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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gourd Head Doll Continued.

Just to prove that I'm not such a slacker after all, I wanted you all to know I am continuing to work on the long-neglected doll. I decided that the glue was dry enough today for her head to be returned to her body. Remember, when last I left you, her head was drying thusly:
I didn't want to just replace the head with the neck as it was, because I was still concerned that it would not be supported well enough by the loose batting in the torso. I did as I had planned, and wrapped stuffing around the stick and lower part of the gourd and tied yarn around it in a couple of places so that it would not slip off:

I have put the head back into the body, but evidently I didn't take a picture, so I guess I'll stop here and take a picture tomorrow. I also painted over her face, as I decided I didn't like the cartoonish look she has. Pictures tomorrow!!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Watercolor Class

I am taking another watercolor class; it meets at our local co-op gallery every week. This week our  assignment was to use only three colors of paint in a picture. This forces us to use the white of the paper as one of the "colors" and to plan the drawing so as to not have two segments of the same color next to one another. It also forces me to avoid getting overly-detailed in my painting.  Here is mine:  

I drew one of my larger dolls that is in the gallery's gift shop right now because I really like the chair she is sitting on, and the way her long legs are crossed. I like her saddle shoes, too.   

In using this "restricted color palette," you can't make colors match the ones that are there,either. I am not totally happy with this picture because I have her head at the wrong angle, but I think I DID achieve what the teacher had in mind for me to do, and, overall, I'm happy with the result.

Doll Club in Puyallup, WA

Our cloth doll club normally meets in Puyallup (that's Pew AL Up, for non Washingtonians) at the Quilt Barn, on the third Wednesday of each month. Sometimes we don't meet in December and winter weather sometimes fouls up our plans in Jan and Feb, as Karla and I have a 90 min drive to get us there. This year, deaths in the extended family (mine) and illness (Karla's)  kept us away in Feb, and we missed January, too, so it had been a REALLY long time since we had all been together.
One of our group was tired and seriously considered not coming, as she was feeling down, but she decided to come after all. After listening to the rest of us relate what had been going on in our various lives, she decided that she was not alone in her troubles. Meeting together, working on our dolls, and talking/griping together is very good therapy, and we all go home feeling better than we did before.

Karla and I are the only ones in our group who live in a semi-isolated community, 50 miles from the interstate and all the stores that are available along it. Our Michael's Crafts left a couple years ago, and we have NO PLACE AT ALL to buy art or craft supplies. So our monthly trip to "civilization" serves as a restocking trip, and our only chance to pick up gesso, matte spray, artists' brushes, art paper, etc.

 This time, the group was working on giraffes. I don't usually do the group projects, as I am always behind and have so many unfinished projects that I work on those instead. But I bring my camera and take pictures that I can post here for those who were unable to attend the meeting. These giraffes are all made of muslin and I think you will agree that they don't look as if they are made from cloth once they are finished.

 Doreen and Stephanie had finished their giraffes (above); they live close enough to get together to work on their projects in between doll meetings. 
These two unfinished giraffes belong to Sandy (middle) and Karla (right).
Karla also made this elephant earlier:
Stephanie also makes reborn baby dolls and she brought some new ones that we had not seen before:

My Joshua is related to the middle doll above: 
I intend to buy another doll the same size as Joshua but with open eyes; he needs company!! A sister, I think.
Even though I did not make a giraffe, I have been working on finishing a doll that has been "stalled" for some time, with no hair, no hands, no legs, and no feet.  This happens to my poor creations a lot, and I feel for them. Sometimes, things interfere with my best intentions, and I am forced to ignore the poor things. 

This is a gourd-head doll--the gourd is just painted, which makes it a little fragile.  The gourds are hollow, and if bumped too hard, can crack. Often I cover the gourds with cloth if they will be moved around a lot, as that makes them stronger. I am not sure about the face of this doll; I'm pretty sure I'm going to change the eyes. But one thing I was VERY sure about was that I would NOT leave her head flopping around like a dead fish. So I had to temporarily remove her head (sorry!) and work on stablizing the neck:
 First I had to don a mask, and go out on the back porch and drill a hole in the bottom of the gourd; then I shook out as much of the dried stuff inside it and poured in a lot of Tacky glue (see pic above). Then I inserted a piece of wood, I think it is from the Mountain Ash tree in my front yard. I "harvest" wood from it every other year, as the thing grows too tall and blocks the view from our front window. This is a dried piece from a couple years ago.
 I stuffed a lot of paper towel into the gourd, on top of the glue, added more glue and then more towel, until the head was as full as I could make it, and the wooden piece very tight in the head. Now the head sits upside down near the gas fireplace (below) where it is nice and warm. It will take awhile to completely dry, but I'm pretty sure it WILL dry all the way, eventually.

Once the outside part around the wood is dry, I can put her head back in the body. I will probably tie quite a lot of stuffing around the stick part first, so there is a pretty substantial "stump" of batting around it, as I don't want the stick to be able to wander around inside the doll--if that happened, I'd be right back where I was before with a wobbly head.

So that's where the doll doings are for now. Next month, I should have more finished giraffes to post, and my doll SHOULD be finished if Life will let me do that.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I am very sorry to have had no new posts here for so long, but Family Matters have come up lately, necessitating last minute trips, frequent stays at the Pet Lodge for my three little "wienies" and lots of disruption of "normal life" around here, not that it would ever appear "normal" to anyone but us.
  Here is a piece I wrote lately, all true, so you can see how stressed we've been:

     The Three Stooges Visit the City

You know, just GETTING into a big city by car is a trial of huge proportions for rural folks like us. We are used to driving in our own small world of Grays Harbor County, and the counties adjoining ours, none of which have CITIES.  It’s not that we’re stupid, but when we get into a city, we are definitely NOT in our element.

For one thing, just the volume of traffic in a city is a shock to us; the speed at which traffic moves is faster than we are used to, too. Those “must exit” lanes with their dreaded yellow bands on the signs, are another component of city driving that stresses us out.

Signage in cities is NOT geared to the unknowing visitor. Arriving in OR, in the dark, clutching  Rand McNally “Driving Directions” in my sweaty  hand, trying to get to the bus depot in downtown Portland proves to be extremely challenging.  Faced with a Y in the highway, the signs of neither reading what our exit should be labeled, we unwittingly take the wrong lane. Husband is driving, I am Navigator.  Looking over the side, at the other lane which is rapidly descending, I see OUR sign down there and moan loudly at once more being left to figure out things for myself. What good does it do, when they put the sign I needed to see way down there?!?!?!?! I couldn’t even SEE it from the freeway surface. Will I get it right next time?  Of course, I will. I try not to make the same mistake twice.—at the Y, take the lane to the left, ignoring that it doesn’t have “Rose City/Old Quarter” on it.

So now we are speeding toward Salem where we have no desire to go. We take the very next exit so that at least we are still in the neighborhood of the bus depot and not miles and miles away. I direct the Driver/Husband to head us back in the opposite direction, now on surface streets, trying to get more or less where we would have been if we had taken the RIGHT exit. Husband constantly challenges my decisions; I tell him to let ME call the shots—his job is to keep going the right way one way streets and to not run over any of the bicyclists who seem to be all over the place.

Soon we see a little sign saying “Rose Quarter” and we follow it. Somehow, against all odds, and with little assistance ,  we get to the destination bus depot and spot our son on the bench waiting. However, no parking lot seems to exist and we don’t know where to go with the car; I ask a passerby where we can find the parking lot (they MUST have one---it’s a depot for cryin’ out loud!!) But not all residents of cities speak “the language,” and this guy seems to be of that group.

Not knowing what else to do, we stop; Son recognizes the car and comes running. At the same time, the little Max train looms up behind us, honking and looking quite LARGE, by the way.  We recognize for the first time that we are parked right on its little tracks, embedded in the street as they are.  The train continues to honk and again, we panic, of course. We have absolutely no ishould do. Son instantly morphs into SuperMan and stands on the tracks behind the car, holding up both arms in a “Stop” gesture. Meanwhile, I spy a taxi parked across the street and, more importantly, an empty taxi space behind it. Although we are NOT a taxi, I order Husband to take the car there, and Son and I follow and jump in. We are totally stressed out for the umpteenth time tonight.

I am sure that the lookers-on were both confounded and amused at the desperate antics of these goofy people who seem to have no understanding of how traffic in a city works. We might as well have been the Hillbillies entering Beverly Hills with their mule tied to their wagon. However, we do NOT think of this now. We only want to get OUT of this unfamiliar and confusing place by finding the nearest freeway entrance.

With the help of Son, we negotiate the multiple lanes, get into the one marked “Seattle”and avoid all the others. Traffic is, as always, heavy and moving fast. Finally, we cross the bridge and are back in our own state. Soon we are in more familiar territory, and on our way home. It is late, we are tired, but we have accomplished our mission and we are all still alive. The car, too, has also survived its trip to the city, not to mention the many bicyclists who unknowingly, risked their very lives being in proximity to our moving vehicle. 
*************************************************************** *****************

Hope you enjoyed reading that. Husband and I have been attending a monthly writing-sharing meeting at our local co-op art gallery. Usually, since we began in November or December, there have been maybe seven people there. When we arrived last Friday, there were about twenty!!! At first I thought I had the wrong day and that I had happened in on some other group meeting there! My next reaction was FEAR because I felt intimidated by such a large gathering. But, as always, the crowd was friendly and encouraging, so all my fears were banished quickly.




Here's a little quiz to see how well you know me. Which of the above is MY embroidery thread, and which is NOT.

That's all for now. Happy St. Pat's Day!