Come join me "upstairs" from the Studio, a place to relax and talk with friends. Here you'll find clips of my stuff, woolgathering about the animals in the family, news about shows and events and links to other sites that I find too good not to mention. Pull up a cushion and have some cake( there should always be cake) and tea, and lets discuss the amazing world of Art in it's many forms!

CottonWoolBaby Studio

CottonWoolBaby Studio

Poetic thought

Windy Nights
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!
Wishing all of you a very blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Full Speed Ahead, Christmas is Coming

Birdie has come a long way this week!After a nasty post- Thanksgiving weekend of illness that left me drained and stuck to the couch, I jumped back into work gratefully. 
Her head was covered last week, the first tentative paint layers laid down quickly.

She waited hopefully on the studio table through the long weekend of illness, then received what eventually I had to declare as the final touches. 
They say a good Artist knows when to stop... well, sometimes I wish for a better one than I to come in, lay their hand on my shoulder and say "Okay, stop." I know the tweaking with shading goes on way too long, and  only the prospect of attaching the hair spurs me on to the next step.

I'm using pure undyed Tussah silk this time, lovely to work with.

So the process begins, not as continuous this time as the silk is delicate and I want the silicone to dry somewhat between layers. 

Meanwhile the skinning has begun, though I'm sort of discombobulated this time around.
In the past, I have finished all layers of nylon skin before I even begin to sculpt the head. 
I'm going by a philosophy that is similar to a grass cutting tip I heard once. " Always mow in different patterns so that the grass does not become tired and unhealthy"
It's good to shake up the order of any process when one is working on the TENTH sculpture! 
Birdie will be number ten since 2006!

I probably should have named her Decca, since number nine was christened "Nona", but where would I go from there?

So the next step will be joining head and body, always a tricky maneuver but one I hope to get finished soon. Christmas preparations tend to make everything else fade into the background and suddenly it's January!

Next time I hope to show much more progress on Birdie and some updates on Grapefruit Baby and the newly named Mary Jane, a small African American child from the 1950's.

Happy Creating until then!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Final sanding on Birdie's Head

Birdie's head, with styrofoam pate inserted, is ready for her fabric covering;  one of the most delicate and difficult parts of this process. The fabric must be just the right texture, all humidity conditions need to be favorable, and I need to able to work with no interruptions. The adhesive must not clump but be sticky enough and worked into every crevice, and the fabric needs to go on without a wrinkle or the whole thing has to be pulled off and hope that the residue doesn't cause problems as I ease on another piece of fabric.

I will handle the adhesive difficulties with tiny disposable paintbrushes and the fabric eccentricities by making sure that I have at least two large squares of the proper texture and color waiting at my right hand, but the no interruptions is one that I haven't figured out yet. Someone will bang on the door and the phone will ring, but I'm getting better at ignoring both!

More soon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grapefruit Baby's Grapefruit half

The messy project that I've been putting off has finally begun.
This is the first layer of the grapefruit half for my "Grapefruit Baby" that's been on hold for months. I can only handle one project at a time when they're not going the way I want them to. Having conquered what I think is the final sculpting obstacle for Birdie's head, I set her aside for the afternoon and tackled this mess. It's the first time I've tried Durham's Rock Hard Putty, and it's kind of fun! This layer has to dry for about 12 hours and I'll give it another coat. Much easier than papier mache, especially since I can't find wallpaper paste in a powder form anymore. Flour is like gold these days, and it's hard to keep the resulting paste from getting moldy if we have too much humidity in the air.
So more on this as I add layers, and also photos of Birdie's head after final sanding, and newly "born" Grapefruit Baby head sculpt as it progresses.

My invitation to you this afternoon is to go find some goo to get your hands in, it's very enlightening!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Behind Schedule

The best laid plans can get sidetracked; unless we lock ourselves in a room and cut off contact with all of the outside world, sometimes things like family illness and freak snowstorms in October can throw us off track. Fortunately I always find my way back, look at the time I've lost, shrug it off and keep going. As long as I keep taking photos along the way to help me record my progress and don't get so carried away with making up for lost time, all is well.

At this stage all fat layers are finished, waiting for first layer of  nylon skinning.
I'm approaching this one a bit differently; I will  completely finish and attach the head before  building up neck muscles and matching the nylon.

The head sculpt, though the main elements are built, needs many hours yet of sanding and tweaking to get the expression I want.
This is only my second experience with a mixture of LaDoll and paperclay.
My old standby, the heavy wet gray waterbased stuff that is so easy to work with, has just proven impossible to finish into anything light enough to be practical. The same with Sculpey, it just dries too heavy even when hollowed out.

So onward and upward, and though I have chosen to spotlight Birdie's process, I am still working on my Grapefruit Baby and the African American nine year old that will go to Convention next Spring. A weakness of mine is to focus so completely on one project at a time that I lose sight of the others, but I'm getting better at multitasking.
Of course I need a bigger Studio, more storage space, endless supplies...

Happy Creating friends, see you next time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Birdie- Muscle Layers

It's time to post updates on Birdie again, I don't know where the last few weeks have gone. I have given myself a deadline of Nov. something or other for her completion, so I need to get with it. If only Life didn't keep getting in the way of work... raise your hands if you work at home and frequently encounter people who feel that your time must be spent lounging around and maybe doing a bit of light housekeeping! SO of course you are free for plenty of volunteer projects and such.  Some days I feel like yelling " I am not retired and looking for things to fill my days, I am an Artist!"

Anyway, here is Birdie with all muscle layers sewn in and some fat layers in the early stages. I always leave the feet and hands for last as they are the most delicate and prone to being mis-shapen if handled too much before the layers of nylon skin are sewn on.

The next photos should show all fat layers completed, ready for skinning, and with at least an armature for the head, to check proportions before the actual sculpting begins.

Meawhile, for all of you who are self employed and sometimes feel as if you are following someone else's agenda, take courage and have faith that you know what you are doing.
Happy October!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birdie is Decently Covered

Birdie now has her batting "skin" covering her yarn base, her stomach muscles and leg tendons in place, and is about to begin the build-up of muscles. Progress slows down a bit again, as the exciting beginning stages are done and now it's all about sewing tiny details and many tedious references to anatomy books.

We've had a solid five days of rain here in the Northeast, good weather to sit under a desk lamp on one side and an Ott-Lite on the other.

In a way that's a good thing, as there is no crisp sunny weather tempting me outside to do Fall chores!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Felt Bones

Happy September!

Not a lot of dramatic progress to show; since Hurrican Irene loomed over us in thought if not actual event for more than a week.
We came through it pretty well, no lasting power outages unlike many right around us. Lots of debris to clean up but that's a small concern.

Thanks all for prayers and concerns about our roof, I'm hoping a resolution is on the horizon!

Above shows Birdie before her felt bones were put in place , and below is after the ribcage and pelvis was covered, knees and elbows sewn in place.

Next step is to build tendons on the thighs and cover them with white nylon prior to actual muscle structure. 

Meanwhile a trip to the lake is called for, just one day to eat whatever we want and just stare at the lake and take  pictures of boats and maybe a Heron if I'm lucky!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Birdie has found her Center

She may not look like much yet, but at this stage of creation, skeleton constructed of wire and wrapped in yarn, Birdie has achieved the center of gravity that allows her to stand in the position I pictured when I first sketched her inspiration; "Fairy in the Wind" back in 2008.
It's always a thrill for me when the sculpture can stand on it's own two feet and I can see the "line" the Masters talk about.
Next I will start building felt "bones" like kneecaps and elbows that are put in place before the major muscles begin.
This is the exciting stage, where things can progress quickly and it still feels fresh, no mistakes yet that can't be corrected.
Thanks to all of you who have expressed interest in the process, I will try to record every step that takes us further on the path to the finished character.
I am hestitant to name a date for that.
There may be some bad stuff coming to take my attention away, though I try to bury my head in the sand and keep on plugging away at the worktable.
Keep a happy thought for me, and may your days be sunny in your little corners of the world!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Marionettes, Commissions, Soft Sculpture...and Pickles

It's Pickling time again, and if last year's crop was anything to go by, I'm going to be up to my ears in sticky counters and utensils from now until Sept!
Last year the cukes came so thick and fast that as quickly as I could fill a basket with the proper size and find time to set aside a whole morning, six more had ballooned up to "too big for bread and butters" and had to be made into Dills or Chow-Chow.  I could swear I had checked under every leaf for the little escapees, but I ended up with sixteen jars of dills, about ten bread and butters and five of Chow-Chow.
I need some kind of cucumber goggles that highlight the things in neon orange or Day-Glo pink!

Making slow progress on the Soft Sculpted Infant; it helps to post photos here because some days the changes are too subtle for me to see since I've been looking at it all day.

Even slower progress on the Marionette, since I picked up a commission (my first!) and have to work up a sketch for the client.
Another infant, maybe a bit bigger than the one I'm working on now.

Which brings me back to pickles, and wondering if I should just give the cucumbers away, or use them for compost. They are such a lot of hot sticky work when I'm supposed to be sketching, or sewing, or sculpting.
But is there any sound more satisfying when all the sticky work is done than that wonderful slurpy pop from each of the five jars neatly capped and waiting on the counter?
Sitting here listening to them sound off one by one is a small spot of  pleasure in my day, and really some days you can't ask for more than that!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Lifts You Up

This was a Crow Morning.
Misty, hazy, oppressive; as unpromising as one of the dead trees that they like to perch in.

I've been feeling a little hazy and unpromising myself lately with this sticky heat that pushes me down like a fist.
Projects go undone, chores are pushed aside.
But what keeps us going is our hope for something better.

As I walked up the little hill that opens onto a beautiful mountain range, the fog was lifting.

The crows pushed off heavily, and one by one the other birds started to sing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Marionettes, Banners and Soft Sculpture

It's an interesting combination of projects that I'm working on this week. Our temperatures may go up to the mid 90's as the week progresses, with storms possible everyday and the humidity rising as they come closer.
A good week to concentrate on a small, limited number of projects that keep me in one place, in front of a fan, rather than running around with scattered ideas of bigger ambitions as I usually am on weekdays. Yardwork must be done before 8AM if there's any pleasure to be had in it, as there should be.
A helpful neighbor with nothing but the best intentions has cut away all (and I do mean all) of the branches that shaded the Northeast corner of the yard, so no refuge there until my new Cypress shrub, hastily bought over the weekend, can grow up and help out!

So back to small manageable goals.
These are the hands for a Marionette that I will be creating for ADO's Quarterly Challenge, and though I hoped to have some kind of a concept sketch, nothing solid is coming to me, which means that she? he? will progress as the parts come together.
I have never attempted a Marionette, but that's the point of these Challenges, I guess, to try something new and see what comes of it.

The Soft Sculpture part of the week's efforts is this infant, begun months ago but put aside as I wasn't happy with it's progress.

If all goes well, I hope to take this baby to the Art Dolls Convention next May.
What has given me a kick in the pants when dealing with projects I'm dragging my feet on for one reason or another is to keep posting my progress online, so I hope to do that with this one.

My final project is a new banner for the website, which is still in limbo until I find a provider I'm happy with.
Off to get started, and I wish all of you a happy, creative COOL Monday wherever you are!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sad Day For a Local Landmark

This just goes to show that Nothing lasts forever.
Not much shuts down Main Ave in the West side of Scranton, but when this massive tree came down without warning about a week ago, it took hours to clear away the debris.
Tree and House were always as one to most of us in the area, and the devastation is unbelievable.
Over it's long life, the tree had grown through the fence and seemed as permanent as anything could be, but perhaps our historically wet Spring was responsible for rotting it out from the roots...

The only casualties, fortunately, were another large tree at the curb, which broke the larger one's fall, and of course our sense of security in large seemingly invincible old friends!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Panorama Fun

I've been playing around with light and focus in the morning, and I love panorama shots.
It's amazing to me what difference a good monitor can make. With my old  square dinosaur that I bought in 2002, everything showed up grey, and it was difficult to know how to compensate for the wrong amount of light while taking photos.
Sometimes it's good when things get hit by lightning!