Dolls, Fibre Scultpures and Costumes

Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Walking the Dog

A week ago the dog got sick and spent a couple of days at the vet.  Yes I know, I needed that like a hole in the head.  However those couple of days showed me how much I depended on those 15 -20 minute walks.  It is a time just for me and the dog and it is non guilt inducing and non-negotiable – the dog must be walked several times a day since we don’t have a fenced yard and we have wall to wall carpeting.

Every morning at 7 am we go out and walk.  We watch the sun rise in spring and fall, we shuffle through the dark in winter and we pretend to run in the summer.  We surprise the hares in the fields and sometimes we meet the little white dog from down the road getting its morning walk.  While us humans use our stock phrases of “nice morning” and so on the dogs have a fest of sniffing and bouncing.



Walking similar routes everyday I see the gardens changing with the seasons in minute details.  I see the cosmos that have escaped to the field and watch the fruit trees blossom, show their fruit and lose it.  I see the backyard that was an over grown mess suddenly cut down and groomed as new owners take control.  After storms there are suddenly gaps in trees and crushed fences and huge puddles as sump pumps work their magic.  And I walk past it all day after day, 3 times a day, just breathing and watching.  The show goes on for me without lifting a finger, just walking and picking up the poop.   Through sun, rain, snow, sleet and darkness, just walking and picking up poop.

Alley garden

Alley garden



It makes the days bearable.  I can leave some of the stress out there for the gods to compost.

(Note: since the last post the number of new caregivers we have had for Mom since June 23rd is now 25)

Week Two – Again

So I realized I was blocked – again – but in a different way.  Is that progress?  I started “The Artist Way” By Julia Cameron again, for the 4th or 5th? time.  I tried one of the later books last summer but it didn’t really click and I realized I needed to go back to the beginning.

Usually when I do the 13 weeks I look for a way to change my life to match what I want or need.  That is not going to happen this time.  There are too many fixed variables in the system requirements this time.  This time it is all about internal change because the external is fixed.

This time it is much much harder in that I hit a block right in week one.  I have always kind of ignored week ones exercises because I have very little memory of my life before age 13.  They are there but most are not retrievable easily.  High fever and a coma will do that to you.  This time I kind of wanted to look at underlying causes but no go.  I had that problem in the later book in this series too, “Going for Gold”  , most of that is based on digging through ones biography.

This is the end of week two, another really unsuccessful week.  There were days where there were two sentences on the page.  There is in this chapter a lot about the people around me.  Not going there.  I hope week three will be better.

On a positive note, Pan now has fully sculpted legs attached to his body.


It has been a while since I posted. A long, dark, cold while. I Should have posted, I Should have journalled, I should have exercised, I should have done more baking, I should have worked on my art more, I should be able to tune out the TVs and audio books, I should be more patient, I should be nicer…… I hate SHOULD.

I spent a lot of my life using anger and a kind of bravado to get where I wanted to be. It is very efficient use of energy, it even got me on the front page of the Edmonton Sun. It is the kind of energy you can use to organize protests, to break through barriers, to climb “Mountains”. It feels clean and righteous. But it doesn’t work for dealing with the situation I am in right now and it doesn’t work for health issues and most off all it doesn’t work for the “Should”s. When I hear Should I get angry and dig in my heels, which doesn’t help.

I chose to be here. I knew it would be hard and a challenge. I am not the touchy feely nursey type person, in fact in school I scored rock bottom on those attributes in the guidance tests. This endless winter has me feeling trapped and struggling. Mom has gotten worse and a couple of times I have hurt myself lifting her or dealing with a wheelchair and snowy side walks, the car has had problems – all little things but they have really gotten under my skin.

I was lucky however, someone on one of the health forums had an issue with her treatment and I tried to help and as I was typing I realized just how much I was answering my own issues. I need to find a way to let these issues flow free. Morning journalling was one way but it is not working. Mom keeps calling for me every time I set a pen to paper, the private time I had early in the morning is gone unless I re-arrange my morning and that is hard to do. Getting up earlier is not the answer, I need sleep.

What is helping is that my sister is giving me a few hours after lunch to escape down stairs to the studio. At first it was hard to switch gears but now I put on my music and meditate for 15 minutes before trying to throw my self into the creating.

Once upon a time I learned to ride a horse (mostly because it looked like my daughter was having such a fun time and I thought in a moment of total craziness it was a mother/daughter thing we could do together) It was going ok (not great) when due to a bizarre combination of circumstances I was thrown of the spooked horse and it was several weeks before I could get back on to it. This was when I learned that you can’t ride a horse by conquering your fear, because it knows and it laughs at you. The only way to really ride a horse is to learn to let go of your fear, anger and anything else that gets between you and riding that horse. You would think I would remember that. It took many tries in bitter November and December weather before I figured it out.

So I have to figure out how to ride this “horse” so I can let go of the SHOULD and just DO it.

Mindful Cooking

This post has nothing to with dolls or making pictures, but it does have to do with creativity and mindfulness.

I moved here to help look after my parents, specifically my mother who has had many mini strokes, because my sister had gotten sicker and sicker and could no longer look after them.  She has continued getting sicker and had some rather yucky tests from which she was just not recovering.  One of the things suggested was a blood test for celiacs but she was to sick to drag to the clinic so I suggested, why don’t we try gluten free?

I did some research and made gluten free muffins.  They stayed in, and so did the other food (non gluten).  Not only did it stay in but by the end of the week she was free from toilet dependency.  At the end of the month I have a new sister, one that can do things for more then 2 hours a day.  One that is not passing out.  One that is thinking clearly.  One that is even thinking about going out and meeting people again and is currently installing a floor in what will be the studio.

My challenge was baking gluten free.  Not only gluten free but diary, soy, potato and baking powder free.  I spent hours reading recipes on line, in the library looking up books and reading them.  The best book I found at the butchers (the owners have gluten issues), “Company’s coming – baking gluten free” by Ted Wolff.   Not only does it have nice recipes but it explains what I can substitute for the other nasties.

But my biggest challenge was “being mindful” , thinking about every ingredient, reading the labels.  It is so easy to be on auto pilot when cooking – baking powder -sure, oops, salt, sugar, butter.  Sometimes I felt like the centipede who suddenly pays attention to all its legs and trips over them.  But sitting on my counter is a fluffy white egg bread that is rather tasty and has no gluten, dairy, soy or potato.  It is my 3rd bread.  The first was a flat little brick, the second a dense but tasty “herb loaf” , but this one is “Bread” – one that will make sandwiches!  My best piece of art work yet.  I couldn’t be more proud!


Bread and rolls


Books and Inspiration

I am still packing.  Yesterday and today I have been going through my books and deciding what goes and what doesn’t go.  We won’t talk about the box of old mysteries that are my “I can’t sleep” reading.  Agatha Christie is non- negotiable, so is Patricia Wentworth.  What I have been putting in and out of the box is my inspiration books.  One is definitely in the box, “The Goddess and Gods of Old Europe” by Marija Gimbutas.  This is a book I have owned since it came out in 1982.  There are stunning photos of pots, sculptures and other objects from old Europe that I have used for inspiration ever since.  My first award winning costume was based on images from this book.

This is from Costume Con 1987.

So this book is packed.  So are the books on anatomy and fabric manipulation.  Then there are books on various ethnic cultures.  The better ones are packed.

The ones that went in and out and back in are coffee table photo books. Like  “A Year in Figure Skating”, and books on Elvis Costello,  Rudolf Nureyev, Baryshnikov.  These have  BODIES, especially male bodies, in them, in amazing poses, but some of the older ones are just too fuzzy or badly printed.  So Baryshnikov is back on the shelf, I need to see the muscles, the pictures are pretty but not useful.

The same for the David Hamilton books, pretty, pretty but so fuzzy and romanticized that  they are more a spring board then any use for the “how does that arm …” .  They are good inspiration if you are doing Victorian erotic fairies though.  So they went to a friend who is into photography and appreciates the technical style.  Really, for the styles and techniques and the prose,  really.  Ok if you believe that maybe I can sell you a bridge?



My inspirational art is mostly packed too.  I have a lot of prints by Ioyan Mani (Maxine Noel )I love the colours and the flow of her work.  Just looking at her work makes me feel calm and centered so most of it hangs in my bedroom.   My bedroom looks kind of barren now.

Spirit of the wolf by Ioyan Mani


18 snakes and what do you get?

Medusa.  The pre invasion goddess of abundance and protection.


Medusa - front

For months now I have been captivated by images of Medusa.  I have drawn her several times and just had to incorporate these drawings into a doll.  After creating the “Mermaid -Breaking Free” I suspect I am claiming my power again.  This lady doesn’t need to break free of anything and doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything either.

She was quite a challenge with all the snakes.  The snakes took just as long as creating the figure!  Eighteen snakes – somehow seems like a mystical number it is made up of threes and nines.

The base is not yet finished.  The pillar is temporary until I get back from Edmonton.  I realized that a heavy plaster pillar was not ideal for shows.

Another show – Contes D’Hiver

Our local community is having an art show Contes d’Hiver  – Winter Tales. At la Ruche d’Art – 4525 Saint Jacques, Montreal.  Near the St. Henri metro station. Vernisage December 3rd at 2 – 7.

Now most of my dolls wear a few beads and are decidedly tropic so I decided to make a winter focused doll – wearing clothes.   I started with the goddess Skadi in mind – the Norse goddess of snow and ice (and skiing) .  As I worked on her, playing with fabrics and poses, she slowly came into being.  Since I had very little time I started with a half finished head that I had laying around.  Doesn’t everyone have heads just laying around? LOL.  I added the upper body and arms over a wire frame for the bottom.  Then I dressed her in layers of white and silver and iridescent fabrics.   As I worked she started to have more to say about who she was.  She is called “Ice Storm”  now.   She brings that incredibly dangerous beauty that is the result of freezing rain, when the country side turns to sparkling ice and your car ends up sideways in the driveway and you crawl on hands and knees to the house, dripping with sweat.

Ice Storm

Ice Storm

This is not the greatest picture but I haven’t finished the base yet either.

Besides this piece I have been working on the crafts for the fair the following weekend .  Lots of little hands and fingers:

165 fingers

Mood Ra Hand pins



Last month I had a commission for one of my tea cosy dolls.  They wanted one based on SCTV’s Edith Prickey.  This was a bit different then my standard “Granny” tea cosies and I had a fun time watching videos of Edith.  I even rediscovered an old one I saw hundreds of times when my youngest was a toddler  “Put Down the Ducky”!   Eventually this is what I came up with:

Edith Prickley

Edith Prickley Tea Cosy


Interestingly on the art forum that I frequent there were some long discussions on doing commissions.  Many people felt that doing them was a form of “selling out” , that some how ones art was corrupted by it being requested and paid for.  For me I have always felt it was a compliment, someone saw my art and wanted something special just for them.  That they trusted my artistic vision and hoped I would be inspired by their requests.  I have always seen it as a way to look beyond my own little box, to get inspired by something I hadn’t thought about.  I have rejected commissions in the past though, ones that wanted me to do exact duplicates of things, and no, I will not make a caricature of your boss.  But as long as I have the artistic control, it is a fun thing to do.  Yes I can get inspired by that shade of blue you love, or that picture of your grandmother, that scrap of fabric, or that memory of your heritage.


Mermaid: Breaking Free

I managed to finish (or tell myself it was Finished!) the mermaid in time for the Ben Navaee gallery show.  There are always a thousand other things I can think of doing to a piece when I have to tear myself away from it.

This piece was about letting go of the past and the things that have been holding me back.  She is a result of the Morning Pages of “The Artist Way”, writing about the things that were making me feel trapped.

mermaid- breaking free

mermaid- breaking free


And some close ups:

mermaid back

mermaid back


front closeup

Gaia Gathering

This weekend I was helping out with the Gaia Gathering fund raiser “Divine In” at the Burritoville  restaurant(In Montreal)

The Canadian National Pagan Conference (CNPC), Gaia Gathering, is held every year over the long Victoria Day weekend in May. Each year, the event is hosted by a different city, which is determined through a bid and vote process. Gaia Gathering is a place where people from across Canada and from across the spectrum of this country’s Pagan religions an come together to talk about who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we might be going as a religious community in Canada.

The conference which will be held in the beautiful, bilingual and metropolitan Montreal from May 20th to 23rd, 2011. Our conference venue is Concordia University and the theme is “Language to Liturgy.”

I have been helping organize the art show associated with the conference.  I have been working on a new piece,  the mermaid,  I hope it will be ready for the show.

For the fund raiser I did Jin Shin Jyutsu .  I learned this about 15 years ago when I was having many migraines and discovered alternative and Oriental medicine.  It helped deal with the pain and turn down the volume of my allergies.  For a while in Nova Scotia I had a Shiatsu and Jin Shin practice but I was never able to get it off the ground here in Montreal.  Working with people this weekend I realized just how much I missed doing this.

Doing energy work requires that one is in a light meditative trance (or at least for me it does) .  It is as relaxing and healing for me as for my clients.  It was also a source for new artistic inspiration.  Why did I stop doing this?  I think mostly because here in Montreal all I got was calls from slime buckets and I became to associate it and the telephone with YUCK!!!

I will have to find a way to get this back into my life – the Jin Shin not the slime buckets.