Category Archives: Art Dolls

screen shot of Walden Nap in International Doll Artists magazine inaugural issue

Wartski Art Doll in Magazine

Walden Nap art doll in International Doll Artists.

Walden Nap, appears in a brand new doll artist publication, International Doll Artists.   It is a quarterly publication that is by artist for artists, but I’m sure collectors, enthusiasts, and admirers will find something of interest as well. The print copy of this first issue is on it’s way, but you can purchase and download a digital copy right away. They include digital version with hard copy purchases as well. Be sure to register when they prompt you in the subscription process, so that you can receive your link for downloading digital copy.

top half of International Doll Artists vol1

International Doll Artists vol1

This publication is an outgrowth of the Professional Doll Makers Art Guild.  I have been a member of this creative and highly talented group for a few years now. The art doll form started to take over my sculpture portfolio of work a few years ago.  I found that these figurative sculptures had a unique and distinct audience, as well as a whole new world of tools, techniques, and materials.  Finding some online groups in this genre to interact with has helped my art doll sculptures to evolve, and has pointed me to new venues in which to share my work. the PDMAG participates in doll shows, develops new artists through an apprenticeship program, and connects artists with each other and educational and marketing opportunities.

Below is a peek of the top of the page that Walden Nap appears on, but you have to get your own copy to see the rest.  As you can see, I also share a bit more information about Walden Nap,

screen shot of Walden Nap in International Doll Artists magazine inaugural issue

Walden Nap in International Doll Artists magazine

Earlier Publications of Art Doll Sculptures

You may recall that an article, “Dolls From A Different ToolBox”, about my work appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Art Doll Quarterly magazine. In that article I shared how the tools and techniques of my earlier metal and mixed media sculpture influenced choices I made in art doll design and creation.

Last year, the Professional Doll Makers Art Guild also published a 25th guild anniversary book, that features work by more than 150 guild artists. That book can be found on the guild’s web page.

 

Seated singing mermaid art doll "3rd Time Charm"

3rd Time Charm, Mermaid Art Doll

Sometimes, the third time can be a charm.  My latest addition to my portfolio of art doll sculptures is a rework of a rework.

Seated singing mermaid art doll "3rd Time Charm"

3rd Time Charm

How she started

I created the first incarnation of this art doll, Mermaid’s Song, in late 2014.   She was a steampunk mermaid with the hand sewn tail you see.  I fashioned this first figure sculpture the way I did the majority of my pieces at the time, with a hand-hammered copper face and hands, and a fabric body over a padded wire frame.

Sometimes, there are certain elements of a piece you really fall in love with, and others, not so much.  This art doll definitely fit that description.  I was quite proud of the tail that I pieced and sewed from some faux leather from the Scrap Exchange.  I weighted this tail with an internal sand bag that would allow the sculpture to lean her upper body back a bit to sing out loud.  Her body I wasn’t as enamored with.  In an attempt to make my mermaid more androgynous, I think I just made her kind of spindly. Also her face, though satisfactorily wrought, I applied with just a bit too much space behind it.  This had the effect of creating very deeply set eyes, that appeared a little mad.

art doll mermaid song

Mermaid Song – $260

So I changed her

I decided to rework this sculpture with a paperclay head last year.  This second version I thought possessed kinder eyes and a mouth more open in song.  I left the torso of the piece the way it was, but changed the fabric to a more “watery” color and pattern.  This version was an improvement over the original, but I wasn’t completely happy with the face I had created.  She appeared a bit too caricature-ish to me, and was still quite spindly.  I  think that the fact that I can’t find an image of this version tells a bit about my satisfaction with her.

Mermaid Song needed another makeover, so I kept only her tail, hands, and the internal wire frame.  I re-sculpted the rest of the art doll out of papier-mâché and paperclay.  The surface color and her hair I created through tissue paper collage, and I also changed her proportions and positioning.

I am renaming this art doll sculpture 3rd Time Charm, and she now seems aptly titled.

 

Polly seated art doll figure sculpture

Featured Artist Show

Featured Artist Show at Hillsborough Gallery of Arts

I snapped a few iPhone images of my newest art doll figure sculptures after installing the show Monday at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts. The show’s opening reception is this Friday from 6-9pm during Hillsborough’s Last Friday Art Walk.  I, personally will not be in attandance at the opening, but please stop by and visit my newest work if you are in town.  If, however, you are also not around Hillsborough… Here’s a peek.

Featured Exhibit

Featured Exhibit

A look through the door to the Featured Artist Gallery shows my work along with painting by Linda Carmel, and textile art by Alice Levinson.

 

Walden Nap on display at HGA

Walden Nap on display at HGA

Walden Nap looks peaceful on a solitary pedestal in the center of the FA gallery.

Sketch and friends at HGA

Sketch and friends at HGA

Middle grouping of pedestals.

Polly at HGA

Polly at HGA

New sculpture, Polly, inspired by a visit to a small pond with a healthy population of tadpoles.

It's Wednesday Again at HGA

It’s Wednesday Again at HGA

A new look at an earlier piece “Wednesday’s Child”, based on the well known nursery rhyme.

 

March-ed at HGA

March-ed at HGA

March is walking with a purpose.

Balloon Too at HGA

Balloon Too at HGA

Balloon Too wonder and movement in a moment captured from childhood.

Athena Sharpening Spear at HGA

Athena Sharpening Spear at HGA

My Athena in full battle gear to fight ignorance.

 

Giving Wing at HGA

Giving Wing at HGA

Giving Wing was created for a show earlier this year, and fit in well with my other new pieces.

Hope you get a chance to stop by.

 

reclining mixed media figure sculpture art doll Walden Nap

Featured Artist and Art Dolls

Up Close

Up Close, is the title of my featured artist show with painter Linda Carmel and textile artist Alice Levinson.  The show will open later this month at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.  The art doll sculptures that I have been sharing in my most recent posts will be included in this new show. Up Close runs June 26th through July 23rd, with an opening reception on June 30th from 6-9pm during Hillsborough’s “Last Friday” art walk event.

I admit that I tend to horde my newest pieces as I approach each year’s featured show. Several new figures are in the studio awaiting installation the last week of June.  I took the opportunity to photograph a few more this week.

Walden Nap

I quite literally (or is that literature-ly?) pulled this art doll from the pages of Thoreau’s writings.  My serenely napping figure is sculpted out of paperclay and papier-mâché.  I photocopied pages containing favorite passages for the surfaces of the sculpture and the art doll’s hair.

sleeping art doll figure sculpture, paperclay and papier-mâché

Walden Nap

Spinning or Weaving?

This magical art doll figure is creating some type of magic from the fibers in her hands.  This figure sculpture is unnamed at the moment.  Something along the lines of Dream Weaver seems a bit too easy.  Her hands and face are sculpted from paperclay.  The body is a padded wire armature with clothing sewn in place.  I played a bit with needle felting some wool fiber to create her rising magic over a wire frame.  Her “dreadlocks” are made from a thick blanket yarn.

seated art doll figure sculpture, paperclay, fabric, wire, wool

untitled

Sketch

I shared a “selfie” of Sketch in my last post.  Here you see the completed art doll.  I have several past reading and writing figures in my portfolio, but I think this is the first that is specifically drawing in her sketch book.

seated art doll figure sculpture, paperclay, fabric, and wire

Sketch

These art dolls and a few others will be in the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts starting June 26th.

 

"Blank Pages" seated art doll

Art Doll Selfies

Material Shift

I noticed myself incorporating more and more paperclay into my art doll figures. This shift in medium has been gradual.  I think that it has been influenced by two main factors.  I’ve increasingly given myself permission to edge away from my copper sculpture roots, and I don’t feel as obligated to have metal present in every piece.  Figures with hand wrought copper faces were the launching point for my art dolls, but I have allowed them to grow and evolve as all my work has over time.  My work has become almost exclusively figurative, I want to explore and refine the elements of that type of sculpture.  Working with paperclay facilitates my ability to develop facial expression beyond the more mask-like visages of my earliest dolls.

Art Doll Selfies

I decided to take some “selfies” of the pieces that were sitting around the studio this morning.  As you can see, all three of these art doll sculptures have faces that I sculpted in paperclay.

"Blank Pages" seated art doll

Blank Pages

Blank Pages is a seated figure contemplating the pages of the journal/sketchbook in her hand.  “Pages” has her pencil in hand, and is captured in that moment before free reign is given to creativity.  She does have several predecessors in my gallery archives. There is a portrait piece and a couple of commissions within that number.  This is obviously a theme I enjoy returning to.

face of commission piece

commission face

This second doll selfie is the face of a recent commission piece.  As she will soon be a gift, I can’t divulge any details about who she is, or what she is doing.  I can tell you that her task involves deep thought and concentration.  She certainly looks focused on what she’s doing.

face of Balloon 2 art doll

Balloon 2 selfie

This last shot is a closer look at last week’s Balloon 2.  I was trying to capture surprise and wonder in her expression.  I  concentrated on providing her with a face with more childlike proportions

 

You can see how the choice of media has allowed me to expand what I can incorporate and capture in the faces of my art dolls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

art doll Balloon 2

Balloon Surprise

A New Balloon

My newest art doll sculpture features a young figure looking up with awe at her bright red balloon.

art doll Balloon 2

Balloon2

This mixed media art doll is a bit of fun, and another look back to an earlier piece. I wanted to feature gesture and expression with this figure sculpture.  Guess I hit the mark, as one viewer commented that she “really looked alive”.

I created Balloon 2’s head and hands from paperclay that is lightly tinted with watercolor paint. Her costume is sewn in place over a padded wire frame that is anchored through her shoes to her base.  I chose to wig this art doll with paper fiber as well.  Her curly pigtails are secured with blue ribbons that match her blue top and polka dotted skirt. Balloon’s boots are hand sewn faux leather with purple chord laces.

Looking up again

My first balloon themed art doll figure was apparently being taken away by the balloon she was holding.  This figure is being transported as well, but in a more figurative sense.  I’m not sure what about her balloon is surprising her so.  I guess that part of the story is up to the viewer.

I crafted the red balloon itself out of traditional papier-mâché, and used red tissue for its top layers to achieve its bright color.  The balloon “floats” atop a string made of cotton string wrapped around a steel core.

I have left the base unfinished for the time being, but I think that I will most likely paint it before she takes a trip to the gallery.  Balloon 2 will also make her official debut in June for my yearly Feature Artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.

I will probably not have a new sculpture to share next week. I am just putting the finishing touches on a commission piece, and she needs to go to her home first.

 

close up of facial features of Pinocchio art doll

Pinocchio Inspired Art Doll Becomes Real

It’s Story Time

It is once again time at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts when we to turn to things literary.  Each February, we team up with one of the many well known authors who call Hillsborough home for a show titled “It’s All About The Story.”  This year is “Volume V, John Claude Bemis.”

John is an award winning Young Adult author.  This is the first time we are working with a YA author, and the first time that all the HGA artists are using the same story.  Our previous four shows have drawn from short story collections by Michael Malone, Jill McCorkle, Lee Smith, and Allan Gurganus.

pinocchio's heart

pinocchio’s heart

Retelling Pinocchio’s Tale

 Out of Abaton: The Wooden Prince, is John’s retelling of the Pinocchio tale set in medieval Venice.  As you can imagine, a magical story with fantastic beasts, fairies, and the like would be right in a doll artist’s wheel house.  After much personal debate, and quite a few unfinished sketches, I settled on the main character.

close up of facial features of Pinocchio art doll

detail Pinocchio’s face

Pinocchio is not a simple puppet this time around.  He is a finely crafted automaton servant boy who is automated, like all of of his kind, by magic from the kingdom of Abaton.  His automation is slightly special and he is slowly becoming real as a result.

detail of panocha's torso

torso detail

I decided to depict my Pinocchio before his transformation starts.  I am working with the title , “Servant Before You Are Real”, and decided to create him mostly of wood like his namesake. The photos throughout the blog post are Work-In-Progress pics.  I will share a finished image when the show is installed in a couple of weeks.

image of panocha's heart door closed

heart door closed

As usual, this show will open the “Last Friday” of the month on February 23rd from 6-9pm.  HGA will also host a reading by the author on Sunday, March 5 from 4-6 pm.

 

 

Questions for Alice

A New “Alice” Art Doll

Chilly winter weather can sometimes serve to inspire new works.  I created a piece titled “Snow Day” on a snowy day when I wanted to use mostly materials from my indoor workspace. My latest, “Questioning Alice”, isn’t directly the result of cold weather nudging me indoors, however I was inspired by the idea of curling up with a good book on a cold day.

Full length view of Questioning Alice art doll

Questioning Alice

I created an earlier art doll sculpture titled “Paper Alice” a couple of years ago. Though not completely a paper creation, I incorporated elements pulled from Adventures in Wonderland in her design. This time I wanted to work as much with paper and paperclay as possible.  I’ve found myself enchanted by altered book sculptures, and wanted to create an art doll that had that feel to it.

Questioning Alice

Anyone who has read the tales of Alice’s adventures may have noticed that the stories contain a lot of inquiries and decisions to be made. Playing with that concept, I created this art doll sculpture.

I created my Alice primarily of paper mâché, paperclay, and tissue paper decoupage.  I sculpted the main figure over a wire armature.  The mushroom I formed over heavy cardboard rolls, and a corrugated support under the top. Alice’s clothes I created through tissue paper layering and tissue paper decoupage.  I added printed images of the classic Sir John Tenniel illustrations within the skirt’s top layers.  Text from the tales “tattoo” her paperclay sculpted face.  Questions asked to and by Alice were fit to spiral paths and then printed on to orange tissue paper. Layered within more orange tissue these form the mushrooms “questioning spots”.

Detail of Questioning Alice art doll

Alice detail

This Alice will be showing up at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts the last week of January for, “Now and Again”, the Gallery’s 10th anniversary celebration show.  The show will celebrate the milestone and will include HGA’s current and former members.

 

 

Art, Holidays, and Updating

Hello, It’s Been A While

Well, I’ve certainly taken my sweet time in putting up a new post.  I started the draft of this post a while back, and had to edit out the items that had already passed. I began that draft by thanking those that turned out for my feature show at the end of September.  Seems in the interim, the holidays snuck up, and are here in full force.  Below is the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts‘ post card for this holiday season.  As you can see, it features my art doll sculpture “Glide”, and her shiny copper skates.  There are a lot of wonderful things by all of the talented HGA artist in the gallery right now.  If you are in the area, you should really check it out.

Postcard for HGA 2016 holiday show

Postcard for HGA 2016 holiday show

I have been busy the last couple of months refreshing my jewelry inventory, completing a commission, making holiday items, and working on background administration for our yearly juried show Resolutions 2017.

A New Art Doll Figure

art doll Juggle

Juggle

I created an updated version of an earlier art doll,  Jester.  I decided to go with the greater flexibility of paperclay for this sculpture’s head and hands. I wanted to push the expression in the face of this piece, and go a bit beyond a simple smile. He wears a wry smirk instead.  This Juggler seems to know something you do not, and will no doubt, only communicate it to you in the form of a riddle.

Back To Work

This time of year I seem to spend most of my time on the small holiday items.  I promise to not take so long to share new work with you next time. I have two special sculptures for the gallery shows in January and February.  I like where they are leading me.  In both cases, it seems to be into uncharted waters design wise.  I’ll give you a peek next time around.  For now I’ll leave you with an ornament card panel in progress, and a few of my  ornaments.

ornament card copper panel work-in-progress

panel for ornament card

copper holiday ornaments

a collection of hand wrought ornaments for the gallery

 

 

 

Art doll, "Sunshine on a Rainy Day"

Rain, Secrets and Art Dolls

I know it has been more than the promised “couple of days” since my last art doll in progress post.  I do however have two finished sculptures to share with you, so hopefully that can make up for the delay.

Art Doll Secrets Revealed?

My secret keeper review now has her complete costume and coiffure.

Art Doll, Secrets Kept

Secrets Kept

She appears to me to be a wise keeper who will not be sharing the confidences you relay to her. I’m not sure exactly what magic is contained in the blue gem she holds, but I can only guess that it is quite potent and effective.

This art doll figure has a half mask of hammered copper over a paperclay sculpted face and torch fired enamel eyes.  Her snowy curls are made of natural wool fibers.  Secret’s rich fabric clothes are sewn in place over a padded wire frame.

A Little Sunshine

My newest completed art doll figure sculpture is “Sunshine on a Rainy Day”

Art doll, "Sunshine on a Rainy Day"

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

This sculpture is also a look back at an earlier piece I titled “Spring”.  In my constant striving to introduce increased gesture, expression, and narrative into my work, “Sunshine on a Rainy Day” shows that she isn’t deterred by a little bit of rain.  Her umbrella bearing predecessor merely posed quietly showing off green boots and a parasol that matched her dress.  “Sunshine on a Rainy Day” in contrast seems to be enjoying her walk in the rain.  This art doll is costumed in yellows and greens highlighted by a pair of bright yellow boots. The umbrella she is holding aloft is made of copper tooling foil.  Sunshine has paperclay sculpted head and hands, and her eyes are made from dark iridescent glass beads that seem to glow on their own.

Art Dolls in Art Show.

Both of these new art doll sculptures will be part of my upcoming featured artist show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts later this month.  I will share more details on the show and the opening reception as we get closer to installation