilled background, and wrote the song lyrics on the tag after I drew the face with a felt tipped marker and coloured pencils.  The other tags for this month will all somehow have a face included. October's other themes are Torn and Tattered, Shoes,Autumn and Haloween .
 Tag Tuesday is an online group blog challenge. There is a theme each week, and each week, each participant posts his/her tag inspired by the designated theme. For the first 26 weeks the alphabet was the theme and I stitched 26 tags depicting Australian plants A-Z. Then we changed back to weekly themes.
For Tags 27-30, I used the underlying theme of famous artists, although the official themes were Italy, The Roaring Twenties, Fish, and Travel. So my tags were subtitled Mona Pisa, Picasso Jazz, Botticelli Bream and Dalicopter. 

 l tor: Mona Pisa, Botticelli Bream, Dalicopter, Picasso Jazz. 
I took Marie Antoinette as my own theme for Tags Weddings, Complementary Colours, Doors and Portals , The Swinging Sixties. My tags became "Let them eat cake", Regency Shoes, Storming of the Bastille, and Beehive . How does Beehive fit with Marie Antoinette? The large hair style was used by Marie Antoinette as she was known to have had very thin hair. On my tag, her image is slightly visible in the background

l to r: Let them eat cake, Bastille through a keyhole, Regency shoes, Beehive. 
I also  made the next four themes into an Egyptian set. The themes were Eyes, Mother and Child, Wings, and Egypt.  

 l to r: Mother & Child, Egypt, Eyes, Wings.

 With only 12 more weeks to go to the end of the year and in my second year of Tag Tuesday, it has now just become routine to make a tag each week. With the 29 Faces tags I made last month, I now have a very good supply of  gift tags for birthdays and other events. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Angels of Hope - Rotary Club Project #2

Angels of Hope packed ready to be distributed.
Doll making is not usually associated with Rotary Clubs. I think my Rotary club ( Rotary Club of Wallsend-Maryland in District 9670) is very special. We have supported local women's refuges and domestic violence resource centres over the years in many different ways. Making and donating little dolls - angels of hope - is just one of the ways. It is also a wonderful project for us, as our members love coming together and creating, even though many of them have little experience with sewing or making dolls. While we may be doing something for our community, we are learning some new skills and having fun at the same time. On Sunday, 29 September, we had the annual Rotary  "doll making" day.

And if you are thinking only the women get involved, certainly not the case!  The men provide the numerous cups of tea and coffee which are necessary for this project, and  always serve the most beautiful and delicious morning tea and lunch. Our President Phil  (who is a great cook) spoilt us with home made pate and an old fashioned apple and rhubarb pie. Resident chief cook and bottlewasher Jim, well known for his gourmet sandwiches and creative fruit platters, even outdid himself this time. We all enjoy a day of being waited on!

Great effort, Rotary Club of Wallsend-Maryland !
 Some of the finished dolls 
It is wonderful to see the beautiful smiles these little' angels of hope' generate.
 Refuge volunteer accepting a package of dolls. 
Here is a link to a previous post about Angels of Hope  in 2009.