November 17, 2006: We had a lovely gift at breakfast time one day this week. An Eastern Bluebird perched on the fence post near the trough and let us observe him for a good long time. They are in the area and we have bluebird houses but they are rarely seen at The Lair. That same morning ten fat robins perched in the tree just as the sun topped the horizon and spotlighted them. They were all facing the same way and it was a beautiful picture. My wildlife lens and camera were not set up, unfortunately.
We have been having excessive numbers of bees at The Lair the last two years and although they have not been aggressive, they are assertive. They buzz close around one's head, they light on me and crawl around, especially when I lie in the hammock under the trees and try to read. I am not comfortable with two or three stingers crawling all over me with their weapons cocked, although I have not been stung yet.
Because they seem to come mostly from the hill behind the house, today I decided to walk up there and look for the hive. I didn't find it but I happened upon a little elf asleep under one of our Spanish Oak trees! Of course he woke up immediately and was quite angry that he had allowed himself to be caught by a human like an incompetent fairy. It took a while but I convinced him I meant him no harm. I explained why I was there and he told me he is a honey elf. In fact, he is Bea Bea the Bee Brushing Fairy's brother! When he learned that I know Bea Bea well, he seemed more comfortable with me and opened up a bit about his work. He told me his name is Boup (it rhymes with loop) and his task is to work in the bee hive keeping the honey free from impurities.
I was treated to a tour of a local honey operation near Llano last summer. It is a fascinating process, but I was shocked at how many bees lose their lives or various body parts during the processing. The honey not only is cleaned, it is sterilized. It is necessary to have someone like Boup to remove the impurities from the honey, believe me.
Boup said he enjoys his work, although the worker bees can be rather bossy. The worker bees have a rule that the clean up crew cannot taste the honey. I do believe the evidence suggests that Boup, being an elf, and you know how they are, does not always follow the rules. He showed me the specially constructed sieve that he uses to remove impurities from the honey. It has holes in the bottom to let the honey drain back into the individual cells in the honeycomb. He honored me by doing something elves seldom do. He allowed me to take his picture:
Boup is 19 inches tall, and his body is made of woven
fabric; his head and ears are made of velour that has been painted with
acrylics. His limbs are button jointed.
Seeing no reason to try to reinvent the wheel, I used
Judi Ward's patterns for Boup's glittery felt vest and his cotton knickers. I
wanted Boup to have honey dripping from
When I first saw cloth dolls, I saw some made with tab joints
and didn't care for them; they were so new to me and different, I found my eyes
first went directly to them instead of to the whole doll. However, I knew I
would not be happy if I did not make some tab joints while taking this class.
While I was designing Boup I made another set of elf legs with tab joints. They
aren't as good as my next ones will be, but I learned a lot making these and now
I have had a big change of opinion about tab joints. They actually are a very
elegant way to join limbs allowing for freer movement and I now understand why
doll makers like them and use them sometimes. I now plan to do so myself.
Here is the set I made along with a little hat I made for Boup, but he didn't
like it and I had to discard it.
Oh, I need to tell you that I had such wonderful response to my head designs (see below). I had posted the link in the Friends of Cloth Dolls forum to which I belong, and I heard from doll designers/makers from all over the world and they all said they thought the faces were wonderful and refused my categorizing any of them as a failure. It was certainly a lesson to me to learn to see those doll heads/faces through the eyes of more experienced doll makers.
In fact, Kate Erbach loved them and took what I considered my worst failures, the two heads on the front row below, and made a wonderful elf doll with one, and is making another doll with the lady face. We have had such fun with this. Kate said she waited and waited for the elf doll to tell her his name, and he insisted his name is FARRIS! He is a carpet elf that sneaks around people who are sleeping on the floor and sings lullabies in their ears. Camilla thinks he has not been completely forthcoming with all he does and she thinks he also sneaks around making bad puns and stirring up trouble. Please visit Kate's Picture Trail site here and look on the left, you will see Farris the Carpet Elf in the third and fourth place down. After I saw the picture of this wonderful doll, I sent Kate this picture of my real Farris taken when he was four years old.
Now look at Kate's Farris the Carpet Elf doll along with this picture
and see if you don't see some similarities. Kate had not seen this picture when
she made the doll. Many of my
Farris and I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving!
October 30, 2006: I have been so busy with my doll design course I have had little time for anything else, and when you do one thing that doesn't leave much of interest to talk about to others.
As far as wildlife is concerned, we have had quite an influx
of sparrows. We have seen Chipping sparrows, White Crowned sparrows, Field
sparrows, and a whole flock of Rufus Crowned sparrows. The latter are a delight
because they are so active and they flex their little rufus topknots often. They
used to play around in the car port when we first moved in the house, but after
the cats found us, they no longer stay near the house. The White Wing doves have
moved on temporarily and we saw a Mourning dove at the feeder this week. I
prefer the Mourning doves and am sorry they leave when the White Wing doves move
in. It is almost time for the American Goldfinches to arrive.
This picture is not good compositionally but I like it
because it captures two of the birds that frequent our feeders. The White Wing
dove is on the left and the lesser Goldfinch, black backed race
This is a better picture of the fox drinking at the fountain and then trotting across the yard. I had my tripod and large lens set up this time. Still taken through the window.
One of my tasks in the advanced doll design class taught by
Judi Ward is to design various doll head patterns. I worked on twelve. Of those
twelve I have four head designs that I like and will keep as patterns. Then I
painted the faces, using sketches drawn from pictorial resources. I was less
successful with the faces. I am posting my failures here because when I was
studying art it sometimes seemed to me that all I saw were spectacular
successes in art books and I wished the artists would show some of their
struggle and failures so I wouldn't feel so alone with mine.
These are the heads I made for the class. Only eleven
are here; would you believe I don't know where the twelfth one is?
I have added an adorable new doll to the doll gallery. Her name is Nettie and you can see her here.
October 31, 2006: I posted the above information in the wee hours last night. This morning Farris called me to the window to see a special visual gift. I grabbed my camera so I can share it with you:
Last revised: December 21, 2006