There never seems to be enough time to get the amount of work completed that I want. Even when working every day of the week, there is always something that isn’t as far along as I would like. Or feels stuck in one specific stage of creation. Having more ideas than time in which to create them is better than having all the time in the world and no ideas at all.
Four bottle dolls:
These four dolls epitomize my feelings of being stuck in one specific stage of creation. Application of the sealant to all of the paper mâché surfaces takes such a long time to complete. Just last night I finished the arms and legs. Once they were completed, I decided that the bottle-shaped torsos required additional coats of sealant to better match the surfaces of the arms, legs and heads.
I use a mixture of water and Eri-Keeper glue as a sealant for my paper mâché pieces. It protects the painted surfaces extremely well. The difficult part of using this mixture is that it takes multiple layers to achieve the surface look that I’m after artistically. Eri-Keeper isn’t as shiny as acrylic semi-gloss or gloss that I’ve used in the past.
When multiple layers of the Eri-Keeper sealant are dry, they take on a sheen like an M&M candy. Incidentally, it’s when I want to actually take a bite out of my artwork that I know I have enough layers of sealant applied. For some pieces, especially small pieces, anywhere between six and eight coats is sometimes enough to achieve this effect. I’ve applied about two dozen coats to all of the pieces of the bottle dolls.
The button components were made earlier in the week. Making them didn’t take very long. I think I completed them in around four hours. The most difficult part was creating shapes for the button components, then bending and shaping them over and around the different forms. Then they were left to dry over night. After drying thoroughly, they needed sanding, painting and sealant.
I’m still using the air dry clay from Flying Tiger. It’s the best air dry clay I’ve ever worked with. Many air dry clays I tried to use with students in my art classroom have been total rubbish. They crumbled, dried out and seemed to break with the least amount of handling.
By contrast, the Flying Tiger air dry clay stands-up to some rough handling. Including a tremendous amount of shaping, via sanding. Strange as it may seem, it actually took several hours longer to sand and shape the button components than to actually make them!
The idea finally came together for the doll stands a few nights ago. Once I started cutting patterns and working with the cardboard, all four came together incredibly quickly. These stands will not be covered with paper mâché. Fabric will be used to cover the surfaces of the stands.
I learned a lot about using fabric as a covering for some of the pieces that I showed at Matara earlier in the year. Hopefully, those lessons will serve me well when I begin the fabric work on the stands.
Part of the learning for me as an artist is in how the artwork begins to become its own ‘thing’ as it’s created. This applies to how the physical artwork is created, as well as the thoughts, meditations and ideas that come about as a result of the act of creation. It sounds strange, but that’s how a large part of my personal creative process works more often than not.
I saw the influence of kachina in the ways I had formed the heads, arms and legs of these four dolls. I say ‘influence’ in the design of some of the parts of the dolls. The meaning behind the kachina that the indigenous people of the southwestern United States create is NOT something that I would ever attempt to copy or emulate. I would never use a culture and a history that is not mine as a stylistic choice.
What I did begin to think about was how I as the artist imbue my artistic creations with an element of my own identity. That part of my identity that I do feel is connected to the divine. These four dolls are specific to me. They’re like my own personal guardians. This got me thinking…
I remembered reading about how the Romans had a classification (?) of guardian deities or spirits that were called Lares. These lares didn’t have specific names, but they were associated with ancestor worship, hero worship and protection. You can read more about them here.
The concept of the lares gives me latitude to decide what exactly I would like my four bottle dolls to be. If these four are to be akin to lares, then what or whom will they protect? And how can I show that in the artistic representation? There are so many possibilities swirling around in my mind. I’m sure that the four bottle dolls will help me along.
Today I learned that an art workshop that I was to teach this upcoming Tuesday has had to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions. I cannot say that I’m not disappointed. Teaching art is my second favourite thing to do besides creating art! The person who contracted me to teach a Worry Doll Workshop has rescheduled the workshop for early May. So, I’ll still get to teach! And it’ll be so much easier to wheel my suitcase full of supplies to the venue! Right now everything is sloppy-squishy-slush!
Well, for one thing. I’m going to add the last half dozen coats of sealant to the torsos of the four bottle dolls. Then I’m going to start planning the colours for the insides of the torsos. Oh! And I need to make a pattern for the clear plastic windows too! Well, you all know what happens after, ‘now what?’ I get back to making art!
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday!