My Doll Exhibit

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July 16, 2005: Today's entry is a step back in time in order to show my family and friends the excellent way the Needlework show committee exhibited my work a few months back and my art work that is in Cher Threinen-Pendarvis' recently published The Painter IX Wow! Book.  The book is specific to Corel Painter but is a lovely art collection as well, and is available through Amazon at this link (you can also read a brief review I wrote about the book on that page). I held off showing these photographs until all the work has been published. One reason I was asked to exhibit my work was in hopes it would inspire others to think of new and different ways to use fabric.

doll pins
These are three little hand-sewn and hand-decorated doll pins I constructed for some of the committee members to wear during the exhibit. It took me about six hours to make and paint these little pins!

The exhibit was set up in the courtroom at the recently restored and historical Lampasas County Courthouse. Many people worked long hours and very hard to make my work look good.
Here is the entrance to the part of the exhibit that held my work (some other people's work can be seen in the area as well, but I will point out mine).

exhibit entrance
My work is set up behind this entrance to the bar. The black screen in the middle is just one side of a three-sided screen on which my collages were displayed. Visitors could walk around the display.

In the background above left is a display of my decorated fabrics with an explanation of how they were done. The table in the middle is a display of the newspaper article and the books in which my work is published.  In the foreground is a display of seven of my dolls.

These are the fabrics I decorated  and one  that has been printed with a fractal and another that has been printed with a textured image. The latter two are the blue one on the left and the red and green winged looking one in the center. The text is a brief explanation of how the fabric gets from the white piece above to the richly colored pieces shown.

This is a close-up of the middle table  showing the article in the Lampasas Dispatch Record, and on the left, the Art Doll Quarterly that published one of my fracTalisman dolls, an explanation of what art dolls are, my fracTalisman doll brochure in the lower center and Pamela Hastings' Art paper doll book opened to the pages where she published pictures of two of my three-dimensional art paper doll collages.

This is a close-up view of the dolls on the front table  above.

This is the table at the right. It includes a primitive wrap doll and the doll I call Crazy Alice. A copy of my poem "An Artist is Born" is presented in the foreground.

Close-up of the dolls on the above pictured table. Crazy Alice is from a series of dolls "People from my Past." She is a good example of the power of doll making and how they can take on a meaning of their own sometimes as they are being constructed. The concept came from an incident involving someone I knew many years ago in which the person got tired of trimming the hedge in front of her house and took an ax and chopped all the bushes down until they looked like little sharpened pencil points sticking up out of the ground. This earned her the nickname of crazy Alice among her neighbors. I chose a remnant of an unfinished vintage crazy quilt my sister and I found in our great grandparents' house when we cleaned it out. I used that for the front of Alice's body.  Her body was deliberately made out of proportion to her limbs to depict the skewed perspective we sometimes can develop.  I chose a green  leaf-decorated batik print for the back of the doll and her limbs, to symbolize the plants that were decimated. I molded the head, put wild yarn hair on the doll and cut out a picture of a hatchet and put it in the doll's hand. As I was working on this doll, noticing the shredding and deteriorating fabric of the crazy quilt piece and the confused, lost expression in the face, the doll became a symbol to me of a deteriorating personality, a meaning totally different from what I started out to depict and has nothing to do with the person I knew and incident that inspired the doll. One characteristic of an art doll is that it should elicit an emotional reaction in the viewer. Curiously, this doll is often picked as a favorite by those who see my collection.

wrapped doll
This doll was not in the exhibit. She is a wrapped doll that I made for a friend. I wanted to show some of the detail that goes into the simplest doll. It includes commercial and hand- decorated fabric, weaver's yarn, beads, wire, a molded painted face and yarn hair. Behind the scene are many wrappings of batting and thread before the decorative cloth and embellishments are added. I love making this kind of doll. One never knows what they will end up looking like. Making the dolls involves all the skill of making a painting, one must pay attention to the elements and principles of good art, having dominance, contrast, interesting shapes, repetition, etc. That is why the fascination with making art objects continues no matter the form. The challenge is always there.

I forgot to take a picture of the fracTalisman art doll that appears in the current (Summer-May 2005) Art Doll Quarterly journal! And I have given her away. She is very special and has a story behind her. I have the picture of her in the journal, but do not have permission to reproduce it here. 

doll composite
Photograph by Libby Bluntzer.
The above photograph shows some of my fracTalisman dolls and two of my art dolls. I include it to mention that Cher Pendarvis showed the large ethnic art doll with the feather and the little red fracTalisman doll on the left together on their own page in her book with an explanation of how they were made. I used Corel Painter while sketching and developing the patterns for the dolls and to paint and print the face of the large doll and to print the fractal pattern of the small doll. They are included in The Painter IX Wow! Book to show another way the program can be used to create art objects.

Woman Reading

This is my digital oil painting that appears in Cher Pendarvis' book on its own page in the picture gallery section, along with an explanation of how I  painted it. I am proud of this painting because it represents one of the few times that I feel I reached my initial goal of creating a painterly work. It is also special to me because it earned me a place in Ms. Pendarvis' quality publication. I consider it a great honor to have been included with the many talented international artists whose works appear in that book.

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Last revised: July 30, 2005

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