Thursday, June 2, 2011

Of Fairs, Books, Paper Clay, and Dolls

I've been doing a lot of research lately.  I've been investigating quite a few things that are, quite honestly, distracting me from my studio.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I know that these are necessary steps so I can do what I'd like to do...  I'm trying to act on at least one of those New Year's resolutions that I made oh-so-long ago...

I've been looking in to two things lately--doll making techniques and art fairs.

The doll making techniques are much more interesting, frankly, than learning about art fairs.  I've been reading posts in various art fair forums, but mostly Art Fair Insiders and  I recommend both of them for good first-timer info.  Art Fair Insiders is free, but Fairs and Festivals is a pay site--which I haven't subscribed to (I'm still trying to decide).  So far, both have interesting content.  Art Fair Insiders has posted debates and quandaries from the most basic of questions to more esoteric, complicated issues.  There's a lot to learn...  I still haven't purchased a tent, but I've already thought about how to display things.  I'm going to another art fair this weekend, so I'll be able to see more examples of booths...  This is not going to be an inexpensive endeavor, to be sure!

But the doll making research has proven to be a bit more inspiring. Right now I'm in the middle of learning how to manipulate paper clay into arms, legs, and heads.  Wow!  I think I like this medium--it's different than polymer clay to be sure... There's a texture to paper clay that's very different--it's not so plastic.  The paper fibers embedded in the clay make it feel almost like you're working with wet paper towels or very fine paper maché.  I've tried to make a series of different doll heads, and the photo here shows you my latest armature that I'm adding paper clay on top of...  I can't really "cook" or fire the polymer clay over the top of the armature, so I decided to try this solution instead.  We'll see how it goes--I'm going to have to seal everything before I'm done, which is unlike polymer clay (usually).  And while it takes 1-3 days to dry, I don't have to deal with icky smelling fumes because I don't have a baking bag for my cooking tray.  So that's a plus! Woohoo!

I also bought a book through Googlebooks (it allows me to read the book online) that's a consolidated volume of three of Patti Culea's books, Creative Cloth Doll Collection,  for a third of the price of the three books individually.  It's been quite informative--thank you Susan for pointing me in her direction!  I've also been looking for more examples of abstracted dolls with more primitive construction--specifically wire.  I'm trying to think outside the box, but at the same time start developing more traditional doll making techniques.  I know a cloth doll is in the future at some point!

I'm also listening to another book by Steven Pressfield, Do the Work, which is about the eternal struggle most artists face against "Resistance", both internal and external, that prevents you from doing what you most need to do...  Procrastination is just one symptom of the power of Resistance, but there are lots of other forms that are too plentiful to go into here.  Anyway, the book itself is incredibly intriguing and articulates a lot of my issues and problems that are difficult for me to address.   I've found it to be incredibly helpful thus far and in conjunction with his other book, The War of Art, they provide a tool to help cut through one's own lack of impetus.  It doesn't say, "Do this, then this, then that," but it does provide an interesting conceptual perspective that allows a person to see one's challenges in a different light.  I highly recommend both books for anyone who is a struggling creative type!

Alrighty, then--back to the studio!!  Until next time, Live Life with Relish!


  1. Oooh this IS EXCITING to see you taking off like this Corey.I like the idea of the paper clay.The polymer fumes are (I think) quite dangerous.I know a lady who uses the clay and fires in her Home Oven(!!??), and has had breast cancer at 39...I'd have a separate oven outside or in a place where proper exhaust fumes could be extracted....

    Did you catch up with link to Susan Hilferty who designed the "Wicked" costumes.the beading(videos on her site) is GORGEOUS!!
    So glad you are obviously having so much fun with this..

  2. So you're doing an art fair. I'd love to see how you do up your booth. I'm shocked you have to buy your own tent! All the best.

  3. @Judy--I did get the link, but I haven't watched them yet. They're are so many! I'm surprised! I'd seen a Threadbanger video on making a witch costume for Halloween that featured Susan Hilferty and her Wicked costumes--I think one of them is that one... I actually got to see some of her Wicked costumes at a theatre industry convention I went to--talk about labor intensive!! Wow!

    And the polymer clay fumes are bad, but I've heard that putting your tray in a baking bag keeps the fumes trapped... Honestly, I haven't tried that, so I'm not sure it works. I have one of those tiny clay baker ovens, though, so I think in the future I'll just stick to that. But this paper clay stuff is pretty cool--it feels more like sculpture when I'm using it. I have to do some more experimenting! : )

  4. @Jane--I've been telling myself I was going to do the art fair thing for a loooong time now--I have to put my money where my mouth is! Haha! There are a lot of fairs here that provide tents, but the majority of the ones that I know of here locally do not. They provide the space, and electricity if you pay extra for it, and maybe a couple chairs and a table for an additional fee, but that's usually it...

    I'm in the middle of researching tents right now, and contemplating whether I should go "legitimate" or start small... Hopefully the forum sites I found will guide me in the right direction. The booths that I like have wire grids and hangers and torso forms and carpet and... and... Good grief there's a lot to get just to make it happen! At least in the "style" that I'd like. But we'll see. : )

  5. Sometimes I bake my paper clay on a low temp to hurry up the drying time. In the summer, all I do is put the piece in the attic (a door opens to the attic from my studio)-- that speeds things up considerably!

  6. OH, Jenclair, I just popped over to your blog and your doll is gorgeous!!! Well done! See, now your doll is an example of something I'm aspiring to--this paper clay thing is hopefully going to expand some of my horizons a bit.

    And I live in San Diego, so the air is pretty dry... I've actually been having a problem keeping the clay wet so I can finish rolling it and manipulating it into what I want--it dries out so quickly here! I am learning, however, that using blobs for heads that are thicker than the diameter of a quarter means potential cracking! Haha!!

    Ah, the learning curve. : )

  7. Try using aluminum foil or Styrofoam for the heads, then cover with paper clay. Also, I have a spray bottle of water next to my workspace for wetting. I've only been doing this for a year, so I'm still learning, but it is a fun process!

  8. I was using aluminum for the center of some polymer clay heads--perhaps I should try it for the paper clay, eh? Good idea!!


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