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Bottled-Up

What brought me here today:

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about the most recent group of dolls that I’ve been creating. Their collective name for the time being is ‘bottle dolls’. The three largest are Eugenie, Phyllis, and Sondra. I then created three additional dolls, Clarisse, Nadia, and Doreen. These three are slightly smaller dolls. Georgie, Liza, and Jane are close to completion. And I’ve decided that they too shall have a base, with a clear, plastic drink bottle as a cloche.

There have been some questions regarding my use of the clear, plastic drink bottles as cloches. One commenter felt as though the use of the plastic bottles detracted from all of the work I put into the dolls themselves. Another very kindly sent me links to businesses where I could purchase a wide variety of cloches, both plastic and glass. The suggestions offered to me regarding my choice to specifically use plastic bottles as cloches for my artwork were all taken in the spirit of kindness that they were offered.

That being said, I do want to make sure that not only I can explain my materials usage to viewers and patrons of my artwork. But also to help me make sense out of my choice other than a it-felt-right-so-I-did-it kind of way. After all, my artwork is not only my therapy, but a means for me to make money.

Expense:

My use of the recycled plasic drink bottles as cloches is cheap. Free, to be exact. I’ve saved the plastic bottles that I thought would make the most interesting cloches for my artwork. The lables were removed. And the plastic cleaned inside and out. A little measuring and cutting was required to remove a small portion of the bottom of each bottle so they would sit flat on a base. It took me around half an hour to get the cloches for the three large dolls measured and cut.

I could choose to purchase newly manufactured plastic cloches. But I feel as though I’d simply be helping to create more plastics that won’t/cannot be recycled by doing so. There are jobs for people that I would also be supporting if I bought newly manufactured plastic cloches. The people who make th cloches, pack and ship them, etc. Then there are the shop owners that I would help to support as well. But that kind of seems like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Someone will have to pay for all the plastic use at some point.

Recycling:

My husband and I recycle. I’ve been a recycler since my early 20’s living in Indianapolis. O’Malia’s grocery store downtown had glass and metal recycling bins that were super-convenient to use. It was my father who first told me that I needed to start recycling. He was an avid recycler who kept his recycling bins neat and organized. I still remember him hollering at me because he could tell by the sound of the metal clanking together that I’d put an aluminum soda can in the steel can bin!

His interest in recycling came after he read some articles and research about modern landfills and how they do not allow the refuse (that will break-down, like paper) within them to actually biodegrade. There’s not enough air for the organisms needed to do the breaking down of the trash. My father showed me photos of core samples taken from landfills in the 70’s showing completely readable newspapers, packaging, etc.

Recycled, plastic drink bottles are everywhere. I know that some plastics are recyclable. But let’s face it, not enough of them actually are recycled. You can take a look at this information from the EPA to see how much plastic ends up in landfills in the US alone. It will take a lot more action by the government to change this. But until the corporations decide to change what they sell, and how they package it, plastic recycling will be a problem.

Influence:

Explaining the meaning of using a clear, plastic drink bottle cloche is either going to make me sound like a pompous self-centered windbag. Or it may end up sounding like much ado about nothing (in particular). Either way, here we are. And I need to make some bit of sense out of it at least for myself.

I’ve talked previously about some of the dolls that have influenced my artwork as a doll maker. Liddle Kiddles were a series of dolls marketed in the US during the mid 60’s to beginning of the 70’s. I don’t know if I was given my first Liddle Kiddle dolls, or if I simply took them from my older sister. As a toddler, I had some pretty sticky fingers. But I also know that dolls were never a big deal to my sister. She may have just given them to me to get me out of her hair.

There were different series of Liddle Kiddle dolls. The one that I absolutely adored were the Kola Kiddles. Shirley Strawberry was my favourite. I’m not sure why I became so mentally and emotionally attached to these tiny dolls. The ability to adequately explain myself here 48 years later still eludes me. To me, these dolls were just the whole package. They were tiny, cute dolls that had their own little bottles (homes, displays) that kept them safe.

Art school:

When I was in art school, I remember creating a series of drawings and prints (etchings) that were bottles with corks in them. I drew bricks or a cinder blocks inside of the bottles. Granted, it wasn’t incredibly subtle, unique, or even mildly interesting imagery. But for some reason I created quite of few finished pieces utilizing some version of the bottle, brick, and cork.

I think that the reason I created these pieces was due to the fact that I was listening to Reggatta de Blanc a lot. If memory serves, it was glued in the tape deck of my car for most of a summer. This coincided with my (as yet to be diagnosed) clinical depression becoming a larger and harder to ignore component of my mental state. I was beginning to understand how my depressions cycled. And how it made my relationships with friends and family difficult. Any S.O.S. that I might manage to send, might as well be a brick in a bottle. Sending for help was a useless endeavor for me.

Hunting and gathering:

I’ve already talked about how the happiest I remember myself in the past was when I was around 6 years old or so. The world hadn’t gotten it’s hands on me yet and made me loathe myself completely. But even as I write this, the world and all the people and things in it were getting their icky little lingering finger prints all over my sense of self when I was that little girl.

But even while I was in the midst of the not-so-fun-stuff, I still had these little precious pieces of who I was before everything changed. You know, the parts of yourself that you don’t share with anyone. They’re yours and yours alone. And the insanely weird thing is that those precious pieces and their happiness exhisted within the same exact space as the not-so-great-stuff. Which doesn’t seem at all possible. How can a good and bad thing exist within the same space with in my memory? It doesn’t make one part better or worse either. They simply coexist.

My creation of the Bottle Dolls is my attempt to make sense of how the good and bad within my own life can have occurred at the same time. Perhaps I reached out to find something that would be a means to keep my head above the water? That’s a large job for a set of such tiny little dolls to accomplish.

So…uh…

It should be noted that these Bottle Dolls are a long way from being finished. I’ve been working on the text that will accompany each of the dolls. And how I plan to finish the cloches as well as the bases as well. In fact, when I’m finished with this blog post I need to place a wool felt order so I can keep working on them.

So, now what?

I know that my small efforts to be more knowledgible about the tools, materials, and supplies that I use in the creation of my artwork will not make the tiniest dent in this world-wide plastics problem. I’m also completely aware that my artwork, in the long run, isn’t of vast importance in any way that visual art can be important. I know how completely and utterly insignificant I am. However, my artwork allows me the ability to generate a modest income, while keeping me mentally healthy, all without making my carbon footprint larger. This makes me able to sleep a little better at night.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

2 thoughts on “Bottled-Up

  1. I love these and I think your use of bottle is appropriate on many levels! I am thinking about making a bottle for my doll you made!
    I already take coke bottles – they have the best shape – and make fruit fly traps and tiny fold top storage containers for little stuff.
    I recycle the parts I don’t reuse.

  2. Thank you! I just felt the need to explain my choices as there were some well-intentioned people who were incredibly confused as to why I would choose an object that isn’t intended for the purpose of covering my artwork. My husband calls these folks “Fork People”. It was after an activity I tried with a group of 1st graders in which I had the children sit on the rug with me and a box of things they couldn’t see. I chose a few students to pick an object from the box, sight unseen, then hold it up and tell me what it is, and what it could be. I could not for the life of me get the kids to see a plastic fork as anything other than a plastic fork. Not a comb, or rake, or shovel. It couldn’t be an arm or a leg. Or a face or a mustache. Kid after kid after kid raised their hands and said “IT’S A FORK!” It was not my best day as an art teacher.

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