Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Doll Progress

It's been a few weeks since my daughter and I embarked on our "Me Doll" project. I thought I would give you a quick update. So far it's been a lot of fun and definitely a learning experience. The biggest lesson I learned is that an 8 year old with a short attention span will not take her time completing a project no matter how much you, her mother, recommend it. She is completely finished and has been for over a week. Several trips to the craft store and a night with a glue gun was all she needed. Sequince, as she has named her doll, is colourful and sparkly and just the way my daughter claims she wants her to be. Who am I to argue? However, regardless of how slapdash I thought her approach was, I heard a friend of Anna's admiring the doll when she found it in our living room. I suppose I should remember that my tastes aren't on par with an 8 year old's and the point was to have fun, which she did. Mission accomplished. Time for the perfectionist (me) to move on.

My daughter's doll, Sequince
I have taken a different approach to my doll. She is nowhere near finished. I've been working away at her here and there when I have a couple of  hours of "free" time. This is, actually, somewhat unusual for me. I tend to be more like my daughter and plow my way through a project as quickly as possible. I decided that this was not what I wanted to do. If I took my time I could make better decisions on how I would apply the different elements. When I come to creative standstill during my work, I stop and walk away. Several days later I return with a solution or at least an enthusiasm that has had time to regenerate.

My "Me"Doll in progress

This doll is definitely a departure from my fairies but I have learned about a few new techniques that I would like to apply to my fairies. I believe I am more successful at painting faces on fabric than I am on modeling clay. One of the biggest changes I'd like to try is to create fabric heads for my fairies as well as arms and legs. If I can swing it, I may make the entire body this way and then add the flowers afterward. A friend of mine commented on how comfortable the doll felt in her hands. I would like to bring that comfortable feel to the fairies as well. It's nice to have a decoration but I would like the fairies to be more than that.

I'm really enjoying this fairy/doll making adventure. It's a wonderful creative outlet. Stay tuned. More updates to come. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Me" Dolls

My daughter and I are trying something new. We are making dolls that reflect ourselves and our interests. The idea was inspired by the beautiful spirit dolls made by blogger and author Silver Ravenwolf. We were drawn by their colourful and whimsical qualities and decided to make our own but with our unique interpretation.

This also gives me an opportunity to explore other doll making techniques. I haven't abandoned my fairies at all but am in constant pursuit of improving them.

The best part, though, is sharing a special activity with my daughter. I'll update occasionally with our progress. It's a project we'll take our time doing, only adding to the doll when we find something meaningful. I'm really looking forward to it. Wish us luck. :-)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Perspective of Small

If you've thought about fairies, have you ever wondered about their perspective on the world? I imagine them to be quite small, perhaps no more than 5 or 6 inches at most. When I was out photographing my garden tonight, I stooped by one of the prettiest dandelion puffs I'd ever seen. It was quite large, about an inch and a half in diameter with fluff like wee feathers. Instinctively (because I love unusual perspectives),I stuck my camera below it to take a shot. What a surprise I had when I saw the result! I had not realised that the bottom "feathers" were dripping with rain water from the rains only an hour before. I thought to myself then...what a perfect shower head for a fairy this dandelion is! What do you think?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Lament (a Story for St. Patrick's Day)

The north wind was relentless. It clawed at and slammed the wooden shutters of the old house as the dark skies swirled menacingly overhead. Haunting screeches and unearthly moans rose and fell over the surrounding moors. It was as if the heavens were at war with the earth; a thunderous echo from the past. For 900 hundred years the MacLoughlin family lived in the hills overlooking Baile an Mhargaidh (Bally an Margah). They were one of the original families there from the time of kings. It was a time when ruling clans fought for the lands, the winners claiming victory over their enemies only when the head of the clan lay open eyes unseeing. It was a time when betrayal was common and everything was uncertain. There was, however, a certainty for the MacLoughlins that befell them every 50 years. Each generation would pay the price for the broken oaths of their forefather, Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn, who bound and blinded the ruling king who had unseated him. With these actions, he incurred the vengeance of St. Patrick. Everyone inside the house knew when the rains came they would bring with them an inescapable fury that would encompass the house until it could claim its victim. Once again, the curse was upon them.
James, seventeen and the oldest son of Ronan, huddled quietly by the hearth in the great room while smoking a cigarette to calm his nerves. The rest of the family had taken refuge in the kitchen, but James wanted to be alone. The hysteria that hung in the air in that room with them was too much for him to bear. It was hard enough on the nerves not to collapse on the spot with each clap of thunder or flash of lightning without having to listen to his mother’s and siblings’ sobs or his father’s heavy sighs. James’s large frame nearly overwhelmed the small armchair he had pulled up to sit upon. What he really wanted was a glass of whiskey but his father had banned all alcohol from the house on this occasion. It was a move that James has argued against but it was tradition and his father would see no other way. It had something to do with appeasing the soul of St. Patrick, something about paying dues with a clear mind and heart. As far as James could see they had already paid too dearly for the errors of their foolish forefather. Someday the curse had to be broken. Someday they had to break even.
James furrowed his dark brow as his thoughts turned to the woman in the market. A few days before, his mother had sent him and his younger brother, Seán, to pick up some staples in town as they had done every week since James had turned 12. Walking through the market had always filled James with the energy of life. The hum of a hundred voices, the clacking of carts, the flapping of the awnings in the gentle breezes reminded him that there was more to the world than just the barrenness of hills and moors. Of course, the place of his home held treasures that could never be found in the town, but James enjoyed the contrasts and made a point of acknowledging as many as he could. This last time, however, he had detected a strange kind of sombreness that he had never felt before. At first, he couldn’t really figure out from where it was emanating. On the surface everything looked the same as it always did. But then he saw her, almost hidden in the crowds, a stunning beauty with long golden-red hair crying as if her heart had been broken into a million pieces. “Look!” James had shouted urgently to his brother. “What’s wrong with her?” When Seán seemed unable to spot her, James grabbed his arm and they moved toward her location, but she must have seen them and moved on, for when they reached where she had been standing, she was gone. In fact, after several minutes of searching the market grounds, James decided she had left altogether.
Or had he completely imagined her? Seán claimed he never saw her. He was just following his brother’s lead. In fact, when asked, people who had been in the vicinity of where she stood also claimed that they had neither seen nor heard her. As James sat staring into the fire in the hearth and listening to the storm raging on, he shook his head, completely perplexed. Why did he even care about this young woman anyway? Surely her plight was no more dire than his own. A deafening clap of thunder shook the old house right at that moment as if to underline James’s thought. He brought his trembling hand with the cigarette to his lips and took a long, slow drag. As the smoke filled his airways, James closed his eyes. The woman’s image came clearly into his mind. Her skin was so fair, fairer than any he had seen, and her hair was brilliant like fire but soft and flowing. Truly she was a combination of Irish perfection; a fantasy he would have held onto if he’d thought he had time to enjoy it. Someone would die in the house tonight and James believed it would be him.
The suspense had gotten to Ronan. He could no longer handle waiting to find out which member of his family was going to die tonight. It truly was a sick joke that haunted each generation. How the MacLoughlins managed not to die out over these 900 years was a miracle. Perhaps instead of having an average of six children each, if they stopped procreating, St. Patrick would have no one to take anymore. But then, the extinction of the line was probably what that bastard saint wanted anyway. At the very thought of cursing St. Patrick, Ronan swallowed hard. “Fuck you!” he muttered aloud and then braced himself for a bolt of lightening to strike him where he stood. It didn’t happen and it wouldn’t. His generation had already lost a soul; Ronan’s little brother Colin who had only been 5 at the time. Now it would be one of Ronan’s own precious children.
Ronan walked purposefully to the cupboard where he’d hidden the alcohol. Swiftly he pulled out the whiskey, opened the cap and took a swig. It burned as it went down and, almost immediately, he could feel it coursing through his bloodstream into his fingers and down his legs. Before he could take another swig, his wife let out a bloodcurdling scream. “What are you doing?! This is strictly forbidden!” The agonized look on his wife’s face was almost too painful to bear. “What difference does it make, Siobhan? It will happen sooner or later. I’d prefer to get on with it.” He couldn’t look his wife in the eye with that statement. “Get on with it?!” She shouted incredulously. “My god!” Suddenly the thunder shook the house as though it were made of cardboard. The storm was right on top of them now. Somewhere a window shattered and Ronan bounded from the room, closely followed by the rest of the family, to find James.
This was her family, the MacLoughlins, and the sadness she had endured these many centuries, was almost too much, even for a Bean-sidhe (banshee). She knew he had loved her at first glance in the market and she appeared to him again, as the young woman of fiery hair and milk-white skin, before he was taken. James’s frightened brown eyes had softened as she took his hand. She helped him forget, momentarily, she comforted his heart and soul. She held his gaze as the thick, old, oak beam crushed his skull when it loosened and fell from the vaulted ceiling above. She didn’t let go of his hand until his last breath escaped his lips and his heart beat its last. Any young death was a tragedy, but she had seen one too many here. In agony she crashed through the window and screeched, unrelenting, upon the moors, wailing as though it would tear her apart. When she returned to the window, the family was there with him. She stood, in mourning, outside the broken window of the great room, her white skin a flicker in the moonlight and her long white hair tossing in the strong winds. Her wails blended with those of Ronan, Siobhan, and the children. The Caoineadh (coeeneh), the lament, had begun.
Note: This story is mostly fictional. Please forgive me, MacLoughlins of the world, I dearly hope no such curse exists.
Anna’s Irish Folklore – Banshees
Wikipedia – Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Where did you come from, Esmeralda?

So there I was, completely immersed in my monthly writers' group. We were writing short stories from prompts. Here's your prompt, look at it, now write...you've got 10 minutes. I was tired. I'd already spent a full day of work and had already taxed my brain to produce two stories before this one. I'm not used to writing any more. I have no stamina at all.I spent a mere 2 minutes on the story. Surprisingly... it worked. But that's not what this post is about. It's what happened while I was waiting for the others to finish writing.

I channeled Punker fairy...well endowed Punker fairy. I have no idea where she came from. I mean, if you look at my other fairies, they are whimsical, flowery, and rather...well...soft. But this... Esmeralda...I'm sure that's her name...really surprised me. She's dark, bold, hard edged and well, different. She's so different, she wouldn't even take a name that started with F. What do you think? Should I try a new direction in the looks of my fairies?

Perhaps I will. Just for fun.

Look for Esmeralda soon.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Faryn - The Winter Fairy

It had been months since I'd made a fairy. If you're a creative person, you probably know how the need to create something grows inside you until you just can't ignore it. You kind of feel like you might explode if you don't do something about it. For a long time, lack of time (and energy) dashed any hopes of being able to quell this emerging storm. But suddenly, almost magically, opportunity shone on me and I grabbed it. My dear sister's birthday falls early in February and who better to create for? In fact, creating a fairy for her was entirely my inspiration.

Snow, ice crystals, and solemn, gray skies abound here at this time of winter. Every so often, the sun peeks through and illuminates everything creating a beautiful winter glow. Those days of sun were enough fodder for my imagination to dream up the perfect winter fairy. I nearly skipped through the craft store allowing the accumulated creative energy to serge through me. I grabbed white and silver flecked tulle, pure white petals, silvery yarn for hair, silver trimmed white ribbon and a beautifully soft and full feather boa. And then one last requirement...flesh coloured cotton cloth...I had a new element to try with my fairies.

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I've long admired the beautiful craftsmanship of the cloth art-doll makers. Not being particularly good with a needle and thread, though, I was a bit reluctant to try my hand at it. However, I wasn't planning on creating the entire fairy out of cloth, only the arms and legs, so this seemed a little less formidable. Besides, I wanted to maintain the same elements of my original fairies while giving them a bit of an upgrade so to speak.

The sewing of the arms and legs, aside from a few minor setbacks, came along much better and more easily than I had anticipated. I even made little slippers for her. I did, however, have to go one step further and make a slender cloth body in order to attach the legs and arms. That worked out fine too although maybe slightly unsophisticated. I suppose I will, in time, come up with a more attractive way to finish this part of the doll. Although it is all hidden by the time I get the flowers and other accessories on her, I would feel better about the finished product if it were well crafted in all parts.

All in all, however, she turned out very well and I was pleased with her. And the best part? My sister was ecstatic to receive her and that made everything worth while.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fairy Inspiration

I've created another fairy. However I cannot post about her until she is delivered to her new home. (A birthday gift, so shhhh) In the interim, I decided to try my hand at drawing a fairy. I never have before. In fact, I haven't done much drawing in a very long time. I used to enjoy it when I was a child and teenager, but as I grew older, it became lost in amongst all the other creative endevours I got involved in. I have tried, occasionally to get back into it, but I usually get frustrated and quit before anything comes of it. In this instance, however, I became more and more enthusiastic as the fairy appeared on the paper. I completed the line drawing with pencil and then scanned the image into the computer. There, I added the colour. I like the boldness of the colour that I can get on the computer but I don't really have a proper graphic illustration software; just a basic one, so the drawing is not as crisp as it might be. For me, however, that's not a crisis. I will continue playing around with different ways to colour her and see what I can come up with. For now, here she is as she's been completed today.