Dolls, Fibre Scultpures and Costumes

Archive for the ‘Work in progress’ Category

Back in the Closet?

A lot has happened since I last posted.  Holidays in Jasper with my daughter, and six weeks in Whitehorse with my oldest daughter.  I needed that time to try and find myself back somewhat. It has been harder then I expected. Almost 4 years of intense care giving  has left my mind in a rut where it wants to keep me ready to jump up and do everyone’s bidding.  That means not working on my art work because it will get interrupted.  My mind thinks I still need to “thread water” marking time.

My father decided that he wanted to live in a seniors residence with other people of his age so he moved out in August and deeded the house to my sister.  So when I returned from Whitehorse we renovated and redecorated.  We removed the formerly white carpet (what was my mother thinking off!?!), painted, and put down new flooring.  I now have my own bedroom and we moved the studio upstairs.

work space

work space


Sewing area


Cutting space and inspiration wall

What you are not seeing is the wonderful big north facing window.  The very very cold big north facing window, in the coldest room in the house, in Edmonton where it regularly gets down to -25c as a high for the day.

Now my new bedroom is in the centre of the house in a nice warm room.  It is the former study and it has two very big closets, one that was used for the computer with a desk built in so it could be locked away when my parents were gone.  So for the third time I reorganized my studio space.  I emptied the boxes of my yarn to under the very cold window (more insulation), I sorted and shredded a lot of person papers and cleared a space in my closet.

View from the bed

View from the bed

work space in the closet

work space in the closet

Note the space for the cat.  There was another space on the other side but he preferred to be where the lamp was. The body parts are part of a project for the fibre arts group  call for submissions.

So for the first time since 1979 I am back in the closet – until spring.  I am looking forward to spring.

One Year

I have been in Edmonton one year this month. One year. So far not much has gone as I expected it to, neither the renovations, the “work”, nor me. The thing that most surprises me is how much trouble I am having dealing with the combination of chaos and rigid order. I am not getting much done because I want to kick at the order and tame the and control the chaos. Neither is possible so why rail at it? Part of me doesn’t want to start anything because I am going to get interrupted anyway, so why bother. And then I get frustrated because I see myself frittering away time and opportunity when the interruptions don’t happen.
I do have the studio and get some time in it on my sisters good days. I have been working on the Pan doll. Here is the WIP so far.

Pan Body parts

Pan Body parts

Pan Torso

Pan Torso


Getting the torso sculpted was a challenge.  I searched for my photos and couldn’t find them at first.  Then I looked for some gay male magazines but they aren’t anywhere I shop.  Lots of naked women but no boys.  Most of my photos were from free Montreal add magazines promoting the bars and restaurants.  They don’t seem to have an here.  All I can find free is seniors and job placement handouts.  I finally found a gay travel magazine that had a  swimsuit segment – yeah abs!  Then I found all my resource materials back.  I know, I could have gone on line, I did that once.  I really don’t want to do that again.


Studio Finally

My Christmas present – my studio is finally ready for use.  It is not finished totally but my side is working now. I have even had some time to start using it!!

New studio

New studio

It is a converted kitchen that has been used as a workshop when the house was renovated so we installed a new floor and shelving. The room has actually been finished for a few months but we needed to fill the space so we could finish the furnace / storage room.

I had bought some fabric last January and it has been sitting and waiting for me to decide what to do with it.  This time as soon as I picked it up it told me it wanted to be Pan playing the flute.

So far I sewn the legs in dark green and the torso in light green.  Next will be the arms.  Getting all the angles right, reversed and inside out is a challenge for someone who is dyslexic!





It feels so exciting to be working again.  Before this I was crushing my ideas down.  I stopped journalling because all I was writing was whining about how I couldn’t follow through on my ideas, which made me really depressed.  Now it is like someone turned on the lights.  All my creative ideas are flowing.  My cup is once again half full, not half empty.



There were a few painful moments as I had to learn to use the new sewing machine.  I whined and moaned until I finally figured it out – I actually had to READ THE MANUAL!  Me, read a sewing machine manual!  I still feel awkward, I have to think about every move.  I miss my old Bernina but really we don’t need a fifth sewing machine here and it was getting fussy.  I have had it since 1975.  I bought it with one of my first real pay checks, it was worth 6 months of rent.

The sewing machine is in my bedroom because the desk is easier to work on then the high counters.

Sewing machine

Sewing machine









Remember the post about Blooming Here ?  Well it feels more like freezing into place lately then blooming.  We have had snow on the ground since the beginning of November, and it is cold, it was -25c when I walked the dog this morning and that didn’t include the wind chill.  When Santa comes tonight he had better have his heated long under wear on!  And to think winter has only just begun.

Lilac outside my bedroom

Lilac outside my bedroom

This is the view from the sewing area.  A lovely white lilac bush and a foot of snow.  I keep telling myself it will be so nice in spring when it blooms.

Tomorrow is Christmas and we have respite care so I am going to spend 2 hours of guilt free play time in my studio!  Once it is all cut and sewn I can bring it up stairs and work on stuffing and sculpting.

Packing boxes and purple roses

Packing packing packing!

It seems endless.  Every time I turn around it is “Don’t forget that!!”.  And the sorting.  I have containers and more containers of yarn and fabric.  Much of the fabric is small scraps, many sourced from defunct silk garments.  So I need to decide keep or give away?  I am sorting by “can I buy this in Edmonton? Will I actually use it in the next 2 years”  if the answer is yes and no it is a giveaway other wise it gets saved however there is an over riding “Love this!!!!!” .  So I now have 3 boxes of fabric and 2 of yarn packed.  The rest is going.  My Housemate had first pick of yarns but since she is not into orange or bright yellow there wasn’t that much to pick over.  She also ended up with some “interesting” tops from my clothing sort, I hope she was not just being polite about it.

All of the scraps, yarn, buttons and bits and pieces and the tree are going to La Ruche, an art therapy studio.  I know it will get much used there in a good way.

The tree.  The tree was made for a stage set.  It hung in the corner and people could hide behind it.  It is 16 feet tall, made of shiboried and painted and quilted cotton.  It has pillow rocks to go around it.  Here it is decorated, in my previous place, as a christmas tree with cute dog to go with it.  I hope they with find a way to use it.

As a break from the stress of getting rid of stuff I went and checked the hoffman Challenge.  Every year they run a competition for the use of a specific piece of fabric.  This year unfortunately the print is giant purple cabbage roses.  No matter how I try to twist my head around this fabric there is absolutely nothing I could imagine in this fabric except a toddler’s dress.  Big purple cabbage roses – I could use the fabric from suggested matches for skin and cut the cabbage roses into snakes?  No because the fabric has to be recognizable – big purple roses!  Just because they call it lavender doesn’t make it so.  My only idea in the middle of the night was to make it into two fat naked female dolls going down on  each other and call it “The Lavender Left” but I doubt that would be acceptable in an American tour.

Life Happens

I have been in Edmonton now for 2 weeks.  Watching – looking after Mom, feeding Dad and dragging my sick sister shopping.  I realized I can’t walk away.  After long discussions with everyone I am moving to Edmonton. It means giving up my lovely light filled studio.  I will get another space eventually but first we have to finish some renovations.  So it will be a few months before much new art work will show up here.

I have to go back to Montreal mid February, pack up my life there, move to Edmonton, supervise the renos and re-arrange the house and garage and get my pets there too.  But my mind will be in one place and I will have the peace of mind that I am doing the Right Thing.

In the mean time I had a birthday and today I went to spend my birthday money at Sew Divine in Edmonton.  A lovely friendly quilt shop.  They had a selection of to die for greens. The photo doesn’t do them justice.  There will be more mermaids and Medusas to come.

birthday fabrics

Drowned snakes and tools

The Medusa doll is going on at a good speed.  The weather has helped.  Since Christmas we have had alternating snow, freezing rain and -18c temperatures.  Yes I know, dear ones in Whitehorse, that isn’t “really” cold but then you have a warm car and aren’t slithering to a bus stop.  So no boxing week shopping and lots of sewing got done.  The body is all sculpted and assembled.

Medusa back

The next thing was the snakes, lots of snakes.  Most of them are being made out of a recycled silk tie I found a few forages ago.  It is a lovely hand painted green silk in all sorts of shades of soft greens.  Perfect for the snakes.  The others will be from a forest green silk that was formerly a blouse of mine.

I spent hours drawing spirals on slippery silk, stitching them, cutting carefully and turning them.  Oh I love my turning tools.  They have made such a difference in the time and quality of the turned fingers and other small, skinny objects like snakes.

Late in the afternoon, while taking a tea break, I arranged the snakes on the doll’s head just to get the feel of how it was going to look, some were pinned but not all of them.  I walked away to do some surfing.  Now the animals get fed at 5 pm but the cat starts reminding people of that fact by 3:30, just in case we forget……  One of my roommates came to look at the result and as we admired the snakes (and the cat who has her private sitting space on my work desk), I go to pick up my almost finished tea and there in the bottom of the cup is a snake…..  The drowned snake – of hand painted silk.  Much squealing ensued, the cat is offended. The snake is removed from the tea and rinsed and rinsed.  I think it has dried up ok, but it will probably end up under the others, it looks different, but that could just be my imagination or that it is all flat and limp.  Maybe after it is stuffed it will perk up.

snakes and tools

Holidays are Over!!

Yes they are over.  I have my bedroom and studio back!  My daughter and granddaughter were here from Whitehorse.  We had a lovely visit but I put them in my bedroom and the studio so for two weeks I was left with just my knitting to keep my fingers busy.  But now everything and everyone  is back where it should be.

During the creating of the little hands and pins for the craft fair I had lots of new ideas.  So I started a new piece.  I am using all the drawings I made this summer as the inspiration.  She will be a Medusa.  The pose will be based on the Titania figure and the head on the Medusa drawings I made of my youngest daughter.  She is all cut out already and I am starting the stuffing and sculpting.  I am using fabric I found in the quilt store in Whitehorse this summer and I found some interesting silk scraps in my stash to make the snakes.

Medusa's skin

I am planning to submit this piece along with the mermaid and the eagle dancing to a call for submissions to World of Thread.   If I say this here I will actually have to do it or look really chicken.  You have no idea how many of these calls for submissions I have blown off, using dumb excuses.

I need to finish it and photograph it before Jan 16th because I head back to Edmonton that day for another month.  Like last time I plan only to bring sketch books and crayons.

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


Back home

I am finally back home in Montreal.  I have spent some time excavating my studio and cleaning.  It is amazing how dusty and dirty unused rooms get.  You would think the cat and dog would be bald from the amount off hair  and dust bunnies I swept up!

I have been re-acquainting myself with my fabrics and yarns, re-arranging the studio now that I see it with fresh eyes.  However there is only so much space so it is a challenge still.  Luckily my youngest didn’t fill up the hallway with her boxes so I still have some space to maneuver, to put away things I don’t use daily.  Also with the nicer weather the balcony becomes usable space – but only in the mornings when it is cool.

When I got home I was also trapped into some computer support for a website.  That site is changing servers (and more)so I will lose my webhosting for a while until I find a new host.  The positive side is that I will no longer have to support this site and rewrite its software to handle Firefox 4 & 5.


Here I am chomping at the bit to work on my new piece and I have to stop and do renovations!  Moving furniture, plastering  and painting.  Now this wouldn’t be so bad if my knees would cooperate, but no,  we have to object loudly to going up and down the stairs.  The move of stuff to the new living room should have taken half a day is now being spread out over several.

And as usual it is like doing a rubrics cube.  This moves here, that goes there, this goes back where it was….


But anyway – back to the new piece.  It is a mermaid.  I did some live drawing studio work this fall and several drawings inspired me.

live drawing sketches

live drawing sketches


Of course the actual one has no resemblance to these, except for her back side.  Here are the first looks:

mermaid in progress

mermaid in progress

Tail has been sculpted and body partially assembled with some sculpting.   She will be swimming and fighting her way out of a net.   Which kind of fits with my life for the last few months.