Mad in Pursuit Notebook

handmade doll "Night"

Dollmaking: "Night"

Dec. 14, 2017. Here's a learning history of the doll above. "Night" came from nowhere but found objects around the house, a little purchased wool, and whatever my hands could make of my thoughts.

Materials. Frustration with my creative process (and Jim's impending pacemaker procedure) led to an OCD attack on the electronics area of a storage closet. Lots of obsolete cables. What could I make? A doll!

Inspiration. I did once cut out a drawing by Sergio Arau of a girl with electrical cords for hair, which reminded me of myself. So I bound together one set of cables for head, torso, and legs, crossed with another set for arms. Unwieldy.

Blind alley. Stripped phone cable and a USB cable down to their component wire. Long process, no inspiration, no results.

Materials. Decided to hold the body/head together with needle-felted wool. Started with white, but "she" (now a "she") wanted black.

Thoughts. From my early Nov. notes: "She is powerful but fluid. Tuned in to the hum of modern civilization, listening. Rivers of information in those used cords. The plight of the woman: used up, abused, absorbing all the pain... Connection also means entanglement and disorder... She listens, she transmits, but she also sleeps and dreams -- or lives in a state of deep meditation."

Materials. I found a dreamy face in a box of pottery faces (by Lyn Belisle) I bought but had never used. Yes.

Thoughts. The face and a layer of black wool brought about the "quickening," that moment when an iffy collection of parts wakes up and you know you have a serious doll in your hands. I had another story I was working on in a different part of my brain, about a woman in need of consolation and protection. Yes, like a Hindu deity, with her multiple arms and legs, this doll-being could throw herself around you during those times when you feel like you are flying apart. Her name was "Night."

Materials. After rubbing the smooth cables with a bit of 00 steel wool, I started adding dots and stripes with metallic Sharpies, but found that acrylic paints had way more "pop." Silver and copper gilder's paste wax (which I hadn't used before) gave a steampunk look to the connectors. After puzzling over how to finish her lower torso, I found some black netting in my stash. It provided her with modesty and additional flow, without hiding the painted cables.

I added a swirl of off-white needle-felted designs to her head and torso.

Lots of time was spent auditioning antique brooches and buckles to pin on her belly -- a symbol of the woman she is protecting. Finally picked out an Art Nouveau brooch: a woman's head against a set of lacy wings.

I auditioned lots of other embellishments typical on art dolls: strands of faux pearls, lace, and buttons. But they threatened her fierce serenity. Only an old rhinestone and pearl hat pin made the cut -- to complement the plugs coming out of her head. I was finished.

Thoughts. "Night" was completed and Jim survived his pacemaker implant. He's sitting here with me now, reading the newspaper. And she is perched on the wall behind him. Listening.

***


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