This is her – Gloriana! Please excuse the domestic setting. I didn’t have time to set up a photo shoot, so I snapped some pictures of her around my apartment before stuffing her in a carry-on suitcase and flying to Kansas City for her premiere at the Spectrum fantasy convention tomorrow.
Gloriana – a symbolic name I chose to signify a threshold of a Golden Age, is my new platform for creative expression. I’ve got big plans for these big dolls, namely tattooing them. In fact, the only reason I decided to create a big Enchanted Doll in the first place, was so that I could have a bigger canvas to engrave stuff on. Just imagine all the fine detail I’ll be able incorporate into my tattoo designs on a scale like this! If I wasn’t so exhausted and jet-legged right now, I’d be jumping up and down in excitement and anticipation of things to come.
But, now that this first prototype is finished and I know it works and can be replicated; now that I’ve developed a working production formula, I will have to take some time off from the big doll before I can bring myself to make anther one of these giantesses. She really burned me out. And she it taking over my bed, apparently.
Working on this scale and facing all the challenges that came with it, really put my small doll in perspective and made me appreciate them even more.
Enjoy these candid shots of Gloriana on random surfaces in my home. I’m off to (hotel) bed. Tomorrow I’ll show you Theodora.
She’ll be premiered at Spectrum fantasy convention this weekend in Kansas City, along with two other new dolls. I won’t have anything for sale at the event this time, but we will be giving away posters and if you come, you will be the first ones to see the new dolls!
Oh my god, I’ve got so much to do today…
I’ve had many ‘firsts’ these past couple of months, experiencing processes that are familiar to me, yet never tried before (by me) on this scale: First large molding (which was kinda horrible), first time casting large parts (which was awful), first time firing them (not so bad), first time cleaning ( a little weird) and first time painting them (just what I expected).
I’ve still got one more ‘First’ left to do tomorrow: Assembly – the moment of truth.
If it works, this doll will be premiered this weekend, at the Spectrum Live convention in Kansas City. Well, I’m already committed to going, so I’ll be taking her there with me either whole or in pieces. I hope she’s whole.
Come and see her!
Oh how I love to paint dolls on warm, spring evenings in my glassy studio! There is a majestically serene vibrancy to downtown Vancouver during warm seasons. They call Vancouver A City of Glass, because our highrises tend to be all windows and no walls, to allow maximum views of nature. Hanging artwork inside residential Vancouver towers can be quite a challenge because of that. But I digress.
On such warm, spring evenings, I pour myself a cup of Pomegranate tea, put it on my desk next to the china brushes and watch its steam rise up to the wide-open windows as I work. The intoxicating scent of leaves wafts through them, as golden dusk fades into the towering skyline around me. Scores of sun-kissed dog walkers return home from seaside parks with their happy dogs in tow, passing under my windows as they chat and sip on ice frappuchinos, couples stroll leisurely hand in hand, while dozens of dressed up groups hurry down manicured sidewalks to the bustling restaurant district, while there’s still room on patios.
The sounds of traffic quiet down into a pleasantly distant hum, allowing evening songbirds to be heard. Dwellers of residential glass towers grill meat on their balconies and patios green with plants, leafy trees and twinkling garden lights. I smell dinners being prepared and hear an occasional chink of a wine glass along with faint joyous laughter as fellow Vancouverites take pleasure in each other’s company at the end of the day. In the growing dusk and quiet, the city pulses with life and contentment and I feel like all my senses are tingling with wonder and anticipation of the next day as I paint porcelain body parts.
Around this time I begin to hear Chad making preparations for dinner in the kitchen, two doors down from my studio. My thoughts turn to a delicious meal and His company. I tidy up my desk, turn off all the lights and close the glass door behind me. I will pour us some white wine and we will cook dinner together while sipping it and discussing our daily accomplishments, challenges, frustrations, triumphs and plans for tomorrow. And our voices and laughter will carry through the open window to join with thousands of other Vancouverites at the end of a warm, spring day, in a quiet cacophony of joy.
Although it’s not quite finished yet, I believe it is now safe for me to tell you about my secret doll project that kept me largely absent from the internet for the last 6 months. This is it – the first porcelain prototype of a large Enchanted Doll. She is a 1 meter tall ( 3 feet) scaled up replica of my original sculpt. You can see the sets side by side for size comparison. Both of them are getting painted this week and assembled into dolls.
Needless to say, the last few months have been rather challenging and nerve-wrecking, as I’ve had to learn a bunch of new skills and acquire new equipment to be able to create large scale ceramic sculpture. To make matters even more interesting, during the whole process I had no idea if the project was even structurally possible or viable. The will-it-or-won’t-it aspect of it has definitely added some nervous excitement into my life, but I’m really happy that the uncertainty is almost at an end.
Although who knows, more problems will probably crop up as they tend to do with new territory. Stringing might prove to be an insurmountable disaster yet, and render all my efforts pointless. I’m testing new springs tomorrow, so keep a ALL your fingers and toes crossed for me, will ya?
And of course now that the cat is out of the bag, stay tuned for the picture updates on the painting and stringing this new doll of mine.
To soothe those of you who are wondering, I have absolutely no plans to abandon my original scale. From now on, I will be working small and large. The new, glorious era of Enchanted Doll is here!
And this doll shall be called, Gloriana!
I’ve been waiting to show you this piece until I had better photographs of it, as I hate to create a false first impression based on bad photography, but I’ve had it for 3 months now and that’s quite long enough. Enjoy!
This Brocade corset is cast in Bronze, plated with 18k gold and set with 4 Amethyst cabochons. There is also one in sterling silver. This corset is still in the testing stage, but I’m hoping to clear it for pre orders as early as next month. Price will be announced along with official photos in the middle of May. If you’re interested in it, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and get on the wait list! Let me know if you have any questions.
I don’t know about you, but my last week was dedicated almost entirely to making sterling silver jewelry and doll accessories for orders. And by making, I mean ‘finishing’ it. And by finishing, I mean clipping, cutting, grinding and polishing raw silver castings to the point where they actually look silver. They start out looking nothing like the precious little things they become. Check it out.
Ultrasonic clean: Metals are dirty after casting and need a very good cleaning. After a short walk home from the local artisan foundry with my heavy bag of dirty silver, I throw a batch of it into my ultrasonic machine before the work can begin.
Clipping and cutting off injection sprues: Once the parts are dirt-free, I begin using a combination of cutters and high speed disks to de-sprue all my pieces. Every little bit of silver sprues is saved for future castings. Silver is pretty expensive.
Keeping an orderly work surface: For some reason artists are portrayed and perceived as messy individuals. It never made sense to me, because creative pursuits requires a good deal of strategic planning, prioritizing and execution. I maintain order as I work, so as not to become overwhelmed and discouraged by the accumulation of production debris.
Grinding: Ok, now it’s time to get my hands really dirty. I use safety equipment such as solid particle extraction to protect myself from respiratory damage; an eye/body barrier to keep high velocity metal shards away from me, and finger armor to safeguard my hands from friction burns and savage skin gouging by spinning burs and abrasive wheels. Brrrrr…..they are sharp, fast and nasty.
Acid bath: Now my freshly de-sprued and ground pieces go for a little dip in some relatively mild acid, which still burns human skin on contact. I use precautionary measures, but accidents still happen. Usually, this is when I discover all the little cuts on my hands from hours of grinding because they sting double when acid gets splashed on them.
Post-acid dip: This particular type of acid, turns silver black. I love black patina because it increases contrast between recessed and raised areas by making intricate details stand out more against the background. Sometimes, instead of dipping pieces, I apply acid with a tiny brush to selected areas. Almost all of my metal works feature black patina. It brings out the depth of each piece.
Tumbling: Now that my parts are black as pitch, it’s time to burnish them to a satin shine inside a tumbler full of stainless steel shot. While a variety of finishes can be achieved, I prefer satin finish on my jewelry, which is shiny, but not brilliantly so. During the course of several hours, the tumbler shot removes black patina from raised surfaces, while leaving it inside finer details, thus making it stand out against the smooth, bright areas.
Ready for assembly: When my parts are shiny, I sort them, dry them and bag them in order of priority. Gradually, shoes get laces and buckles attached, pendants get bails and chains, while doll’s ‘clothes’, such as that Crow Helmet for example, get put together from multiple parts and embellished with additional accents.
And that’s the gist of my metalworks. I hope that it was both entertaining and informative to you. I think I’ll go stick my hands in some ice now.
Eeeee! I just got the final proofs of the 3rd english-language edition of Enchanted Doll book from the publisher (BabyTattoo Books) and approved them for publication!
The colour reproduction is really impressive. All the photos are so juicy and saturated with rich, velvety tones! I love it. It’s getting Fedexed to the presses in Hong Kong today! All that remains for me to do now, is sign off on the new cover proofs and two months from now I will have a crisp, luscious new book for you. Can’t wait. It’s going to be so beautiful!
Mould making is like building three dimensional puzzle pieces. I hhhhhhate making moulds. I hhhhhate it with all my heart! Oh mould-making, how I hate thee, let me count the ways:
You are dirty. You are messy. You’re repetitive. You’re mind bogglingly tedious. You’re physically strenuous. You’re mentally exhausting. You’re logistically challenging. You’re harmful to the the human respiratory system. You make my studio into a white, sticky, gooey, clingy mess of dry and wet plaster crumbs for days on end. You leave a white trail of yourself where ever I go. You make me clean up after you ever 5 minutes to contain the mess you make, aaaaaand you make me use a bucket of cold, dirty water to do that because you will clog up my plumbing if I flush you.
You hurt my neck and back. You make my hands feel like two dry, scaly reptiles from being coated in plaster and clay from dawn to dusk for two weeks straight, and from washing them hundreds of times each day. You splash on all my clothes and my face and make me involuntarily swallow and inhale you. You feel gross on my skin. You hurt my fingers to the point of bruising and you scratch and cut my dehydrated skin until it bleeds.
I hate you because I really hate messes, and you mould-making, are the biggest mess-making process I can think of! You are so inconvenient! And yet, without you I can’t make dolls. You are a necessary evil. Your complexity annoys me, but it also challenges my technical abilities, stimulates my curiosity and improves my problem-solving skills. You are a problem, and I choose to solve you, over and over and over again, because you are a gateway to my creative freedom and happiness.
You are the opposite of fun and I count down every second to the finish line, but you give me a strange sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. And glee! You make me sweat and cry and bleed right into plaster. You make me laugh maniacally when I succeed and thrust each finished puzzle piece up above me like the Lion King cub. You make me cuddle each completed mold in my arms proudly and coo at it like it’s a precious newborn baby. You make me feel so exhausted at the end of each day, that I can barely stand, but you also make me exhilarated and joyous in anticipation of all the dolls I will make from you.
I really hate you, mould-making, but I also love you. You facilitate beauty. You are the start of many wonderful journeys. You are the beginning of dolls. You are so inconvenient, mold-making, and I can’t live without you!