Tag Archives: sculpture

Protest Songs Art Doll

Protest Songs art doll
Protest Songs

Another Janice

Protest Songs is my newest original needle felted wool art doll creation. This seated figure is a look back at an earlier art doll figure sculpture of mine titled “Janice“. That piece was purchased years ago by one of my very favorite people, so I still get to visit her from time to time. In this newest incarnation I decided that my vintage songstress needed a floppy felt hat, and a bright orange paisley shirt. She is of course wearing bell-bottomed blue jeans, and they are coordinated with a pair of funky red boots.

For Protest Songs, I additionally constructed a miniature balsa wood acoustic guitar. This tiny instrument is complete with metal strings, tuning knobs, and a scratch plate. The Protest Songs art doll figure is also an homage to the late great Janis Joplin, as was the earlier, “Janice.” This sculpture has her eyes closed and her head tossed back as she belts out her tune with deep feeling.

Wigging Out

My Protest Songs art doll is wigged with unraveled yarn instead of me utilizing hand curled wool roving. I find I prefer the scale of the hair and curls of her coiffure with this method. Obviously, some of my future art doll sculptures will still call for the thicker more dreadlock look of the hand curled roving. I want to explore this untwisted yarn method for a bit. The plan Is to do a bit more experimentation in this area. I would like to see how different types of fibers look and react using them in this manner. Who knows? Perhaps a new art doll sculpture will have truly flaxen or silky hair.

Protest Songs is currently available at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts along with a number of other creations from my studio work bench.

Alice is Late white rabbit figure sculpture

A Friend for Alice and Some Buzz

And a Trip Back to Wonderland…

I think that to date I have created four different interpretations of Alice from her adventures in Wonderland. One of my newest sculptures, “Alice is Late”, is my first attempt at capturing her companion the white rabbit. One of the stars of my recent feature show, he is now catching glances and keeping time for passersby in the gallery front window.

Alice is Late white rabbit figure sculpture
Alice is Late

Take a look around

Several of my needle felted creations from “April Showers, Art Flowers” have already made their way to new homes. A few, like “Alice is Late” can still be seen at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, but you will have to stroll around the gallery a bit to find them.

Alice and Some Buzz

Another of my personal favorites from my recent feature show is “Honey Dance”. Honey Dance is a queen bee figure that hangs from the ceiling. She holds a bit of honeycomb and sports a small crystal tiara. She is one of those playful sculptures that both evoke a smile and provide a sunny pop of color.

Honey Dance hanging art doll sculpture
Honey Dance

Some Other Things to Look For

I also have a fair number of new needle felted jewelry items available in my glass tower at HGA. I always like to create jewelry that reflects what is going on in my sculptures. You will find pieces from simple felted hearts on leather chords, to some more complex and colorful flower forms with hand forged closures. I find these pieces of jewelry unique and playful, and quite fun to create.

I did remove the remaining needle felted hanging ornaments that I had returned to the gallery for my show. Never fear, I will return them to the gallery in the fall with plenty of time for gift giving.

Time for a Feature Show

New Work, New Materials

Any regular reader here might predict that my newest works are created utilizing needle felting techniques. My most recent felted wool creations will be featured at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts starting this coming Monday, April 22nd.

April Showers, Art Flowers

“April Showers, Art Flowers” is the title of my upcoming feature show with painter Chris Graebner, and glass artist Susan Hope.

Rain or Shine needle felted art doll by Lynn Wartski
Rain or Shine

“Rain or Shine” is the first art doll sculpture created for this year’s Featured Artist show. I like to start with a piece that speaks to the title of an upcoming show whenever possible. This sunny little figure popped straight into my head and onto the page of my sketchbook

As you can see, I took a a departure from the almost monochromatic look of many of my paper and book based art dolls. I embraced the vibrant color available in wool roving fiber. The wool allows me to use the same materials for the sculpting, costuming and wigging of the figures.

I have a few surprises for this year’s show, but I’ll save those for next week’s post after the show is installed. For now, here are a couple of other figure pieces heading to HGA on Monday.

A Few More Featured Friends

'Conversation" art doll figure sculpture by Lynn Wartski
Conversation
'Spring Dreams" art doll figure sculpture by Lynn Wartski
Spring Dreams
Fashioned Freedom sculpture for Elizabeth Keckley inspired show

Authors, Artists, and Art Show

Special Show to Start

At the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts (HGA) we start the turn of the calendar year with several special art shows. The North Carolina statewide juried art show, “Resolutions”, is wrapping up. Next, we mount two group themed shows of work from the HGA membership. “It’s All About The Story” is the first of these shows.

Elizabeth Keckley

“It’s All About The Story” takes advantage of the the notable literary community that exists in Hillsborough. The artists of HGA create art in response to the work of one of the town’s many local authors, and this year we are doing something a bit different. This year’s author is long deceased.

Elizabeth Keckley is best remembered as dressmaker and confidant to Mary Todd Lincoln. Elizabeth was born into slavery, and it was during her teen years in servitude that she lived in Hillsborough as a slave in the Burwell household. The Burwell School historic site has marked the 200th anniversary of Keckley’s birth this past year with a number of events surrounding its most notable former resident. For our inspiration we drew from Elizabeth’s memoir, Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House.  My piece is titled “Fashioned Freedom”.

Fashioned Freedom sculpture for Elizabeth Keckley inspired show
Fashioned Freedom (photo by Alexcina Wartski)




Looking at Elizabeth

I took a step back from my art doll sculptures for this piece. Mrs. Keckley’s true story required something more than a depiction of a character or envisioning a theme from her book. Her life was one of both subjugation and emancipation, though neither as we typically see them. Elizabeth Keckley eventually purchased her and her son’s freedom, but she later became bound in a different way to Mary Todd Lincoln. I found a sense of irony contained where a woman is labeled as “free” in a society where she was anything but free, and she creates garments for other women that literally incorporate a cage structure.

I based my sculpture on a purple velvet dress that Elizabeth Keckley made for Mrs. Lincoln for the 1861-62 winter social season. This dress was a two piece garment with two different bodices, one for day wear, and the other as an evening gown. I reimagined the evening gown form in copper wire and chain around a miniature soft sculpture dress form I created. My intention was to express visually the contradictions of freedom and bondage I encountered in Elizabeth’s story.

Show’s run

It’s All About The Story will show at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts from February 1-20th. There will be a reading at HGA by William L. Andrews author of Slavery And Class In The American South on Sunday, February 10th from 3-4:30pm

close up of Aurora Dancing face

Aurora Dancing…

Travel Born Art Doll

I am often asked where I get ideas and inspiration for my art doll figure sculptures.  My quick answer is, “anywhere, and everywhere.”   Boleyn’s Ghost took her inspiration from a book. I pulled from a Degas painting for Local Star.  The genesis of my latest sculpture was travel.

This past summer we had an adventure in Iceland.  We chose a “you drive” tour. For eight days we traversed Iceland’s surreal and otherworldly landscape.  Mountains, glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, and icebergs were some of the breathtaking sights we encountered.  We also passed what seemed to be a never-ending supply of sheep grazing wherever they pleased.

The beautiful wool products and the inspirational scenery of Iceland percolated in my head following our trip.  The result of this marriage is Aurora Dancing.

Aurora Dancing art doll

Aurora Dancing art doll

We visited in the summer, and therefore did not get to experience the northern lights dancing in the night. As a result, my figure’s felted coat employs an imagined interpretation of the aurora borealis over a snowcapped landscape.  Aurora is papier mâché and paperclay over a wire armature.  I needle felted this art doll’s coat, mittens, boots, and flowIng hood by hand, as well as the cover of the base. I aimed to integrate my material and visual inspiration with the magic of Icelandic lore.

More Needle Felting

Aurora will find that she is just the beginning of a number of art dolls that will have felting techniques incorporated in their construction. Needle felting is like painting with fiber.  It provides an opportunity to add another dimension to my sculpture. Needle felted wool lends itself to completely different creations as well. I wrote earlier that I have already created a small herd of Icelandic inspired animal ornaments.   Those ornaments will be making their way to the gallery in a couple of weeks as the holiday shopping season begins.

 

Weaving Dreams celestially colored art doll seated on the crescent moon

Summer Work

Dream Weaver at HGA

Travel and other summer distractions have kept me away from the work table somewhat the past few months.  That doesn’t mean that my studio has been completely fallow, just a bit more relaxed.  The last piece I delivered to the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts is Woven Dreams.

Weaving Dreams celestially colored art doll seated on the crescent moon

Woven Dreams

This piece is a papier-mâché and paperclay sculpture.  I began with the crescent moon which I sculpted over a corrugated cardboard under structure.  The moon contains an internal sandbag to keep it tilted at just the right angle to accommodate the seated figure.  The dream weaver herself is paperclay and papier-mâché over a wire armature.  I created her unique skin tone with strips of torn tissue paper, and a tiny bit of silver paint.  Her “other worldly” eyes are fashioned from iridescent beads.  The entire sculpture was then sealed before the addition of her silver tinsel hair, wire and beaded weaving, and glittering tulle skirt.

I’ve also been busy finishing up sculpture commissioned as a present.   I will share a few images of after she is delivered to her new home.

Back to the work table.

 

 

A Boleyn Art Doll Plays Rock, Paper, Scissors

It is the final countdown to my featured artist show at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.  My newest art doll and sculpture creations are part of the show that will have its opening reception from 6 to 9pm on March 30th titled, “Rock, Paper, Scissors”.

My pieces are intended to be the “Paper” part of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, and will be displayed along side the silver and natural stone jewelry of Arianna Bara, and the textile creations of Ali Givens.

Art Doll or Book Sculpture?

This year, I created several sculptures that land somewhere in the intersection of book sculpture and art doll.  One such piece is Boleyn’s Ghost.  It is literally and literarily ripped from the pages of Philippa Gregory’s novel The Other Boleyn Girl.  I must admit to a mild obsession with historical fiction, especially those set in Tudor England.  I’ve always felt that Gregory’s title could refer to either of the Boleyn sisters, Anne or Mary.  You can look from the perspective of who was established first at court, or who had greater historical impact.  I think they both had reasons enough to return as a specter to teach a lesson or two.

In this piece I strive to achieve several things.  She is a ghost. I think she should appear light and etherial.  I also wanted to utilize the book pages and paper not only to highlight ideas, but mimic the patterns of rich textiles described.

art doll book sculpture titled Bolyn's Ghost

Bolyn’s Ghost

I cannibalized my own well read paperback copy of the novel for fragments of text. The application to layers of tissue paper,  though time consuming, helped to achieve the look I was going for with her gown.  Likewise, I made the design choice to utilize a glass gem backed with a reflective holographic art paper in place of a face.

This ghostly figure-sculpture-art-doll-book-sculture will haunt the Featured Exhibit gallery of the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts starting March 26th.

 

Prudence art doll sculpture

New Year, New Work

I’ve been working in the studio on some new art doll figure sculptures for several upcoming shows.

Resolutions 2018 in Last week at HGA

Currently, the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts is featuring it’s yearly North Carolina state-wide juried show Resolutions 2018.   This show features non-HGA artists from across the state.  It runs through this weekend, so if the snow has melted in your area you have a couple of days left to see it in person.

C-Note

Starting Monday, January 22nd HGA will have C-note.  A special themed show of HGA member-artist work all priced at $100.  I created two minimalist “figure sketch” sculptures for this show. It was a challenge to create work to a specific price point that still fit within my usual body of work.  With “Recline” shown below, and her sister piece “Dance”, I’ve paired down the detailed features and costuming of my usual art doll sculptures to their elemental core.

Recline - figure sculpture

Recline

It’s All About the Story

Our February opening show will be our yearly “It’s All About the Story” show based on the work of one of Hillsborough’s many noted authors.  This year we read “A Broom of One’s Own” by the recently named Piedmont Poet Laureate, Nancy Peacock.  I will share a bit more about Nancy, the show, and her author reading in a month or so.  For now, I share a peek at “Doris”.  The book shares memoir tales of Nancy who supported herself, and her writing as a house cleaner. I decided to bring to life a character that brought together her two disparate occupations. Doris is a member of a hotel housekeeping staff Nancy met in a restroom when attending a writer’s event. For me, Doris just needed to be incarnated as a rag doll with attitude.

Doris art doll for "It's All About the Story"

Doris

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Lastly, I’ll give a a sneak peek at the pieces that i’m putting together for my upcoming featured artist show in March.  Titled, ” Rock, Paper, Scissors”, I will represent the “paper” in the trio of artist.  The art doll sculptures I am creating for this show have paper as their primary media and inspiration.  The first of these pieces is Prudence.

Prudence art doll sculpture

Prudence

Prudence is based on the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”, and as you can see, she has “come out to play.”  She is accompanied by her sheep dog (Martha, my dear?) and they are running across a musical landscape flying a kite.

 

 

 

Paper Penguin papier-mâché holiday ornament

Find New Holiday Ornaments at Hillsborough Gallery

New Holiday Ornaments at HGA

Monday I added some new hand crafted holiday ornament designs to the selection at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.  Each November, we install our holiday show titled, “The Art of Giving”, when the preview show for the open studio tour comes down.  I always add two or three types of original hand crafted ornaments to what I bring in.  For several years now, I have created copper and pierced aluminum stars and hearts, and some small snow fairy figures.  Recently, I have found myself drawn to working more and more paper and text into the creation of my art doll figure sculptures, so I decided to create some new papier-mâché holiday ornaments this year.

Paper Penguin Ornament

Paper Penguin papier-mâché holiday ornament

Paper Penguin Ornament

The first papier-mâché holiday ornament I designed is this penguin who appears to be singing.  I start by layering recycled newspaper and office paper over a balloon with a twist in the top.  After the base layers dry, I pop the balloon, and add cardboard to form the beak and wings.  Patterned scrapbooking and origami papers are applied to create the surface color and patterns.,

Balloon Rider Holiday Ornament

Balloon Rider Ornament papier-mâché and polymer clay original

Ballon Rider Ornament

My balloon rider ornaments are a design I came up with last year.  I updated them this year and used polymer clay for the little figure sculpture.  Last year I modeled the tiny balloon rider out of paperclay, but that required a wire form inside the clay figure.  The polymer clay allows me to be a bit more efficient with my time. The balloon construction is the same as the penguin body.

Ball Dancer Ornament

Ball Dancer ornament

Ball Dancer

The Ball Dancer is my third ornament design this year.  It starts with a ball I create over a balloon like the other two ornaments.  I sculpt a small dancing figure out of recycled corrugated cardboard or scraps from my studio foam core stash.  Strips of origami and scrapbooking paper complete the surface.

HGA Holiday Show

My ornaments, art doll figure sculptures, jewelry, and the beautiful work by all 22 of the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts owner/artists will be on display and available for one of a kind gift giving now through New Year’s.  Join us on Friday, November 24th for the holiday show’s opening reception from 6-9pm for some decidedly non-stressed “Black Friday” holiday shopping.

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.