I mentioned my experiments with papier mache figures a little while ago. Here is the next step in the process. Once again, I constructed a body framework for these women in the same was as I have been (though with practice I am refining my methods and getting better results at how they look and hold together).
This time, I made their outfits out of papers I had on hand. Each person is about 9″ tall or so. Let’s take a look at each individual.
This lady has a dress made of strips of painted paper, dictionary arms and legs, and paper bag head and feet. And you can see she has a more elaborate hair-do. That’s something I am experimenting with too.
This lady has paper bag legs, head, and shoes. Her skirt is painted paste paper. I used scraps of various failed or partial doodles/sketches/drawings in India ink on white sketch paper to make her abstract-patterned blouse.
This figure has paper bag head and shoes, dictionary arms, and India ink print legs. Her dress is made of overlapping layers of different papers, including a list of items, I don’t know what, but it might be groceries. Her hair-do kind of looks like a hat in this photo, maybe, so how nice, two looks in one.
OK, that’s where we are with figurines right now. I really like this method of finishing them. I found painting outfits on them a little tedious, but collaged outfits? Whole other story. We’ll see who comes along next!
Some went to Pittsburgh, one stayed in Wyncote, and the other one…
…went to Washington DC to live with my little granddaughter. Yes!
I noticed this stick because of the little protrusion it had in the face area. I knew right away it had to be an owl.
Maybe it’s kind of a human-looking owl. Well, so what? It knows who it is.
I am an alumna of Bryn Mawr College and our mascot was the owl. I always liked that, because of its associations with wisdom and learning. You may also remember that Athena, who in Greek mythology is the goddess of wisdom, is accompanied or represented by an owl; she is also a mascot or symbol of sorts for the school.
So I feel this owl represents my hopes that my granddaughter will love learning and gain wisdom from her life experiences.
Plus I also think it’s a good size just for her to play with! She can take it outside and it can go anywhere and have a good time. Maybe I can make some more creatures for her as time goes on.
I’m a big fan of Pittsburgh Orbit and its perspective on lilfe in that city. I have a fondness for the city, though I’ve never lived there; my son was a resident for some years and it is where he met his wife and where they got married. We made quite a few trips there over the years. You may remember Knit the Bridge back in 2013? And guess what, Mrs. Orbit is the person who taught me punch needle embroidery online last year, and you know where that’s taken me.
Anyway, I read in a recent Orbit post about a new venture: the Silver Apple Gallery. It’s still forming its identity but one of its missions is to spread art into the community, sort of like the Little Free Libraries do for books.
Well, I felt I had to participate and I had an idea what to contribute. Some stick ladies! I haven’t made any for a while. So – I was more than ready to create. I had some sticks already prepared and I got out my woodburning tool and got to work. Here they are:
I kept the big one for myself. Yes, I did.
The others I put in the mail and off they went to Pittsburgh, where they received a warm welcome. For which I am grateful, since they (I) sort of invited themselves (myself).
But wait, you say. Isn’t one missing? Yes. One of these figurines went somewhere else. I’ll tell you more in another post!
I have given these figures to people, with a cohort going to some nearby friends. For Christmas, I made a Tiny House for these little figures and gave it as a gift to these friends. Now I will show it to you.
It’s made of two boxes, one stacked on the other. It’s much smaller than the earlier Tiny Houses, only about 6″ tall, so that it could better fit the scale of the little people. Take a look.
Front and back:
I extended and reinforced the lid of the box so that it would be stiff and provide a nice wide base to make the house more stable. I put a garden scene on it because the recipients are avid gardeners.
There are three rooms in the house:
Now I’ll show you random details of the house. As you can see, I really enjoy embellishing all surfaces.
I’m going to say it again. Making a Tiny House is a lot of fun.
Sure you do! Well, some of them have moved out of town and taken up residence far far away from there they started out. But they have been welcomed by friends both art and human, and they have smiles on their faces.
As you may remember, I have been having some eye issues over the past three months and they continue to go on. I am getting closer to finding out what may be causing my vision loss and hope to know more very soon as to what the next course of treatment will be and what I might expect in the way of stabilization of my vision.
But, as part of the process, I have been doing intensive rehab of my corneas and eyelids. As part of this I take a LOT of eye drops. I use the single use vials because they have no preservatives, but that means there are a lot of plastic vials to be disposed of.
What to do? Well, when I first saw the shape of the vials I thought they looked like small people figures, somewhat like worry dolls. Immediately I knew I would be making tiny dolls, and what they decided to do for their careers, well, that was up to them – solve worries, live in tiny dollhouses, drive small cars, relax in the lush jungle foliage of a potted fern…
So let’s get going and I’ll tell you how I make them.
Here is a used vial. I take the lids off and let them sit a few days to dry out. Note – You will notice that in the following samples I didn’t do this, since when I wanted to make the demo photos I did not have any vials-in-waiting that were quite ready. But in general I save up a group and make quite a few dolls at a time.
Here are my supplies.
You may be wondering about the pliers. I have two sets – both from my jewelry class. They were very inexpensive.
I take the heads off the dolls while I am putting on their arms.
Then, I untwist a paper clip (I like the larger, stronger ones) and push it through the plastic “body”). This takes a little effort but it gets done.
Then I use the clipping area on the yellow pliers (close up to the hinge there is a sharp part to cut wire) to even up the “arms”. I then use the rounded pliers to form twirls for hands. I don’t try to make a pose with the arms at this time – I wait until the doll is finished.
Next, I get out my assortment of tiny fabric scraps and threads. I think you could also use paper or yarn as well, if you wanted to.
I make these women (they are all always female. Like every other figurine I make) with two basic outfit styles: wrapped thread skirt and wrapped cloth top, or cloth skirt and wrapped cloth top. You might come up with other ideas, it is up to you. For the thread skirt lady, I put some glue on the vial and wrap a lot of thread around and around until I cover up the glue.
For the cloth skirt ladies, I put glue on the vial and stick on a tiny piece of fabric so that it covers the whole bottom section. It doesn’t take much. Here are the two figures with their skirts done.
And, notice that they both have their arms in the air. I flip them to this position while dressing the figures because it gives me more room to work. It also makes me smile to see these tiny figures flexing their muscles or high-fiving me!
Next, the tops. I take a strip of fabric (and it doesn’t have to be very wide at all):
I put a line of glue on the front and back of the figure and begin to wrap the fabric in a figure-8 configuration – around the body, up to the shoulder, around the neck, back down, around the body to the other side and over the other shoulder in the same way. I add dots of glue as I go along to secure layers. Sometimes I don’t have a long enough strip so I just glue on another piece of fabric and keep going.
When the tops are done, the figures are dressed:
But sometimes I want to add more to the outfits. Maybe another fabric detail, or sometimes I use thread to wrap around the bodies in a decorative way. I gave this lady a couple of sashes.
Here are the two figures, all ready to go…
I could stop here, but I think they need faces. This is hard for me to do given my eyesight, so I take my time and if I make a mistake, I wipe the ink off ASAP before it dries and try again. What writing utensil do I use? After trying various pens and so on, I have settled on my cheapie acrylic paint pens.
They are used for painting rocks, and they write on anything, and once they are dry, their marks adhere well to the plastic surface, in my experience. Here are the twosome from above, now with faces:
Now, here are some shots of figures I have made. I have given some away and I’d be happy for anyone who wants three (always at least three, so they do not get lonesome) to let me know and we can work out sending some, maybe.
Or, you could make your own. Look around and see what materials could work for you. If you don’t have eye drops vials, how about twigs or even rolled up paper? No fabric – try paper. Glue? I bet you have glue!
I follow a blog called Pittsburgh Orbit. It reports on the quirks of that city. I can’t remember how I stumbled into its world but I am glad I did. I have some connection with Pittsburgh; we visited several times when my son lived there for several years and that is where he met his wife. So it’s a good place.
And it turns out that through the serendipity of the universe, I have another connection to the Orbit through my teacher at the punch needle class I took online earlier in 2021.
I think this could be enough material for a post already, if we were talking about the odd way the world takes a strand and weaves it in and out to make a fabric in which you find that all the elements of your life repeat, like a pattern. But that’s not the purpose. I want to share an art project I did that was inspired by this blog.
I read a post at the Orbit some while back about tin can neighborhood art. You need to stop right now and take a look at the post, because I cannot explain it, you need to experience it. (I’m waiting right here until you finish).
OK. I was inspired to try my version of this art form. I got some tin cans and smashed them with my husband’s sledge hammer. Unlike the originals, I did not want sharp edges – I didn’t know where I would put the items, or even what they would look like, so I thought I’d better think about safety.
I bought some cheap paints meant for multi-surface use. I got some paint markers, too, meant for painting rocks, so I figured they’d work fine (they did). Then I painted my flattened tin cans and put some random sayings on them, too. I sprayed them a few times with some sort of clear stuff that might or might not protect them for any length of time. But I don’t care. These guys are just for fun.
Here are the results.
You may wonder why they have a rounded end, in some cases. Well, did you know that tin cans have two different ends these days – one you open, and the other so that the cans can stack easily? You can’t get this second end to come off with a can opener. Who knew?
I did find one of my group of cans worked the old-fashioned way – that is why it is a rectangle. So when you are shopping for canned goods, now you will think about this innovation in the container world, won’t you?
Anyway, once done I puched hanging holes in their tops by hammering through them with a nail. Lay the can on the ground, take the nail, hammer hard, and when the nail goes though it just heads into the ground. Pick it up and extract the nail. Done.
I strung a wire on each one. Now I think I will leave them in the park, or else give them away, or both.