Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Fade"

I've had this piece in the back of my mind for quite some time.....years, in fact, but I never quite found the time to realize it.


This is the initial watercolour sketch.....three frogs on a log with the colour successively fading from them.
I decided a couple of months ago that I wanted to make this piece (finally!) for my exhibition in August, so I knuckled down and got it done in the past week. First I had to make three fabric frogs:


Since these are quite small, this is tricky and intricate fabric piecing, and they all needed to be in slightly different poses.




The frogs were then arranged side-by-side on a piece of wood that I have had set aside for this project for ages..........I painted the fade into the wood as well.




Of course, it is fairly obvious that this piece has a strong environmental message: frogs and amphibians generally, are "canary-in-the-mine" species.....their sudden decline and disappearance from many habitats indicate that all is not well with the ecology of these habitats. Presence of frogs is a strong indication of environmental health.











Thursday, July 23, 2015

Exhibition

I'm busy getting the last few pieces of work done for my upcoming exhibition in Victoria......these two were completed this week:
"Weeping Forest" 2





Memento Mori: Ligatus:









Sunday, July 19, 2015

Girl in White

This little girl is now complete:




I really enjoyed making this little madam!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Little Miss With A Mind Of Her Own

This doll I am working on seems to know her own mind! I had no idea where to go with her, but she kept suggesting things, like the one-piece underwear that simply "everyone" is wearing. And the lace collar that will go on her dress......but she didn't want the dirty old stuff from my box of vintage laces. No, she insisted on new lace that I made myself. Well, fine crochet in cotton is a bit of a challenge for me these days, especially when done at night, but I got it made to her satisfaction.
She seems to like the wig I made her alright, even though it is still messy and not stuck on her head yet.
Hope she's not too fussy about her dress, but I expect she will be!
This is a jointed cloth doll around 32 cms tall (12.5") with joints at the hips and shoulders. The wig is hand-knotted Lincoln wool dyed a dark blonde shade.





Friday, July 10, 2015

Sister and Brother

I have just completed this boy and girl pair as a special order.....for a very patient customer who has waited quite a while for them! I really like making these little dolls - they are a satisfying size to me (12" - around 30 cms) and I just love making their tiny, removable garments and the little toys and things that they hold. I admit that I didn't make this violin (found it in the music store) ......but I did make the bow!

I'll be offering a limited number of these as special custom orders through my Etsy store: http://www.susiemcmahon.etsy.com  for details.





Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Beavering away.....,...,

In my studio this week.........after an intensive weekend's music making at our annual Winter Music Camp. We workshopped Mendelssohn's Reformation symphony as the major work along with a number of shorter, easier pieces........(Debussy - En Bateau; some bits of Tales of Hoffmann by Offenbach and an amusing Leroy Anderson piece - The Waltzing Cat (complete with miaows and dog barks!)
So it's back to work this week - a lot of finishing off to get done.









Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Goings on.........

Firstly, it is mid-winter here which means short days and some quite cold nights followed by frosty mornings. So far this year we have had a few colder nights than we have had for many years.......and inevitably, last weekend one of my external water pipes burst from the water inside it freezing. I did what one does in such a situation - I turned off the water at the main and phoned around for a local plumber to come and fix it (it looked like a fairly simple job to me, but one requiring skills and tools I do not possess) After all the phoning around, the soonest I could get a plumber here was Tuesday morning THREE WHOLE DAYS without water on tap. I could have wussed out and gone to a hotel, but I thought that was pretty pathetic, so I confronted the problem of no water head on and stuck it out, carting drinking, cooking and washing water and saving the used water in a bucket to flush the loo...........and because I have a large property with lots of trees and bushes and a trusty spade, I was able to do what bears do in the forest for more serious calls of nature! Please don't ask for more explanation than that! I did sneak out for a shower at my mother's house, I must admit - there are limits!

Well, I survived, but it did bring home to me the fact that for many millions of people in the world, this situation is not just a temporary inconvenience, but a permanent situation and unlike me, they don't have a car to go and fetch water when they need it, but often have to walk great distances and carry it back on their heads. Proper sanitation is also a big issue, I found out, and the death rate from water-borne diseases and disasters numbers in the millions annually. It really made me think and to be thankful for what we take for granted flowing freely and usually cleanly from our taps.



Secondly, because I am known quite well locally as a doll-maker, people often ask if I am able to do repairs on old dolls. This is something I approach carefully, because bad repairs or re-paints can decrease the value of an antique or vintage doll considerably. But sometimes I am able to do it and I even quite enjoy it if I can restore a loved childhood doll to some semblance of its former glory. So when a large Japanese celluloid doll came into my hands a few weeks ago, I was fairly dismayed by its condition and I didn't think I'd be able to do much. It needed re-stringing - that was straightforward, but the worst damage was the chewed off nose and fingers of one hand. This doll needed major reconstruction surgery! I mulled it over for a while and eventually decided to tackle the job. Well, it turned out much better than I could have hoped......I reconstructed a new nose and fingers from two part epoxy sculpting compound and painted the additions with a number of layers of matched paint. It's almost impossible to pick the repaired parts. The face paint had mostly been rubbed off this sad and sorry doll over the years, so I gave her a new face as well. I forgot to get "before" pictures, unfortunately, but this is how the doll looked after her makeover. I hope her owner, who is 88 years old, will be pleased with how she now looks. She's being delivered tomorrow.




The doll came in the clothes she's wearing - it seems to be a vintage crocheted baby's outfit.

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