Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Facing My Figural Fear

Usually when I disappear in the middle of a project, I've either gone out of town or I'm stuck on something.

Unfortunately, this time I've been stuck.

Placing human figures in my work has always been challenging.

In fact, many times in the past few days, I wanted to stop working on this piece and start working on a flower garden or something.  But I didn't.

No matter how often I struggle to make faces and figures, they still keep crossing my path and demanding to be included in my work.



Well, I have a habit of listening to these messages from the universe so...here I am back at it.

And since they keep coming up over and over, I'd better practice and improve so that it becomes less onerous.  Enter Adele Sciortino and her online doll classes.

A few years ago Gerry Krueger told me about Adele's newsletter (it's free) which is full of tips for making dolls and doll items.  Thanks to Gerry, I've taken one class on making doll shoes and I'm currently enrolled in the Wigging with Mohair class.

After working with mohair for Audrey's hair, I knew I could use some help with better managing this tricky, flyaway fiber.  Even though I am not making free-standing dolls, I'm already learning some valuable tips.  I've ordered some gray mohair off of Etsy for Mrs. Rose's hair.

Needleworkers have been putting figures into their work forever.  You see figures in goldwork, figures in stumpwork...



And I have found lots of inspiration from current artists such as Salley Mavor.

After my last post, I started reading The Embroidered Portraits book by Jan Messent.  She has tackled this topic thoroughly and gives great tips on how to embroider faces and place ears, eyes, nose etc.  Thank you Jan...I'm finding it very helpful.

I'm also using Barbara Willis' Cloth Doll Artistry book for tips on sculpting the body, arms and legs.

Each time I've had to make a face, I haven't drawn it freehand.  Instead, I find a picture and trace the placement of nose, eyes, ears and mouth.  That way, I'm not depending on drawing skills that I don't have.

For Mrs. Rose, I decided to use that Annie Wahl doll that I have in my collection.  She was kind enough to pose for me, and didn't mind getting shot in her skivvies...



She says she's proud to show off the body that got her this far in life.

I then traced her outline to make a doll pattern for the head and the body.   Once I was satisfied with the pattern, I used my copier to reduce the paper doll to various sizes...



I cut them out to place them on the block.  This helps me choose the correct pattern size.  It looks like a reduction of 55% will work.


I know, I know.  She doesn't look so good bald and pale like that...I suppose I didn't look so hot either when I was first born.

Now onto choosing the materials.  I ordered some Doe Suede (it's a polyester) from Adele's site since I had never seen that before and wanted to try it.  I also have some flesh colored kona cloth.  And I located some old pantyhose to try as well.



Today, I'm off to play around with my pattern and my materials to see what happens.

Thanks for hanging with me.   I hope to get to some "flow" with this piece soon.

Ankles crossed...

20 comments:

Lorraine said...

As always Susan your photos are fantastic! I've admired many of the doll makers for years and in fact took a class myself some years back. Am really looking forward to your progress with this.

wendy said...

How exciting to watch the process! I'm going to see if I can find the book you mentioned! Have fun!

gracie said...

I am excited that we are finally going to meet the lady! I just know you will create a perfect person.

Elaine said...

Beautiful Susan! I am really looking forward to seeing what you come up with :)

cucki said...

Wow so beautiful xxx

Rachel said...

I would never have imagined that you struggle with figures - yours always turn out so well!

Suztats said...

Even bald and naked, Mrs Rose looks pretty darn good! Looking forward to seeing more progress on this project.

Mouse said...

had to giggle at her not minding being un robed ...lol and way to go on the process of getting things right and I am amazed that there are classes in such things :) obviously led a sheltered life here ....
love watching your progress reports and the pieces coming to life :) love mouse xxxxxx

Catherine said...

Aaawwww....Miss Rose is here! Your process is always so amazing to watch and read. Looking forward to seeing you bring her personality to life!

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I knew you were in research mode!
Perfection at work!
xx, Carol

Wendy said...

Oh my goodness Susan! You do have your work cut out for you, but I know this block is going to be fantastic! Thanks for the tips on those books.

Laurie said...

I love your faces, and look forward to seeing the progress!

dilly dalley Melissa said...

Hi Susan, I love the way you share your creative process with us, even the 'hard' bits. It is great that the amount of detail you provide really helps other stitchers think through their own technical and artistic issues. I have one question on the figure of your wonderful old friend in the chair - are you planning on having a visual representation of her other arm and it just isn't included on the paper doll? Or were you thinking of just having the one arm?

margaret said...

so good to read about how you go about your faces, they all look wonderful to me, so expressive.

Unknown said...

Its so great that you share your creative process with us; its fun to go along on your creative journey and see how you solve any challenges that come up. Kathy

Mary Ann said...

You are delving into my world now....LOL Cloth Doll Artistry was the first doll making book I bought. I often take on line doll related classes as you can learn so many little tricks of the trade.

Vicky aka Stichr said...

I think your stress over your 'ability' to make faces/bodies is actually part of the process you need to go through. It just makes you dig deeper to find the right path with all the right stops on the way to your goal. You always learn something and you always find your way.

That said, I can't wait to what other paths you embark on.

Saturday Sequins said...

Susan, I have a fear of figures, too! I'm proud of you for working on yours, and I love that you're taking doll making classes. The shoe class sounds awesome!

I have a book on making tiny hats. I've never attempted the projects and mostly bought it because of the eye candy, but they'd go well with little shoes!

Createology said...

I am totally in awe as I have never been successful at any of these elements you are discussing and working through. Bless you dear for sharing your research with us. Mrs. Rose will be helping you construct her likeness. Blissful Stitching...

Judy S. said...

Your posts are such fun to read! And looks like you are back on track with Mrs. Rose....can't wait to see what comes next.

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