Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saving Face

When I first started making fairies I had no experience with doll making. Actually, I never really considered the fairies as dolls. I still don't think they are. They're more decorative accessories at this point. As I've more recently discovered, doll making is a lot more involved; there are movable parts made of clay or soft dolls with sewn details that would have taken hours, real doll hair, eyelashes, and clothing handmade to fit. All in all, very impressive and a goal worth working toward but I definitely don't have the time or skill at the moment. I'm particularly impressed with and inspired by Art Dolls which I will post about in the near future.

For the time being, I discovered a few much needed improvements I do have the ability to make - mainly on the fairy faces. I hadn't really given a lot of thought or effort to the painting of the faces, in fact, I was more intrigued with the construction of the entire piece. The faces, I would say, were rather rudimentary and the more fairies I made, the less satisfied I became with the lack of expression. I have been, however, pleased with my ability to mold the heads and the features out of clay so at least I have a good base to work with.

While perusing the remarkable works of the art doll makers I noticed one thing in common to all of their dolls. The eyes were very big and very bright while the nose and mouth were small and subtle. The mouths are almost like little cherries which allows the eyes to be the focal point. I think this is something that draws in people. When we talk to others we look in their eyes (assuming we're not shy or socially awkward), when we see the face of a beautiful person, we tend to notice their eyes first and their eyes are usually large. I also read somewhere that people find symmetry very appealing in a face. This is a key factor, apparently, that model agencies look for when selecting candidates.

So, with these things in mind, about a month ago, I modeled a new head out of clay and left it to dry. It wasn't by choice that I left it so long, but when I finally found the time to work on it, I was happy to have it waiting for me. I had, back then, made sure that the eye cavities were larger than the ones I had made previously and I also made the face a little more heart-shaped with a small chin. Several nights ago, I got to work with a new set of colours...watercolour brush pens made by Bienfang. I quickly, discovered, however, that they weren't the best medium for drawing faces. Although I could get a fairly fine point with the brushes, it wasn't quite fine enough. The mouth became much larger than I had wanted and the eyes just looked weird and flat.

I almost threw it out, that head, but then I thought I've already screwed it up so I might as well play with  it. I pulled out a bunch of different items to apply colour, one of them being simple crayons. I started by adding a light pink crayon to her cheeks and was delighted by the result. Then I started adding more definition and colours to the eyes, eyebrows and lips. I also got a simple black in ballpoint pen and outlined the iris and lips. Finally, every fairy needs some sparkle and glitter glue is a lot of fun and adds so much to the eyes.

Autumn Fairy with her Orange Eyes

Well, isn't it amazing when you just let yourself go and not worry about getting everything perfect? I was absolutely thrilled with the final result. Although I still find the lips too big, I think the eyes help to detract attention from them. Clearly, I have a long way to go before I would consider myself on par with the other talented ladies out there making dolls, but I am pleased that I have made this much progress. I also want to try some other ways to apply colour and if, by some chance, a veteran doll maker is reading this post and has some words of wisdom to offer, I would be so appreciative.

Okay. I'm off to make more heads for the future...hopefully the not too distant future.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You Gotta Have Faith

Blind folk see the fairies.
Oh better far than we.
Who miss the shining of their wings
Because our eyes are filled with things
We do not wish to see. ~ Rose Fyleman
I have to admit, I didn't like Faith. I had created her shortly after making Flora, my first faery, and had intended to give her to my sister, Sarah, for her birthday. Faith sat down in the bottom of my cupboard for more than a month – long after the birthday had come and gone. Every once in a while I would take her out and think, guiltily, that I should put her in a box and send her off by post. I never did.

One day I was invited to visit my friend, Louise, whom I hadn't seen in a long while. I knew that Louise enjoyed many things magical and whimsical. I wanted to bring her a faery but our arrangements had been rather spontaneous and I didn't have the time to create properly. I had started, rather mechanically, putting a faery together but I knew I wouldn't get far with it. So, absentmindedly, I went over to the cupboard and took out Faith.

I'm not sure whether I was looking for inspiration but I just held her and looked at her for a long time. As I did so, my daughter asked me what I was going to do with Faith. I replied that I really didn't know. I didn't really like Faith. My daughter was shocked. “Why, Mommy? She's so pretty!” Is she? I asked. “Yes!” Suddenly a solution dawned on me. I asked my daughter if she thought Louise would like Faith. Again came a resounding, Yes!

At that moment Faith looked different. Faith came to light. Faith did look pretty. All that time, since conception, Faith had been designated for the wrong person. Certainly Sarah deserves a faery but Faith was not the right one. Faith belonged to Louise. I immediately became giddy with anticipation. I couldn't wait to introduce the two of them, Louise and Faith!

 This is the way it is with art. I had forgotten because it's been so long since I created something. You cannot force creativity and you cannot force a created object into the wrong hands and before the wrong eyes. Well, you can, but it feels completely unsuitable. Friends and family are kind enough to be polite and accept a creation even if they don't really like it but that's never the goal of an artist. At least, not this artist. Perhaps because each of my faeries seems to have a “character” of sorts, she needs to be in the right hands, with someone of compatible character.

Louise would not rest until she had found the proper place for Faith. I knew then, that I had made a good choice...or my daughter had. When last I saw her, Faith was hanging in a corner by the patio door – light, breezy, and an area decorated by other whimsical objects such as a hand blown glass Friendship Ball, and a string of engraved copper bells. Faith had definitely found a home and I felt very good about it. I had just experienced how having faith in your own abilities and your own intuition always pays off. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why Faeries? Why Flora?

Pink Fairy with Blossom -
Elizabeth Moore Golding
Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by the diminutive. Miniature villages, models, dollhouses, and...yes...fairies, always drew my full attention which, if you knew me, you would know that is difficult to do. There was something so, might I say, magical about a world so small and all the little people, or creatures, that may live in it. Perhaps it was too many episodes of The Friendly Giant that I watched as a toddler (although I really don't think you can watch too many episodes of this sweet show) that influenced me. Or maybe it's just that small is often overlooked in a fast-paced world and if we stop to look, we find all sorts of delightful things.

A fairy, according to folklore, is a magical spirit who exists in likeness to a flower, insect, or other small creature. She is a problem solver, helper, fixer, and protector of nature.1  In some stories fairies were known to interfere in human lives by using their magic, but in most instances, they are benign creatures. They seem particularly delicate in comparison to elves or nymphs and the concept of gnomes holds no allure to me at all. I think, likely, that it is the fairy's association with flowers and my affinity to the garden that connects us on the level of imagination and creativity.

Flora Goddess of Spring - Jay DePalma
Flora is a botanical term we use to describe all plant life indigenous to a particular area. The word was, however, derived from the name of an ancient goddess of the Sabines. In their mythology, Flora is the goddess of flowering plants, especially those that bear fruit. She is a fertility goddess and was invoked by the Sabines to ensure a fruitful harvest and to drive away any diseases that might cause their crops to fail. Later she was adopted by the Romans and she became known, simply, as Flora, Goddess of Flowers and Springtime.
Her powers gave charm to youth, sweetness to honey, and fragrance to flowers. Flora in her generous nature gave mankind countless varieties of flowers, honey, and seeds.2
Every year, even by some to this day, Flora is celebrated during the festival of Floralia - a feast which coincides with the blossoming of spring flowers.

In my fairies I try to combine the feminine - the goddess, the diminutive, the flowers. A little of the Flora and a little of the Faery. I hope that their recipients will derive from them a positive energy and a connection to nature. They might even view their fairy as a talisman or charm. At the very least, they can appreciate it as a decorative piece. But however they are perceived,  it will not change my enthusiasm toward creating them. I look forward to further developing them and making them unique and well crafted. I think it is a project which will hold my attention and enjoyment for quite some time to come.

So why faeries and why flora? I say...why not?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

flora - my first fairy creation

First of all, welcome to my new blog. It will be completely dedicated to my new fairy and mermaid creations. Stay tuned for more posts. Now about flora...


Sometimes you just want to give a gift that is different, original and has meaning. A friend of mine who is creative and artistic had a birthday coming up and I wanted to give her something that would suit her personality; something whimsical, beautiful and magical. I decided that a fairy would be perfect but I hadn't any clue how to make one. I spent the better part of an afternoon searching for ideas online. I never quite found exactly what I wanted to make but was able to combine various elements in my head and thought I would give them a try.

Then it was off to the craft store. The thing about craft stores is that I can spend hours in them, mulling over a 1000 ideas at once. Sometimes it can get so overwhelming I'll leave without buying a thing, but doing the research had benefited me greatly. I knew, approximately, what I needed for my fairy and went about gathering the materials. My 7-year-old daughter had joined me in the venture, determined that she, too, would make a fairy (or 10). I thought, why not, a day of crafting with one's daughter can be very rewarding.

One thing that I had never found satisfactory during my web search was how to make a head and face for my fairy. I decided to try something completely of my own creation. It involved molding the head out of clay...making fine features that could later be painted with detail. The only trouble was that the head needed drying time so I had to be patient and the work on my fairy extended to several days. Not that I minded. I couldn't wait to find some quiet time to get back to her.

So, in the end, after much ado, my first fairy came to be. I was so pleased by the way she turned out, I decided to make some more. But you will see the others another day. For now, let me introduce you to Flora, who now resides in the window of my friend's, Colleen's, bedroom.


Thanks for reading! Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think of flora.