Sunday, March 27, 2011

Putting Things Together

Here are a couple of starts for pieces I hope to finish this week. As you can see, I like to start by assembling all the component parts to work things out before I finally put them together. It's quite a long process sometimes.........I find that I need to try different things and mull over them for a few days before achieveing the final picture that I have in my mind.

 And these are yummy little parcels made with a savoury filling of spinach and tomatoes (from the garden, naturally!) with pine-nuts, garlic, onion, herbs and feta all wrapped in puff pastry and baked.....kind of Greekish, but I couldn't get filo pastry, so I improvised!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Funny Food?

Well.......these might look for all the world, like a tray of funny cookies, but they are actually face-masks to be used in the "Zozie" class I am teaching tomorrow. These are made from paperclay and they will be popped into a low oven for a few hours to dry out.

And look! It hasn't been particularly cold yet, but Autumn is definitely on the way.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Introducing Sue McFadden

I'd like to introduce you to one of my all-time favourite dollmakers, Sue McFadden.

Since I discovered her dolls and her blog several years ago I have been taken with the quiet poise and wonderful craftsmanship of her dolls, most of which are made entirely from wool felt. Sue quietly goes about making her dolls and her other art without too much fuss, but really, these stunning works of doll art deserve much more exposure!

Sue has decided to offer an online class in felt doll-making, which is wonderful news indeed! If you want to find out the details of the class go to Sue's blog and while you are there check out her galleries with lots of lovely finished dolls to drool over!

                Sue kindly allowed me to use some of her photos of her dolls - aren't they fabulous?


Here's the "Kaethe Kruse" head that I started a few weeks ago - I've added more clay and started sanding it - next step is adding the cloth layer. I studied lots of pictures of original heads to try and reproduce the nuances of form that are evident in the originals and which I find very appealing. I've drafted a body pattern that I think will work, but since I am leaving for the US in a few weeks, I think this project may have to wait until my return to be completed.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Finally finished! Felicity is a vintage-inspired cloth doll. I made her a crocheted cotton apron and cap and her dress is made from green and tan checked cotton fabric. Her hair is made from hanks of mercerized cotton which were impregnated with glue and adhered to her head, then painted. She looks quite satisfied with her lot.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Eating Fresh!

Here's what I harvested and cooked for myself last night, continuing my mini-challenge to only eat what is in the garden...........well, OK, I cheated a little with the dessert - I didn't grow the watermelon, but it was already in the 'frig, so it seemed wasteful to let it spoil and have to throw it out. BTW, the blackberries and raspberries with the watermelon drizzled with lemon juice and a sprinkling of sugar were divine!  The main course consisted of oven roasted potatoes (pink firs), beetroot and parsnips - they were roasted in fabulous olive oil from a local grower (Lentara Olives) along with carrots with parsley and creamed spinach with garlic. It was very tasty!

For those of you who live locally, I will be teaching a one-day "Making Zozie" workshop on March 26th at Calico Crossroads here in Exeter a couple of weeks before I leave for an overseas teaching trip. (More about that in a future post.) Contact Pauline for details - I think there is room for a couple more. This workshop is great fun and you will end up with a unique little doll to keep or give away as a gift to someone special.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Random Thoughts On Doing It Yourself

I've always been a firm adherent of a kind of do-it-yourself, make-it-yourself, grow-it-yourself kind of philosophy as far as is humanly possible. I think that is why I am really attracted to the idea of making my living totally from what I can create with my own hands.

I am fairly anti fast food and I try not to buy much food that comes from a long way away. Having said that, I am not obssessed to the idea of total prohibition - I just like to keep my consumption as local as possible and as home-grown as possible. In the past I have kept goats (for meat, milk and hair), sheep (for meat and wool), chickens and ducks (for eggs) and may do so again in future, but at the moment we are growing a good array of vegetables in our home garden. I love being able to pile a plate up with home-grown goodies, that I know have had no pesticides or other nasties applied to them and which have been grown using only organic fertilizers. I also bake......bread, biscuits (the cookie kind) cakes etc.

Together, we also like to make things for our house ourselves from soft furnishings to furniture and we generate much of our electricity from a roof-installed solar collection panels - we have six and we will, in future, add six more. We also heat our hot water with a solar system.
Next plan is to start collecting rainwater.

At the moment, after an unusually wet summer, I am eyeing off the mini-plague of plump little bunnies that are hopping around our yard as bold as brass - a few of those in the freezer might be nice! (To my sensitive overseas readers, you need to understand that rabbits are an introduced pest species in Australia and eradicating them is actually a good thing, even though they are mighty cute!) They are safe at the moment - I have no means of catching them ;-)

OK - long story short - I have three days at home by myself and I decided to try and buy almost nothing and only eat what was fresh in the garden as a little challenge. Here's what I cooked up for myself last night for dinner - all screaming fresh from the garden. It was heavenly, flavoured with fresh herbs and I didn't miss having a hunk of meat on the plate - I think I could almost live without it, actually (bunnies notwithstanding!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Moonglow and Starshine

Here are two cute little stinkers I just finished...........(*thinks* I am constantly amazed that I can finish making something and within minutes somebody on the other side of the world can be looking at it.........aah! the wonders of modern technology!)
Anyway, Moonglow (in stripes) and Starshine (in brown) are little owlie Zozies. I will be listing them in my Etsy store soon, so if you fancy one of them, better fly over there quick - they don't usually last long when I list them!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kaethe Kruse and Me

I've always loved the early Kaethe Kruse dolls - something about the chubbiness of them; the tactility; the captured essence of childish innocence; the simple rustic clothing. What's not to like? These dolls were first created in the early years of the C20th by Frau Kruse in her workshop in Germany by a team of skilled artisans. Completely handmade, these dolls retain their charm even when beaten up by a lifetime of loving. Not that I have ever seen one in real life - only pictures.

Since the originals are way beyond my budget to buy, I've always had a hankering to make a similar doll - just one. I'll never replicate the original processes exactly. (Brass dies were used to press the cloth heads; they were stuffed with reindeer hair, and where am I going to get THAT from; the bodies were made from nettle cloth and I don't even know what that is and the bodies seem to have quite complicated piecing and seaming which would be hard to reproduce without having a good look at an original). Long story short - I'm going to make my Kaethe Kruse homage doll to look as close to the originals as I can, but still put something of myself into it - I want it to be recognizably my work, and obviously I'll have to fudge and subsitute a few things.
Here are some images of original dolls and a picture of my rough initial sculpt. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not quite finished, but.........

Here is the little doll I was working on last week while I was looking after my son's children. In between cricket, circus practice, homework supervision, art activities, cooking, washing etc. I managed to steal a bit of time to do some of my own work. I'm still working on the clothing (don't look too closely - you'll see unhemmed edges), but she's finished enough to show her face here. I enjoyed crocheting the little lacy cap and I'm planning to give her a white apron with a similar crocheted bib front.

And here's a piece from my sketchbook - unfinished - that I've been working on. If you want to know what it is all about, click on the image in the Flickr Photostream to the right and it will take you right there - all will be explained!

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