November 3, 2010

Here she is...

Well, for the most part, the dolls that I started this summer are done and awaiting new homes on my Etsy doll shop.

This one is named Lady of the Lake, and on her smock is a direct landscape painting of the view from the house I visited on Lake Champlain. In the post I wrote in September, you can see the dolls in their raw form, unpainted and without limbs. You can note the blue sheet that I used to sit on and the tree I sat under.

Here is the same scene, but instead of dolls, there is an open book and an apple under the tree. This lady is a gardener, and she's wearing her gardening clogs and a pair of jeans. She sings as she gardens, and out of her mouth comes the sun, thunderstorms, rainbows, rain, snow and wind which all swirl around her head.

It is good that most of these dolls are completed, because I do have other things I need to attend to. Hopefully I'll get back to dollmaking sooner than later.

I'll let you know.

October 23, 2010

The Cloisters

Recently, some dear friends and I went to The Cloisters for their Renaissance Faire! I had never been to The Cloisters, and so I was in for a treat.

Luckily we arrived somewhat early as by the end of the day, the place was packed. It was somewhat surreal to leave the bustling city and find yourself at a rather fort like cloister. Also, it was fun to see every ethnic group and culture all dressed up in what they thought was appropriate Faire costume! Although there was plenty to see outside the building (vendors, jousts, puppeteers and musicians), we did go into the museum itself.

As we began to move through the rooms, our group dispersed as everyone had their own interests. I ended up taking over 200 photographs!

I found myself wanting to record every interesting things so that I could refer to it at a later date when creating my own artwork.

I was particularly interested in the sculptures. Look at that beard! The Woodsman, whose picture is in a previous post, is bearded. I think that I will make more like him, with these references in mind.

I highly recommend a trip to NYC to see The Cloisters!

October 15, 2010

Sold two dolls!

Two of the dolls I have made are going on a journey to the other side of North America! They will be traveling together and starting a new life in a new home.

This is a very new piece named Tea Party. I was particularly happy with this photograph. Doesn't she look sassy? Sort of a southern belle look.

And this guy, The Woodsman, is one of my favorites. He is so cool, and now they will be together. I think that they will get on very well even though they are different. I imagine that she might be a bit more of a social butterfly and he the silent, deep and caring man.

I hope that children get to play with these dolls. Or grownups, even!

I like the idea that they get played with.

October 9, 2010

Those Meddling Humans

It was that really hot Saturday we had a couple weeks ago when I decided to spend the day on my friend's porch, reading. The sun was shining, the book was good, and I was ready to fall into the story.

As I stepped onto the porch, I instantly noticed something different. There was a rock on the railing gate. Now, mind you, I am a rock person. I pick them up, observe them, and sometimes take them home with me. Whenever I move myself and belongings, I curse this obsession. So, on this day I marveled at this rock. It looked unusual.

I moved in closer. Yes, a very strange rock. Closer. Ah! It wasn't a rock! It was a Toad!

A toad! Up here on the second floor? On the gate railing? Strange...very strange. How did it get here?

I ran for the camera and began to document this marvel. Upon closer inspection, this toad seemed particularly grey, and ill looking, sleeping all curled up as it was, indeed, ill. I said to myself, "Toads like the wet and dark. This toad will dry out up here! He obviously needs my help!"

So I got a manila folder from the recycling bin, and placed it where the toad could get on it.The toad immediately obliged. He began to move towards the edge of the folder and I yelled, "Stop!" and he did. I quickly went down the stairs to the ground level and found a bush to put him under.

I took a bunch of pictures, and he  looked right into the camera! Sigh. There. Dark and wet. Perfect. My job is done. Aren't I the helpful human? I returned to the upper floor to resume reading the book, but whenever I got comfortable, I couldn't help but see how my new friend was faring.

Suddenly he began to move. "Underneath the dark porch.." I thought. But no! He went up the steps! And I thought, "No way! He isn't going to..." But he did. He began to make his way back up to the second floor!

This was too remarkable to not capture digitally, so I began to click, and then remembered that I had video capabilities on my camera. I should note at this point that when my camera decides that the subject is in focus, it chirps twice. Perhaps that was the source of his interest in me. Check out this video:

Yep! He jumped right onto my camera! Ha! I only wish that I had a camera to take a picture of him on my camera!

Then he proceeded to climb right back up the railing to almost exactly where he had been before.

I felt guilty for moving him to begin with, so I went back downstairs to get the manila folder, thinking of using it to return him to his original post, and I yelped! I snake slithered by!  I put him where a snake would have eaten him for sure....meddling human.

I've learned my lesson.

This is a wonderful story which includes a magic frog (not toad...oh well), but it is truly wonderful.

September 28, 2010

Traveling Dollmaker

What was I thinking of opening my Etsy doll shop just as I decided to uproot my entire life? No time to waste, I guess.

One of the wonderful aspects of Paperclay© is how versatile and portable it is. With a little water, a napkin and some kind of cutting or shaping tool, you’re good to go.  Paperclay© is a self hardening clay, so you don’t need a kiln, just the sun.

So, I began my most recent series of Bell dolls in July, when it was sunny and hot.  I carried all of my supplies in two canvas bags, and would seek out any appropriate spot to sculpt and paint. This included driving to Carpenter’s Falls, NY, and working out of the back of my car.

A friend invited me to housesit with her and another friend at a lovely house in Colchester, VT. This place was right on Lake Champlain looking over to the Adirondacks! Oh, it was lovely, and the view ended up being painted on a doll that will be included in my shop.  It was so lovely outside, that I decided to set up right under a tree in the yard.

Here’s a picture of the “party girls” as torsos are being added to their bell shaped gowns.

Back to NYS, I, dog, cat and house sat for a different friend, and worked in her brightly lit, enclosed porch. The dolls began to take shape. They look really cool at this stage.

My travels took me to Stone Ridge, NY to stay with a friend who happens to have a lovely porch. Shade is hard to come by, so I fashioned a tent…kind of.

What would the dolls think as they are coming to life while traveling from place to place? Wouldn’t it be a great children’s story? Ah, more to do…

September 27, 2010

New Dolls Coming!

I had given myself a challenge. All of these doll bodies, arms and legs I'd been schlepping around, needed to become actual dolls. A friend had liked a pretty lady doll that had sold, so I decided to make a bunch more. However, the doll bodies I had left were particularly small. Then suddenly, I saw the answer! The round bell bodies would be the dresses. As I added torsos to these body shapes, I kept thinking that they were "party girls" getting dressed up for a ball in their rounded and flowing skirts.

I imagined ballerinas, royal ladies and cheerful tea party attendees for this series. Soon. Soon you will see them on the Jennifer Russell Dolls shop. The link to that page is in the upper right of this page.

September 24, 2010

Sold a doll on today!

Many years ago, I discovered an image of an ancient sculpture. It was a clay sculpture of a woman, and her dress was really large and bell shaped whereas her head, arms and legs were unusually small. It was said to be an image of Hera. I thought it was so charming!

Around that time, I thought of mass producing small dolls, in the hopes of supporting my more time consuming and substantial pieces. I jumped into that project, but soon my energy drained, and so a whole bunch of bodies, arms and legs lived in bags and moved with me from place to place.

Then recently, a local Arts Council (of which I was a member) had a Holiday sale, so I quickly put together three of these Bell dolls to put in the sale. I had such a good time making them, that I decided to open a doll shop on Feel free to check it out here: JenniferRussellDolls

 This little guy is named The Stargazer. I have made several dolls similar to this one. I think that those round, bell shaped bodies speak out to becoming a landscape. His head is the moon, the stars his shirt, and the earth his pants. He is eternally gazing into the universe with a look of bewilderment and his hands clasped in contemplation.

He will be leaving me soon, traveling through the postal service to a far away place where he will be happy. How could he not be happy? Look at that face!