Tuesday, December 30, 2008


No, the compulsion to make dolls has not passed yet. Once I get on these tangents it usually takes awhile for me to get it all out of my system. What usually does it is buying all the equipment I'll need to go into mass production. Once I've spent all the money and cluttered up the studio with wedging tables, kilns, etc. etc. then it peters out and leaves me at peace.

Grace is made entirely out of Sculpy with bent kneed legs so she can sit on a shelf and watch what's going on in the room. She feels prettiest in a tutu although she hasn't done a tour jete in over 15 years. She may get some German glass or mica; I'm still working on her but ham that she is she insisted that she couldn't wait to meet you.

The paint makes so much difference, don't you think? She has red hair like my sister and father.

I formed her body around some wadded up paper towels secured by masking tape.

Here are her various body parts fresh out of the oven.

This took hours; glueing strips of paper around her torso. Meditative, quiet work.

I made heads out of paper clay and Crayola air dry clay that I am also experimenting with. I'll show you those in another post.

Here she is all put together.

The days glide past and I hardly know what day of the week it is. Next I want to make some religious figures similar to some I've seen in Mexico. I want to put them in nichos or shallow boxes. I have so many ideas. I am burning with inspiration.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sculpy Fun

This new doll is 9 inches tall while the other two are 6 1/2 inched tall. If the other two get legs they'll all end up the same height. I did research the Sculpy composition and found it is PVC, a plastic with known health risks, so I don't intend to use it once I'm no longer snowbound. I'm baking it in an old canner with a lid that was out in the barn. I won't use it for food. So thank you for the suggestions about the health concerns.

I don't have a pasta press but I do have an etch press so that is what I used to roll out quarter inch slabs. It worked great.

I formed the skirt over a paper cup with half a plastic Pom juice bottle taped to the top for the billowing skirt shape. Then I pinched the slabs together around the sides.

This is the skirt being attached to the bodice which I'd already baked. The second trip through the cooking process worked; the whole thing of course was an experiment as I'm a Sculpy virgin.

The cup came right out of the baked skirt but the Pom bottle collapsed in the oven. That was alright though, its job was done.

I spent two days on Maybelle and we're still housebound. No Christmas photographs of the family, no leftovers from the feast. John and I determined at 10 am on Christmas day that the roads were still too hazardous to venture forth; even the taxi service declined to try to get us to our celebration. So John and I had a modest repast with each other, clasping hands and saying a prayer of gratitude for our loving family and for having each other.

I love the way projects like these dolls have a way of taking over mid-stream and becoming who they are instead of who you planned them to be. Maybelle was going to have a soft body and fabric dress in my imagination but she put her little non-existent foot down and insisted on a skirt to match those of her sisters. I just got out of her way.

She has a determined little chin. And looks kind of snooty from this angle.

No iridescence or gold twinkles for this girl. She's the quiet type.

Very prim and stiff she is and not as talkative as her sisters.

I discovered a bruise from kneading the clay; what a fragile puss I've become. I knew I could depend on my friends for sympathy so here it is - my little boo boo. I think I've earned my glass of wine!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Meet Miss Phoebe

We have a lull between snowstorms in which the power is back on however briefly. This was the scene as I walked to the mailbox to visit the neighbor's pigs and pick up the mail. And look who's come to visit Birdy.

It's her sister Phoebe! We are so excited to have the sisters here together for the holidays. Phoebe almost didn't make it as the airport has been closed for 3 days. But this morning there was a window of opportunity and in she flew!

Her head is made out of paper clay but I ran out of that so her body is Sculpy. It was the first time I used Sculpy; I had to read the directions and bake it in the oven (are the fumes bad for you?). It was pretty easy but even at that my not so nimble fingers had all they could do not to make Phoebe too rugged looking.

She's letting her hair grow out so for awhile she has to tuck it behind her ears.

I hardly thought about winter storms or impassable roads on Christmas Day or anything except playing in clay.

Two of our neighbors have made it down the lane in their big vehicles all chained up and brave but John and I have only ventured outside to feed the birds, stack firewood and get the mail.

Phoebe took a cab from the airport.

Only one more storm to go (tomorrow) according to the weatherman and then I can get out and eat some Mexican food. The worst is getting bumped off the computer from power surges. And as Stephanie said, peeing in the snow. Brrrrrrr!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shiver Me Timbers

We are snowed in, iced in, blowed in and road-closed in for the coming week. We have about 8" of snow and it is coming down hard as I speak along with freezing rain and sleet. We've been hearing limbs crashing and are holding our breath that we don't lose our power.

Unlike someone I know who is over half rugged pioneer woman, I am a sniveling whiner without heat, water and food. Without power goes the well pump, flushing toilets, all those wonderful modern conveniences. But all of Portland and the surrounding areas is in the same boat so I can't really complain.

I ran outside in my houseslippers and shot off a few images for you in between starting another paper clay doll head and keeping the fire going in my studio wood stove. John is so good at getting Christmas cards written but I am not. I'm all shut down this winter; hoping my friends will give me a pass this year.

Plus we can't get to the post offfice anyway to mail them. Oops. The lights just flickered.

It's beautiful if you don't have to go out in it. And I don't plan to. Maybe I'll do something really out of character and bake sugary cookies. Snuggle up with John in front of our tiny tinsel tree and remember other cold, snowy Decembers. Think about being grateful for a warm house and pray for those who do not. Wish you all a Happy Solstice, religious holiday, New Year. Be safe out there. xo

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stand By Me

A phone call from my sister warmed my heart this morning. All I've done so far is sip hot tea from a mug and watch the flocks of birds eating the seed we scattered all around for them. Finches, Blue and Stellar Jays, Alaskan Robins and Flickers; how entertaining. Even my soap opera was pre-empted for storm news.

Not a lot of snow but the streets are treacherous with ice. And the new persimmon tree John planted this spring is shivering and fragile looking.

Here is my desk with momentos from friends lovingly propped nearby so I can feel surrounded and comforted. And I do. I love the internet so much. This morning I "talked" to a friend in Australia and heard from friends closer by. We are connected and fortunate to feel it.

My journal is not even half full and already the pages are splaying out and one of the coptic stitches has broken. What to do? Rebind or tie it up with an old silk stocking?

She has much to say in the winter. Complaining, some of it. Also conjecture and memory and fantasy and dreams and just keeping busy. Drivel.

Isn't it interesting that our brains keep us out of trouble and allow us to survive while also working overtime the way they do? Even while sleeping my brain chugs along non-stop bringing me the most amazing adventures and naughtiness. I think I'll name my brain Shaharzade for all the stories it spins.

Hmmm, maybe waxing over pages in my journal is what's making the pages stick out the way they do. And that plaster. That can't be good.

These are the books I'm reading while I watch the birds, the snow, the wind and the computer.

Every once in awhile I shoot a random photo but my heart's not fully in it.

My friend William sent me a video this morning and in honor of all the street buskers with which I share a history and an affinity I pass it on to you. It is also a tribute to artists everywhere who brave poverty and discomfort to lift spirits. Go here. xo

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Valley Ridge Schedule Up

Just a post to let you know that the Valley Ridge schedule for 2009 is up and that I'll be teaching encaustic collage there May 2nd and 3rd. I'm so excited to see a new part of the country and to spend two days creating with friends in the lovely studio there.

I've designed the class so that painters, photographers and collage artists will all feel at home while learning new encaustic techniques to use in their work. I look forward to meeting some of you there.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Little Silliness

This cheered me up today. Thirty years ago these were two of my favorite singers. Photo courtesy of the video.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Dark Tunnel

I have a friend who refers to winter as "the dark tunnel". Living on the 45th parallel, daylight begins around 7:30 am and ends around 4:15 pm. People turn to holiday lights, to alcohol, friends and religion to endure. It's time for those of us in the northern hemisphere to grab a duvet and escape into a good book in front of the woodstove. I'm trying to decide if I love winter or not. Certainly I needed a break after a strenuous year and that part is heavenly. I'm actually reading books again and getting my studio organized. But the mind works differently in the winter. Things can go bump in the night.

This is part of a sample I made this week for a class I'll be teaching next year. For the past two weeks I've been designing new classes and samples for 2009 and 2010. That has been a lot of fun and really satisfying.

Head on over to Kelly's for a couple of winter martini recipes and a great photograph of her gorgeous smile. That lifted my spirits this morning. Put out suet and seeds for the birds if it's frozen where you are. We are expecting a long freeze in the Pacific Northwest and when that happens we try to keep warm water out for the birds and critters who will surely need it. Help each other and be of good cheer. xo

Monday, December 08, 2008

Baby Love

Saturday evening the Garden Friends gathered at Patti's house for a winter repast. Home made Pinot Noir wine, cheese from the new cow, greens from various gardens, salmon with black smoked salt and many other wonderous foods to share around the table. But best of all, little baby Tao.

Click to enlarge. He loved my new camera and figured all the buttons out right away. Those tiny little fingers, so cleverly exploring the wonders of seeing himself and the rest of us in the viewer. And then his expressions as I took frame after frame of his adorable face.

And suddenly the money shot. I nearly faint from the beauty of it all. Thanks for visiting!