Thursday, September 30, 2010
Inspired by Patricia Anders art work in the article titled Happy Birthday Barbie featured in the Spring 2010 issue of Art Doll Quarterly. I thought a lot about re-purposing Barbies and with a liberal donation of less than perfect specimens from my niece; I set to work.
I first removed the original head and replaced it with a styrofoam ball. I then sculpted the new heads on to the ball using PaperClay.
The first made was Debbie Hammerhead. Coincidentally, only after completing the head did I notice that her left hand had been gnawed on by one of sister’s family pets. This prompted the title for this doll as “Debbie Don’t Chew Your Nails” as it turns out a very destructive habit for a hammerhead. Debbie, the group would agree has the cutest figure but she is more than a little clumsy. She is also very absentminded and a self-confessed airhead, but also very loveable. Her undergarments are a tan and leopard print bodice and purple tights (tissue paper). Her skirt is blue tulle with an Italian glass bead flower trim (just plain bead trim) paired with a silver lamé top. Debbie’s ensemble is paired with turquoise platform shoes- less likely to take a spill in those than stilettos. 125.00
Next, I made Alexis Rex. This doll was stockier and more sportier built than a traditional Barbie and seemed better equipped to support a dinosaur head. Alexis is a budding fashion designer and all her friends are outfitted in her creations. Her father is an importer and Alexis has access to wonderful exotic fabrics, laces, and beads. She is the hub of her group of friends, very energetic and creative. Her ensemble includes magenta tights with silk trim, black leather skirt with silk belt, mohair sweater, and twinkling athletic-type shoes adorned with diamonds and amethysts. 125.00
Jackie L. loves all things Gothic. She is the funniest of the group. She is always making people laugh and is the life of every party. She finds it extremely amusing to wear a monster glove with an embedded emerald, also designed by Alexis (Actually, Jackie was missing her whole left hand!). Invitations to all types of events flood Jackie’s email, mail, and voice-mail; she is an essential member to any guest list. Her bodice is black lace and tights of French toile and black tights (all tissue paper). Jackie is wearing a black tulle skirt with an orange sparkle underskirt. Her cropped top is Spanish lace adorned with sequins. Her outfit is accented with a pair of lavender platform shoes embellished with amethysts, a lavender purse, and a witchy backpack. 125.00
Birdie Warbler is a dancer, nimble and graceful. She is the smart one of the group and when she is not performing, she is reading. Birdie has aspirations of becoming a college professor at an ivy-league university. Seen here she is off to do a little bird watching on the outskirts of Paris. Birdie’s undergarments are a pink bodice and multicolored tights. She wears a pink feather skirt and vintage lace bustier paired with leather flats. Her hat, a black velveteen riding hat with a black tulle train was also designed my Alexis and fits Birdie’s personality and charm.125.00
I purchased my first issue of Art Doll Quarterly this past Spring 2010. Around the same time, I was completing my Master’s thesis over Alchemical Symbolism in the 16th century Northern Renaissance Art of Dürer, Cranach, and Brueghel. A cathartic response to putting my Master’s behind me along with the abundance of research accumulated in the process I kicked-off my summer by trying my hand at doll making. I have been a professional artist for over twenty years but with exception of some soft sculpture dolls made with students when I was teaching high school art, I have never attempted doll making. My Alchemy Dolls are a culmination of my fine arts background and my newly obtained title of art historian.
Each doll head is sculpted on a Styrofoam ball using Celluclay. Their bodies are made of a wire armature, covered in newspaper, and wrapped in plaster gauze. I made all of the doll’s clothing and accessories from a variety of fabrics, beads, nuts, wire, broken jewelry, and found objects. The dolls are permanently attached to Greek paddleboards. All materials, other than the actual doll itself, were donated by my very generous mother, aunt, and grandmother. The individual characteristics of the dolls are derived from alchemical symbolism and the Tarot. Each doll possesses its own individual symbolism, personality, and powers.
The Doctor: He is dressed as Renaissance plague doctor. The raven represents the nigredo stage of alchemy, when the materia prima (primary material) turns black and putrid. The death stage of in the alchemical process indicates one is on the right path towards the development of the Philosopher’s Stone. All things that are to grow and receive life must first putrefy. 200.00
The Magician: He appears playful and youthful. He is always willing to entertain a crowd with card tricks and slight of hand magic. Underneath this lighthearted façade, he is an experienced sorcerer, necromancer, and alchemist. He has the ability to summon good or evil spirits as well as turn base metals into gold. The Magician wears the Philosophical Bee on his sleeve symbolic of the mercurial serpent. (Sold)
The Militant: He is the supreme cosmic power. In alchemy, he represents sulfur the opposite of mercury or the moon. His rays can be vivifying and destructive, he gives life and destroys it. He is the center of intuitive knowledge. There is not a stronger force than the sun and the Militant represents that solar energy. Along with the mercurial Moon, he represents the initial stage of making the Philosopher’s Stone. He represents gold and masculine power. 200.00
The Philosopher: The androgynous philosopher is cool and mercurial. He/She represents the symbolic rhythm of time. He/She possesses the wisdom of eternity, immortality, and enlightenment. The Philosopher is the all-seeing eye of night and often can symbolize the darker side of nature. Time and measurement are calculated in the Philosopher’s lunar cycles. The Philosopher can be both the “Old Man in the Moon and/or the silver-white queen who marries the Sun in the chemical wedding of alchemy. 200.00