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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Meet Maddy

I have been making dolls of all shapes and sizes for years, but Maddy is my first paper clay doll.  I have used paper clay for other projects and chose to stay with it for this doll.  Although happy with the final form, Maddy and I struggled through three different skin colors, two outfits, and three wigs.  There were times when I was sure this would be my last clay doll, but now that she is done, I think I may try it again using some of the lessons learned.        

Maddy is 16 inches tall.  Blue beads serve as elbow and knee joints.  Her head, shoulders and hips are attached to a soft body.  Clothes are permanently affixed.  

I drew the limbs on a piece of paper to use as reference for size and shape.  I used the beads to shape the clay where they would fit at knee and elbow.  While the clay was still wet, a skewer was used to create a hole where waxed thread would join the beads and limbs.  Her sneakers are made of clay with embroidery thread for laces.  The limbs and sneakers were painted with layers of blue, pink and gold acrylic paint before joining with the beads.  
Maddy's head, neck and upper torso is one piece.  Her head started as a small ball of aluminum foil wrapped around the end of about four inches of coat hanger wire.  Another piece of foil was used to frame the upper torso.  The clay was shaped around the foil pieces.  After the clay was dry, the foil framing her upper torso was removed.  The wire extending from her head was inserted into the stuffed, soft body.  All the parts are affixed to the soft body with waxed button/carpet thread.  Bits of clay were used to fill the holes around the waxed thread.   
Even though her clothes would not be removable, she would wear a jumper style dress requiring a collar, sleeves and underwear.  I used a old doily to fashion one piece.   I had this piece in place before recognizing I would not be happy with this skin color.  The underclothes were removed and she was sanded, head to toe.   
I have no pictures of the difficult transition from blue to brown.  It was very difficult to sand and paint after assembled.  Even after sanding, the skin was not as smooth as I hoped.  I used a bit of water and paint brushes to smooth the clay, but adding too much water can cause cracking as the paper clay dries.  It was a frustrating cycle of smoothing, drying and sanding.  I finally decided to embrace the textured skin, and actually added sheets of tissue, in paper mache style, to all her body parts including face.  After that dried, I painted again and used the Paverpol product to harden and protect the clay parts.  
She was first dressed in a blue jumper.  After changing the color of her skin, I felt she needed brighter clothing.  You may be able to see on the back of her dress three small buttons made from clay and painted to match her jumper.  The original collar was removed from the underwear and a lace color was added to match the sleeves.

I wanted to do something different for her hair.  I love to buy local, and I tried using natural wool fibers and yarns from our beautiful local yarn shop, Pearl Fiber Arts.  But, I could not get the look I wanted from the wool.  In the end, I purchased eyelash yarns from eBay vendor, BrokeMarys Yarns.  I simply crocheted a small cap with two eyelash yarns, copper and light brown. 

Well, that is my clay doll adventure.   I will try another,,,,,,, later.  
I am off to work on a couple of sewing projects that have been occupying my mind.

Thank you for visiting.  I hope you will drop in again.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Coming Soon!

Introducing a new "Guest Artists" page!

Look for special guests sharing their art and crafts!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gentle Heart

"A gentle heart is tied with an easy thread."

George Herbert's words inspired the design of this clay and fabric sculpture.  The woman, and the heart she has captured, are both entwined with thread.  Here is the meandering creation in pictures and a few words.    

I enjoyed my first experience with paper clay at Christmas making small gifts for our grandchildren.  No heat or fumes to harden.... just time and patience.  While shaping the gifts, I started toying with the idea to create a paper clay doll.

I was only minutes into the project when, for reasons I no longer remember, I deviated from the plan for a doll.  An armature was formed and I was on my way to a figurine.  I worked on this figure for four weeks, trying different media and techniques.  The paper clay is very forgiving.  It can be shaped, carved and sanded with each new idea or mood.  At 17 inches tall, the figure is larger than intended.  It is a good thing I had only one package of paper clay..... who knows how this project may have grown!  

The armature is made of wire, aluminum foil and painter's tape.  I will not use painter's tape next time.  The foil is easier to reshape after clay is applied. A make-do stand was created by drilling holes into an small box I had used for wood carving practice.  Wire extending from the legs fit into the holes keeping the armature upright.   

The head was created separately and attached after legs and arms were completed. The dress is osnaburg cotton with fringe selvage intact.  

 I spent too much time shaping the legs.  In the end, they were covered by the dress.  You may be able to see the first undergarment was made of organza.  I did not like the way it reacted to the glue, so removed it and finally used a hand-made paper purchased at Dick Blick art store.

Hair is taking shape.  I initially used light wire thinking it would create a more solid foundation for the hair.  I finally removed the wire and had no problems without it.  

Dress is taking shape.  The clay still needs to be smoothed.

Fingers and face took a lot of work to size properly.

Eyes were painted with the point of a hat pin.  The paint is Jacquard's Lumiere.  These paints are beautiful on fabric, paper and wood.  The thread on her face is a Madeira metallic thread.  The looping design on her dress was created with a fine crochet thread. 


Base and paint completed.  The final step was to apply Paverpol textile hardener.  Because I completed the figure before using Paverpol, I was forced to brush it on vs. dipping and draping the fabric.  Brushing it on was work intensive, but much less messy, so a better option for my small space.  

I am still planning to make the doll.  A new package of paper clay is waiting for inspiration!

Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Oblation Paper and Press Thread Sketch

I can't believe we are already into February.  I finally set aside the projects that distracted me in January, and completed the last of the videos for the Oblation Paper and Press Thread Sketch.  

This 8x10 thread sketch is based on a photo taken last fall in front of Oblation Paper and Press, Portland Pearl District.
The first two Oblation videos have been available on my Urban Stitcher® Facebook page and YouTube channel since December.  To commemorate completion of the thread sketch and the video series, I am posting all three videos here.  If you have already watched 1 and 2, scroll down for Oblation Video 3!

Oblation Video 1: Transferring Image to Canvas

Oblation Video 2: Audition and Add Detailed Element

Oblation Video 3: Planters, Shrubs and Finish for Framing

Visit my Urban Stitcher®YouTube Channel for more videos including a video in which I talk about the materials and products I use in creating a thread sketch.  

Coming soon!  Guest artists featuring a variety of arts and crafts.  Thank you for visiting, I will you will come again!    

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mount Hood Home

Mount Hood Home

Our condominium social committee recently hosted an art show for the residents.  It was a fun event for everyone and a non-threatening way for residents to show their work as artists and crafters.  I was amazed at the number of ultra talented people in our building.  As I set up my own display of thread sketches, I did not know if I should be inspired or give up and go home!   

I stayed, of course, and the feedback was very generous.  I was flattered and, as always with a commission, a little intimidated when a neighbor asked if I would stitch one of her own photos.  At completion of her thread sketch, she agreed to allow creation process pictures to be posted here.   Each step is described with a few words.  Please feel free to post or email questions about the process or products used to create this thread sketch.

The home and a few background items were traced onto water soluble stabilizer.  I created more detail on the stabilizer than usual to maintain perspective as I stitched.  Two layers of stabilizer were used on the backside:  one layer of adhesive stabilizer and one layer of tear-away.  In a less detailed thread sketch, the tear-away is not required at this stage.

Here, the basic stitches are in place and the soluble stabilizer rinsed away.

Back side after the initial stitch lines were completed.  The adhesive stabilizer is intact, but the tear-away was removed.  It tends to wrinkle when wet.  Another layer of tear-away was added before continuing to stitch.  

I always start with mid-range color. Fabric and thread seem to absorb light and can seem flat.  I like to use many colors of quality machine embroidery threads to add depth and sheen to the sketch.
Acrylic paint with a little sparkle added to the sky.  

There is a lot of detail in the structure of this house.  Stitching too much detail can pucker the fabric and look messy.  The stitches cannot be removed, so it is best to plan ahead on how much detail to include.
Snow scenes can be tough, but the original photo had beautiful color.  Acrylic paint was used to duplicate the colors.  In the final thread sketch, additional lavender and salmon colored threads were used to add detail to the snow areas. 
The back side of the final thread sketch. 
When the thread sketch was completed, card-stock paper was stitched to the back using a decorative zig-zag stitch around the edge.  The paper protects the bobbin threads and the zig-zag stitch keeps the canvas fabric from fraying.  I typically use scrapbook paper because it comes in large sizes, it is acid-free, and while heavy enough to give extra body to the thread sketch, it is lightweight for my sewing machine needle to penetrate.    
Not sure you can see from my photo that a few metallic and glittering threads were used to highlight glowing windows and sparkling snow.  

I was honored that my neighbor asked me to create this thread sketch for her.  I enjoyed the project.  It provided challenging subject matter different from what I may have tried on my own.  Thank you, Fran!  

Up Next, I hope to post short video of the free-motion thread sketch process.  Please visit again soon!

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Bridge For All Seasons

The Tillikum Crossing Bridge featured in my last post was the start of a thread sketch bridge binge.  These 8"x10" thread sketches are derivatives inspired by the photographs of others.  Because they were stitched in a time of healing, I made no pictures or notes documenting their creation.  I hope you will enjoy this simple tour of some of Portland's bridges decorated by the seasons.    

Fremont Bridge - Autumn Leaves

St. John's Bridge - A Winter Fog
Broadway Bridge - Spring Cherry Blossoms
Fremont bridge in background

Burnside Bridge - A Summer Sail

An additional thread sketch based on a vintage postcard of the Steel Bridge is posted on my Urban Stitcher Facebook page.  

Thank you for visiting.  I hope you return soon.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tilikum Crossing in Thread

The Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, opened for general use on September 12, 2015.  It is open to MAX, Portland Streetcar, TriMet buses, pedestrians and bicycles.  Public vehicle traffic is not allowed.  It is a sparkling beauty during the day, and breathtaking at night with a mesmerizing light show.  One of the best ways to view the bridge is on the Portland Aerial Tram.  This TriMet web page has great video of the lights and interesting facts about the science behind how the lights work.  

I was so intrigued with the lines of the bridge, that I completed two thread sketches from the same photo posted on Wikimedia Commons by Steve Morgon, 2016.  Some of you have already seen the second thread sketch posted on my Facebook banner.  Each thread sketch was created in a slightly different manner.  A few pictures and captions prove there are many ways to achieve similar end results.  

First thread sketch completed, approximately 6"x9"