Tag Archives: doll making

Embracing Imperfection

I am not a seamstress. I own a sewing machine, but have never turned it on. My sister kindly offered it as a gift one year, thinking that it would be a good tool to add to my arsenal, so I could produce more items faster. I had every intention of learning to use it, but there is just something about sewing by hand that I find utterly captivating. It relaxes me so much that I can work for hours never thinking about eating a bite.

I am most pleased with what I make when it is spontaneous and slightly flawed, and I am not comfortable with mass production. I usually make three or four of one item at a time, no more, and I make only one paper mâché animal at a time, occasionally two.

ps - 0516As I mentioned above, I am not a seamstress. I create patterns on a whim, often just in my mind. Some end up on paper later, after I have made a first item and held it in my hands so we get acquainted, so to speak. If I am pleased with it, I figure out approximate dimensions and make a pattern from there.

Since my patterns are based on freestyle drawings, or simply on a concept in my mind, they are not perfectly symmetrical. This leads to errors. It is often these errors that spark new ideas; a different use of buttons, a new style of collar and so on. In fact, I just realized that I meant to use the yellow fabric with the green vest. Ho well!

ps - 0516 2I have been working on three Messenger Dolls, off and on between writing assignments, for my display at Silvio’s Ornament Studio. When it came time to cut fabric for the vests, I made a mistake and ended up running out of the fabric I wanted to use. So now I will make dolls with two-tone vests.

Since my patterns are improvised, sometimes when I put the clothes on a doll they fit funny. This, I think, is where the reason for my love of sewing by hand is revealed. I have found that I am thrilled with the imperfections. Without them, the dolls would not come out with the right personality.

This is a great contradiction for me, because I am otherwise quite bent on perfection in other areas of life and when I write. I will review this text several times before I click on the publish button, even though this is my personal blog. However, because the imperfections of my artwork inspire me so much, doing this work, it seems, gives me permission to let go of obsessive perfection. That’s my theory anyway.

Tonight, I set the dolls aside to begin working on new square pouches. Silvio nearly sold out!

Please join me on Facebook!

The Messenger of Time

Last night, I spent the greater part of the evening stuffing three messenger dolls. I need to replenish my shelf at Ornament Studio, across the street. Funny how things sell in spurts. Nothing for a few weeks and all of a sudden someone comes along and empties a shelf… much to my delight, of course.

I was going to say a few words about the inspiration for the messenger doll, but to be honest I cannot quite pinpoint it myself.

I have always felt a sort of kinship with jesters and harlequins. I grew up in the 60’s, when television was still young. In Canada, as in most countries I suspect, the early years of television were greatly influenced by the arts of the stage. In fact, many of the first television programs were the brainchild of stage actors who were literally immersed in Shakespeare and the great classics throughout their formative years. This had a particular influence on children’s programs.

The photograph below will give you an idea. It is from a 1960’s, The sets were minimalist in style and the characters straight out of the Commedia dell’Arte, whose origins date back to 16th century Italy. Of course, most children did not make the connection, but this did not matter. The quality of the show was remarkable and the presence of the actors mesmerizing. Watching television then was indeed like being at the theater.

ps - ribouldingueI grew up with this, more than just from watching. My mother was an actress. She was on television and in many plays with the actors on the photograph. It is only recently that I see how distinctly growing up backstage, and with this crowd, has influenced me.

For now, I must assemble the dolls, sew in their faces and begin dressing them. Thanks for stopping by.