Monday, April 27, 2009

Questions and answers

Monica asked some questions: Is the muslin used its natural color? I always think of muslin as off-white. Well yes, but after I cut, sew, stuff, and sculpt the doll, I stain the doll with my vanilla/coffee/water mixture. When she's dry, if I want a black doll or any other color for that matter, I paint her with paint I've diluted with water. When the doll is dry again, I sand it with ordinary sandpaper or a sanding block if I have one (the block is sandpaper grit attached to a spongy surface).

Diluting the paint de-stabilizes it so when the doll is dry, more paint sands off and it looks older and more worn. I compare the look to my grandma's oil-cloth tablecloths where most of the paint was cracked and worn off.

What is needle-sculpting? Quilting is stitching vertically through the layers of a quilt to hold it together. Needle sculpting is stitching horizontally (although for fingers and toes it's done vertically) from one spot to another, pulling the thread taut to define a shape such as a nose, mouth, finger..... Pulling the thread taut is the part that makes the sculpted area stand out.

When were you first introduced to the primitive dolls, and what drew you toward them? I started making dolls professionally in 1980. Always cloth dolls - but at first they were for children. Eventually I started making dolls for grown-ups. There were anatomically correct babies, then collectibles like Little Lulu, and Annie and her dog Sandy. I eventually gravitated toward country dolls and started consigning with a huge new gift shop in a converted barn. Then in late 2002, my dolls sales dropped to almost nothing. A new friend mentioned that I should make primitive dolls. I had to do research - I'd never heard of them.

The big differences with primitives and what I had been doing previously was the staining, the lack of hems, and the worn and aged look.

I've totally fallen in love with the process as well as the finished look. There aren't many restrictions with primitives. They are art done by regular people with varying talents. Primitive dolls are at home with antiques and "old things" like nothing else could be. I've added the term folk art to my dolls but only because the word primitive scares many people.