Cloth Dolls Merri, Finagain and Carlotta Cook

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Januray 19, 2007: I would like to introduce Merri the Mermaid and her pet fish Finagain. Merri is my interpretation of Kate Erbach's class pattern Merna Takes a Test Drive.

mermaid doll

This picture shows the base to advantage. The following one shows her face better.

mermaid doll

Merri is listening very carefully because she hears
the  engines of  an approaching ship and is deciding whether to surface and lure a sailor to his fate
or to have Fin take them deep so the sea men never know
the beauty and adventure they missed.
The base is covered with batik fabric. Fin is made of upholstery fabric.
Merri's skin is made of white muslin that I glazed lightly with yellow-green acrylic so she would blend with
the colors of her tail that is made from batik fabric. After all, she is an undersea creature,
and I wouldn't be surprised to learn some have green skin.
Merri  is button jointed with a little yellow fish on her left shoulder
and a little blue and white one on her right shoulder--actually they are little sucker fish
that stay with her to keep seaweed and barnacles from adhering to her skin.
Merri's hair is made of fancy yarn. Her face is painted with pigment and gel pens 
and colored pencils. Her ruffle is made of organza that has been treated with
a heat gun to make it pucker to add to the ruffle effect. Beads and shells adorn both
Merri and Finagain.

Nature Note: We had a light snow this week and while working on this doll I could see many different birds feeding on the seeds Farris threw out on the ground for them. It was too icy to walk out to fill the feeders. We had male and female white crowned sparrows, male and female cardinals, goldfinches by the dozens, mourning doves, house finches and finally, after several years of their absence, a few dark eyed juncos, or snow birds. We also had two eastern bluebirds visit our yard. I left my sugar kettle fountain on and it iced over except for a small circle of unfrozen water where the movement of the water kept it from freezing. The birds would stand on the ice and congregate in a circle around this pool of available water. What a pleasure it is to be able to enjoy creating in my studio and at the same time to enjoy watching the variety of beautiful birds! Before I began bird watching I had no idea there were so many kinds of sparrows. They now number among my favorites.

January 05, 2007: I have been working in my studio again  after almost six weeks away from making dolls. When I first enrolled in Judi Ward's Design Your Own Doll class, I said that my goal is to learn to create tall, beautiful dolls with  haughty, sometimes sultry expressions, always sophisticated looking and with an attitude. I failed to factor in the power of the doll versus my own plans. The reader can decide how near I am to accomplishing that stated goal.  I have now completed my second self-declared "graduation" doll for Judi Ward's Advanced Cloth Doll Design class. That does not mean that I have done everything called for in the class. I could work for a year and still have variations to try. However, I have some basic design skills now and it is time for me to move on to making dolls of my own design and some patterns by other designers, and perhaps other classes now and then. Judi does not require the graduation dolls, that is a self imposed goal. If you recall, the little Honey Elf named Boup was my first "graduation" doll for this advanced design class. Here is the second and final graduation doll:

This is an in progress profile view
of Ms. Carlotta Cook

Carlotta in her fancy undies and her lace up boots

Carlotta showing her beautiful head of hair.

Carlotta ready to go to work.

Carlotta became a symbol of all the great cooks I have had in my life. My maternal grandmother believed more is better and her company table groaned under several kinds of meat, five or so fresh-from-the-garden -vegetables, fruit salad, huge hand-formed biscuits, pies and at least two 7 layer cakes. One cake filling would be her wonderful Dew Berry jelly and the other was usually chocolate icing filled or coconut. My mother was a wonderful cook and we had a great variety of foods, including game brought in by the men of the family who were hunters. Mother was nutrition conscious and limited our intake of sweets when we were children, although she made great desserts. My sister Lynette is a fantastic cook and could make a piece of old leather taste good if she wanted to do so. She lives in south Louisiana where the best cooks and restaurants are found.  I am an inconsistent cook book cook, so I don't qualify as part of Carlotta's legacy. While I was working on this doll, something about the expression in her face brought to mind another good cook I knew. Her name was Ma Winkler and she was the dietician who ran the dining hall at my undergraduate college. When I was a senior, my dormitory room was in a first floor wing where there were only two student rooms, one empty, a meeting room and the house mother's apartment. I liked the location because it was quiet and it was convenient. Ma Winkler would bring the housemother breakfast on a tray every morning. For some reason she became especially fond of my room mate Marilyn and me and she came into our room one day and asked what we would like for breakfast the next morning, and informed us she would be bringing our breakfast to our room each morning. For my entire senior year I was awakened by that wonderful, nurturing woman as she called out, "Wake up girls, here is breakfast!" as she deposited a huge tray of food on the desk.  So Carlotta is created especially in memory and honor of Ma Winkler.

Carlotta is my own design, made of craft velour, and her face is a silk mask. I painted the face in the computer and printed it to silk and then made it into a mask that I sewed to one of my flat faced tab heads. I added padding where desired between the mask and the head front and lightly needle sculpted the design. The doll's hair is made of fancy yarn. Her boots are of faux reptile fabric and leather. Carlotta is weighted inside with a bag of shot so that she can sit; even so, because of her girth, she does better if her legs are hanging off the side of a shelf or table. Her arms are invisibly button jointed and her legs are ladder stitched on. I kept her dress very simple in the style similar to the uniforms that Ma Winkler used to wear, except that Ma's were solid white. Carlotta was so much fun to make. My thanks to Judi Ward who shares so much of her knowledge with us so generously. After seeing Carlotta, I hope Judi goes ahead and lets me get my graduation certificate :-)!

Carlotta has been added to the Doll Gallery along with a little handkerchief fairy doll I made earlier this week. She can be seen here.

Last revised January 05, 2007

Copyright 2001-2010 Rheba Kramer Mitchell. All rights reserved.