Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Alchemy Dolls

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 Gypsy: She is the old fortune-teller, healer, and counselor. She travels from village to village selling her services. All of her important possessions she carries around her neck. Some villages welcome her others fear that she is a witch and run her out of town. She is an encyclopedia of knowledge about herbs and minerals to treat sickness and disease. She has successfully treated many curable and incurable diseases such as the plague and lycanthropy.   200.00

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

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