Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New York Doll Show 2012

For the second year, Jacq's Girls went to the New York Doll Show held at the beautiful Riverside Church.

Unlike last year's stifling, participation-inhibiting heat, the weather on Saturday was perfect.  There was a steady stream of people coming to look, chat with artists, and maybe pick up a present for someone special.

I took my trusty assistant (my daughter), who is almost capable of running the booth herself.  When I returned from a quick stroll around the show, she was confidently talking to several adults who had stopped to look at the dolls.  Did I mention that she's 12?

Thanks to Done Up! for pulling this wonderful event together again this year.  Here's looking to 2013!

Ruby prototype
Erinn in a special tutu


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Is This Work or Play?

I read a few weeks ago that referring to one's studio time as "play" devalues the work that is being done.

At first, I completely agreed.  How can anyone -- including yourself-- take what you are doing seriously if you keep calling it play?  If people think that you are playing, they feel no compunction about disturbing you.  They imagine, perhaps, that you are sitting at your desk giggling and squishing your fingers in Play-doh or some other seemingly frivolous pursuit.  Say that you are working, however, and it is as if a giant "no trespassing" sign had been erected.  The phone does not ring, no one asks you when dinner will be served.

Having had some time to consider, however, I only mostly agree.  Children learn through play.  And while adults don't play in the same ways, we learn through play as well.  Several years ago, I joined a group of women on a Sunday afternoon to dye fabric.  Only one of us had ever done it before, but we were ready to try out different techniques like shibori, over-dyeing, and painting with thickened dye once we did some straight dyeing.  It was fun.  Our host had a beautiful, large, shady backyard and we probably looked like big kids laughing at our mistakes, sharing our success, and eating our brown-bag lunches under a big tree.  No one set out to make a masterpiece; we were just learning.  Playing, if you will.

The difference, though, is what you call it.  Say that you are going to learn to dye fabric, and it sounds like a structured class.  Say that you are going to play with dye, and that sounds much less serious.  Same end result, different perceptions.

I have decided that, as artists, playing still has a purpose.  We just don't have to let the rest of the world know that.  So put your serious face on and sprinkle water on your brow so that it looks like you have been working over a hot easel/computer/sewing machine all day.  It will be our little secret.

Monday, July 9, 2012

If She's a Princess, I Must be the Queen

My sewing strengths are in quilting and doll-making, not in making clothes that real people would wear.  I made a few skirts for myself that fit well enough, if you don't look at the waistband and see that one side of the zipper is higher than the other.  I can hem my son's suit pants.  I made a wedding veil for a friend that came out nicely.  And then there was my daughter's princess Halloween costume in 2004.

My then-four-year-old daughter wanted to be a princess for Halloween (of course) and she wanted me to make her costume.  I agreed (of course) because I was wearing my Superwoman undies the day she asked.  That was the same year my husband was sewing himself a new Batman cape and he was helping our son, who was 8 then, learn to sew a Robin costume.  It was a very creative season in our household.

I took the little girl with me to pick out a costume pattern and scanned the directions.  It looked pretty easy.  It was a costume, right?  We chose a remnant of a pretty pink brocade for the dress, a sheer pink for the sleeves, and a garland and ribbons for her headpiece.  I estimated that this would take one afternoon to assemble.

I estimated wrong.

There were princess seams and French seams and a whole bunch of seams I had to look up in a sewing guide.  Working with the sheer fabric was not something I would volunteer for again.   The zipper was really long.  There was a sheer cowl-like neckline.  This costume turned into quite the couture gown.

Once it was finished, my daughter loved it.  Loved. It. She twirled around in it with an enormous smile on her face.  When she stopped twirling she looked up at me and said that she felt like a princess in that dress.  That was good enough for me.  The she said, "You get to be the queen, Mommy!" and curtsied.  For just a moment, looking at the beautiful princess in front of me, I thought she might be right.

Halloween 2004
Halloween 2004

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