Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Happy Halloween everyone!! My favorite holidays!
I've just finished decorating my front porch. I don't go crazy with lots of props and effects, but I spend some time & effort on my decorations (more than my neighbors do!) My neighborhood has lots of kids, and trick-or-treating goes from 6 to 9pm. -- I even dress up to pass out candy! I wear my Grave Digger/Vampire outfit, which I tweak and add to every year.

I'll try to take photos and post later.

Last weekend I took a class with polymer clay artist Joyce Cloutman from Austin TX (sorry, she doesn't have a website or blog).

She was teaching a mixed media doll, using polymer clay, plaster cloth, & paper clay! It was so good to spend an entire weekend just sculpting!!

Her class is called "Belle Donna". It's a lovely angel doll with a message of hope. Here's her class sample:

The face is made from Joyce's face mold, using polymer clay. The body is a beer bottle! That's what's covered in plaster cloth/bandages.

Well, Joyce is a wonderful artist, and her "Bella" doll is very sweet-------But, ..not my cup of tea.

I took the class because I've heard great things about Joyce, and wanted to make an entire sculpted doll (no real fabrics used). I tried to work around the cute Angel theme, and had planned a whole Byzantine-theme doll, which I would completely encrust with jewels and metal.

But, it didn't turn out that way. Here's an account of the journey I went on to "discover" the character I was to make:

First thing we did in class was start on the face. Joyce gave us her face molds, and we went to work on the head & face. After we pulled our face masks out of the mold, Joyce told us we could re-sculpt the face to what every we wanted.......

Well, as long as she gave me permission.....

So, I started aging her a bit. (Still not knowing who or what she would become). A witch? An old Crone? I knew I didn't want to make her evil -- I've sculpted that face many times, and wanted to do something different.

Could I sculpt an old, sympathetic face, but with a quality of mystery???

Here's what it turned into:
The face is about 1-1/2" tall. (the whole doll is 14" tall -- a smaller scale than I'm used to working.)

I love her profile! I gave her a hook nose and a small hump on her back -- she looks like a bird of prey!

Since we didn't have time to spend sculpting the hands, Joyce designed a simple "mitten" hand for us to make, so the character could hold something. We were told to bring a small trinket for our doll to hold. I didn't have a clue what that would be. After putting the head on the body, I started to "see" who this woman is.

She became a great Seer - a wise, old woman who can see deep into a person's soul. --An Oracle! So, of course, in her hands she needs to be holding a crystal, into which she can see her visions clearly.

Luckily, I had an old glass marble at home, which I brought to class the next day and added to the sculpture. So, it was this little "trinket" I needed to have that helped me define exactly who she was.

To Joyce's credit, see really encouraged me to follow my own direction, and not do "her doll". She was very pleased with my work, and was happy to see me take inspiration from her work and add to it, making an original work of art.

Here's the process: The head had an aluminum foil armature covered in polymer clay with a sculpted face added. The body is a glass beer bottle covered in plaster bandages (strips are wet with water to activated the plaster embedded in the cloth.) The neck & arms have wire armatures covered in foil, then more plaster bandages. Hands are polymer clay. The head & neck are "draped" in more plaster cloth. The body is decorated with cotton lace & trim, glued to the plaster body. Everything is painted with acyclic paints and "stained" with watered down paints.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Here's the finished doll, titled "Goblin Masquerade". I sent this to Texas for the Houston Quilt Festival (first week in Nov) to be in the Treasures of the Gypsy Doll display.


The doll is all cloth, mounted on a candlestick base. The face is paper clay sculpted over the cloth head. The mask is also paper clay.
The center of the dress is an embroidered lace with sequins over a layer of orange silk. Which, turns out to look like reptile scales -- cool accident!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I'm still working on my new doll "Goblin Masquerade" for the Treasures of the Gypsy Challenge. Here are some more photos: