Tuesday, 30 August 2011
A Very Busy Month & Terry's Grandmother
After getting all of my new dolls strung together I've been caught up with getting some of my research written up, had a week with a stinking cold so could get hardly anything done at all, changed my hours at my day job, had a request from my mother in Spain to make her a Flamenco Dancer doll (no I don't really know why, but if that's what she wants), and best of all had my little vampire Billy, better known as Mommy I'm Hungry, featured in Art Dolls Quarterly :)
Billy was the first full hard sculpt doll that I ever made, and he's still with me. He's the kind of doll I fell in love with as soon as I turned him to face me once he was finished. The type that you just know that you'll never be able to part with. And I was so pleased with him I sent his photo off to ADQ and then promptly forgot all about it. I was so surprised to get an e-mail from the lovely Jana Holstein saying that they would like to add him to the Autumn issue of Art Dolls Quarterly as it's always my favorite issue of the year. All that's best and brightest in the world of creepy Halloween dolls, and I'm really honored that one of my little dolls has been included with such a fantastic collection this year. Best of all, there were loads of other Art Dolls Only team doll artists in this issue, with a big feature on our Captain Nicole of Mealy Monster Dolls - http://www.etsy.com/shop/mealymonster
My dolls have changed so much over the years that seeing this first little doll of mine on the glossy pages of ADQ has really made me feel all over again that what I'm doing is worth it somehow; that I may actually be reaching others with what I do. And I really hope that I can reach my dreams and continue to improve.
I knew that I wanted her to be a smaller doll this time. The sewing involved in the big dolls I've just finished has left me with holes in my fingers from all the stab wounds, so a nice small Victorian Lady so I could practice my small detail work sounded nice - but which one?
I've been planning out a load of dolls while I sculpted: Victorian London Prostitutes tricked into service by ruthless Procuresses, some of the highly publicised Victorian scandals reported in the press of women accused of murder and adultery, an Asylum inmate committed for understandably loosing her wits under the pressure of caring for her ungrateful family, or the Asylum nurse finally charged and convicted to an Asylum herself for mistreating her patients... Hundreds of women that truly show the side of Victorian society that we never hear about; the side of that society that has done so much to shape our own.
But with Halloween only just around the corner now, what could be better than a Victorian Witch.
I knew it was a long shot, but surely there must be a proper witch out there without having to go back as far as the 17th or 18th century.
We all know a few herbal or natural remedies for everyday ailments passed down from out grandparents and great grandparents. And the women that where Swum by scared villagers and the authorities spent hundreds of years passing down their knowledge from generation to generation, I knew there had to be a real woman out there somewhere. And just as I was about to give up and go back in time to the Pendle and Salem Witches, or resort to traditional fantasy (which I really didn't want to do), I found her - Terry's Grandmother!
This book is a fantastic reference to Victorian life that covers everything from Healing Rituals, information on The Grand Tours, gathering and drying herds, Meditation, Celebrating the Seasons, Herbal and Flower Remedies, Ouija Boards, and even making Poppet dolls to use as luck charms and love tokens. And tucked away towards the back is an account of Terry's Grandmother - a true Victorian Lady, and a true Victorian Witch.
If you have any interest in gentle magic and enchantment, spiritualism, the supernatural and the occult I can really recommend this book as practical A-Z type book that gives you a great starting point to start looking into things further. It's full of really useful information on loads of things that can be used day to day, such as remedies for colds and how to make sleep pillows, and gives you just enough information to get you started on more detailed subjects.
Terry's Grandmother is just the kind of woman I was looking for. No pointy black hat and wart on the nose, but a real woman. Even though I'm guessing she still had a broom in the corner for sweeping the floor, and a cauldron of some sort for making up her closely guarded special recipe for spaghetti sauce that used herbs for love, longevity and sex which she made and gave to new couples to help them along their way without them ever knowing she was casting her own spell on their happiness, and giving them her blessing for a happy life.
The clothes at the change of the century were somewhere in between the classic high bustle straight skirt look and the later S-bend shape with the tight skirts. And I've chosen to make this doll with a pretty dress that has with slightly flowing softer skirt with a gathered back and detailed cross-over bodice worn over a sheer blouses or chemissette.
Now all I have to do is find the perfect fabric in my stash, and she should be dressed by the end of the day.
Now my plans are to make Terry's Grandmother her Ouija board and hanging crystal, as well as a few of her jars and bottles, and a little stool for her to sit on - all on her own little base so that she can be sat in amongst all her possessions and removed if wanted.
I did think it would be nice to make a small box scene for her with wallpaper and shelves, a rug on the floor, and her things neatly tidied away. But for the size of doll I'm making the whole thing would have just drowned her completely, so I think I'll have to save that for another time, and another doll. I can't wait to see the tiny glass bottles I've bought for her so I can start making up tiny labels and filling them with ground dried herbs from my own garden. And, as suggested by @fairiesnest, I'll have a go at making her a few pumpkins as well :)