Blog

8 months, 3 weeks ago 16
Posted in: Work in Progress

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I’ve been running tests on my new china paints for the last couple of weeks, and I’m almost done! My plan is to finish and fire all my porcelain tiles by Sunday, so that on Monday I can go ahead and finally begin painting my new porcelain doll.

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I’ve been using white, matt porcelain tiles as ground for my paint samples. Saves me a whole tedious step of casting, cleaning and firing my own porcelain chips, which would have added up another two weeks to the testing phase. Why make life difficult for yourself when there’s an easier and better alternative?

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Also, tiles make it all look homogenous and organized, as opposed to loose porcelain chips.

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Aaaand as an added bonus, I’ve stumbled on another possible china-painting method with a quill, while labelling my colours! I’ll have to test it out more on an actual three-dimensional doll before I can try to integrate it into my own painting technique. I don’t know how this never occurred to me before!

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Oh no-o-o! A firing casualty to fatigue fracture and thermal shock. On second thought, I think it’s now perfect.

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9 months, 1 week ago 18
Posted in: Work in Progress

Hey there Doll Collectors! An old year is ending and a brand New one is about to begin! I’ve been celebrating this annual renewal (for a whole month now) by renewing and reorganizing the very foundation of Enchanted Doll – My china painting palette. It holds a special significance to me. Read its creation story to learn why.
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The act of creating a new paint box was both, practically necessary and symbolically important to me. It was necessary because I needed more room for my growing arsenal of china paints, while my old paint box has become an over-crowed and confusing mess over the last 10 years of use. But it was also a symbolic act, because it represents a reformation and a renewal of Enchanted Doll at its very core. I hereby proclaim that 2016 shall be my year of dolls! Happy New Year!

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My new paint box had to be multi-level, air tight, orderly, user-friendly and of course, attractive. Unfortunately I know next to nothing about carpentry, so the box turned out a little bit, um…unorthodox. It’s crooked and uneven in, well, virtually every dimension, but surprisingly it works well! I am, after all a big subscriber to the “Fake it, ’til you make it” philosophy. Or in my case, it’s usually “Fake it, ’til you ruin a bunch of stuff, waste a bunch of supplies, and eventually make something” philosophy. It’s a somewhat destructive approach to creation, but much of the time it’s the only way to learn making something.

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Using basic math skills and a high speed sanding wheel, I put several channels into 3 sides of the box to hold 4 layers of suspended glass sheets, which in turn will hold my pre-mixed, paint-ready china colours. Many ceramic artists still use simple porcelain tiles for mixing china paint, but it seems like a very archaic and wasteful method to me, because of the non-drying nature of china paint.

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Once mixed with oil media, china paint doesn’t dry on its own and can stay a wet goo for years, so at the end of each paint job one must either discard the wet puddles of mixed paint or try to store them somewhere-somehow until the next doll, without contaminating and smudging it on everything around it. And that is the general conundrum.

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A more optimal solution seems to be to keep a mixing surface in an air-tight paint box to protect it in the long run from dust, hair and skin debris, thus reducing the need to mix new batches of paint for every paint job and minimizing waste and hassle. Also, keeping a full palette of pre-mixed, paint-ready colours on hand is very liberating and helpful during the painting process, as opposed to having to mix every new colour one intends to use in any given project every time from scratch. That’s why a neat china paint box wins over one-time-use mixing tiles.

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Of course the box is also a more costly solution than tiles, as it requires an initial investment of time and energy to construct it, but the convenience of long term use and the neatness of paint-preservation are just so worth it. If I could have bought this box somewhere, I definitely would have, but the absence of such a product on the market had forced me to manufacture it myself. It was such a headache, but like I said, totally worth it.

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Once the wood frame is complete, I move on to cutting glass. Several times over. The glass store is closed by the time I realize I’d mis-measured and ruined ALL my available glass, so I’m forced to harvest it from picture frames. I take my least favourite frames off the wall, remove the glass and toss the rest. It seems like a very expensive and wasteful way to procure glass, and sure, I could wait until morning to go and buy more of it from the store, but that would delay the completion of my box by at least 12 hours and I want it finished taaday, dammit! So, goodbye picture frames.

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Then, many painful little cuts later I have my glass sheets cut and filed down. Time to engrave them!

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The reason I decided to engrave squares into my mixing glass sheets, is to permanently segregate colours from each other, prevent cross-contamination and label them. In the past I tried labelling my paints by writing with a permanent sharpie on the glass, but eventually that disappears and the colours become anonymous, runny messes. Engraving, however, doesn’t come off. It provides a permanent means of labeling and separation. The grooves around each square channel any run off oil medium away from other colours and into a closed circuit, thus keeping order for many years and making clean up easier.

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This is my old box and the new one side by side. The first one is a picture frame I found in the trash in 2005 and adapted for painting when Enchanted Doll was still very young, and the second one I made specifically for that purpose in 2015, for its 10 year anniversary!

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And that’s why making this paint box holds such a strong symbolism of renewal to me – When I was young, making dolls came purely instinctively and thoughtlessly, but over the years it has matured into a thought-out, deliberate choice I make every single day over and over again. The first box ten years ago was a random lucky find that set me on this course, but the second one bares the full weight of my intent and commitment to it.

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This paint box is my Year’s End epiphany, from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

I hereby proclaim year 2016 to be the glorious Year of the Dolls! I wish every one a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Wish me happy painting!

 

10 months, 2 weeks ago 35

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I’d noticed that you guys were curious about the Spinal Pendant I wore in my short, glass-engraving video, so I thought that perhaps you’d enjoy knowing more about it. I made it for myself as a one of a kind project, but seeing how it caught your attention, I’m considering making it available to you as well.

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The pendant is manufactured from original feline vertebrae and cast in Sterling Silver. The remains of this kitty were found on the side of the road, after it’d been struck by a car, but I’d like to think that a part of it still lives on in this wearable silver sculpture. This is a very sensual piece of jewellery because it’s free-moving. There are 15 joints connecting 16 vertebrae, which makes it very bendable. I’m always playing with it. Stroking it brings an odd comforting sensation that helps me concentrate, kind of like moving a rosary between ones fingers. Or like petting a cat.

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I’ve used these bone molds before in a couple of my doll projects, such as the Beetle and the Crow, but this jointing system is more advanced and realistic than my previous attempts. It gives a better range of movement while maintaining perfect alignment. And, to smoothly transition from the pendant to the chain, sculpted a double-bail at the top of the biggest vertebrae in the shape of human pelvis.

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Ta-da!

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10 months, 3 weeks ago 15

Did you guys say you wanted to see a doll in this box? Well, you ask and I deliver. Enjoy!

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10 months, 3 weeks ago 23
Posted in: Work in Progress

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I’ve spent the last week brushing up on my glass-working skills by making a practice display box. It turned out with a decidedly Victorian flair, which was likely inspired by seeing Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak two weeks ago.

What a wonderful Gothic scary-fairy tale for grown ups! It wasn’t so much about ghosts or monsters, as much as it was about monstrous people. I think it had a lot of nuance and reminded me of actual Victorian era crimes of serial killers George Joseph Smith and H.H Holmes. I think the film might have been partly influenced and informed by them. But I digress.

I constructed my practice display case from glass recycled from my old picture frames, and then engraved the door with high-speed diamond tip burs. Making it was a lot of fun: scoring and cutting the glass, soldering it together with brass came and assembling it into a functional object. Twice over. It turns out I’m terrible at measuring. The hinges gave me the most trouble, but I eventually conquered them .

Machine glass-engraving is a more recent interest of mine. Last year I wanted to make some monogrammed glass terrariums as Christmas gifts for my family, and decided to try it out and see where it went. Engraving this case was my 3rd engraving project since then and a good exercise for a certain future piece I’m planning.

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1 year ago 35
Posted in: Uncategorized

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I’m an urban, high-rise apartment dweller. My living-working-gardening space is limited. Some people have breakfast nooks or solariums next to their kitchens, but my breakfast nook is a Machine Room, which also doubles as my Hanging Gardens. About a year ago I read on the news that just looking at growing things and being near them increases our emotional well-being and productivity, and since then I kind of lost my mind and developed a bit of a plant hoarding problem. I currently have 120.

Living alongside my manufacturing equipment always creates a frustrating functionality-vs-aesthetic conflict because I hate visual clutter. I need my machines/tools because they help me make art, so I try to integrate them into my home decor as best as I can and still be comfortable living amongst them. It takes a lot of curating. Feels like a game of Tetris sometimes.

Needless to say, my machines and I are very close. Sometimes late at night I throw some rugs down on the cold tile floor, pour some tea, light candles for atmosphere and just hang out with them while pretending we’re in a lovely garden. It’s kinda nice.

 

1 year ago 7
Posted in: show

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Hey fellow Vancouverites! My large doll Glorianna is going to be on display in down town Vancouver, Monday, Sept 21st as a part of an installation at the Dinner by Design gala. Sorry for the short notice, bit it was a bit of a short notice for me too. Initially I was planning to show 3 small dolls, but the space was too cavernous, so I made a last minute switch to one large doll instead.

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What is Dinner by Design?

“Monogram Dinner by Design brings together internationally celebrated designers and local talent to create three-dimensional dining installations that awe, inspire and delight. These extraordinary dining environments — from the lavish and romantic to the outrageous and whimsical.”

There were large rooms containing “tablescapes”, small unique dining rooms carefully crafted by different designers. Sunday and Monday the dining installations are on display for viewing (public viewing 11-3 on Monday), and then the installations come alive at the Gala dinner on Monday night. Proceeds from the event are going to The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research.

More info on the event can be found here: http://dinnerxdesign.com/dxd-vancouver.html

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1 year ago 23
Posted in: Uncategorized

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Hola doll lovers! You may or may not have noticed, but this summer I literally put doll-making on a shelf and left it there for 3 months.

This little favourite of mine has been sitting on this shelf in her fancy Chinoiserie house robe for 2 months, with no one but a tin fish-pet for company. My lovely Pilea plant demonstrates the time’s passage quite well, as it gradually swallows her up with its growing juicy foliage. Another month in this spot, and she’ll disappear from view!

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There have been some rumblings of discontent and a growing restlessness at my prolonged absence and ‘abandonment’, but I really needed this time off due to a quite severe burn out. I love making dolls, but that is not the only thing I love doing. There are numerous non-doll art projects that have been simmering on my back burner for several years because dolls always took priority. It got to the point where I could no longer paint another doll eyelash or sew another bead on yet another doll dress without feeling sad and resentful and pressured by expectations.

So, this summer of 2015 was my creative break from dolls and my indulgence in other art forms. I built furniture! I designed interiors! I reorganized and cataloged all my beads and began renovating my art studio. I delved into horticulture! I went on wilderness adventures! I hung out with friends, sometimes in the wilderness. I took (and passed) a swift river rescue certification course in Montana! I even ordered a colouring book on Amazon (Secret Garden by Johanna Basford) and spent days laying in the grass, sipping cold beer and blissfully colouring in somebody else’s drawings without any concern for my doll output – something I would normally consider to be utterly pointless and detrimental to my productivity! But it wasn’t – it was a pressure release valve.

And today I walked into my studio and noticed this doll on the shelf half-swallowed by a plant, and I thought:” Hey you. Long time – no see”…and I began to dream of dolls again.

1 year, 1 month ago 22
Posted in: Book, New Doll, Resin line

Where does the time go? One minute you’re excitedly digging out your bathing suit and sun-dresses, and the next moment summer is almost over! I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging more, too much time spent outside, and then when I am inside I’m furiously working on whatever has currently captured my attention. I hope everyone is enjoying the warm months and getting plenty of chances to explore the great outdoors.

On to dolls.

I present, another little Echo sister in French Resin as a part of a promotion for the Chinese Enchanted Doll book, release by my publishers TXRiver! This Oriental beauty is another variation in my ongoing limited edition ‘Echo’ series, featuring a brand new hair ornament – a set of five tiny silver hair combs! I’ve been dreaming about making a lovely comb set for my future Enchanted dolls every since I read ‘The Gift of the Magi’ in my junior-high literature class. And now this Echo Sister is the first doll to be wearing them in her luscious hair. Woo! Another dream realized!

How do you buy this doll you ask?

The doll will be sold through my Chinese publishers TXRiver, and they are having a draw. Only those that order a book directly from them (http://world.taobao.com/item/43715713846.htm?fromSite=main)  can enter the draw,  and the randomly selected participant will have the opportunity to buy. The doll is being sold for $5700 USD. The draw will occur when this edition of the book has been sold out, which I’m being told is almost upon us! (Still some left, but going fast!).

Take a look!

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You can order the book here: http://world.taobao.com/item/43715713846.htm?fromSite=main

 

1 year, 2 months ago 22
Posted in: New Doll, Resin line

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On Friday this doll was shipped out to the winner of the 2015 annual Enchanted Doll Birthday Contest Kristen V, for her tattoo idea inspired by gender equality issues! The contest took place back in March, at the time of my birthday, but it took me a little bit longer to finish the grand prize. Kristen, I hope you like your doll. I really enjoyed making her for you, and I look forward to making one for next year’s Birthday Contest!

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