Friday, January 20, 2017

It's A Knock-Down Inauguration Day!

Well, what can I say? Controversy never goes out of style and that was the inspiration behind creating a Donald Trump version of my popular Knock Down Doll! Dressed in presidential red, white and blues, our new leader is ready for the games to begin... are you? His official presidency begins today, but he's already causing conflict among world leaders, politicians, and we the people!

Whether you love to hate him or hate to love him, our orange-toned, yelling-faced, comb-over-haired leader was setting himself up for a good old fashioned knock-down. So I took that to heart and made him part of my Knock Down Doll collection. Of course I had to take a whimsical approach when designing this likeness of our fearless leader. That was the fun part!

I even made a design for the reverse side—complete with a "KNOCK ME DOWN" sign taped to his back—this whimsical arcade game throwback has so far amused both Democrats and Republicans alike. Funny thing is, I actually came up with the idea for a President Trump version of these dolls when I turned off the television. Yup, that's right. I wanted to relax a little more and spend some time on my hobbies, like drawing. So my mind got all empty and my hands were drawing pictures, and I was totally being in the moment when my brain was like, "OMG! You should totally do a Donald Trump version of your Knock Down Doll!" So I did.

The design process takes quite a bit of time for these faux furry friends. I need to stay within my current template, make them resemble my other Knock Down Doll styles, make it actually look like The Donald, complete with appropriate hair and wardrobe. I do it all by hand and then I scan it into Photoshop and colorize it for optimum visual impact. But I do love the challenge of it all. It really is fun.

If you are interested in purchasing one of my limited edition Trump Knock Down Dolls, they're available in my Etsy shop. They'd make the perfect addition to your boardwalk, carnival or political collection! Make America Great Again... and buy handmade!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Just Desserts...

I was so excited when the editor of Prims magazine contacted me about a couple of my modern vintage rag dolls. One of my favorite Stampington & Company publications, Prims is among my very favorite. Chock full of all types of primitive style dolls from softies to sculpted versions, it’s a mixed media doll makers dream. So I was blushing with pride when I got the call to pen an article for their magazine, and super excited when I received the issue and saw my name on the front cover!
Being inspired by just about everything around me, I discovered a fondness for making dolls that resemble my favorite desserts. So I had worked with the editor in picking out the most appropriate dolls for the issue, and we decided on my 3-tiered cake and a smiling cupcake because they had a common teal color scheme. When I sent them off to be photographed, I had no idea what an adorable layout they would create with my babies! To pair them with the kitchen scale, muffin tin and sit them next to each other like they were best friends…. well, I was just tickled at how it turned out!
In the article I talk about my inspiration behind my rag dolls as well as tips and step-by-step techniques I used to create these modern vintage softies. If you’d like to read more about my vintage style dessert dolls, you can find the article in the Winter issue of Prims, available through Stampington and at many of your local or online book and craft retailers. Muggsy and Van I. La are also available in my Etsy shop if you would like to take a piece of dessert home with you!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Knock Me Down! A More Colorful Solution...

For about 6 years now I've been making these Tillie version Knock Down Dolls in fun, circus-themed colors. The seafoam version was to match the color of the Palace Amusements building in Asbury Park, where Tillie's smiling countenance watched over children of all ages for decades.

An orange version was perfect for clowning around. Bright and cheery and colorfully circus-y.

And a royal blue version gave nod to a spiffy, more dressed up Tillie. And in all those years, I've sold over 100 of them.... with no complaints from the crowd.

Then, one day... I was like, "Hey! How about some new colors?" which was quickly followed by, "Duh!" and a head-slap. So, I decided to try out a pink version, to perhaps appeal to the ladies out there... a dusty lavender version, because I was feeling dandy... and a teal version, well, just for something different.

The exciting part was that I had just been contacted by someone who previously purchased one of my Knock Down Dolls and wanted to buy 5 more — in all different colors — to make a boardwalk themed display. And with the 3 new colors, I just so happened to be able to give her exactly what she wanted. A more colorful solution!

And since I was already fiddling with faux fur, sitting at the sewing machine, had hammer and tacks handy, and ribbons galore to rummage through... I made 2 whole sets. One for my patron and the other for you! To see all my Tillies in their fabulously amusing glory, you can visit my Etsy shop and click on Knock Down Dolls in the sidebar.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ticket to the Freak Show... Opens April 11th!

Step right up folks! You won't see anything like this anywhere else. Freaks and oddities of all types and kinds... right here for your viewing pleasure. And I've got your ticket!

I am beyond excited to present to you my most recent collection of art dolls, live and in person for the very first time... this Saturday, April 11th at Torche' Galerie. Inspired by my love of everything circus, as well as the recent FX series hit American Horror Story: Freak Show, this collection is my most favorite of all! And not only will I have 6 art dolls on display at this show, but I will also have 2 new whimsical vintage style collages showcased!

Torche' Galerie's 2nd Anniversary Exhibition features a whole host of talented artists in all types of mediums including sculpture, photography, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, collage, film, mixed-media and so many more categories of intriguing contemporary art. Torche' Galerie is like a little slice of an upscale New York City gallery with a friendly and inviting atmosphere... right here in NJ! And the opening night reception — which many of the artists attend — will blow you away.

Opening Reception 
Saturday, April 11th, 2015
7pm - 10pm
500 Main Street, Belmar, NJ 07719

So come join me at the opening reception and view my latest selection of whimsical art dolls and collages, as well as the work of 50 inspirational artists! If you can't make it to the Opening Reception, the show is up through the month of June. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue...

In my quest to find something to scratch my creative itches this year, that utilized much of the ephemera and mementos I've collected from flea markets over time, and that would bring more joy and lightheartedness into my daily making... I began creating these vintage-inspired mixed media collages. That's the something new.

This is where it all begins. Finally finding a landing place for all my papers, old photos, book pages, candy wrappers, scrapbook papers, antique ledgers, music books, tickets, maps and odd little scraps of stampings and such... well... That's the something old. Those things kind of set my soul on fire. If you saw my stash, you might laugh at the tiniest scraps of things that I am not able to part with. I'm not sure why, but the most miniscule piece of torn paper makes my heart beat just a little bit faster.

Being able to get into all the details and embellishing with paint, pencil, ribbons, buttons and other found objects... well... that just sets my brain on fire! I tweak and tweak and tweak and tweak each piece until it looks 'just right'. And what does that mean? When it has the perfect balance of color, visual weight, places for the eye to fall, and the story is clear... that's when I know I'm done.

When did my love affair of all thing collage-y begin? Probably back around the turn of the century! I first discovered a publication called Somerset Studio, that had within it's gorgeous, glossy pages, samples of artwork similar to what I wanted to create. They called it mixed media collage. And so my quest began. I traveled the country to gather and play with like-minded souls. I discovered new and exciting projects and techniques. I found talented and patient teachers and inspirational workshops. One of those masterful instructors was Lynn Whipple. Her whimsical and lighthearted approach to collage inspired me to keep going. And keep going I did!

Earlier this year, when my thoughts turned to adding more joy and lightheartedness into my daily creative practice, my thoughts returned to that special instructor of more than a decade ago. I found an online class she was teaching — aptly named The Joy of Collage — and signed up in a heartbeat, so I could brush up on my techniques and playfulness. And brush up (pun intended)... I did! That's the something borrowed.

I soon became obsessed with making mixed media magic. I could relax my brain and let my heart take over. It was a much needed break from the complex engineering of the sculpted art dolls I made throughout 2014. I started working on multiple collages at a time, all in different stages. I could play with paper, or paint, or stamping, or details, at my leisure with the freedom to choose whatever was calling me at the time. I started creating works in different themes and different colors (that's where the something blue comes in)... all while using Lynn's visual gauge of, "if it makes you laugh, then go with it".

Working in that way, I found that when I'm finished with a piece, I think, "Awww, I'm done already?" And so I'm on to the next one... to create more fun, more whimsy, more joy and more lightheartedness in my creative soul. Throughout this process the ideas keep coming, and I look forward to exploring these mixed media collages in 2015 and seeing where they take me!

Editors Note: Any time I take a class or workshop from a talented, established artist or instructor, I always ask their permission before I make any work utilizing their techniques public. It's good form and good karma.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Freak Show Peep Show...

After drooling over a full season of inspiration brought to me by the American Horror Story: FreakShow television series, I set my sights on creating a collection of art dolls with a circus sideshow theme! So I thought I'd take you behind the scenes — or should I say under the big top — for a little sneak peek.

Being the first of my art doll endeavors with a single theme, I carefully considered which characters I would create, based on the unique oddities and attractions from the show.

Of course Dell Toledo, The Stupendous Strongman was a big influence. In fact, I knew months ago when I came across furry leopard fabric, that I wanted to create a doll with bulging muscles, a neanderthal brow, and a handlebar moustache, lifting a ton of weight (okay, maybe about half a ton!)

That handlebar moustache... well, it ended up being as big as he is! But I do love to exaggerate features on my dolls, so when it made me laugh, I knew it was perfect!

Dell's former wife Ethel — The Bearded Lady — was a gentle soul and touched my heart. I wanted to dress her in a 1920's style dress, like from her early stage days where she was loved and adored. I tried several different items to dress her up, and felt that this old silk and lace camisole of mine fit the bill. Yes, I save everything!

Of course to go with the theme of the time, no bearded lady dressed in 1920's garb, is complete without a blingy headband!

Then there was Twisty the Clown. A very sick and twisted individual who's specialty was murder! This doll was probably the most difficult sculpture I've created to date. But working from a photograph of a real character kinda made it a little easier than my other dolls, if that makes sense. I put my twist on it (pun intended) and love the way he came out.

Pretty freaking scary! I do love making cute things, but I love making creepy things just as much. This certainly appealed to that part of my personality.

My conjoined twin girls Faith and Hope, were definitely inspired by Bette and Dot from American Horror Story. I dressed them up using a gorgeous pair of lace shorts my mom bought me last year, but alas... were too small. Yes, I save everything! My stash of vintage jewelry, buttons, baubles, beads and ribbon help make every doll a unique and individual piece of art, and lots of fun to accessorize.

My love of all things side show — and the fact that the Wheel of Death made an appearance in the television series — is why I had to create a Knife-Thrower's Assistant! Where does one acquire a doll-sized wheel? In the clock components section of A.C. Moore, of course!

I dressed my Assistant in a goth style lace and tulle dress, complete with a tiny tutu. The main part of the dress is from an upcycled blouse I bought at a sample sale years ago but never wore because I'm not really very appealing in black, LOL. Did I mention that I save everything?

And last but not least. The Ringmaster...

Inspired by Elsa Mars, mistress of the freaks and — unbeknownst to many of the others — was one of them herself. [Spoiler Alert!] Having had her legs cut off for a German snuff film, Elsa was given a pair of wooden legs by one of her "suitors". For my version, the Ringmaster sits atop a vintage bird cage, with a pair of antique wooden bobbins dangling below her torso. At a commanding 2 feet tall in total, her Marie Antoinette style skirt barely hides the history of her past.

Now, by this time you may be wondering why I haven't shown you each of my latest art dolls in all their fabulously freakish glory. Well, here at the FreakShow, you've got to buy a ticket to see the monsters. Pssst! Stick around, and I'll let you know where to get one!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Let It Sno... Peas... and More Art Doll Tales...

Well the weather outside is frighful, but making these dolls is so delightful... and since I've no place to go, I let it sno, let it sno, let it sno... cone, that is! This bright and cheerful tri-colored shaved ice guy is just one of the creations in my most recent collection of Art Dolls. Inspired by my years growing up near the beach and boardwalk, he's all dolled up for the winter!

Have you ever thought that you and your friends were like peas in a pod? Well, so have these gals! This trio of funny-faced, smiling pals are BFF's, and perfectly content right where they are... side-by-side-by-side!

This cute little lawbreaker is titled Guerilla Artist: Tag, You're It! Inspired by wordplay... a guerilla graffiti chick in a gorilla suit... I can't really remember which came first now! Was it the stuffed (and since repurposed) ape I found at a local yard sale? Or was it the graffiti theme? Either way, this piece utilized both my sculpting and graphic design skills which were fun to combine.

Hey, can you tell me what time it is? It's time to make a Steampunk-themed doll, for sure! I started out with the vintage, Vicorian, mixed metal theme for this doll and she took me to heights unknown! So many flea market antiques and parts that I upcycled on her... fabrics, trims, vintage jewelry and bric-a-brac... it took more than 30 hours of dressing and sewing and engineering to get her outfit just right!

And I fell in love with her little copper batwings (which I hand made from copper sheeting) and ultra coool jetpack (made from a vintage oil camp stove burner). This doll was so much fun to create, from her sink drain hat to her salt shaker pantalooned legs! I may have a new favorite.

Hey, man! You goin' down to Yasgur's Farm? Gotta get back to the land and set my soul free! This groovy hippie chick was inspired by the summer of 1969 and the Woodstock concert. Although I was only born a year before half a million people gathered at Bethel, NY for 3 days of Peace & Music, I always loved the 60's. I often dressed in garb just like hers for many a Halloween. Although, I must confess, I've dressed like that on regular days too! Peace!

So... these are just a few of the Art Dolls I've had the pleasure of creating in the past couple of months. At the beginning of the year I had announced I was going to spend the entire year making these dolls, and wow! what a journey it has been. I ended up making 29 dolls altogether, which was less than my goal (although, do my conjoined twins count as two dolls? That would make it an even 30!). But each doll was so different from the previous one, that it took as long as it took to create them! I've sold 12 of them so far, have 5 on reserve, and 6 of my latest dolls will be introduced at Torche Galerie's Winter Exhibit, opening in just a couple weeks!

Torche' Galerie Winter Exhibition
Opening Reception 
Saturday, January 10, 2015
7pm - 10pm
500 Main Street, Belmar, NJ 07719

So come join me at the opening reception and view my latest selection of whimsical Art Dolls as well as the work of more than 50 artists! If you can't make it to the Opening Reception, the show is up through February 28th.

Thanks for coming along on my journey into the Land of Dolls this year! Your support, encouragement and patronage are greatly appreciated!

Happy Holidays!