Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The Collector - is it Art? Is it an Art Doll?

A discussion coming from the QA list a while ago made we I an artist or a crafter? Do I care? I wouldn't call myself an artist, but I don't think I'm a crafter either. I don't have a message to convey, I just do it for fun, or to see if I can. Maybe if I wanted to get someone to pay me for it, I might take it a bit more seriously and then I might call myself an artist!

Anyway. All this reminded me of my City & Guilds course. We looked at Surrealism - we attended a Lee Miller (photographer) exhibition and looked at other artists, including Joseph Cornell who put things into boxes and was an obsessive collector.

The essence of all this, I thought, was to do something odd with an everyday object, convey some kind of message and, in the case of Jospeh Cornell, make an 'assemblage' (I suppose we might make a 'memory box' today).

This was all completely at odds with the way I view the things that I make - purely for enjoyment, but as ever I was prepared to have a go.

So, here is my 'Collector' an insect - and in his box, little people of slightly differing colour. My inspiration, apart from the surrealists, came from the seaside. At the old town hall in Aldburgh on the Suffolk coast is a room full of wide shallow drawers. Each drawer is full of moths and butterflies. I went there just after we had looked at Cornell, when the idea of collections was fresh in my mind.

(Click on photo for bigger image)

The 'collector' is made from wire and odds and ends of beads, some of them rolled paper. The fabric for his wings was cut from a fire-damaged piece of sari fabric I got in a sale. So, in the spirit of Joseph Cornell, he is made from rubbish!

When I showed this in class, one or two people were offended. I hope I haven't offended anyone here. It was a lighthearted joke at the expense of the surrealists and our very serious tutor.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Doris - my first art doll

Click on the picture for a larger image.
This is Doris, my first 'art doll'. I had never done anything like this before, I made her up as I went along. Her skeleton was made with some cable left over from rewiring the house, wrapped with strips of quilt wadding, calico and finally knitting yarn. She wears a velvet skirt featuring discharge dyed appliques, a machine embroidered blouse and a waistcoat made of silk scraps bonded and machined into a fabric. The hat is made from a melted plastic tablecloth layered with sweet wrappers, net and bits of lace. Her face is painted and embroidered and her hair is different types of braids made from knitting yarn with beads from an old car seat cover. I made Doris from recycled materials.

(click on photo for bigger image)

Doris in close-up.

This is Doris's wardrobe:

There is a black muslin chemise, a multicoloured vest and a velvet skirt. She also has a beaded amulet purse for her special ingredients.

Close-up of chemise. Black muslin decorated with machine stitching in metallic threads and with a black lace skirt.

Close-up of applique decoration on the hem of the black velvet skirt. The motifs were discharge printed on black fabric with ordinary household bleach, then bonded to the velvet and outlined with machine stitching. The edges of the skirt were cut to shape and finished with a machine zigzag stitch.

Close-up of the multicoloured vest. Scraps of silk were bonded to interfacing, then randomly machined in a variety of threads. The back is embossed black velvet.

Doris got a new apron in response to a Tie One On challenge to use some kind of multimedia on an apron. I have used discharge printing, hand and machine embroidery.

The design was discharge printed using ordinary household bleach. The printing block was the piece of polystyrene shown in the photo. Usually it is used to fill in the gaps in the edges of wavy plastic greenhouse roofs. I curled it round and tied it with string to make the flower motifs. They are a larger version of the motifs on Doris's skirt. I outlined the design in stem stitch in stranded cotton, then added some decorative machine stitching.

Here's Doris modelling the apron.

I think it makes her look quite 'folksy'.

New Blog

I've just made my first 'proper' cloth dolls. A pair of 'baby twins' for my grandaughter's sixth birthday. Yet another new activity to add to my list of textile-related passions! I enjoyed making these so much I've decided to persevere, hence the new blog. The first few posts, just to get me started, are about 'some I prepared earlier'.