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.”
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 Loveexhibit 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 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
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.
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
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.)
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.
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.
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)
I’ve always enjoyed looking at the nighttime sky. As I get older, I find myself more fascinated with the twinkling stars and constellations. I do wonder “what is out there?”
The Super moon that we had a few weeks back was thrilling. Though it didn’t seem quite as large in my own backyard, some of the pictures posted online were fascinating. Looking at those pictures, an image popped into my head for a new sculpture. I drew the idea in my sketch book and began work on this new piece. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and am happy to share pictures of Moonman with you today.
First up is Moonman before he went into the oven. Looking rather fleshy isn’t he? Usually the sculpts are kind of ugly looking at this stage. He looks rather proud of himself.
An acrylic wash is applied after the sculpt is removed from the oven and cooled. Then the fun begins when I add oil paint for dimension and character.
Moonman’s smiling face (Amy Crawley, 2012)
Moonman’s starry slippers (Amy Crawley, 2012)
Moonman in his starry jammies (Amy Crawley, 2012)
Moonman (Amy Crawley, 2012)
Moonman is approximately 4″ tall. He is made from polymer clay with a glass & wood armature. I think his smiling face might work its way into a new line of ornaments.
My Graduate Owl Ornimal Ornaments are now available for purchase. Five of the Graduate Owls are nesting at Five Crows in Natick & waiting for their new forever homes. The remainder are available from me directly. The Graduate Owls are $28.00 (+ MA sales tax if you’re a resident.) If you’re out of state, I ship via USPS Priority mail. Shipping costs will be added to your order. The Graduate Owls come with a story card and are placed in a clear gift box .
Graduate Owl Ornimals
Doesn’t it look like they’re going to break out in a round of hooting?
If you’re interested in buying a Graduate Owl Ornimal for your 2012 graduate, leave a comment on this post. Let me know if you’d like a custom color tassel to match your graduate’s class colors. Tassels are included for free. I’m already working on a second batch of Graduate Owls as I only have one left in stock. (Yep, four have already been claimed for some special 2012 graduates.)
How To Sculpt Owl Feet
In the midst of producing the Graduate Owls, I decided to make a series of videos on how they were created. The first one in the series shows how I sculpt their feet. Enjoy!
Last week I showed you a picture of my Tiny Totem Bobble Birds in progress. You can see that post here. If you don’t feel like following that link, suffice to say that the birdies had recently been cured in the oven and were shown without any color. Just plain ol’ cured white clay.
Now, let’s see how I add color to these cuties.
First, you need alcohol inks, rubbing alcohol, paint brushes and gloves.
Luscious alcohol inks (not for consumption)
And here are the little birdies waiting to be colored.
Hi! We're Waiting
Because I will be teaching a class on how to make these little birdies, I can’t share all the specific details on how to create and paint them at this time. Please enjoy these process pictures as each piece is colored. Humming your favorite song while looking at the pictures might be fun. For some reason the theme song from Jeopardy, the one they play when people are writing their answers to the final question, popped into my head.
Do not, however, hum “The Girl from Impanea.” You know what will happen if you do. Just sayin’.
Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Spike”
Coloring the top side of Spike
Add a Green collar
Gotta have fuchsia spiky hair
All done & waiting
Tiny Totem Bobble Bird “Wing”
Don't 'cha love my tangerine wings?
A nice warm yellow for the bod.
Green hair & a yellow neck
Tout fait, for now.
You may have noticed that I use both Pinata & Ranger alcohol inks. On “Wing” above I decided to only use the Pinata alcohol inks. I noticed a big difference between the two brands almost immediately. The Pinata inks appear to dry with a glossy sheen whereas the Ranger inks appear to dry with a matte finish.
If you use alcohol inks, have you noticed this difference?
To continue this further, I’m going to put a coat of Kato liquid clay on “Spike,” dry it with a heat gun, and see what happens. Will he end up with a shiny coat or will all his colors meld and patina with the liquid clay?
Stay tuned for more pictures of “Spike” and “Wings.”
Oh, if you’re interested in learning how to make these little birdies, leave a comment below that you’d like class information & I can add you to my newsletter list.
A few weeks ago, I introduced you to one of my new Ornimals, the Graduate Owl Ornimal. This piece received good feedback so I decided to make more for the upcoming Graduation season. And then I hit a wee little snag. I couldn’t find any 2″ glass bases in order to make more Graduate Owl Ornimals. I only had two left in my studio and one of those bases was supporting my prototype.
Geez, I really hate it when a good idea comes along and then you can’t find the necessary materials to make more.
I hunted around online, talked to some friends, and finally found a source. Thrilled with finding an online supplier who had the bases in stock, I placed my order. A few days later a box arrived. I anxiously carried it to my studio, opened it up, pulled out one container and said “Oh crap, they’re the wrong size!” And I mean they really were the wrong size by a whole 1/2 an inch.
The thought of returning the bases didn’t cross my mind. I was sure I’d find a way to use these small glass bases. I accepted this as a challenge. Thankfully the creative muse was on my side and within a few days this new little guy was sitting on my worktable.
Because of the size of the glass bases, I thought they’d be perfect to make baby ornimals. But something happened on the way from inspiration (a picture of a baby kitten) to action. Introducing Punk Kitty:
Punk Kitty (Amy A. Crawley, 2012)
Punk Kitty Side View (Amy A. Crawley, 2012)
And don’t forget his paws…
Somewhere a proud Tiger Striped mom cat shakes her head and smiles.
And I won’t lay blame for this little guy on Robert Palmer, who happened to be singing away in iTunes while I worked.
As always, thanks for your continued support on this journey. And thanks for stopping by….