Category : Work in Progress

9 years, 7 months ago 27
Posted in: Work in Progress

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Aren’t they beautiful?

I’ve coveted an airbrush for years, but was always intimidated by the sheer coolness and sleekness of this little high-tech tool.

I love tools because they provide my hands and imagination with a vehicle for expressing my ideas and realizing my dreams. I never hesitate to purchase equipment which will increase the efficiency and quality of my work, because I consider it a worthy investment in my career. So, understandably, I’ve become a bit of a tool junkie.

The only reason I didn’t already own an airbrush, despite wanting it for years, is because I couldn’t justify the spending of significant funds, nor the time commitment it would require, on a tool that didn’t really have a practical use in my doll-making methods. No matter how much I wanted it to, an airbrush just wasn’t suited for my application and I really had no interest in using it for anything but dolls.

Well, all that changed when resin Enchanted Dolls came into the picture and brought a necessity to expand my painting methods and techniques. Now, an airbrush is no longer an expensive novelty, but a necessary and a valuable tool in achieving my new creative goals. At least that’s my hope. I hope it’s everything it want it to be, because that neat little set up over there, cost me almost as much as one of my ceramic kilns. I’ve never actually tried airbrushing and don’t even know if I’ll like it.

Yep, I may have just wasted a bunch of valuable resources, but it won’t be the first nor the last time I do that in pursuit of a vision. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it as I go….and if I fail…..oh well….life’s full of risks.

After all, what are the options – not trying?

9 years, 7 months ago 32
Posted in: Work in Progress

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Chad shot a series of photos of me finishing the first prototypes of the resin parts. It was very different, new process to me as I was familiarizing myself with the new medium. It’s not very rational, but somehow I felt overcome by guilt over working with resin, as if I was cheating on porcelain.  And as I worked, I kept gazing over at my kilns and my porcelain cleaning tools with longing and tenderness, anticipating the moment when i could start another porcelain doll.

At one point I caught myself nostalgically recalling all the endless, mentally straining and incredibly repetitive cleaning sessions of porcelain parts, and those memories were all in slow motion, with soft focus glow and a romantic soundtrack in the background. The very things I hate the most about porcelain process, seemed attractive and pleasant just because they were old, familiar and comfortable friends to me. I’m such a creature of habit. I realized that I was suffering a little bit of separation anxiety and some nervousness in the face of a new creative adventure.

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I did a lot of drilling to expand the inside cavities for springs and even some seam line sanding, even though parts came mostly finished. Porcelain, when sanded in proper set up doesn’t create any dust, nor should it ever be allowed to create dust because it will give you lung cancer. This was different with resin, as these resin parts created a lot of toxic dust, which really freaked me out a lot. Today I ordered a special, industrial dust extraction system for work with resin as well as other sanding and drilling applications. I’ve wanted to have one installed for 3 years now for my jewelry work, and I finally ran out of excuses to not do it. Our health is our most valuable commodity, and a few thousand dollars is a cheap price to pay for not getting lung cancer. So, today I’m happy for my lungs.

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I never take safety regulations for granted anymore and always observe work safe rules, even it seems excessive at times.  Accidents happen when you’re sloppy, distracted or when you’re too confident in your abilities and think you’re above mistakes. I’ve been all of the above at one point or a another, and luckily, suffered only minor injuries and learned to be my own rigorous safety technician. I want to keep all my eyes and fingers intact for as long as I can, to make the most beautiful dolls the world has ever seen. My health is my most valuable commodity.

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These are all the process pictures for now. I will be doing more documentation of the resin line, so, stay tuned.

9 years, 7 months ago 139

That’s right. It’s official. Enchanted Dolls will soon be also available in fine resin.

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Let me introduce to you the very first Resin ED prototype. Her name is Kay. Her face was painted after my porcelain Cinderella for practice. I wanted to see how close I can get to porcelain Enchanted Dolls in terms of painting style and technique. I think fairly close.

Oh what a journey it has been! The minute I came back from a show in Germany in the fall, I began following on leads for resin manufactures until I found the manufacturer of my dreams who GETS ME. Really, really gets me; My minute perfectionism, my high demands for my dolls, the vision of what I want to create. Together we have big plans for this resin ED line. Sorry I’ve been keeping a tight lid on this secret. I’ve been wanting to announce this amazing news for weeks, but having been burned by manufacturers before, I didn’t want to jinx it. And now finally I have physical evidence and results to show how amazing this line is turning out!

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Resin doll Kay, painted with watercolor pencils, liquitex acrylic paints, synthetic glazes and a UV resistant varnish sealant.

The resin EDs are copies of my porcelain dolls with some improvements. They are the same size of 13.5″( 36cm), but they have 3 different pairs of hands with various levels of finger expressiveness. Also, all the joints have been altered for a tight fit to improve the body lines and recalibrated for a non-leather-lined traction. So far, 5 different head molds are available, but I plan to make more soon. I am also planning to create a raised foot, self -customizing option for a heeled shoe. But that’s in the future.

These are my first impressions of my very first experience with resin.

The resin parts themselves by far exceeded my expectations. They are incredible quality. They are very tough and a little flexible, so that even their tiny fingers can take a tremendous amount of abuse! My porcelain dolls are very strong but a bit brittle, while resin dolls are strong and also durable and don’t require gentle handling at all. The resin has a UV retardant mixed in. They are silky smooth and pick up every nuance of my porcelain dolls’ skin surface. There are some dramatic differences in how resin and porcelain each ‘take’ and retain the surface paint, both aesthetically and technically: China paint on porcelain being hard, permanent and absolutely non-removable through human means, while Acrylic and whatercolor on resin being soft and removable with solvents and abrasive materials.

That’s the main contradiction I’m facing with porcelain and resin dolls: while porcelain requires gentle handling and full awareness of the doll because though very strong, it is brittle and vulnerable to medium velocity impact, its surface is completely impervious to scratches, UV, dirt or paint damage. Resin dolls on the other hand are a lot more durable and can easily survive a medium velocity impact and all kinds of very rough play and probably even small children, but their acrylic-based surface paint is not molecularly bonded to resin the way China paint is to Porcelain, and so one has to be aware of not accidentally removing paint through careless abrasive surface contact. Although touching it and gently wiping/washing it with wet cloth is quite safe because it’s sealed with varnish. I’ve tested it.

So, gentle handling is still advised, but not because of the doll itself, but for the sake of the paint.

Even though I’m not very pleased about this impermanence, I understand that this is the primary characteristic of resin which is common to all resin dolls, ball-jointed or not, and despite this, it still makes up for this minor shortcoming with its other amazing characteristics, such as incredible strength and customizing versatility.

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This is Clymenestra. She is partially painted. Her face, hands and feet are painted, while her body is left blank. She has downcast eyes and an option for real eyelashes. Testing out different looks. I think this one is a Greek goodess.

The articulation of my resin Enchanted Dolls is the same as my porcelain dolls.  All the joints were altered to improve a movement range and after testing all kinds of stinging up methods and playing with elastics, I realized why I developed a steel spring articulation to begin with: it’s because elastics absolutely SUCK compared to carbon springs. They suck. Sucky-sucky-suck-suck.

That’s why I had decided to keep my complex, signature steel articulation style in my resin dolls too. It’s takes a long time to do, but it’s so worth it. The registration of the joints is very good due to the spring tension, even though most joints are not lined with leather and are very smooth inside. I lined only two parts with fine leather: the chest joint and the neck joint. The rest is resin on resin contact and due to isolated-joint stringing system, the registration is still remarkable. I love springs.

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My first painting attempt 3 days ago was a spectacular failure. I naturally assumed I can do anything, :) and when I couldn’t create my beloved misty blushing effect with acrylic paints on resin, I was so upset I almost lost it. I kept trying to do it and resin just kept “grabbing” the paint half a second after I applied it and I couldn’t do any blending to it. Acrylic dries really fast, but not this fast. I was shocked and frustrated at seeing this new characteristic of acrylic on resin, nearly to tears. I kept failing and wiping it off and starting again and failing again and thinking: “This can’t be! How can this be?! I know acrylic like the palm of my hand. How can I be failing at something I know? I went to art school for five years, damn it!!” Well,  Acrylic is impossible to mist without an airbrush, it turns out. It’s something I didn’t know because I’ve always painted a wet on wet acrylic, which blends just fine. While wet on dry is pretty impossible. I plan to buy an air brush for large area blushing, but meanwhile I used whatercolor to create the misty blush on her face and body. The look it creates on the skin is similar to that of china paint, but that’s as far as similarities go.

Chad said this was because I got a bit too arrogant since I haven’t failed for a while. I should say without false modesty that most of my attempts end up in success. This was a huge reality check to my ego.

In most ways painting a resin doll is way easier than painting a porcelain doll because it doesn’t require specialty tools, specialty paint, an extremely steady hand or a highfire kiln to bond the color to porcelain and that means anyone can do it with readily available art supplies. Like anything else, it does require practice and I, unaccustomed to the new technique characteristics, was struggling for control of my tones, lines and blushing. I was a novice. About 36 hours into my attempts I began to figure it out though. I couldn’t sleep until I did.

I still think that China paint allows for a far more control, especially on a miniature scale like my dolls’ faces and hands, not to mention the whole permanence thing. In fact, getting to know the beauty of resin gave me a whole new appreciation for how amazing porcelain really is. I think I just missed it after not working with it for a few days! It remains my first, high maintenance love, while resin is my new mistress. :)

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Resin dolls can balance a lot better without a stand than my porcelain dolls. I don’t have stands made for these yet, but I’m working on it. Wigs, custom boxes and stands is my next project for my resin line. I am so excited about the new boxes! I think you guys will be too when you see the sample. It’s something very special.

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These are my first four resin prototypes. I haven’t had time to paint the other two yet, but perhaps next week I might. I’m still working on developing this line and can’t say exactly when I will begin taking orders for these. Hopefully this spring I will be able to take the first batch of 20 orders or so. I will honor my wait list and give the people who’ve waited the longest the opportunity to order first. I’m still working out the prices, but because they are quite expensive to manufacture, high quality dolls they will retail for around $1500 CND -$2,000 CND. I’m still working it out.

I’m also considering offering the option of a limited number of blank dolls to artsy people who like customizing their own dolls. I frequently get requests for blank dolls and with porcelain it is absolutely out of question, but with resin it’s possible but I am undecided. On one hand I am really eager to see how others would interpret painting of my dolls, on the other hand, I am a bit protective of them. Perhaps you guys  could offer some insight on that. Is this something you would like?

Well, I hope this was worth the wait. Whoever is interested in purchasing one of these dolls, please email me as I’m making a resin nude doll wait list.

Eventually I plan to create limited resin costumed lines too, as well as accessories, but that’s in the future. One step at a time.

It looks like my announcement coincides with the premiere of the last season of Lost. Got to go watch it. Hopefully it won’t be a huge disappointment like the last two seasons.

New Season of Lost and Resin Enchaned Dolls!? Wooo!

9 years, 7 months ago 31

wax-pillars

They didn’t really come out of the mold in one piece, but my complicated models rarely do, so it’s business as usual. The waxes require extensive touch ups for casting, but that is always the case with my stuff because of the sheer size. The most important part is that there is no warping of the general form of the pillar, as that was the biggest concern. I am quite relieved now as this  was the most complicated part of the entire coffin project. But who knows, I might come up with something even more complicated to make tomorrow. I’m weird like that.

It’s almost a little bit masochistic: I don’t seem to like a quiet, peaceful, trouble-free existence. I always need to deal with some sort of a problem to feel like my life has meaning. I think I inherited this trait from my parents who are pretty adventurous, cooky couple that also can’t seem to live a simple, uncomplicated life. Like my mom and dad like to say: “First we create our problems, and then we heroically resolve them!”

Unfortunately I won’t have this pillar in time for the opening of the Dragonspace show as my casting techs are too booked up with Olympics coming up, but perhaps half way through I might be able to sneak it in. Don’t know yet.

Lolita’s outfit is finally going up on Ebay auction on February 21st. It took me a long time to bring myself to part with it. Seriously, this time it’s for realz y’all.

ATTENTION CONTEST PARTICIPANTS: Mailing deadline has been extended to March 13th.

And that big news I mentioned earlier is still coming up!

9 years, 7 months ago 34

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So, after all that hard work trying to guess the purpose of this object, I suppose I should tell you what it is already. All the guesses, with the exception of a pony, were pretty accurate and relevant.

It was kind of a trick question though, because I designed this piece with multiple functions in mind and can make it into many things that were called: it can be a fancy stool or an armchair leg, a throne pillar or a bench, a stand for a doll case, a column for a doorway arch or a frame for a Gothic window, a post for a canopy bed and a mirror frame….heck, I’m pretty sure I can even make it into a pony.  I declare everyone a winner!

However, the guess about it being a “fancy grave statue/ funeral monument“, was closer to the primary function of this piece than the rest.

You see, I’m making a new coffin for a new Snow White doll! I’m aiming for a very Gothic aesthetic, with lots of spires and ornamental bronze framework, embellishing and encasing a glass chamber. If it works the way I envision it, it will be spectacular.  A worthy vessel for an Enchanted Doll. This one pillar is just the beginning of the project. I will try to finish the legs to have it displayed in my Vancouver show, but I don’t know if everything will work out as planned. Tomorrow I will find out if molding and wax injections have worked out. If they haven’t, well, that’s very bad.

The longing to make a much more beautiful glass coffin has been tugging at me ever since I finished the first one in 2006 and realized I could do much better. During my trips to Europe, I visited countless cathedrals and always go down to their underground treasuries and tombs for research. The things that I love to admire the most  are exquisite glass and precious metal, holy relic holders. They are truly spectacular and intricate little things that heavily inspire this coffin project. These are just some of the relic holders I’ve come across and by far not the craziest ones. I believe they are from Florence.

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Although these are incredible, my favorite relic holders are those done in a Gothic architectural style, with tiny spires and windows and aches made to  look like they are miniature cathedrals themselves. Like these:

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This is kind of what I dream of making.

I find Gothic architecture to be crazy beautiful and ultimately want to have a glass coffin that resembles it and could belong in an ancient treasury, along with other precious relics. Except instead of some dead guy’s dry bones or shriveled up internal organs or something equally gross, there will be a beautiful, porcelain doll sleeping inside.

My plan is to have it completed by my Berlin solo show. I hope to succeed.

9 years, 8 months ago 193
Posted in: Work in Progress

This…

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Can you guess what it is?

Since a lot of people seem to like seeing progress shots, I’ve documented making this wax model. Enjoy.

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1) A block of jeweler’s wax is cut in two with a jeweler’s saw. I have a loose design in mind at this point. Still working it out in my head.

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2) The block is carefully measured out into to different sections as the design is decided on. I am now committed to this way of action. The rudimentary design is sawed out with a jewelr’s blade and then filed down to a smoother texture and more precise lines.

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3) Sawing and filing modeling wax creates a lot of fine dust and chips. Within moments a clean surface can be transformed into a messy one. I have to clean it every few minutes to maintain a comfortable and clean working environment.

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4) The model used to be the other half of the wax block. I’m terrible with straight lines, mathematical precision and symmetry. Terrible. Organic lines are a lot easier to achieve for me than something perfectly geometrical. I’m also impatient and can’t stand the meticulous drawing out of models on paper. They turn out to be pretty sloppy because most of my calculations are done in freehand mode, right on the final piece. In other words-I make it up as I go along. Perhaps that’s a bad practice.

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5) Grooves are made in each of the four sides of the piece for decorative filling. My wrist is rather tired at this point from pushing my rough carving tools. It’s not time yet for my precision jeweler’s gadgets, but even then a lot of pressure is required to carve this hard wax with tiny scrapers and files.

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6) Beginnings of a rudimentary design on the first panel. My favorite method of sculpture is a simultaneous subtraction and addition of mass. I carve some away and I add some back with my heating wax pen. My wax pen is one of my most invaluable tools. Ever. I feel intimately connected to it, as if it’s an extension of my fingers.

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7) This is a piece in an advanced stages of modeling. At this point i’ve put about 40 hours of wrist-breaking labor in it. And that doesn’t count the hours I spent thinking about it prior to starting. Despite all that thinking, I still don’t usually know exactly what I making, until I’m making it. I love Flow.

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8 ) Identical design on the second panel. Not sure yet what will happen to the rest of it. I’m in a big hurry and racing through this….one tedious millimeter at a time… It’s been 3 days of non stop work and I hope to have the whole thing completed in another 3.  I should be fine if my arms don’t kill me first. And don’t even get me started on my fingers. To be continued…..

Well, have you guessed what I’m making yet?

9 years, 8 months ago 34

It took me almost 3 full days to make the tall, Rococo wig for the Little Aristocrat Lily doll. The doll, which will be auctioned off on Ebay on Dec 27th. Here is the general idea of the process.

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The construction begins with making a wig cap and attaching the padding and supporting infrastructure to it. Then, extra long hair is glued down and it is determined which parts will be going up first. Hair is spread into isolated sections. At this point I sit and look at the doll for a long, long time, visualizing what I want her hair to be and devising a plan of action and steps to make it happen.

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Because a lot of wig-making methods are designed for humans or much larger dolls, I often improvise with various materials and contraptions and find new applications for my kitchen utensils, woodworking, jewelry and porcelain tools. Sometimes the least likely thing will provided the most desired results.

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This wig was probably the most complicated one I’ve made so far. Because it was very sculptural in essence, I had to think of hair and treat it as a sculpting medium, sort of like a lump of wet clay or wax, which you then shape into a form. But now that I think about it, this is how I tend to approach most of my projects. I have a very sculptural frame of mind. After determining where certain locks will go and how many of them I want, I began to pin them up in their approximate locations, keeping in mind the desired size, direction and angle of each curl.

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I used traditional and not-traditional hair styling products to put this hair into shape. Luckily, I have a huge arsenal of all kinds of painting, diluting, thinning, thickening, texturing etc. substances in my possession, which were acquired for various, non-hair related practices. Some are poisonous and others you never ever want to put on your own scalp. But this is porcelain we are talking about, and porcelain to my knowledge is impervious even to acid. Water was one of the main agents in trying to control the vast mane of hair that was required for the wig this size.

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Pinhead. Kind of like this one.

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I hate gore horror. Whenever I watch it, I’m not so much    scared, as I am disturbed and at the same time fascinated by the kind of sick imagination one would need to have to write and film stuff like that. I much prefer ghost horror than blood and guts. But getting back to MY lovely Pinhead-Lily.

Ah, that’s better.

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After a few hours of construction and a night of drying and setting, the curling phase is over and now it’s time to take everything apart in a carefully choreographed order and arrange it in a desirable way. The problem is getting the curls to lay on the head instead of well, curling up. For this I use an experimental method of applying a synthetic, transparent primer to the hair with a brush.

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My concern was the eventual coming apart of the wig. I realized that simple hair spray will simply not be enough. That’s why I went with a much tougher alternative. The primer literally glues hair to itself, making it firm and tough, while maintaining the appearance of hair. By the time I was done, there was more plastic in that wig, than hair. Seriously, the thing is almost bulletproof.

Warning: Do not ever use this on your own hair. Unless you want a permanent hold and the same hair style for the next few years until new hair grows out. Then go ahead.

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Stylin’. She has hair spray and primer all over her face. Once again, because she is porcelain and her face painting is molecularly bonded to the surface of her skin at high temperature, I can for allow all kinds of things to be stuck to her face, knowing that I will easily be able to remove it without removing her entire face. You never want to do this with a resin doll. When the wig was done, the primer was so tough that I had to scrape from her face with a surgical blade and fine sand paper to get it all off. And you would never know it.

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Finished. Drying. Setting. Looking lovely. But still missing something. I had to send Chad to the drug store to buy me some cosmetic powder for her hair. Apparently they don’t really make loose face powder anymore since it’s 2010 and not 1710. All he could find was fancy moose powder and sheer cover and stuff. So, we had to get some Johnson’s baby diaper powder instead. Oh, well-if it’s good for babies then it can’t be bad for my doll.

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Cough, cough, cough! There. Cough, cough, cough. Now she is complete! Cough, cough, cough.

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What? I’ve sat at this desk for how many hours?! 48? You don’t say…..felt like 48 minutes to me.

Was all worth it, as far as I’m concerned.

Thank you and good night.

10 years ago 38
Posted in: Work in Progress
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"I....I, I can't do this..."

So, I bought a collection of exotic, taxidermy beetles because I thought it would be a fantastic idea to cast them in sterling silver, set them with stones and turn them into fabulous head dresses and accessories for my dolls, but the problem is that now that I have it, I can’t bring myself to harvest the parts I need. No, not because they are beautiful, which they certainly are, but because they gross me out. I’m scared to touch them.

And dear god, do they smell bad. Especially after I opened the sealed box. I don’t know what repulses me more: the thought of having to dismember them or the nauseating stench they emit. And I can’t figure out if it’s formaldehyde I’m smelling or decomposition of their fat, juicy beetle intestines. I know they are supposed to be emptied out for preservation, but I do not want to cut into one and find out otherwise.

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"I can do this, I can do this...oh, for crying out loud, get it together!"

I didn’t think it would be this hard for me to do this. I just assumed that my excitement over making beautiful objects from muli-legged creatures’ body parts would automatically override my fear of dismembering them. Well, that hasn’t happened yet. Every day for the past two weeks I’ve been trying to get used to the idea. A couple of times a day i get a glass of water or occasionally, a beer, sit down in my arm chair across from the display case and look at it for fifteen minutes like it’s a staring contest. So far, the bugs are winning it. When I work at my desk, the case is directly behind me and countless times during the  day I suddenly inerrupt my work flow, swing around in my chair, put my feet up on my desk and look at it some more with a withering stare. As if i’m trying to catch it off gurard or something. Just sit there and look at my dead, gaint insects while imagining beautiful crowns with scorpion pincers and beetle legs.

I’m not even really sure of what exactly I’m going to make with them. I know it will come when I’m working. I have a sixth sense about that stuff. I just need to start working with them.

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"Wow, that's gross."

I’ve decided to take this to my friend/casting technician, Ryan, to help me dismember these beetles. There is strength in numbers. Worst case scenario is that Ryan will freak out even more than me and then I will feel like the brave one and my squeamishness will disappear.

It’s got to get done. I can’t let my fear get in the way of art. I will have to get over myself. And that’s it and that’s that.

10 years, 1 month ago 94
Posted in: Work in Progress

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A pregnant, tattooed doll.

It’s a work in progress: I’m still thinking about the head dress. I was so mentally fatigued from working on orders that I just had to make something else.  A Tattoo Extreme magazine in Taipei is running a cover story on Enchanted Doll this month and I was hoping to finish this new doll in time for the August 10th deadline. But I don’t think I’m going to make it even if I send it to the publisher right now, because the issue is probably going to print as I write.

This piece, titled “State Property” is a part of the triptych composition of three dolls under a working tittle “The holy trinity of traditional womanhood”. And I don’t mean that in a good way. Well, this project is kind of loaded with gender politics symbolism, but I don’t want to talk about it just yet. This is just a peek. Chad and I will be making a gallery for her very shortly.

There you go, State Property-my first pregnant porcelain doll. I don’t know how I feel about her yet. And no, I’m not pregnant and plan to never be.

10 years, 3 months ago 30
Posted in: Work in Progress

I’m quite bored of all my face molds and some body molds and long to make new ones. I’ve been wanting to make a few new faces as well as a new set of legs for Enchanted Dolls, but so far, have been unable to commit enough time to it. If I don’t just sit down and sculpt some new ones soon, I’m in danger of dying from boredom. Or exploding with impatience.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy painting the faces I’ve got and coming up with different variations of expressions, tones and make up.  I rely very heavily on painting techniques to give different appearences to the same face sculpt and enjoy the challenge, but after a year or so of experimenting with the same set of 10 face molds I need fresh canvases.

So, that’s why I’m not booking any orders after August 2nd at this point; to make time and create more beauties. I may be able to fit in a couple a month, but I can’t make any promises just yet. Plus, with the porcelain slip shortage situation I may have to go on a forced haitus for a while and working on new sculpts is the perfect project in the absence of doll casting.

More doll faces!