Category : Sketch of the week

7 years, 9 months ago 16


Another year-old sketch of a Lantern-related head ornament. I’ve since had made a version of it, but not this version.


It’s high time I revisited that idea.


7 years, 10 months ago 19


I had made this sketch around the same time last year. At the time, the Lantern pendant hadn’t yet materialized and was in the early working stages. After I drew this and saw how cool it would look, I began to work on it aggressively and completed it two months later. It’s nice to look back and see concepts, longings and dreams realized. I haven’t made this doll yet, but I will, I will.

Should I include this sketch into the next edition of the Enchanted Doll book?

Also: Attention birthday contestants! This is a modification to the mailing rules:
You may mail your cards in envelopes if you have concerns that cards might go missing in the mail. They won’t be disqualified.

8 years, 6 months ago 28


I’ve been feeling a little bit worn out, uninspired and travel-sick lately, so this long weekend I took time off dolls to draw another map of my recent travels in Europe. It was either that, or vegging out on the couch and feeling sorry for myself. At least I did something productive. I believe these maps are a side effect of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies towards sorting, organizing and compartmentalizing my experiences, memories, feelings, goals and possessions. And since I’m a visual and a sentimental person, this tendency sometimes manifests in maps. (click for larger images)


Charting out travels is somewhat cathartic, but it doesn’t cure my wander-lust, only makes it worse. So much of the world still needs to be seen! And I intend to keep adding new routes and journeys to this map until there isn’t any blank space left to draw on.


These are my mementos of distance. They are fragments of rocks and flora, collected from different places in the world which I’ve visited and brought home with me. Like the rest of my world, they are neatly compartmentalized and labeled. I open one vial, inhale the scent of volcanic pebbles and remember being atop Mt. Vesuvius and the sensation of my earrings swinging against my neck in the strong wind as I look down in wonder at the sprawl of Naples below; I open another, and smell the salty surf breaking on the rocky beach of the Pacific coastline of Vancouver Island; I open a third one, and get transported to a tree-shaded park in Prague, where Chad and I fell sleep one hot summer afternoon while counting clouds…These little bottles are time capsules and I’m a time traveler.


I also keep this old Flammarion engraving framed where I can always see it, because I find it to be a deeply profound visual representation of human curiosity and our relentless search for new experiences and knowledge about our world and beyond. It shows us needing and reaching for something larger than ourselves and our immediate surroundings. This simple and brilliant drawing deeply resonates with my own longings and inspires me every day.

There is a blank scroll at the bottom of the drawing where I want to insert a quote by R.L Steventson, which says: “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign”.

8 years, 10 months ago 24


This is a sketch I recently made for a doll-related project. I can’t say which project or how it’s relevant exactly, yet, but I’m very excited about it. This project has been confounding me for a couple of years, and I think I’m finally going to be able to pull it off.

It’s heavily inspired by my favorite Sulamith Wulfing drawing, but I still had a very hard time with it, as symmetry and geometry are not my strengths. I love Gothic architecture though. My passion for it was sparked in a grade six history class, when we were first introduced to different styles of architecture. Like yesterday, I remember turning the page of my textbook, and glimpsing a picture of the magnificent Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral). It took my breath away. It seemed so light and ethereal, stretching, seeking to be closer to infinity with its pointy spires…as if it could just lift off and float away.

I loved Gothic architecture since then, but having seen Duomo di Milano with my own eyes and having climbed up to the roof and walked amongst those painfully intricate arches and spires, I love it even more.

This is another project for 2012.

9 years, 4 months ago 17


I love silver findings, especially box clasps and bails. I wasn’t satisfied with what I was finding on the market, so I decided to design my own. I don’t usually make detailed sketches like this for myself, as I can see it all in my mind’s eye, but computerized milling requires meticulous design drawings, lest it get misinterpreted as something else.


I was getting increasingly surprised and annoyed that it was taking me almost 4 days to get this sketch right. I had to re-do it so many times, that I started to regret just not going ahead and trying to carve it by hand. It probably wouldn’t have looked as nice if I had, so I suppose it was all worth it. Almost always is.

9 years, 4 months ago 27

This morning I was mailing out the gifts for the 2011 annual Birthday contest winners, and I realized that I hadn’t yet announced the third contestant who had guessed one of my current projects! Well, here we go then: The last prize winner of the 2011 contest is  Jon Songserm, who submitted a concept design for a street lamp crown (sketch here), which was very close to my Chandelier crown doll. Thank you again for everybody’s entries. All gifts but the grand prize are in the mail. I will be posting pictures of them for all to see in a couple of days, but in the mean time here is how I made the Chandelier Crown.


Original concept sketches were made about 2 years ago and put aside for while. No technical consideration or calculations are made: the project is pure idea at this stage.


December 2010 Chandelier idea is pulled off the shelf and wheels are set in motion for production. Measurements are taken, additional sketches are made, maximum weight and height are worked out, structure is determined and various needed components are identified and designed. The goal is to create the lightest possible piece, without compromising structural integrity or aesthetic. A detailed technical drawing of the most complex part is made and sent off for carving by a computerized mill, as its small scale prohibits successful hand-carving.


Seven weeks later a wax prototype is carved out and a rubber mold is made for multiple wax injections.


After all the parts are cast in bronze and silver, they are cleaned, assembled by hand and soldered into a structure.


The piece is then gold plated with 24k gold and the crystal assembly begins using a nylon cable.


The details of the design are worked out during assembly.


Chandelier in the early stage of crystal assembly. The wight increases with each added crystal strand, and as the crown turns more beautiful, it also grows into an almost unbearably heavy monstrosity. In the end 1,800 Swarowsky crystals were used in the final composition.


Finished chandelier crown for the project titled “The Weight of Light”


‘The Weight of Light’ happens to be 178 grams in this case.

9 years, 7 months ago 16


Concept sketches for the shoes.


Wax models of the shoes in the works. I hope to finish the second one by Wednesday and begin molding. It’s probably the most challenging pair I’ve made so far. I’m worried about the mold design and the inject-ability of these molds and hope to find out if they work by the end of the week.  Tonight I’ve got lots of writing to do, but it’s hard, because I can’t stop thinking about these unfinished waxes sitting on my desk.

9 years, 8 months ago 48

Now that I had a few days of rest from the contest-related work, I would like to come back to it with some thoughts. Like I said before, some contest ideas really corresponded with my own and reminded me of some drawings I had made for them over the course of a few years. I thought it’s a good time to review them alongside with the contest entries I received from others. Go to the link to see their submissions. The following are my sketches.


Eliza and I had the same idea of a conjoined twin doll. Well, similar.


A few people (Els, Carmelo, Kelly S., Ana S., Yana, Signe (Jon), had similar ideas to my own, of captivity-themed dolls, particularly the chastity belt was popular.



Maura, Gretchen, Maria, and Clemintine, also thought about the hybrid tree-female. It’s a captivating idea, that doesn’t translate well into a ball-jointed doll. It’s not impossible, but it would be difficult to make.


Amarilli, Petya, Laura, Maria, Katrina have suggested a cage dress idea, and I dug up that these drawings in my sketchbook. Although I’ve been trying to work it out for a long time, I haven’t really committed to this project yet. It has a lot of potential, I think.


Little Red Riding Hood Enchanted Doll was suggested by Kate, Maria, Jessica, and Alessandra. This is my sketch from 2007. I should make it into a doll already.


Invisigothgrrrl proposed a Minotaur doll, and I found this sketch in my traveling sketchbook dating back to Florence, Italy 2007.


Sara and Tatiana amongst some others have suggested a warrior doll, and I remembered when I dreamed about this armored doll and then waking up and drawing it down in the corner of my sketchbook.


Christina and Petya proposed these head dresses, and here is my version of them, also from a while back. I haven’t had time to develop them further.


Adriatzin submitted a proposal for a miscarriage doll and I was blown away by how similar the representation was to my own. Except my wasn’t pregnant and had a Gothic cathedral tattoo on the torso. But the blood swirl tattoos are remarkably similar. Only my concept for this doll was not a miscarriage, but an abortion in favor of reproductive choice. And now the cat is out of the bag. Too bad it won’t be a surprise. Oh well.

There are three other entries who’ve actually guessed the projects I’m currently working on right now. I think I will save them for the next post, sometime this week perhaps. I think you’ll like them.

I noticed there was a recurrent problem of noncompliance with the contest rules regarding the word limit.  Some participants have either ignored or misunderstood the limit, and sent me whole essays about their entries. The word limit was in place to 1) force people to be concise with their entries, and 2) because I’m just one person and can’t spend weeks reading through entries. By not-complying with the rules of the contest, you, my dear contestants, may have accidentally sabotaged your own chances to win.

Please read the rules more carefully next year. They will be different.

9 years, 9 months ago 60

Thank you all for such warm and emotional responses, and for sharing with me some of your own experiences with breast cancer. I should confess that, although I had finished this doll over two months ago, I was very hesitant to show it, because exposing my fears this way to others, made me feel very vulnerable. Creating a physical embodiment of my fears with my own hands felt both frightening and cathartic.

But the breast cancer doll didn’t start out the way you see her. She started out like this:


At first, I wanted to explore the idea of metastasis, the most advanced stage of cancer, where cancer cells spread to different parts of the body through the axillary lymph nodes. After having studied many horrifying photographs of women with visible lesions, I made this first version the the doll.


Basing the look of the lesions on the real ones, I wanted to draw the comparison to something living and invasive, like some sort of a cunning, parasitic organism, such as a spider or a flesh-eating beetle. But, for some reason this didn’t sit well with me, partially because it was rather horrifying and nauseating, so I decided to abandon that angle and choose a more open-ended and a much more optimistic approach.


It’s as if I didn’t want to give my doll a death sentence. I realized that, for my own sanity, she had to be a hopeful doll, with many subtler layers of meaning and symbols.



One of the cancer survivors had given me this idea for a henna crown, that she herself had done, and I thought it was very beautiful.


The Surviving doll is also in a way a Christian martyr Saint Agatha of Sicily, who was tortured and had her breasts cut off in punishment for her faith. Having first seen it in a museum a couple of years ago, I was very stricken a painting of St.Agatha, holding a platter with her amputated breasts and to my astonishment, gazing down at them calmly and peacefully, as if she wasn’t bothered by the ordeal at all.  It was impossible not to see this as symbolism for struggle with breast cancer, double mastectomy and survival, and it made me think of how other women experienced it and how I might experience it myself, if I’m ever faced with cancer.

At one point I almost titled this doll St.Agatha: The patron saint of breast cancer victims, but that didn’t sit quite right with me for some reason….don’t know why….perhaps in part because I’m an atheist…..just didn’t have the right message in it, i think.

Does any one have any thoughts, opinions or a preference for either title?

What do you think about my decision to go with a double mastectomy symbolism instead of the severe lesions?

10 years, 7 months ago 62


Deep sea diver helmet rough sketch.

I noticed that a lot of my projects seem to be born from my own fears and apprehensions. For example: I am quite frightened by the idea of deep water diving and I experience a strong discomfort while swimming in the open water, lakes, rivers or ponds, or any natural body of water for that matter. In fact, I only enjoy swimming and diving in the safe, blue swimming pools with a pleasant, tiled bottom. It’s not so much the water itself that bothers me, as it is the depth, the darkness and the unknowns of its mysterious vastness.

I can’t even be on a blow up toy or a mattress, because I can’t relax and it seems to me that I’m floating high in the sky, but instead of air beneath me, there is only dark water that hides all the visible and exposed things from sight. Swallows them. I can’t dangle my feet in the water if I can’t see the bottom near and clear. And even then I’d rather not. It’s like a reverse fear of heights, in a way. I can’t see what’s under me, and it frightens me. Oh, and the sea weed. That stuff’s just plain terrifying.


So, I tend to avoid even getting in the water when it’s not encased in concrete and tiles. This phobia definitely interferes with my enjoyment of summer at times. But oh, well. I’ve got other things going.


This is the Diver’s helmet modeled in wax. It took  me two weeks of full time work to construct this thing. It was so difficult, I almost lost my mind in the process.

I find water is both beautiful and dangerous and tried to convey this through the Deep Sea Diver project. Somebody cleverly suggested that it was Captain Nemo’s daughter. That is a very good idea. Like I said, my inspiration for this particular head dress was very instinctive and emotional in nature, stemming from my water anxiety, and thus I did not give much thought to the character wearing this helmet. And so now, she shall be Captain Nemo’s daughter. I think it fits the theme of the project very well. Thank you for the suggestion.