I’ve finished my first month’s journey with Bead Journal 2010 and it’s been quite a learning experience. The January Doll took the whole month to design, build, and finish properly, though it was interspersed with other jewelry-making and marketing tasks. It’s a more fully expressed merge of fine art and craft than I’ve managed before, so I’m looking forward to stretching as much on each new month’s doll. And because I’ve learned so much from reading other artists’ journals, I’ll talk a bit here about the process by which January evolved. (Some technical notes are included at the bottom of the post, for those who asked.)
Each doll is a journaling exercise for me, so January expressed my feelings about moving from Berlin to Bern, and about being surrounded by mountains and snow in a place that’s beautiful but far too cold and too dark most of the time. Fairy tale addict that I am, the Snow Queen provided good imagery and strongly influenced my first sketch. You can see by the final image that my doll is more matronly and somehow more solid than my sketch. As I was sculpting her the image started to change in this direction because I wanted her to resemble my form more than the idealized costume sketch I’d first come up with.
Though I make friends quickly enough, the beginning weeks in a new town are often lonely, and I wanted January to express that. Silver, white, and deep turquoise feel to me like colors that together express a combination of cold and stillness, of being apart: metal, ice, clear water. But January is somehow serene in her apartness, again reflecting my feeling of being isolated, but also of nesting into my new in my own time, without being hurried or anxious. The richness of her dress is really a metaphor for the richness of inner and outer resources with which I’m blessed.
If you’ve followed January’s development, you know I started by sculpting her head and torso. There is a wire armature holding head to body, waist to hips, and both arms. She’s also made in layers (naked body first, then clothes added very much as they would be if they were made out of cloth and draped over). It’s important to plan the connections for the wire armatures before starting out, so I think about how I’ll attach things like her hands, her sleeves, or her beaded skirt.
A couple of people asked me about how I was going to attach the skirt. The photo was taken before the back was completely finished, so you can see how it works. Before I baked her body, in Stage I, I inserted a thin wire strung with the beads that would serve as a skirt base, stretching from hip to hip, where her behind would have been. This was necessary because once I started adding beads, I could no longer bake the doll, so a stable platform had to already exist before beading. Then, once I was ready to add the skirt, I used a Russian netting technique to make the ruffles you see on the front of her skirt. To finish the back, I glued a carefully cut piece of ultrasuede over the bare polymer clay, with two tiny holes cut out for the pin.