Aug 3, 2011

Focus, revisited.

The other day I posted about Focus, or my perennial lack of same.

But it got me thinking about the topic, as I have been finishing up seven dolls' worth of bodies, arms, and legs.  My coffee table is covered in body parts, and the husband cracks up every time he sees them.  I am currently VERY focused, because I have a doll show coming up in two weeks and I'm determined to get these particular dolls finished.

Why these particular ones?  Because they do represent having found a particular focus--maybe "direction" is a better word--in my dolls.  For the last six months, I've been drawn more and more to the cloth and clay doll, in its many incarnations.  Antique dolls such as Izannah Walkers, the Greiner maches, Kathe Kruse babies, and the old ragdolls such as Alabama babies and Presbyterians...they inspire me like none of the modern art dolls have been able to do.

Antique Izannah Walker Dolls, having a Reunion Christmas Party.

Don't misunderstand--what modern doll artists make is incredible and I can spend hours pouring over their miracles of workmanship.  But the tactile, sensory, creative part of me is drawn to these old cloth-bodied dolls in a way I didn't expect.  Hell--I myself started with gourds.  A great intro into paper clay for me, but not so cuddly.  :~)

So I asked myself how I found this direction.  Did I seek it out?  I don't think I sat one day and said "I shall make Antique Inspired Cloth and Clay Dolls!"  No...but my love of certain things has apparently been a big part of this development, this "something settled in my heart" feeling.

How can you make this work for you?

Take a look at what's in your room, right now, where you sit.  The colors, the patterns, the "look" you live with in your home.  Aside from just the decor choices (because mine are all over the place), you tend to bring things home that give you pleasure.  Go look in your art space/craft room/studio...what do you have there?  I specifically mean those things you buy/bring home that you have NO IDEA what you plan to do with...things you just had to have with no good reason why.

I have fabric.  Obscene amounts of it.  Yes, there are lots of other doo-dads, among them a seriously silly number of boxes in one form or another, but mostly...fabric.  How can I NOT make cloth dolls?  I need to touch this stuff, to make yards of skirt for something to luxuriate in.  (I'd make this kind of skirt for myself but a trip to the dentist in floor length prairie skirts might raise a brow or two, and it's not practical garb for bathing the dog.  Besides, it's 103 here right now.)

I have noticed that over the years of collecting this fabric, I have leaned toward certain patterns and colors: vintage cabbage roses, ticking stripes, toile, homespun plaids.  So many of these are perfect for the type of doll I have fallen in love with.  Combine these with my absolute physical need to sculpt in paperclay, and: viola!  Here is my direction, my focus.

My point is this: your love of certain textures, patterns, shapes and colors will give you clues as to what you will be good at making.  Your passion is what makes it beautiful, what makes you do it well, because you're too busy enjoying the making of it to worry if it's 'art' or not.

Cheers.  :~)


  1. Sometimes it takes a little time to find your focus. I'm not sure I've found mine, but there are several things that keep popping up: texture, faces, and things that are not too 'precious'. I like making things that have a sense of time to them, too. But that are really odd - hahahaha! I LOVE your new dolls. When is the show? They look fabulous!! xo Pam

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  3. Pam, you have a great focus! At least it seems that way from your work. I can always spot a Yoborobo piece when it pops up in my Etsy Favorites...

    They are odd--perfectly so. :~)

  4. Your comments really hit home for me. I had just left a comment on another blog saying that I didn't know what style of doll I wanted to make. I'm lost at the moment and really do need to focus:)

  5. Thanks for writing this Jan. I'm in that quandry myself right now. My back has demanded a break from sitting, sewing, etc. for a while and that has left me with lots of time to think about focus. Being A.D.D. (mind you I'm not complaining about it :) this has always been hard. Right now everything from sock monkeys to paper clay and compo restorations are screaming at me from every corner of my nook trying to lay a guilt trip on me. Then my over-developed sense of responsibility and fairness says it should be first-come, first-served which would mean I should be doing compo restorations, in my "SAVE THE CHILDREN" quest, for the next three or four years while the urge to create something original is pounding on the back door of my brain. What's a girl to do? Diane


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