While shopping for Christmas gifts last year, I found these little, plain and cheap-looking crown tree ornaments at a home decor shop. They were almost lost in the luscious branches of a tastefully decorated Christmas tree, but because I’m always on a lookout for small, interesting objects that fit the Enchanted Doll scale, my eyes picked them out and fastened on them the minute I walked through the doors.
I B-lined straight for the tree, navigating the crowd and barely avoiding the expensive and fragile displays of bone china, mirrors and crystal chandeliers, my eyes never leaving my bounty. Giddy with the potential and anticipation of what I can do with these perfect, little canvases, I scooped up all of the remaining crowns from that tree and practically skipped to the till. Waiting to pay, I felt triumphant over my find and fought back a strong urge to rub my palms together while cackling maniacally.
This was my first crown-enhancing experiment. I used gold wire to attach fresh-water pearls, blue topazes, gold-plated findings and drops to the crown base, achieving a high contrast between the distressed rusty metal and the retrofitted gold ornaments. A magnet holds the crown securely on top of the wig, making other fastenings unnecessary. I believe that this was the final detail Skyler’s been missing in her costume this whole time. Now she feels complete. Now she is a crowned queen.
I’m going to try something a little different with the other crowns. I don’t have a complete picture yet, but I almost never do until I begin working. Eventually, all the gaps get filled in, like with Skyler.
Skyler lives apart from my other dolls, on a bookshelf that houses my precious antiquarian collection of Sulamith Wulfing books. It feels right for Skyler to be there, because I consider her to be a sort of an indirect descendent of Sulamith Wulfing’s work. She was created in the spirit of Wulfing’s unique illustration aesthetic, which informs much of my own work and is present to at some level in each and every one of my dolls.
When I was a little girl, I believed that my toys came to life and went about their own business at night time, freezing back into inanimate objects in the morning. This seems to be a very common delusion for children, as if it’s some kind of a necessary, early childhood developmental mechanism. Kind of like Lacan’s Mirror Stage theory. I wonder if there is a psychoanalytic theory by any scholar that would explain why many kids engage in that phantasy of living toys? Anybody childhood physiologists here that have an explanation?
Well, I no longer believe in the living toys nonsense but for some reason, a force of habit perhaps, whenever I pass by my favourite bookshelf on the way to the kitchen, I always glance at Skyler involuntarily to see if she’s moved while I slept. I roll my eyes whenever I catch myself in this silly act, but I know that the next time I’m heading to the kitchen, I’ll be looking for it again.
I think I’ll go make me some tea.
I’ve spent the last few days finishing off my most recent doll Theodora Rex, which is based on a historical Byzantine empress. I’ve been failing to arrive at the final composition that resonates with my inner vision of her, having constructed, tried and abandoned several different accessories to compliment her jewelled head piece and her collar of gold. I believe that when the solution to an almost finished piece proves to be stubbornly evasive, then the problem is not just with details – There is something fundamentally wrong with the whole thing from the bottom up. The best course of action at that point, is to stop tweaking little details, identify the 3 main elements essential to the composition, strip away the rest and start layering supporting details from the beginning. Yes, it’s pretty upsetting having to destroy several days worth of work, but sometimes it’s not just the right thing to do, but the only thing to do. Destruction is a form of creation.
These sterling silver filigree bead caps might be the key to unlocking my composition problem. I embellished them with tiny seed pearls and gold-plated them to look more Byzantine. Theodora is already wearing them, but something else is still missing there…I’m gonna call it a ‘soft’ finish for now and see if she ‘speaks’ to me in the days to come about what else she needs.
It’s time to move on.
It’ll work itself out in my head eventually, I’m sure. Hopefully by tomorrow. Her photo shoot is scheduled for the end of the month, so I really gotta figure it out and wrap it up already. Tonight I’ve got to plate some more hair accessories. Ugh – I hate setbacks!
Back to work on dolls as of today! Gotta finish my ongoing project Theodora Rex, which is near completion, and then move on to finish another doll I’d been working on for a few months. Given the stage she’s at, I think it is now safe for me to disclose her name: Madame Pomapadour.
Hello hello all! I missed you guys!
You might have already guessed it from the lack of posts, but I’ve been away this summer on a 50 day-long, Trans-Eurasian, overland traveling adventure. We took the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow to my home city Novokuznetsk, seeing my extended family for the first time in 17 years. We went on an amazing rafting trip in the Siberian Taiga with my cousins, and then hopped back on the Trans-Siberian and continued our journey on to Beijing, gradually working our way south to Yunnan from there. It was quite unforgettable and now I get to cross Trans-Siberian off my to-do travel list and get back to work on dolls for the next few months. It’s good to be back home!
The books just arrived two days ago, woo-hoo! Chad and I have been packing and shipping them in the last 48 hours like maniacs. They will continue getting shipped out throughout the month of June, so expect yours to arrive sometime between next week and August, depending of course on which shipping method you chose.
My New Year’s resolution this year was to learn a bunch of new technical skills that would enhance my art practice of making dolls. Specialization is good, but diversifying one’s skills opens new doors to creativity and discourages stagnation. Creating a large, porcelain Enchanted Doll this winter/spring, had given me a fantastic opportunity to expand my skill set, but I also decided to learn the art of wax injecting.
When I decide to learn something, I usually jump in with both feet and commit 100%. So, I bought all the necessary injection equipment and began to practice. While my new wax injector and I are still getting to know each other, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Until I tried my new Brocade corset moulds. They were difficult to inject and it took me nearly 6 hours of non-stop injections to figure out why I was failing. I tried different temperature settings, I experimented with pressure and viscosity, I tried every method of clamping I could think of….nothing was working.
I knew the mould was entirely injectable, since my jewelry technician had already pulled a few decent waxes from it earlier. It was all about the subtleties of the injection technique, while my failure to succeed at something I just started was totally normal. Still, the fact that I was failing over and over again for 6 straight hours without seeming to progress even a little, was really unsettling me.
I was baffled at my uncharacteristic inability to make it work, because grasping the basics of how something works usually comes easier to me. It shocked me that my most sincerest, consistent efforts were not being rewarded with some measure of success as they usually are. And that’s what I mean about reaching a certain level of skill and comfort, and then plateauing and eventually stagnating without new challenges.
Long story short, I eventually got it to work, but the experience of prolonged failure really took me down a notch. Like they say; When at first you don’t succeed – try and try, and try again.
I really love my new wax injector, by the way. While before I had to rely on someone else to inject my rubber jewelry moulds, now I can do it myself. Having said this, doing everything yourself is not always the most efficient or the right way, because it takes time to get very good at something. Sometimes one just has to let the specialists do their special things which the rest of us can’t or won’t. We always have to consider the ratio of returns on one’s investments.
But in this case, I think that having this wax injector was worth the investment of a 6 hour learning curve. Although in truth, it will take me years to become an injecting virtuoso. The main thing is that it will ultimately enhance my art practice by injecting a new dose of creative freedom into it, and that ladies and gentlemen, is what it’s all about.
Hello my Darlings!
The release and sale of the artist edition of my new book have come and gone last week. I didn’t expect it to sell out this fast, but it was all over in just 4 days! That’s three and a half weeks faster than my last edition of 500. You guys are really wonderful for supporting my work like this. Thank you! Thank you.
I’m expecting the shipment to arrive at Vancouver Port sometime next week and we will begin mailing them out to you immediately. I’ve got to rest up my writing hand for a 24 hour marathon of signing and numbering all your copies. I’m really looking forward to it. I keep imagining you opening your copies all around the world, in all the time zones and delving into the pages of my enchanted world. I am so thrilled to be able to share it with you!
Thank you again, for helping me create that world!
Hey folks, the 500 artist edition of my new Enchanted Doll book is almost entirely sold out in less than 72 hours! I’ve got less than 100 copies left, but not for much longer. Thank you all for supporting my work by buying my book. I’m so lucky to have such fans like you guys.
And speaking of beautiful new books, you guys should also check out my friend and fellow artist Camilla d’Errico’s graphic novel Tanpopo, Volume 2. It’s being released in 2 days! I love Camila’s work and I think everyone should know about it. As you might recall me mentioning in previous posts, Camilla wrote the forward in the Enchanted Doll book.
Tanpopo Graphic Novel Volume 2 is coming to The Camilla Store, Amazon, and book and comic shops near you! Official release date is slated for May 28, copies will be available on The Camilla Store here. Tanpopo is Camilla’s passion project, combining her love for classic literature, manga & storytelling, with her own characters and narratives. Graphic Novel 2, containing installments 4 & 5, continue Tanpopo’s journey to discover what it means to be human, guided by Kuro, the devil in disguise.
Sounds pretty intriguing, doesn’t it? May 28th.