Saturday, April 20, 2013

Funk and Junk!

Artists are notorious collectors of junk! (Teachers are too, so I suppose I have a double dose of the junk collecting urge!) We love to stash away fabric scraps left over from bigger projects, old jewelry, jelly jars, buttons, bobbins, bits of wire, boxes, bottle caps, backs of notebooks (one can always use a bit of cardboard!), and even broken kitchen utensils! We hate to throw things away. There is always that feeling someday we will need that broken bottle opener! I'm sure that this fact was at least part of the inspiration behind the "Funk and Junk Challenge Gallery" sponsored by the promoters of the Quinlan Artist Doll and Teddy Bear Convention which will take place next month in Philadelphia!

The pack rat urge is so strong in me that when I redesigned and organized my studio several years ago, I decided I needed a place for all these things, so among the boxes neatly labeled things like "Acrylic Craft Paint", "Adhesives and Glue", and "Armature Wires and Tape", I have a box which bears this label; " I Can Use That For Something!"

I imagine that I am not the only artist with such a box, and I also imagine that we all have a similar box in our brains, because we compulsively collect something else as well--ideas and inspiration! We can't help it! Colors, textures, shapes, sounds, smells, movement, bits of songs and poetry--we stash all these things away, sometimes consciously, sometimes not, into that special "I Can Use That For Something" part of our brains. Then, periodically we rummage through our boxes, both the physical one and the metaphorical one, and a creation-- sometimes one many years in the making-- comes into being!

My piece for the "Funk and Junk Challenge Gallery" happened just like that. When I read the announcement of the challenge, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I rummaged through my junk box and pulled out a broken wine bottle opener I had been saving for at least ten years. When the corkscrew part broke off, I told my husband not to throw it away because I was going to make something with it. I knew even then what I wanted to make because stashed in the I-Can-Use-That-for-Something part of my brain there was a memory of playing with my parents' wine bottle opener when I was a child. I loved the way it's "arms" moved up when you pressed down on it's "head". It reminded me of a Jumping Jack toy my baby brother had.

So now, many years after playing with a wine bottle opener, and many years after saving the broken one, I have made my Jumping Jack (in the Box) toy! In addition to the broken wine bottle opener, I used other junk from my stash: hanger wire, electrical wire, a recycled gift box, bits of pencil erasers, a bobbin from a sewing machine I no longer own, and mohair and fabric scraps and trims left over from other projects.  He is a combination of  two classic toys, a Jack in the Box and a Jumping Jack. When the handle is turned his head and arms go up and down.

I am nearly finished. I have to attach the bottom of his box and I will be adding a bit more air brush shading to his face and hands, but I thought you might enjoy some work in progress photos:

Click on any photo to see it larger.
I didn't end up using the old sweater and the cork...

This shows the basic idea for the movement.

Wire wrapped around the middle shaft and taped in place.

Head and arms added. the wire is to keep the batting (added later) out of the inner workings.

The trimmings!

Working on the movement involved a LOT of trial and error!

A hole in the bottom allowed me to make adjustments.

Nearly there! Trim pinned while the glue dries.

The square to the left will be the bottom cover.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Memory Magic

Memory is such a strange thing. The older I get the more mystified I am by it! Often, I am frustrated by my forgetfulness. I can forget things in an instant. I go upstairs for something, and in the time it takes to walk up the stairs, I cannot recall what I have come for.  I ask Sean if he will be going out of town for work next week, and ten minutes later I can recall asking him...and I know he answered...but what did he say? Where is he going?

Other times, I am amazed by the clarity with which a long forgotten memory comes to mind. Where did it come from? Why am I recalling it now? I sew on my sewing machine nearly every day. I have done for many years now. So why is it that tonight, as I was sewing a pink and green collar for a bear, I recalled watching my Aunt Dottie sewing a nightie for me on her sewing machine. I don't remember how old I was, but I was pretty young as my cousin Katie, five years younger than me, was standing in her crib in the next room flicking the lights off and on. The sewing machine was in the dining room. I had come to spend the night without pajamas and Aunt Dottie was using her sewing machine to shorten one of her own night shirts for me. I watched with fascination and I asked her if she could sew a picture of Snoopy on it for me. I loved Snoopy and love to draw him too.  Aunt Dottie said if I drew it, she would sew it. Since it was a sleeping shirt, I drew a sleeping Snoopy, lying flat on his back on top of his doghouse, and she sewed over my lines with a zigzag stitch. I was so pleased, I hope I remembered to say thank you. If I didn't, I will now...Thanks for my Snoopy nightie, Aunt Dottie, and for the lovely memory!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Getting Ready- Getting Excited!

The Artist Doll and Teddy Bear Convention  presented by the Susan Quinlan Doll and Teddy Bear Museum is about a month away and I could not be more excited! I am excited about the show bears I am creating, about the special gallery pieces I am making, and the presentation that I will be doing! I am excited about taking a sculpting workshop from one of my favorite doll artists, attending the many presentations, and viewing the special galleries! I am excited about seeing artist and collector friends and meeting new people! Did I mention I am excited?

I have been working on some special pieces for this show and I still have a lot to do, but I wanted to give a bit of a sneak peak here since I have not posted in a while. Some of these are much farther along now than these photos, but I need to make this post quick so I can get back to work in my studio, besides, this is meant to be a teaser!

One of the special galleries at the show is a gallery of dolls by bear artists and bears by doll artists. I have been looking forward to making something for this since I first heard about it at the end of last year's show! One of these heads will be finished for the show (I hope-- I still have lots of bears to finish, too.)

A second special gallery is the Funk and Junk Gallery. I have already made something fun with this stuff, but he deserves his own post so I will share him later!

Finally, here are a few of the bears I have in progress for the show. Some are getting close and some have far to go.

If you are interested in artist made dolls and Teddy Bears this is a show thatt should not be missed! Visit the website to find out more. I hope to see some of you  there!