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Experiments

What brought me here today:

Regular visitors to my Instagram (katie_kinsman_artist) know that I’ve been working on three dolls since the 5th of December. Part of the impetus to create them was the sale of Honey. She was another 12 cm doll with a stand. Honey was the last doll I created in Finland before we returned to the US.

I missed Honey’s presence in my art midden. Or at least I think so. There were some ideas that I’d been wanting to try out for quite some time too. I didn’t start out to specifically created three dolls. It just happened that way. The only colour I specifically chose was the light blue. The peach and buttery yellow coloured felt were chosen because they were not blue.

Experiments:

It may not look like it, but there is always something that’s experimental within each of the dolls I create. It’s rare that I continue creating a series of pieces without experimenting. Some experimentation is simply for fun. I wonder what will happen if I do this? There are times in which I find an interesting material. I want to see how the new material will interact with my current techniques for construction, so I try it.

There have been some experiments in which I’m combining techniques in a new way. This is evident in the wings I created for the Niittykejuja dolls. I used a printmaking technique called dry point. The image is scratched or cut into the surface. Those scratches hold the ink that is transferred to the paper during the printing process.  For the niittykejuja doll wings, I scratched the lines. Then daubed on paint. I removed some paint. Then allowed the plastic to dry. I did this several times to achieve the desired affect.

It’s important to remember that not all of my experiments actually work. There are times in which I can disguise the failed experimental portions of my work. At least enough so that they don’t bother me very much. I so dislike wasting supplies, materials and time though. Sometimes I just need some time away from a failed experiement so that I can see how to fix or disquise it.

Multiple heads:

It’s easy to see the experiementation with the number of heads of the three dolls I’m working on. Eugenie has four heads. The heads are stacked so that they all face forward. And range in size from large to tiny. I could have made each of the heads face a different direction. Or have a different expression. I thought about a different set of hairdos for Eugenie’s heads. But I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it without first attaching the heads together. This will make creating the hairdos difficult.

Sondra also has three additional heads. I had a much different configuration in mind when I started. I landed on the one that she has because I just wanted to see if it would work. Because I changed the way in which I attached the heads, I also needed to change the hairdos. I decided on the sticky-uppy pigtails in the end. Again, I just wanted to see how it would look. I like it much better than what I originally had planned for Sondra.

Phyllis didn’t have much experimentation with the heads. Her hairdo was the experiment. Creating multiple, stacking heads with two hair buns each is something I’d not tried before. Eugenie has long braids that were wrapped into side buns. They’re easy. The hair buns for Phyllis required me to create some of the tiniest hair buns I’ve created for any doll. They also required me to make sure that the way in which I stacked and attached the heads left room for each set of buns on the head below it.

Wire:

There’s no way to see what I’ve changed on the inside of each doll. I don’t seem to take any pictures of the adding of the wire process for my Instagram either. Perhaps it’s equal parts not exciting, and wishing to keep a few construction details to myself. There’s also the fact that the way in which I create the wire inserts is something I feel as though other artists would find clunky. Or perhaps super-crappy and cheap.

I’ve tried different types of wire in the past. I like armature wire a lot. However, it’s a little bulky for what I want to use it for. I’ll know I can find something smaller. As much as I hate it, Amazon has smaller gauge armature wire. Armature wire is easier to bend. It’s not as hard on my hands either. But the biggest plus is that it’s aluminum. This means it won’t rust or corrode.

Painting:

I’ve been wanting to experiment with adding paint to the surfaces of my felt dolls for quite a while. While living in FInland, I just couldn’t afford wool and wool-blend felts to work with. I used acrylic and viscose felts instead. The Thinner viscose felts can take paints and dyes. I did experiment with thinned acrylic paints. I created abstract compositions using cardboard and plastic recyclables to ‘stamp’ designs onto the viscose felt. This was done prior to piecing the felt for the doll. I liked the end results very much.

Acrylic felt is essentially plastic. This means that the felt doesn’t ‘take’ the paint very well. I guess I should really say, acrylic felt doesn’t ‘take’ the paint the way that I want it to. I found my previous experiments with acylic felt and acrylic paint not to my liking. An oil paint might have worked better. But I didn’t have any. Nor any inclination to spend precious resources on something that “might” work.

For Eugenie, Phyllis, and Sondra, I painted the surface of the dolls after I’d sewn them together. This was more like working in the round. I used watered down acrylic paints to add the different splotches and slpoots of colour on the surface skin of each doll. Because the doll parts were already sewn together, they soaked-up the watered down paint like a sponge. I used at least three colours on each doll. I liked the effect of depth I got with Eugenie’s blues and violets.

What’s next for them?

The three dolls are almost completed. What that really means is that thier outfits and hairdos are almost completed. I’m itching to get started on their mounts and displays. All of the pieces for the mounts and displays are on hand. Hopefully I can start them next week. As much as I’m looking forward to creating the mounts and displays, I wonder how they will be recieved. But isn’t that the way it goes when creating and then showing artwork to an audience? Will people like it? Or will they just be ignored?

House-keeping news:

A reminder to those who read my blog;  my last regularly scheduled blog post of the year will be on 21 December. I will be posting on social media, but not regularly. I had intended to only take a week off, but I really want some completely un-interrupted time to spend with my husband enjoying the holidays. It will also be nice to just sit down and work on some projects as well.

Last holiday pop-up sale:

I’ll also be participating in my last in-person sale of the year tomorrow! I’ll be at Books & Bagels from 1-4 pm with all kinds of different dolls and holiday ornaments for sale. All of the items I sell during these pop-up sales have a discounted price too! If you’re in the area, stop by and see me!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again on Tuesday.