Tag Archives: steampunk

…And The Pea Art Doll, New Show

New Art Doll

The latest art doll in my series of fairytale inspired sculptures is based on the tale of the Princess and the Pea.  This doll I have simply titled, “…And The Pea”, and she is currently reclining on display at The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.

reclining figure art doll ...And The Pea

…And The Pea art doll

…And The Pea is perched on top of the last four of her hundreds of mattresses.  I chose to return to hammered copper features and hands for this art doll to contrast with her other overly cushiony and fabric elements.  The sculpture holds the source of her nocturnal discomfort in her hand for the viewer to see.  The pea in this piece is a shiny green glass bead.  …And The Pea’s wonderfully touseled “bead head” is made from crinkly paper packing material, and she has bright blue torch fired enamel eyes.

New Art Doll Show

This morning I installed a show in the 3D display at the Carol Woods retirement community in Chapel Hill.  Each month, the members of the community’s Arts Interest group invite a pair of artists to show in their beautiful community center.  I do apologize for the image quality, but there really wasn’t any combination of lights on or lights off that would allow you to see the figures in the case while also eliminating glare on the glass.

Two art dolls in Carol Woods display case

Carol Woods Display

There are three sections to the display, and it currently houses 10 of my sculptures and art dolls.  Tomorrow evening there will be a small reception at 4:30,  and a 15 minute presentation by each artist in the media room, followed by dinner with the Art Interests group.

More new work on the way next week, but in the meantime, I need to go and finish up creating my slide show for tomorrow night’s presentation.  If you are in the Chapel Hill area tomorrow, please feel free to show up for the show’s opening reception.



Dancer and a Fairytale Art Doll

It has been two weeks since I’ve shared a new art doll, so this post have two new sculptures for you.

seated art doll "Lacing II"

Lacing II

The first is Lacing II.  As her name implies, she is a revisit to an earlier art doll.  I have done a number of dancer art doll sculptures.  They seem a natural subject area for doll figures.  Lacing II is a seated figure in the middle of lacing up one of her toe shoes.  With her copper face and hair, aluminum conduit arms, and faux leather elements of her skirt and shoes she evokes a steampunk aesthetic. I made the choice to fashion her hands, head, and shoulders out of paperclay.  This media allows for much finer details for hands gripping laces, delicate ears, and neck musculature. I costumed Lacing II simply to give the impression she is getting ready for practice rather than a performance.

Standing figurative sculpture art doll Otohime


The art doll Otohime, is another sculpture in my series of Fairytale and folktale characters. She is a figure from Japanese stories.  I first encountered Otohime in Yuri’s Brush With Magic, a book by my mother-in-law, Maureen Crane Wartski.

Otohime, is a water goddess, and daughter of the dragon Emperor of the Sea, Ryujin. In the tale of the fisherman Urashima Taro, Otohime appears a small turtle that the kind hearted fisherman saves from taunting children.  Urashima is rewarded with a visit to the kingdom of the emperor, and the gift of a mysterious box that he must never open.

My Otohime art doll is a mixed media combination of paperclay and paper maché. Her “water” under skirt and tail are papermache over a chickenwire frame, with color and texture created by layer tissue paper. The figure’s head, upper body and hands are sculpted out of paperclay over a wire and foil armature.  Otohime’s unique wigging is made of twisted and glued tissue paper.  Elements from the metal studio serve only as embellishments as in the art doll’s torch enameled eyes, mesh collar, copper fan, and hair accessory. The kimono for Otohime is made from fabrics from the quilting collection that once belonged to Maureen as well.


The Key Art Doll

Off the Workbench

This week’s completed art doll is a mixed media sculpture titled, “Key”.  With this piece, I continue to work to stretch my figures to possess a narrative of their own.  Key is obviously a steampunk adventuress in the middle of some important and exciting task. No, I do not know what the key she is holding opens or secures, or why she looks so thoughtful as she holds it.  Those questions are hopeful for you the viewer to answer for yourself.

steampunk art doll titled The Key with custom stand


I chose to once again vary my construction techniques and media choices with this art doll.  Many viewers see the hand hammered copper faces I create for many of my sculptures as them wearing masks.  With this doll I chose to actually make the copper be a mask over a paperclay sculpted face.  I also chose to extend the paperclay sculpted part of the figure to include her shoulders and top half of her torso providing her with a more defined shape. I sealed but did not paint most of the paperclay to leave it with the appearance of a porcelain bisque piece.  I like how this augments her steampunk/neo-victorian styling.

Next Art Dolls

My pre-sculpting research this week has drawn me deeper into the world of fairytales.  I find that I am not drawn to the well known princesses and characters that have been Disney-fied and rehashed into very specific images in our common imaginations. I have instead looked to some more far flung and bizarre tales for inspiration, as if talking animals, fairies, and magic spells weren’t strange enough to begin with.  They are all in the very beginning and sketch stages, but I will hopefully have a few to share with you shortly.  It is interesting that these sculptures start in an opposite position from the art doll Key above.  She is a character that I have created and provided with gesture to imply that she is part of some tale.  The new art dolls I am working on, start with a tale from which I will try to generate my vision of the character.


Commission of Commissions

A Couple of Commissions

This week is all about two art doll commissions.  One I’ve just completed, and the other went to its new home. Last week I teased you with some images of parts and pieces of my completed motorcycle art doll sculpture.  That piece is now titled “Steampunk Riders” by its owners, and it left the gallery yesterday,  so I can share an image without ruining any surprises.  I received a nice email of how wonderfully they were received.

completed commission sculpture of art dolls on motorcycle

Steampunk Riders

This was a challenging piece with lots of metal work detail and hand stitching on their clothes, and a complete blast to create. I like the movement and gesture in the final composition. It is such a good feeling to have a piece go where you know it is truly loved, and ties to something else that the owners enjoy and share.

Art Doll with a Book Leads to Another…

I first created a seated art doll writing in a journal that was inspired by a family member who was an accomplished author.  That seated figure lead to a similar seated figure reading a book commissioned by a friend.  The reader figure inspired me to create a doll lying on the floor reading as a child would.  One of my artist friends spied that sculpture prior to its sale, and decided that she needed a similar piece of her very own.  This now fourth in my series of literary art dolls is the second commission I completed this week.

reclining art doll figure with book

Reader commission art doll

It is curious how one inspiration leads to another.  In this case, I myself saw one person in a piece I created, and others saw a bit of themselves.  In this case a love of books tied all these art dolls and their eventual owners to one another.

Summer Break Over, Back to Motorcycle

Ok, so summer is obviously not over, but it is time for me to get back to work creating new work, and getting some regular blog posts up here for you to see.

Since I’ve returned from a bit of travel, I have had the chance to finish up the motorcycle commission I had been working on.  That piece happens to be a surprise from one person to another.  On the very, very off chance that the recipient would be among the dozen or so individuals that actually read my postings here… I’m going to hold off posting any full photos of that completed piece and just tease with some detail shots of bits and pieces until the sculpture is delivered. However, if you happen to be a Facebook friend, Instagram follower, or are part of any of the art doll groups I’m a member of, then you may catch a glimpse of the fully completed sculpture.

Close up of front of art doll motorcycle

detail front

Here you can see two pairs of motorcycle boots,  the glass gem headlamp, and other parts of the bike’s front.

detail of the passenger doll's bag

Passenger’s messenger bag

Lots and lots of little stitches on on the motorcycle seat, messenger bag, and passenger’s jeans.

close up of boots, and "motor"

close up of boots, and “motor”

Now, it’s off to the studio to start a couple of new pieces.  One of them is also a commission, but it is sort of a redo of an earlier piece, and definitely not as involved as this one. Not sure what I will share with you next week, I guess we’ll both have to wait and see.

It has been fun taking you “along for the ride” on a multiple piece commission.  As I stated before, they can be tricky for us artists generally used to creating exactly what we want when the inspiration strikes us.  It is gratifying to know that some patrons enjoy the work so much they want it used to capture something special to them personally.





Art Doll Motorcycle III

More Parts and Pieces

The little motorcycle sculpture is now ready for its art doll riders.  This past week I added all the remaining parts and pieces that a motorcycle enthusiast would expect to find.  The art doll riders will sit on their padded “leather” seat and grip copper, hardware, and polymer clay handlebars. The addition of a button shaped brad gas cap, knee guards, tank rondel, a glass gem headlight, and brass brad gauges complete this miniature steampunk machine.

steampunk mixed media motorcycle sculpture ready for art doll riders

motorcycle is ready for art doll riders

Now the Riders

As with most of my art dolls, the riders will start in my metal studio where I will hammer out their faces from a circle of copper stock. They are on the bench awaiting some sanding and polishing. In the meantime, I got started on twisting together the dolls’ wire skeletons.   Here you see the beginning of the driver sitting on the cycle.

wire frame of driver on cycle

wire frame of driver

Last Chance to See Art Dolls

art doll Media at HGA

Three of my art doll pieces in “Our Art Is…”

This is the last weekend for my featured artist show, “Our Art Is…“, with painters Eduardo Lapetina and Pat Merriman at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.  The show runs through Sunday.  It has been a fun show with lots of wonderful feedback. Several of the dolls will be making their way to their new homes when the next featured artist show installs on Monday.


Art Doll Motorcycle

I recently started working on a piece with two of my art doll figures having an adventurous ride on a motorcycle.  Though I’ve created a number of art dolls and figure sculptures that were perched on bicycles, this is my first riding a motorcycle.

I have been having fun so far researching and sketching the particular type of motorcycle, and then stylizing it into my steampunk interpretation.  There are a obviously a few more components than a bicycle to incorporate in to ensure it represents one particular type of machine over another.

First I braised together the basic motorcycle frame and produced a couple of types of wheel choices.

beginning copper frame for doll sized motorcycle and wheels of electrical conduit

Beginning of fame and conduit wheels

The most labor intensive process so far has been hand hammering out the two fenders.  Blacksmith and body shops have power hammers and english wheels to shape and smooth these types of parts. I found myself wishing I could find a Tinkerbell sized version of both to work with for these.

hammering copper fender for art doll sized motorcycle

Hammering out front fender

I added the fenders, wheel mounts, and springs. Next up will be handlebars, motor, and gas tank. I’ll do my best to take photos along the way.

copper cycle frame with fenders and springs

Frame with fenders and springs




Art Dolls Installed and Invitation

Our Art Is…

The new show at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts including my newest art doll figures is now installed.  This show that features my sculptures along with the paintings of Eduardo Lapetina and Pat Merriman will run through June 21st.  The opening reception is this Friday, May 29th, from 6 to 9pm during Hillsborough’s monthly Last Friday celebration.  If you are in the area I hope you can join us, and see our new work. Here is a peek into the feature gallery.

HGA gallery view

View through door of Featured Exhibit gallery at HGA

A Closer Look

If you regularly read my posts you have seen most of these new art dolls in their studio shots, but here is a bit more of a tease from the gallery installation.

art doll Psyche-Delia with steampunk guitar


Psyche-Delia is a steampunk rocker.


art doll Media at HGA

The art doll Media holds a key to…?

Art dolls: Media, Getting Ready, and Psyche- Delia sit atop a trio of pedestals.

art doll Joy


Joy dances in a dress that looks like it may have been pulled from Eduardo’s palette.

art dolls: Doll with Doll and Spring in Hillsborough Gallery of Arts

Doll with Doll (sold) looks up at viewer

Doll with doll, and figure titled, “Spring” in front of another Eduardo Lapetina piece in the background.

Art doll Paper Alice

“Paper Alice” art doll with Alice in Wonderland paintings.

It was completely serendipitous that Pat Merman had produced two mixed media Alice in Wonderland themed paintings that flank my art doll Paper Alice.  Paper Alice has paperclay sculpted head and hands, and parchment locks.

art doll Current drift in her boat

Current Drift floats on a pedestal

Hope that you can stop by and see these and my other new art dolls in the feature show, as well as, other examples of my sculptures throughout the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts.



Mixed Media Art Doll

An Art Doll That Plays With Materials

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I love to mix, match, and experiment with the media I use in my sculptures.  My newest art doll, Media, takes that materials exploration to its highest power.

mixed media art doll "Media"


She has a hammered copper face on a  paperclay head with parchment hair and torch fired glass enamel eyes.  Her shaped wooden torso connects to one paperclay arm, and one fabricated from copper and aluminum conduit.  One jointed leg I fashioned from copper tubing and a shaped dowel shin, and the other has a dowel thigh joined with a copper and aluminum shin.  Finally, she is clad in a copper hat, hand stitched faux-leather boots, a tulle skirt, fabric sleeve, and a bit of metallic paint tattooing on the side of her head.

It would be an understatement to say that I enjoyed creating this art doll. The final effect is both playful and somewhat edgy and mysterious.  I’m not sure what story she has to tell, but I am guessing that it is one that must be unlocked from safe keeping first.

Media will join my other new art doll figure sculptures at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts May 25th through June 21st.

Paper Art Doll

Art Doll in Progress

Last week I shared some Work-In-Progress images of the newest art doll I was working on. This figure was inspired by a combination of my very first art doll, a snow day, and our yearly literary themed show.

Rather than playing with the idea of a rag doll that wasn’t quite floppy, I instead twisted the idea of a paper doll into a three dimensional figure.  This idea sprung from my picking up paperclay to incorporate into my pieces after having used polymer clay for a face on a snowy day.  Thinking of this figure as a 3D paper doll turned my attention to book illustrations. The images in a classic version of Alice In Wonderland became the literary basis for “Paper Alice.”

Full length image of Paper Alice

Paper Alice

I purposely kept Alice’s color palette muted and almost monochromatic.  I wanted the figure itself to feel as though she had been plucked off the pages of an aged volume.  I used mages and quotes from the text to further this concept.

Metalwork takes a supporting role in this art doll. Her shoes, dress collar, and headband I fashioned from copper.  The “drink me” tag on her bottle is tooled brass foil, and her eyes are torch fired glass enamel on a copper base.

detail of Paper Alice

detail of Paper Alice

I used an antique yellow parchment paper to create Paper Alice’s hair.  I created this wig by hand cutting sets of strips that were then stitched on to a tiny stocking cap I created for her. A bit of curling on the edge of scissors set her coiffure in motion.

Paper Alice hands

Paper Alice hands

I enjoyed experimenting with new materials and techniques with this art doll.  I expect that I will incorporate them in other figure sculptures in the not too distant future.