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
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.
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.
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.
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.”)
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?
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!