Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Anemia: An Art Doll Work in Progress

I’m often asked about my process for creating my art dolls. While the first step is sculpting the head, putting together the body varies. It mainly depends on whether the art doll will hang on the wall or stand freely. Then I have to decide what type of armature I will use for the art doll’s body. Will it be a hollow form, solid form, wire, cloth, or a combination.

In the video below, I share the process that I’m using for my most recent art doll, tentatively known as “Anemia.”

Enjoy!


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Expressions of Love Exhibit-Handworks Gallery of American Craft

I took a leap this month and entered one of my Ornimals into an exhibit. I haven’t entered any art into an exhibit in over a year due to some less than favorable experiences. But the exhibit at Handworks came at the right time.

The Expressions of Love exhibit focuses on art made out of love. Love for a family member, a friend, an acquaintance. Someone or some event that represents love in its many forms. Each piece is accompanied by a story. Some are funny. Some bring tears to your eyes. All are heartwarming.

I entered an Ornimal I created in honor of our first cat, Ren. We adopted Ren shortly after getting married and moving to Massachusetts. She was a beautiful calico who traveled with us to five homes and brought us years of joy.

Ren (1985-2010)

Ren (1985-2010)

Ren Remembrance Ornimal(Amy Crawley, 2013)

Ren Remembrance Ornimal
(Amy Crawley, 2013)

Here is the story I wrote to accompany this piece.

I caught your eye at the shelter as I rubbed the cage door. “Take me home” I said. And you did. I cried all the way to my new home.

We lived in a couple of apartments. You let me play in the sink water and sit on top of your fish tank. I told you I was a good hunter.

I cried when you tried to keep me out of your bedroom. You gave in and I slept on your head. From then on we always snuggled at night, keeping each other warm.

Sometimes you would take me on road trips to visit your family. Remember the time I sat on your lap and stared into your eyes while we waited to pay the toll? You got the message.

One day we moved into a big house and I had more places to run and hide. That other cat you adopted scared me. But I forgave you and still slept on your bed.

I got older and my body changed. Some things inside weren’t working right. You found a nice doctor and he tried to make me better.

You were good at giving me shots and feeding me whatever I wanted. But over time, it wasn’t enough. My body was telling me something. It was getting close to my time to leave.

When the end came, you held me close and that nice doctor gave me a shot. My fur felt warmer and my breathing relaxed. And then you helped me cross to a place where I run freely, catch fish in a big tank, and wait to snuggle on your bed again.

Ren Ornimal & Story

Ren Ornimal & Story

ExpressionsOfLoveExhibitEntry

The Expressions of Love exhibit at Handworks Gallery is on display February 2-24. The opening reception is Sunday, February 3, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. If you’re in the area, stop in to see all the great pieces.

Note: Pieces in the exhibit are not for sale.


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New Art Friday: Raining Cats and Dogs…Ornimals and an Art Show

I’m happy to share with you today my newest Ornimal ornaments-two new cats and two new dogs.

Before Features are Painted

I use sculptor’s grade polymer clay to create my Ornimal ornaments. Each piece is sculpted one at a time over a glass base. After the clay has been cured (hardened) in a clay dedicated oven, I apply a thin wash of brown acrylic paint over the piece to accent the texture.

I call this the piggy-ghost phase because many of these pieces look like piggies in this first phase. The ghosty part is because the eyes haven’t been painted. The Ornimals really don’t come to life until the all features are added.

Here is what this new group looked like after the wash of paint and before the features were added.

Cat and Dog Ornimals
Acrylic wash
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

And here is how they look after the features are painted on the clay.

New Cat Ornimals

Tuxedo Cat with Mohawk
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Orange Tiger Cat with Striped Hat
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

New Dog Ornimals

Golden Lab with Cap
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Chihuahua with Top Hat
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

And here is the whole brood. Who says cats and dogs can’t live together?

New Cat and Dog Ornimals
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

These new Ornimals are 2 3/8″ in diameter (60mm) and approximately 3″ tall.

Art Show This Month

These new Ornimals will be joining me at my first holiday show of the season. You’re all invited to come to the Merrimack Valley Artisans 23rd Annual Art Show & Sale on October 20-21, in Chelmsford, MA. Admission is $3.00. You’ll also have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win select pieces of artwork donated by the artists, including this special Ornimal:

When Pigs Fly…
Amy Crawley (2012)

Merrimack Valley Artisans
23rd Annual Art Show & Sale
October 20-21, 2012

Thanks for stopping by.

Have a great weekend!


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New Art Friday: Two Piggys and A Chicken Walk Into A Bar

Sorry, were you expecting some crude joke about pigs and chickens? My apologies if I disappointed you.

Today I am sharing with you three new Ornimals that are variations on the Down on the Farm series.

When Pigs Fly…

When Pigs Fly… is a specially crafted Piggy Ornimal for the Merrimack Valley Artisans (MVA) Holiday show this October. This piece will be raffled at the show as part of MVA’s scholarship fundraiser. I am designing a display stand for this piece as well.

When Pigs Fly…
Amy Crawley (2012)

When Pigs Fly… measures 2 3/8″ (60mm) in diameter. She features angel wings lightly dusted with white glitter.

Piggys in Berets

This piece was inspired by the Tour de France which was playing in the background in the studio. It started out with the Piggy wearing a fashionable black beret. But when I started to paint on the features I wasn’t happy with how the beret looked on his head. So I added a red feather and red bead. It seemed to give him a certain “je ne sais quoi.”

Piggy with Beret
Amy Crawley (2012)

Chicken with Black Feathers

Chickens come in all sizes and plumage. This particular chicken was inspired by the Delaware breed which have black and white feathers.

Delaware Chicken Ornimal
Amy Crawley (2012)

September is Chicken Month!

In honor of Chicken Month I will be running a special sale on my Chicken Ornimals in September. If you love chickens, raise chickens, or know someone who does and you’d like to get the details about this special, sign up for my Free monthly art newsletter Studio Happenings. The sale is only available to my newsletter subscribers. (A portion of all Ornimal sales is donated to BayPath Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter.)


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New Art Friday: Revisiting An Art Doll

This week I’m sharing with you an art doll I made in 2009 during my first visit to La Cascade in Dufort, France.

This is an art doll that is an example of why you must think through your design and construction process. I had only thought through part of the process back in 2009. It is a challenge to create a piece in a limited amount of time and consider all angles of the process. That’s okay. I’ve learned that it’s completely fine to walk-away with a less than perfect piece.

Back to the Beginning

The workshop in Dufort was with my friend Dayle Doroshow. You can read about it here and here.

By the time I started working on this art doll, we had visited Revel, Soreze, the Farmers Market, the vide grenier, and Albi. I was feeling inspired by all the gargoyles in the area and chose an old office rubber stamp as the base for my doll’s head. (I bought a bag of these stamps at the vide grenier with the intent of using them as art doll “heads.”) I sculpted the head onto the handle of the stamp, wrapped his “neck” around the stem of the handle, embellished and antiqued the head.

Dufort Art Doll head
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

I decided to cover an empty cardboard matchbox with polymer and incorporated it into the body of this art doll. This was something new for me as I had only made hollow-core art doll bodies up to this point. The matchbox is embellished with a piece of napkin, a small sunflower (le tournesol) and a face bead.

Dufort art doll mid-section
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Now in between his head and his torso is a long cane-embellished snake with two little paw-like hands at either end. These became the arms for the art doll. Using a similar technique I created his long legs and feet.

Dufort art doll legs
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

So there I am with four sections, a head, arms, torso, and legs. Somewhere in the process I had decided that I was going to “string” all the parts together, kind of like a marionette. This is where the construction part became interesting.

Dayle’s lovely husband Dan found a drill at La Cascade. We measured (“eyeballed” really) the horizontal part of the stamp (where the rubber portion would have been attached) and Dan drilled two holes into the wood. Then I set about measuring some buna cord. I laid out each piece and strung the head portion to the arms and torso.

Where this got interesting was hoping I measured each piece of buna cord correctly (i.e: evenly) so that the art doll’s top portion would be balanced. It almost worked. He has a very slight unevenness in his right/left balance. But that just adds to his character.

Stringing the legs to the torso was a bit easier as the buna cord is glued into holes at the base of the torso and top of each leg. But again, I had to measure rather accurately so he wouldn’t have one leg hand lower than the other. (What is that old adage, “measure twice, cut once.”)

Back Home

My intent in creating this art doll was to have him hang on the wall. After returning home I added the feathers to his head. Then I attempted to hang him on the wall.

And his head immediately drooped over. His head was too heavy. Wah.

For whatever reason my brain insisted that the only way to mount the piece on the wall was to hang it from a nail placed under the wood stamp. And would you believe this approach stayed stuck in my head for quite some time?

I thought about creating a hook on the back. For some reason my brain got stuck on the idea that to create a hook, I’d have to drill into the back of the stamp handle.

Then finally the other day, as this art doll was resting comfortably on a work table, I picked him up, grabbed some 18g wire, and started wrapping the wire around his neck. I made a loop in the back and secured it.

Finally the Dufort Art Doll of 2009 could be hung on the wall without flopping over. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier?

Dufort Art Doll 2009
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

As I said, had I taken more time to think about the construction of this piece, it may have turned out a little different. Had I not been so stuck on my earlier construction process, I might have completed the piece sooner. Really, all that was missing was a good way to display him on a wall.

I haven’t made anything similar since 2009, in part because of the challenge I faced in figuring out how to hang the damn thing. Now that I look at this piece, I remember how much I enjoyed creating him, especially the marionette-like aspect.

Maybe, just maybe, another one is in my future.

Have a great weekend!


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New Art Friday: Boxer Dog Ornament

Last month I started selling my Ornimals-Sculpted Animal Ornaments at Country Dogs Pet Retail right here in Bolton. A pet retail shop seems to be a good place for me to sell the Ornimals. I mean, what better place to find animal lovers than at a pet shop? The ideal customer for Country Dogs dovetails with my ideal customer.

Of course a pet shop that caters to dog owners means I need to sculpt more dog-centric pieces. That is a good challenge for me because dog breeds are harder for me to sculpt. Unlike cats, which have a more common facial anatomy across breeds, dogs all vary, just like humans. Even within breeds you’ll find subtle differences. But which breed would I start with?

The Boxer Dog

I decided to sculpt a Boxer because one of the shop’s owners has a Boxer and is involved with Boxer rescues. My sister also owned a Boxer, a female, who was a very sweet pooch.

Boxers were developed in Germany in the 19th century. Their lineage goes back to two German Mastiff type dogs and later the cross breeding of a Mastiff and a Bulldog. Boxers are a working breed. They are intelligent, high-spirited, playful & curious. Boxers bond with families, are loyal and affectionate.

The Boxer Ornimal Ornament

Boxer Dog Ornimal Ornament
(Amy A. Crawely, 2012)

The Boxer Dog Ornimal is approximately 2 5/8″ diameter (60mm). He is hand-sculpted with Super Sculpey, cured, then hand painted with oil paints. Retail price $30.00. Available at Country Dogs Pet Retail.

Thanks for stopping by & have a great weekend.


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New Art Friday: Tiny Totem Bobble Birds & a Sneak Peek

Do you remember that I shared some process pictures of my Tiny Totem Bobble Birds several weeks ago? Did you think that the birds “flew the coop” because I didn’t share the finished pieces?

Well, the birdies are still here in the studio. But I lost my focus on the blog as I delved into other areas, like delivering work to a new consignment store, preparing for a studio show, and starting a year-long coaching program. I’m sure you’ve had times like this. The fork in the road takes you in one direction and eventually you circle back to that place where you started.

Anyways, several weeks ago I shared the birdies progress pictures. You can see their “beginnings” in this post here and in this second post here.

Today I’m happy to finally share the finished Tiny Totem Bobble Birds:

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart (Formerly known as “Wings”)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
Front View

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Close View)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird with Heart
(Side View)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Close up)

Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
(Side View)

And a Sneak-Peek

This week I started work on a new line of Ornimals, The Farm Animals. There are four Ornimals in this new line, a cow, a piggie, a sheep, and a chicken. Sculpting them has been a bit of a challenge. A couple required do-overs. And I’m sure they’ll continue to evolve from this first iteration. For now I’ll share this group shot of the ornies with the first layer in the process- an acrylic wash.

Farm Animal Ornimals, Phase 1
(Amy A. Crawley, 2012)

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

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