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This year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of what has got to be the strangest yet most unique children’s book ever published. The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright was a New York Times bestseller right alongside Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat when it was first released but, unlike the Dr. Seuss book, The Lonely Doll has gone out of print only to get reissued years later. It also hasn’t aged as well as The Cat in the Hat due in large part to the notorious spanking scene, which I’ll get to in a little bit.
Here’s a personal confession: I had never read any of The Lonely Doll books as a child. I know that for sure because those books have such a unique design that I would have remembered reading them if I did. I still have memories of reading those Little Golden Books that my mother used to pick up for me when she went grocery shopping, mainly because those books were priced pretty cheap. I also remember reading books written by Dr. Seuss and other books featuring characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, and Babar the Elephant. But I definitely don’t recall reading The Lonely Doll.
I first learned about The Lonely Doll as an adult when I read reviews of Jean Nathan’s biography of Dare Wright called The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright. I read that book years ago and I found it fascinating. That book initially got the cooperation of Wright’s sole heir, Brook Ashley, who has since disavowed it. You may want to keep that in mind if you decide to read Nathan’s biography.
I finally found The Lonely Doll and one of its sequels, Edith & Mr. Bear, in a store. Having read both books, I’m basically of two minds. Artistically they are lovely but the stories that accompany them basically had me going “WTF?!?”
The Lonely Doll is the spiritual ancestor of all those doll photostories that one can easily find on the Internet in places like SuperInky.com, DeviantArt’s bjd-club, and the Instagram #AGIG group. The big difference is that The Lonely Doll was created in an era when there was no World Wide Web or social media. In fact the forerunner of the Internet—known as ARPANET—wouldn’t go online for the first time until 1958 and access to ARPANET was limited only to government workers with high security clearances. That book initially received wide attention mainly because Dare Wright managed to convince a major book publisher to publish and distribute it in schools, libraries, and bookstores.
Film photography was the only photography option that was available at that time, which meant that a photographer was limited to—based on film length—12, 24, or 36 exposures. In addition, a photographer didn’t know if a picture turned out correct until after the film was developed. Many photographers routinely took several shots of the same subject from different exposures and different angles in the hopes of getting at least one perfect photograph. Black and white photography was still common in 1957 mainly because it was less expensive than color photography.
The Lonely Doll was published in 1957 and it became an immediate sensation due to its unusual design. Normally a children’s book would feature illustrations done in a variety of media (such as ink, watercolor, mixed-media, etc.). What stands The Lonely Doll apart from the others is its use of black and white photography to illustrate the story. The photographs are quite effective in that they bring out an expressive quality in the doll and two teddy bears who are depicted in the story. Here’s a typical photograph from the book.
The accompanying story is incredibly full of WTF?!? Here’s the basic gist: There was a doll named Edith who lives in a nice townhouse in New York City. She has everything that a doll could ever want except for one thing: friends to share it with. She spends much of her time wishing and praying that God or someone would just send her a friend or two.
One day two teddy bears show up to the front steps of Edith’s home out of the blue. The larger teddy bear is known as Mr. Bear while the smaller one is known as Little Bear. The two teddy bears say that they would like to move in with her and be her friends. Edith is so overjoyed that her wish has come true that she never wonders where these teddy bears have come from or how they found out that she existed or how they knew that she needed their friendship. It’s obvious that the two bears have a father and son relationship even though Little Bear always calls the bigger one Mr. Bear instead of Dad, Daddy, or Papa.
Little Bear treats Edith as an equal and they frequently play together and have a good time. Mr. Bear, on the other hand, proceeds to take command of the house by bossing Edith and Little Bear around and scolding them if they do something that Mr. Bear does not approve of. Never mind the fact that Edith was the one who had the house first and Mr. Bear is someone who has just moved in instead of the other way around. Edith seems to tolerate Mr. Bear ordering her around.
One rainy day Mr. Bear grabs an umbrella and tells Edith and Little Bear that he has to go somewhere. He doesn’t tell them where he’s going or why he’s going without taking Edith or Little Bear with him. He tells Edith and Little Bear to not get into any trouble then leaves.
Edith and Little Bear are frustrated because Mr. Bear has left the home without them plus they can’t play outside because it’s raining. Little Bear suggests exploring around the house and they come across a dressing room with a mirror, clothes, shoes, jewelry, and other accessories. Edith and Little Bear play dress up by trying on various clothes and jewelry while making a mess in the room. At one point Little Bear grabs a tube of lipstick and writes “Mr. Bear is a silly old thing” on the mirror. He encourages Edith to put lipstick on even though she says that Mr. Bear had previously told her that she’s not allowed to use lipstick. Edith puts on the lipstick at the moment that Mr. Bear has not only returned home but he’s standing at the entrance to the dressing room. When Mr. Bear scolds the two for the mess that they’ve made and especially scolds Edith for trying on lipstick, she briefly gets a backbone and stands up for herself by saying that she has the right to use lipstick while calling Mr. Bear a silly. That brief bit of Edith standing up for herself leads to the notorious spanking scene where Mr. Bear first puts Edith over his knee and whips her bottom then he does the same to Little Bear.
After spanking both Edith and Little Bear, Mr. Bear tells the two to clean up the mess and orders Edith to stop crying before leaving the room. Edith continues to cry to the extent that even Little Bear is getting annoyed. Edith tells Little Bear that she’s afraid that Mr. Bear will leave and take Little Bear with him and she’ll become (gasp!) a lonely doll again!
Little Bear encourages Edith to help him clean up the mess. Both Edith and Little Bear apologize to Mr. Bear, who says that they can all forget about the incident. Edith asks Mr. Bear if he’ll stay and the story ends with Mr. Bear and Little Bear assuring Edith that they’ll stay with her forever and ever. Never again will Edith ever have to worry about being a lonely doll.
It may be that story’s idea of a happy ending but, for me, it would be a total nightmare.
Ever since my marriage imploded in late 2011 I’ve gotten involved with a divorce recovery group where we’ve discussed codependency, how destructive codependency can be, how to identify a codependent relationship, and how to avoid getting into one in the future. This book basically sends a message to kids that it’s better to be in a codependent relationship with someone who orders you around and even spanks you if you get too far out of line than to live alone. That’s totally messed up thinking.
Then there’s the spanking scene itself.
Notice how Edith is dressed in a short slip with her panties showing. Then there’s the “ooh-la-la” expression on her face that makes that scene look like a sexy BDSM scene with a doll and teddy bears. And Mr. Bear’s face seems totally fixated on Edith’s butt.
I once did a photographic parody of that spanking scene for an art exhibition a few years ago. I used a Volks Dollfie Dream as a stand-in for Edith. I picked this doll because she has a very mature sexy body, which is the complete opposite of the child-like Edith doll. I used a panda bear that I once owned but I’ve since given away when I was downsizing after my marriage collapsed. I even included The Lonely Doll book that was opened to that spanking scene.
At least I had no pretense that I was doing this with children in mind. This photo was part of an exhibition series called Kitsch. (Link is definitely NSFW.)
The success of The Lonely Doll has led to several sequels. I’ve only read one of them, Edith & Mr. Bear, which was published in 1964.
Once again this book includes photographs that are very well-composed and expressive.
In some ways I think the story in this book is far better than The Lonely Doll because it’s a basic morality story that tries to teach a lesson. By this point Edith and the two bears have been living together for a while and they have been joined by another member of the household—a tiny flesh and blood kitten named, well, Kitten, who has a minor role in this book.
The story begins with Edith and Little Bear waiting near the front door for Mr. Bear to return home from a shopping trip. Mr. Bear arrives with three presents. One is a dress for Edith and the other is a toy boat for Little Bear. The third and biggest package is one that Mr. Bear has purchased for himself—a clock. Edith becomes fascinated by the new clock but Mr. Bear decides to put the clock high upon the mantel so neither Edith nor Little Bear can reach it, play with it, and risk breaking it.
Despite Mr. Bear’s efforts to keep the clock out of the reach of the other two toys, Edith becomes fascinated by the clock to the point of obsession. One day, while she was home alone, Edith drags a pile of books over to the mantel until the pile is big enough for her to reach the clock. Edith climbs up to the mantel and, at long last, she’s able to play around with the inner workings of the clock.
But then she loses her balance and both she and the clock comes tumbling down along with the books. The clock breaks into a lot of little pieces. Edith tries to sweep away the evidence but Mr. Bear finds the pile of broken clock pieces. He brings Edith and Little Bear into the room and demands to know which one of them broke the clock. Edith lies by saying that she didn’t break the clock while Little Bear also denies it as well, except he is telling the truth.
Initially Edith thinks she has gotten away with her lie. But then she begins to feel intense guilt over her lie and her efforts to keep the truth a secret starts to weigh in on her. She’s afraid that Mr. Bear will hate her if he ever knows that she broke the clock. The guilt stresses her out so much that she isn’t able to enjoy her own birthday party and she begins to act cross around Little Bear. Edith attempts to tell Kitten the truth about the broken clock but that wasn’t enough to get rid of the guilt because Kitten never had anything to do with that clock and Kitten can’t say anything beyond “Meow.”
One day the guilt over the clock weighs in so heavy that Edith takes her stress out on Little Bear by ruining his drawing and Little Bear calls her “horrid.” After he leaves in a huff Edith realizes that she has become horrid and she decides that the best thing she can do is run away from home.
So Edith runs away and ends up spending the night on the streets. She goes down to the docks the following day and thinks about boarding one of the boats but then changes her mind when she realizes that if she does so, she’ll never see Mr. Bear or Little Bear ever again.
Edith decides to return home and tell Mr. Bear the truth. After she comes clean about the clock, Mr. Bear tells her that he suspected that it was her all this time and that he knew that it was an accident that she broke the clock. He tells her that he would never have punished her for an accident. He also decides not to punish her for lying because he feels that she has already punished herself with the constant stress and spending the night on the streets. Edith goes to bed happy that she has come clean about what she did and Mr. Bear has forgiven her.
Had the book ended there, it could’ve been an excellent morality story for children showing how telling a lie can have a negative effect on the person telling the lie in the form of guilt and additional stress.
But, sadly, the story continues from there. Edith continues to get into various mischief (such as digging up flower bulbs to see if they have sprouted then replanting them upside down). One day Edith decides to bake something special for Mr. Bear and she starts making a mess in the kitchen while she’s mixing the ingredients. She gets Little Bear to light a match so they can heat the gas stove, despite the fact that Mr. Bear has forbidden the two from even touching matches. Mr. Bear catches them in the act and it leads to another spanking scene.
You get a clear view of Edith’s panties while she’s rubbing her freshly spanked butt.
The book ends with the three of them walking to a nearby park with Little Bear bringing his toy boat to float in the pond.
After reading those books, one could be forgiven for wondering what kind of person would write a series of books like this. Looking at Dare Wright’s life provides all kinds of insights as to why she would write them.
Dare Wright was born in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada in 1914 as the younger of two children in a dysfunctional and deteriorating marriage. Her father, Ivan Wright, was a theater critic while her mother, Edith “Edie” Stevenson Wright, was an artist.
Her parents’ marriage was strained by Ivan’s descent into alcoholism and his frequent job switching. Edie tried to make ends meet by painting portraits. The marriage ended in a divorce that grew so divisive that each parent ultimately took custody of only one child while cutting off all further contact with the former spouse and the other child. As a result, Dare would never see her father again since he died a few years later. She wouldn’t be reunited with her older brother, Blaine, until after both siblings were well into their 20’s.
Basically Dare Wright was raised as an only child of a divorced single parent long before that kind of family unit was common.
Edie and Dare settled in Cleveland when Edie found that she could make a living painting portraits of that city’s wealthy elites while Dare attended Coventry Elementary School. At one point Edie purchased a doll for her daughter. It was a felt doll made by the Italian company Lenci. The doll was known as the Lenci 109/14 series and she originally had brown curly hair. The doll was named Edith after the mother but I was never able to find out whether it was a name that Dare gave to the doll or if Edie had insisted that the doll be named after her and Dare went along with it.
Soon after the doll purchase Edie sent Dare to begin the fourth grade at the Laurel School, an all-girls’ boarding school in Cleveland. Dare attended that school all the way through high school. After she graduated from the Laurel School in 1933, she migrated to New York City where she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her stage acting career reached no further than landing a small part in a touring company production of Pride and Prejudice. She switched to modeling where she had better luck landing jobs. At some point, probably as a result of her modeling jobs, she became fascinated with photography and she obtained her own camera. She became so adept at photography that she became a fashion photographer.
Her career took a new turn when she was reunited with Edith the doll during one of her visits with her mother. By this point she was also reunited with her brother Blaine, who purchased two teddy bears for her from FAO Schwarz. The larger was a Schuco bear while the smaller was a Stieff. The three toys served as the basis for The Lonely Doll books.
Dare replaced Edith the doll’s original brown hair with a new blonde wig with bangs that can be worn in a ponytail. That doll wig is similar to how Dare Wright wore her own hair in real life, thus fueling speculation that Edith the Lonely Doll is a stand-in for Dare Wright in these books.
Blaine Wright was a lifelong bachelor who never had children of his own. Dare Wright was once engaged to one of Blaine’s friends until her fiancee broke off the engagement. Otherwise, Dare never married nor had any children. Both siblings became alcoholics. One doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist to guess that their parents’ devastating divorce that separated the siblings for many years may have had something to do with what became of them later in life.
One also doesn’t have to be an expert to guess that The Lonely Doll series probably portrayed an alternate reality in Dare Wright’s life as she tried to explore what would have happened if she had ended up growing up with her father and brother instead of her mother—including a scenario where she gets spanked by her father whenever she’s bad.
Should parents buy this book for their children? My only suggestion is for you to read the book before giving it to your child so you can decide for yourself whether it’s something that’s appropriate for your child to read. All I can say is that The Lonely Doll books are definitely a far cry from Dr. Seuss.
Today is International Women’s Day. In honor of that occasion, I’ll begin this post with an old photo of my Volks Dollfie Dream doll. I chose this photo because the doll has a mature woman’s body and she’s wearing an outfit that has red in it, which I’ll explain further under the picture. (In case you’re wondering, I did the doll’s faceup and I made the outfit as well.)
Today a major international strike—called “A Day Without Women”—is being held all around the world. The women in each nation are striking for different reasons that are local to their area but a strike is going on today nonetheless.
Here’s the short answer for why women in my country are striking today: President Trump. There are other reasons for this strike as well, which Bustle has helpfully posted online as a resource for strikers when they are asked why they are on strike today.
The local schools in my area are off today because so many teachers and employees have taken personal leave. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t ventured outside yet but I will soon so I’ll see how many people are really observing this.
As for me, I don’t live with anyone at the moment so it’s irrelevant whether I sit out on doing the housework today or not. I already have a red shirt in my closet so I was able to wear that in solidarity. I also haven’t found a new day job yet so I’m home regardless of whether there’s a strike or not.
The one thing I can do is not spend any money today, which is another thing that the organizers have called for. I made an effort to go to the Verizon store to pay my latest cell phone bill yesterday so I wouldn’t have to spend money today. The word is that if it turns out that we have to buy something we really need today, we should frequent local small businesses that are owned either by women or minorities and avoid the corporate chain stores entirely. The convenience store near my home is a family-run store that’s owned by a Chinese immigrant family so I could go there if it turns out I need something in a pinch.
Today one of the local women-owned businesses is sponsoring a Craft-In at her shop where people can bring either their latest craft project or, for a fee, buy some craft supplies and do some crafting. I’m going to check that out later.
If I had a day job, I would have a difficult time with going on strike because I would not have been employed too long and it’s generally harder for recent hires to get time off than longtime employees. For other people who are in the same boat, Bustle.com has some helpful tips on other ways people can observe this day if they are unable to take time off from work.
It’s that time of the year where people are crowding the shopping malls in an effort to buy gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. Instead of fighting surly drivers for a parking space, how about staying home and buying some unique things from me? Here is what I’m highlighting for sale this holiday season.
Do you like adult coloring books? Looking for something different from the usual ones that are currently on the market? For some NSFW fun, try my adult coloring book, Burlesque Beauties, which definitely puts the “adult” in adult coloring book.
Purchase Burlesque Beauties right here.
When I originally created my first (and, so far, only) item for my new RedBubble shop, President Trump, I honestly thought that it would be something that was going to be hot for a limited time until Election Day then it would be obsolete. Thanks to the outcome of those elections, it looks like my President Trump line will be hip and relevant for at least the next four years (unless he somehow gets impeached or killed).
You can buy this design on a variety of products ranging from leggings to bedcovers to cases and skins for your favorite electronic device. Check it all out right here.
I also currently have the following items available for auction on eBay through December 29 or until someone makes the highest bid (whichever comes first). There are no hidden reserve prices or anything like that and I have set relatively low minimum bids on these products.
This is the same couch that I displayed at the 2014 Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and the 2014 DC Mini-Maker Faire. While this couch came from a pattern that was made for American Girl dolls, I found that it can also fit Mini Super Dollies and Ellowyne Wilde dolls as well. Bid on this couch right here.
I recently made a series of DIY videos on how to customize a Barbie doll (especially the Made to Move Barbie) into Marvel Comics’ off-beat superhero known as the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I decided to sell the doll that was featured in that video series. I figured that anyone who is looking for a Squirrel Girl doll/action figure to give to someone else (especially a child) but doesn’t have the time to customize a doll would want to buy her. I’m basically taking advantage of the fact that, as of this writing, there are no officially licensed dolls or action figures based on this character by making my own customized version available for sale. You can bid on my customized creation right here.
I wrote about the making of this one a few days ago. I decided to put it up for sale. Keep in mind that this piece is hand-knitted (by me) using fur yarn so it’s definitely not some cheaply made Third World sweatshop crap. I sewed hooks in the front so you can close it and keep it closed. It’s perfect for people who are itching to dress their doll in something appropriate for this time of the year. Bid on this doll coat right here.
Like the smaller knitted coat, I also wrote about this outfit in this blog recently. I decided to sell this one as well. This is a one of a kind outfit that was hand-knitted by me. I sewed snaps in the back instead of using velcro, which is convenient because you won’t have to deal with the hassle of getting your doll’s hair stuck every time you change into this outfit. (Even though most of the official American Girl outfits cost around $30, they still use velcro just like the manufacturers of cheaper doll outfits. If I was going to spend that much for doll clothes, I would expect something nicer than velcro.) Bid on this outfit right here.
In addition to my handcrafted stuff, I will also have a couple of other items available on eBay. I didn’t make either one but I decided to list them here along with everything else.
This is the same action figure which I gave as a gag gift for my then-husband sometime during the first or second season of The Apprentice, long before Donald Trump’s foray into politics. I used this one in the video for my “Trump” poem back in 2011. Now that he’s the president-elect, I’m going to see how much of a collector’s item this doll really is. (If some hardcore Donald Trump fan wants to offer me a huge amount of money for it, I’m willing to accept the offer.) So if you’re shopping for gift to give to someone who voted for Trump and is a true believer, here’s your chance to surprise that person with an action figure that not only has realistic articulated joints but can also say phrases using The Donald’s own voice. I made a video demonstrating the action figure’s talking and posing capabilities.
Bid on the Talking Donald Trump Action Figure right here.
The cards in this set are about the size of baseball trading cards. They all feature vintage photographs of 1950’s pinup model Betty Page, who inexplicably underwent a popular revival in the 1980’s (while many of her other 1950’s female pinup contemporaries still remain in obscurity to this day) and she still remains a cult figure today with plenty of male admirers. I purchased this card set from a catalogue as a Christmas gift for my then-husband because I figured he would like it since he used to purchase the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue each year. It turned out that I was wrong. He told me that Betty Page didn’t really excite him all that much compared to Cindy Crawford or Paulina Porizkova. I think he only went through that card pack once or twice then left it alone. Of course he left it behind when he walked out on me five years ago this month. I tried donating it to the yard sale that was run by my support group for people who are separated or divorced by the organizers told me that I would be better off selling it on eBay because it might be a collector’s item. So I’m selling it for very low minimum bid mainly because I just want to get rid of it. You can view a few sample pictures from this set and make your bids right here.
That’s it for the auctions. I’ve set each one up so it’ll be relisted two more times if I don’t get any bids the first week. But the entire auction will end on December 29 regardless of whether I sell anything or not so don’t delay and bid today!
In 2008 I underwent a hip replacement. Shortly before surgery I ordered a book from Amazon.com that was written by Nicky Epstein called Knits for Barbie Doll. When the book arrived I saw this pattern for a Funky “Fur” Coat that required using novelty fur yarn. I was especially intrigued by the photograph.
I went to Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts where I purchased some blue fur yarn. Then I underwent the surgery. During the long months of recovery I spent a lot of time knitting that coat since it was the one thing that didn’t require standing up or walking or any other kind of leg movement. I finished knitting the coat then I put it aside for a few years while I moved on to other things.
I would come across it every now and then. The coat was mostly done. All I needed to do was to sew on some hooks so the coat would close but I didn’t get around to buying the hooks. Finally this past week I decided that, once and for all, I would finish that coat. I purchased the hooks and sewed them on the coat.
I took a few dolls outside to shoot pictures while each doll took a turn modeling this coat, starting with Barbie (which is fitting since the pattern was made with her in mind).
Here’s my 1/6 scale Asian ball-jointed doll, a Soom Mini-Gem Uyoo, wearing the same coat.
The original coat pattern also had a separate pattern to knit a matching hat. I didn’t make a hat because I wanted this coat to be worn by as many different kinds of dolls as possible and many of them have different sized heads. One such case is this Pullip doll, whose oversized hear could never have worn a Barbie-sized hat even though her body can fit into some Barbie outfits.
Last, but not least, here’s my Blythe doll modeling the same coat.
I’m so glad that I finally finished that coat eight years after I started working on it. I even made a short promo video about it.
A few months ago I walked around the campus of my alma mater, University of Maryland at College Park, while snapping pictures. I didn’t bother with going inside of the undergraduate library, Hornbake Library. Had I done so, I would’ve been greeted with an extra surprise. I learned about this in this post on the Living a Doll’s Life blog of all places. Basically the Hornbake Library has been having a special exhibition in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice in Wonderland. The exhibition started last October and it’s going to close at the end of this month.
I became very interested in a special exhibition devoted to Alice in Wonderland since it’s being held at my alma mater and I live close to the campus. I thought it would be a shame not to see it at least once before it closes. The big snag is that the exhibition is in a special room at Hornbake Library and that room is currently on a limited summer schedule where it’s only opened Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. I had some free time on the Tuesday before the Fourth of July holiday weekend so I decided to go to the campus.
Since I discovered that exhibit in a doll blog, I thought it would be cool to bring some small dolls with me that would also be appropriate for the occasion. The white rabbit is a Goodreau Dolls Scrappy the Rabbit while the girl is a Little Pullip Alice Fantastic. I took this next photo while I was eating lunch in the Food Court located in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union.
When I was at campus in February, I saw that the University Book Center from my own student days had increased its space but I couldn’t investigate because it was closed that day. (I was there on a late Saturday afternoon.) This time I was able to go inside the store since I came on a weekday afternoon.
In my student days the University Book Center occupied the basement level. Since that time the same store had expanded by one floor. The upper floor sells mainly University of Maryland Terrapin clothes (including t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and even shoes).
The lower level is still the way I remembered it, down to the exposed pipes on the ceiling.
After I ate lunch at the Stamp Student Union I made the short walk to Hornbake Library where I saw the new statue dedicated to Frederick Douglass along with three huge banners hanging at the front, including one banner dedicated to Alice in Wonderland.
The exhibit was held in the Maryland Room that’s located on the first floor. I knew I came to the right place when I saw a statue of Testudo the Terrapin wearing a Mad Hatter hat.
Here are a few signs about the exhibition.
Basically the exhibit consisted mostly of books from the collection of Clare and August Imholtz, who had spent three decades collecting anything to do with either Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, or both. They had acquired various editions of Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, in many different languages. The next photo shows the smallest editions that the couple currently have in their collection.
This next photo shows a copy of Alice in Wonderland that was signed by Alice Hargreaves (née Alice Liddell), who was Lewis Carroll’s original inspiration for the Alice books.
The two Alice books were originally published with illustrations by John Tenniel. The Tenniel-illustrated editions still remain in print but there have been a variety of editions where Tenniel’s illustrations were replaced by illustrations done by others. The vast majority of the collection on display showed these other illustrations, many of which are quite fanciful and colorful.
There were a few Alice-related ephemera on display as well, such as these two ads that used the Alice characters.
There were also a few magazines on display that also included Alice-inspired illustrations.
There were a few miscellaneous items as well, such as paper dolls and crossword puzzles based on the Alice books.
There was a table with a few copies of both Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass where people can sit down and read the books.
Outside the Maryland Room there was a nearby hallway that had wall displays devoted to the various characters in the two Alice books.
It was a relatively small exhibit that I was able to go through in about an hour. The next photo shows a view from the front doors of the Hornbake Library.
Like I wrote at the beginning of the post I decided to bring a couple of appropriate small dolls. I never had the chance to use them because of the nature of the exhibit. (It was all books and other published items that were displayed behind glass cases.) I picked up a couple of free items at the exhibit which I displayed with the dolls after I returned home.
Here’s a bookmark that has a riddle that was actually printed in Alice in Wonderland.
There was a free Word Puzzle sheet that was similar to the kind of word puzzles that Lewis Carroll used to create. I tried the puzzle but I bombed out because it was a pretty difficult one. (And I’m a person who has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.)
The last two photos show the two sides of this free postcard I picked up at the exhibit.
Basically this exhibition will be up until the end of this month. The Maryland Room in the Hornbake Library is on a summer schedule where it’s only open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For the latest up-to-the-minute news on this exhibition, I suggest looking at the official blog. While I personally found the exhibition very interesting, keep in mind that there are no hands-on multimedia exhibits and the displays are totally static (which is something you’ll need to consider if you are thinking about taking young children to this exhibit).
UPDATE (July 31, 2016): The exhibit at the University of Maryland is now closed but the online version of this exhibit will remain indefinitely.
Nearly three years ago I wrote about the birth of Eli, who’s a grandnephew on my ex-husband’s side of the family. In the years since Eli’s birth I’ve kept up with the boy mainly through his mother’s posts on Facebook. I haven’t been able to visit his family’s current home in Charleston, South Carolina due to tight finances and I don’t know when I’ll ever get the opportunity to meet that kid.
Today I found out from my sister-in-law’s Facebook post about how she has just become a grandmother for the second time. Eli’s new brother has just been born a few hours ago. His name is Tobias. That baby will be joining an already full house with his big brother, his mother, his father, two dogs, and a cat.
In that last post about Eli from nearly three years ago I included a vintage early 1970’s video clip of Three Dog Night doing a live performance of their hit song “Eli’s Coming.” Unfortunately I can’t think of any songs that have the name Tobias in it so I won’t be embedding any music videos in this post.
Instead I’m going to repost my photos of a 60 cm (2 foot) tall Asian ball-jointed doll I currently own that was manufactured by a Chinese company known as Fantasy Doll. His default name is Tobias, which I’ve kept. Here are some photos of Tobias.
If you want to see more photos of this doll, check out the Fantasy Doll Tobias category. As for Tobias the human baby, so far he looks healthy (and I’m basing that judgement on the photos that my sister-in-law posted on Facebook). The only other thing I’ll write in this blog is that I hope he grows up to live a happy and healthy life. That is all I’m going to write about Tobias for the time being. 🙂
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For the last couple of weeks I’ve been re-posting old blog posts that I originally made for my online Artomatic account. I would initially write a rough draft using a HTML editor then do a quick copy and paste directly into that online blog. The only thing is that the people behind Artomatic tend to wipe the official site of old content whenever a new Artomatic event is announced. Since Artomatic is going on this year, I’d thought it would be cool to re-post some of those old blog posts that exist on my hard drive.
This entry focuses on the posts I wrote when I took part in the 2009 Artomatic event. Things were pretty good for me. I was in the process of recovering from my hip replacement surgery that I underwent in late 2008 but I had felt so much better compared to the year before. I took part in Artomatic that previous year even though I hobbled around on a cane. The organizers would put me in desk jobs for my volunteer shift whenever they saw me with my cane so I was still able to do the required three volunteer shifts.
Here are some of the posts I wrote that year.
Tired, May 21, 2009
I’m participating in Artomatic this year but I’ve been a bit on the disorganized side. After spending the past year dealing with a bad left hip, I’m now getting used to being in good health once again. Six months ago I had hip replacement surgery and it was a very slow healing process. This past Monday was my six-month anniversary of the surgery. The good news is that because I’ve made great strides, my doctor told me that I can now discontinue the physical therapy that I’ve been on since the day after the surgery. (Yes, it started while I was still in the hospital.) It was only last week when I felt confident enough to stop using my cane.
Well, in any case, I’m now able to do more than I did last year. My left hip was so bad that I signed up all of my required three volunteer shifts in the Events category because I was so unsure about being able to do either Installation or Deinstallation.
This year I signed up for one shift in each of the categories. My first shift was last night, which is still in the Installation phase. My main assignment was to patrol the 8th and 9th floors to make sure that people present were actually installing their spaces and to confront anyone who didn’t seem to be installing at all. Well, everyone who was there were doing some kind of installing so it was a pretty calm night.
At 9:30 p.m. I had to let people on both the 8th and 9th floors know that the building was going to close for the night in 30 minutes. Then I did the same thing at 9:45 p.m., except to tell them that everything was going to close in 15 minutes. After 10 p.m. I went to the 8th and 9th floors to make sure everyone was gone then I turned the lights off.
It wasn’t a hard job, although it required a lot of walking since I had to cover two floors. (There weren’t enough volunteers at my shift so a few of us had to do with two floors instead of the usual one floor per person.) I really did appreciate the surgery because there was no way I could’ve done this last year with my bad hip.
The only real snag came when I got off my shift because the Washington Nationals were playing at the stadium nearby and the baseball fans were crowding the Navy Yard Metro station. In any case, I’m pretty tired from last night plus I’m getting over this head cold that I caught last week–which is why I’ve been very slow about installing my own work.
I should sign off now and get some sleep.
Finally Finished With Installing, May 27, 2009
I spent most of Memorial Day weekend on finishing with the installation of my artwork. I finally finished on Monday, Memorial Day, itself. I was totally exhausted but at least I’m done.
I’ll update my catalogue soon.
What I’ll Be Exhibiting at Artomatic This Year, May 27, 2009
This year’s show will be a mix of new work that I’ve done while I was recuperating from undergoing hip replacement surgery last November and older work that I showed last year and will be making a return visit.
First will be the images of artwork that I haven’t actually showed at Artomatic before but I uploaded them online earlier this year because Artomatic was sponsoring a special Valentine Day’s show at a few buildings in the same neighborhood where this year’s Artomatic was being held and the entires were selected from those who had updated their Artomatic catalogues. I created and uploaded two small paintings plus one photograph just in time for the deadline but none of them were selected for the show. The two paintings will be included in my exhibit. (I left the photograph of the two dolls out of this year’s show due to space issues on my wall.) Neither one have been exhibited anywhere else prior to Artomatic. Here are the paintings:
Now for the artwork that is making a return to Artomatic this year. All of them are photographs and all of them were exhibited in last year’s show.
Here are some additional artwork that will be making its debut at Artomatic for the first time.
Here is a promo video I made for YouTube.
Dance Performances at Artomatic, June 13, 2009
Here’s a video I shot of two women who performed this dance routine under the name Hairloom.
I also shot this belly dancing performance by the group Sahara Dance.
Meet the Artists Night, June 13, 2009
I shot two videos of that night. Here is my exhibition space as it was set up on that night.
Most of the action took place on the 7th floor, where PostSecret author Frank Warren was having a book signing event. That floor turned into one large party complete with music and flashing lights. Here is what I shot on that floor.
The Sarah Palin Tribute Band at Artomatic, June 17, 2009
I shot two videos by this band called The Sarah Palin Tribute Band who, as far as I can tell, had made their performing debut at Artomatic but haven’t performed in public anywhere else since then. Here is the group doing the song “This Land is Your Land.”
And here is the group performing “This Little Light of Mine.”
Artomatic Musings, June 25, 2009
A few days ago I finally finished visiting all the floors and viewed all the artwork. How I did it was that I would devote a few hours a week to seeing art and I did only two floors at a time. I started with the 9th floor and worked my way down. Here are a few videos of what I saw, starting with the display of the winners of this year’s Peeps diorama contest that was sponsored by The Washington Post.
Here are the interactive displays I saw on the first, second, and third floors.
Here are the interactive displays I saw on the fourth floor.
Here are the interactive displays I saw on the fifth floor.
Here are the ones on the sixth and seventh floors.
And, finally, here are the ones on the eighth floor.
I saw incredible amounts of artwork. I saw lots of art that I liked but there was so much of it that I can’t remember which ones I liked. I did pick up a bunch of business cards and flyers and many of these artists have websites so I will be spending the next few months with gradually visiting all their sites at my own leisure.
A week ago I spent the second of my three required volunteer shifts watching the loading dock. I was glad that I brought my iPod Touch and my puzzle magazine along because it was a bit on the dull side. The highlight came when I helped another volunteer with washing out the recycling bins using a hose then spraying them with Lysol. All I can say is that stale beer is an absolutely disgusting scent.
But I still can’t complain about having to do it because last year my left hip stopped working and I had to hobble around on a cane. My hip got so bad that I had to undergo a hip replacement then go through a few months of physical therapy. Compared to the hell that I went through for the past year, washing out recycling bins is no big deal.
I checked out the first ever Zombie Prom and it was a riot!!! I wore this evening gown that I had originally purchased for my brother-in-law’s wedding a few years ago and I even had my face made up into a zombie. It was pretty fun. Here’s a video I shot at that event.
There are times when I wished Artomatic had been held in the spring like the last few years. That’s because this year both the Artomatic 500 Cardboard Car Race and the Peeps Diorama Reception are being held this Saturday and I’ll be out of town. My family had booked a week in Ocean City months before Artomatic announced its show and it was too late to re-schedule. I will be back next Friday, although I’m not sure what time I’ll arrive. If I arrive relatively early in the day and if I still have energy, I’ll check out the Art in Fashion show later that evening. But everything is really iffy. [NOTE: I ended up not attending the Art in Fashion show because we arrived late from the trip and I was pretty tired by then.]
The Last Entry for 2009, July 26, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I managed to retrieve my artwork from Artomatic. This past Friday I served the last of my three required volunteer shifts. I basically helped with taking down the partitions in the middle of the floors. The shift I was on managed to finish with the few that were left on the 9th floor before taking down all the ones on the 8th floor. By the time we started on the 7th floor, our shift was over. When I left there was still a lot of work that needed to be done but I’m sure everything will be eventually cleared out.
On that note, I’m going to stop updating this blog for the rest of the year. While I enjoyed myself at this year’s Artomatic, the big disappointment is that I didn’t sell a single thing. I don’t know if it’s due to the poor economy or the fact that Artomatic was moved to the summertime or the fact that it was located near the Nationals ballpark or a combination of all three. But right now I’m up in the air as to whether I will participate next year. It really depends on what the organizers do and where the event will be located and my own schedule.
But I’m really disappointed that all my efforts have amounted to naught when it came to my own sales and even lucking out on meeting influential curators or other movers and shakers in the art world who could help me make it to the next level. I’m at the point where I’m questioning whether it was worth it at all.
I’m not going to make any decisions about my participation in future Artomatics until next year. In the meantime I’m just going to pursue other opportunities and hope they pan out.
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Last week I mentioned that I’ve been going through some old files on my computer hard drive and I found the original rough drafts of my old Artomatic blog posts from previous years. (There was a time when Artomatic gave everyone who participated their own blogging account. For Artomatic this year, I had to step up and volunteer to be a blogger before I received my own blogging account.) It’s pretty appropriate to share some of these posts here since Artomatic is going on until next month.
While I visited a few previous Artomatics, the first time I actually participated was in 2007. I enjoyed that experience so much that when Artomatic was announced again in 2008, I jumped at the chance to participate in it again.
2008 was a momentous year for me for reasons other than Artomatic. I was born with a dislocated left hip and, as some old baby photos have documented, I was placed in a body cast for several months. My left hip joints snapped into place, the cast was removed, and I learned how to walk like an average child soon afterwards. I sprained the same left hip in a roller skating accident when I was 12 but I managed to recuperate and I walked like a regular person again. All that changed by late 2007 when I began to walk with a limp. As time went on, I had a harder time walking and by the time of Artomatic 2008, I had to use a cane to get around.
Despite my hip problems, I wanted to participate in Artomatic and I did so. That year I decided to focus mostly on photography, with the exception of this Peep Floyd diorama that I originally did for The Washington Post‘s annual Peeps diorama contest but it failed to make even Honorable Mention. Here is the original online catalogue that I put up to promote my exhibition space.
Here are just a few selected posts I made in my Artomatic account’s blog that year as archived on my hard drive. (That blog has long since been deleted since Artomatic tends to totally revamp its website whenever a new Artomatic event is announced.)
I’m Participating in Artomatic 2008, March 27, 2008
I’ve finally finished with registration. This year I’m going to emphasize my photography more mainly because I’ve been more successful at that than doing strictly drawing and painting.
Now my next task is to sift through my vast trove of digital photos to pick out the right ones to display. I am quite a shutterbug. I’m glad for the invention of digital cameras because I still remember the pain of running out of film and I had to choose between shelling out more money for film (then have to shell out more money to get them processed) or quit my picture taking for the day. I have a monumental task ahead of me so I’m going to sign off now.
Latest Stuff About Me, April 18, 2008
Last Saturday I went to the Artomatic orientation where I picked out my site. I’ll be located on the 7th floor, NE Quadrant, Area C4. I know it sounds like gobbledygook now but I’m sure it’ll become more apparent once the show opens and the maps/brochures are printed. For the time being, I’ll just say that my wall space is located right next to the men’s restroom on the 7th floor.
My Exhibit for This Year, May 8, 2008
I know that some of you who are familiar with my exhibit at last year’s Artomatic will be wondering if I’m doing anything different. Well, the answer is yes. I’m going to describe the difference between this year’s exhibit and last year’s.
Last year I had a variety of different media ranging from digital photographs to drawings to paintings. I even had a couple of dolls I customized myself that were on display in small glass cases that were mounted on the wall.
This year I’m focusing exclusively on digital photographs. That’s mainly because I wanted artwork that was more transportable than my larger art pieces. All of my photographs are either 8″ x 10″ or 5″ x 7″. Keeping the photos at those two sizes made frame shopping really easy for me since those two are standard sizes. On top of that, I’ve had people tell me that my biggest strength is in photography so I decided to highlight that some more.
The biggest challenge I had was whittling down the hundreds of digital photographs that I have on my hard disk to just 32 photos. (Sixteen of them are 8″ x 10″ while the rest are 5″ x 7″.) Then I had the additional challenge of printing since, as experienced digital photographers and computer graphics artists know, what is seen on the computer screen doesn’t mean that the print version will turn out the same. But I managed to get everything done in time for the opening tomorrow night.
I’m also pricing my photos at $10 for the 8″ x 10″ and $6 for the 5″ x 7″. I know my pricing methods may become controversial but there’s a method to my madness. If you’ve been reading a newspaper or watching any of the cable news channel, you’ll know that this country is in an economic crisis due to rising gas costs, higher food prices, and the subprime mortgage crisis. I really don’t think that people are in the mood to shell out $100 or higher for a piece of art no matter how much they love it because of the economy.
I also had an epiphany around the end of last year’s Artomatic. I got someone who wanted to buy one of my drawings but she wanted to know how much it would cost if I would remove it from the frame. Since I didn’t have any other serious buyers of my artwork last year, I told her that I would take $25 off my drawing. So I sold it to her and took home an empty frame.
This year I scoured the local big box retailers looking for the lowest frame prices. A.C. Moore had the best prices with many frames being sold for $3 and $4 and with some going for as low as $2. What’s more, the frames still looked pretty decent despite the low prices. Then I went to Staples where I bought a pack of satin-finish photographic paper for $35. I calculated each sheet as costing around sixty cents per sheet, which isn’t bad.
I even have a catchy ad phrase that I put on a sign in my area: “Affordable Artwork for Uncertain Economic Times”.
What’s more, since I have my photos on a hard drive, I can easily print multiple copies so if one person buys one of my photos and someone else wants that same photo, I can print and frame another copy and sell it to that other person.
I will have a small table next to my photos where I will have a guestbook for you to sign and a digital frame that will rotate digital photos of some of my other works of art like my drawings, paintings, sculptures, and crafts. I purchased this digital frame at Target and I love it because I can display more of my art than the space that’s alloted to me.
I will also have a diorama displayed on that table called Peep Floyd. I originally created this diorama for The Washington Post’s second annual Peeps contest but it didn’t make the final cut among the judges. I was disappointed but my husband was even more heartbroken than I was. (He felt that I was robbed.) So I decided to give my little diorama a second chance by displaying it with my artwork. I’m even putting it up for sale for only $5 (which is about how much money I spent making it in the first place). What’s even amusing is that there will be a display of the winning Peeps dioramas on the 10th floor while my display will be on the 7th floor. So if people decided to start on the first floor and work their way up, chances are that they will see my own diorama first before they see the winners on the 10th floor. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Last year I printed three photo zines that I sold on the honor system where people can put money in a box if they wanted one or more of my zines. I did it mainly as a promotional item, even if it was a pain to print multiple copies for the duration of Artomatic. (The fact that I was using a 10-year-old Epson color printer didn’t help matters much.) I thought that I would get some sort of opportunities from the zines after Artomatic in the long run so I toughed out the time spent printing, collating, and stapling the zines. I also gritted my teeth as I spent lots of money on printer ink since those zines did use up tons of ink. Even though the zines sold pretty well (some people did leave money in the box), nothing ever came of those zines after Artomatic ended. No one contacted me saying, “Hey I liked your zines and photos and I want to do some work with you.”
Basically it really wasn’t worth the time or money spent making and distributing the zines so I’m not going to do any more this year. I know that some of you will be disappointed but that’s the way things go.
The biggest change from last year to this year is myself. Yes, I am a year older but my health has gone down a bit. I have an old injury in my left hip that was repaired a long time ago but I’ve now developed osteoarthritis in it. Last year I was able to walk normally most of the time (although I did limp if I overextended myself by doing too much walking or other physical work). This year I’m walking with a limp and I use a walking stick whenever I have to walk around outside for any great distances. I’ve consulted an orthopedic specialist and he’s recommending that I undergo a hip replacement, especially since my left leg is now a little bit shorter than my right leg, thanks to the osteoarthritis.
But, before I undergo the surgery, I have to lose weight and do exercises to strengthen my hip. As a result, I’m still able to participate in Artomatic since I won’t be able to undergo the surgery until July at the earliest.
Having osteoarthritis is a bit of a bummer. I get more physically tired than before, partially because of having to take prescription version of ibuprofen (which has drowsiness as a side effect) and partially because it’s just more physically taxing to limp around. My current condition was a major factor in my decision to focus on smaller photographs than my larger canvases since the photos are easier to cart around than a big canvas. Since I decided to eliminate the zines, I will find Artomatic less taxing than last year.
I will be at the opening tomorrow night with my husband. This weekend I will be working as a vendor at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland. I will have a packed schedule.
I’m Doing Pretty Well at Artomatic This Year, May 26, 2008
So far I had someone who wanted six copies of my “Shalom Y’all” photo because she wanted to give them away to her Jewish friends. I also have one other person who may be potentially interested in purchasing something from me but I haven’t heard back from him.
So far I took part in a drawing workshop on Opening Night and I’ve also worked one shift so far. (It happened to be on the same night as the “Meet the Artists Night” so I couldn’t be at my area, with the exception of a brief break that I took around 8 p.m.) Right now I’m typing this entry from a hotel room in Charleston, South Carolina but I intend to participate in more Artomatic events once I return.
I happened to be in Charleston at the same time as their annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival—an art-filled festival that includes special exhibitions at area art galleries, special theatre shows, special musical concerts, and a crafts fair. I intend to check out the crafts fair at least. I also intend to visit the City Market, which is filled with stalls of people hawking food items and various types of crafts. It’s also where a local African-American group of people known as the Gullahs sell their speciality craft–making baskets, vases, flowers, and other items out of sweetgrass.
Well, anyway, see ya later!
My Artomatic Videos, June 2, 2008
This year I’ve been doing more at Artomatic than just showing my artwork and attending a few events. I’ve also been taking photographs and shooting video. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with the photos yet but I’ve already edited and uploaded three short video clips on my YouTube account.
All three videos are of the firedancing troupe known as Flights of Fire. I shot this during the second hour of their show on May 16. (I missed the first hour because I was finishing up the last hour of my own volunteer shift during that time.) I was pretty exhausted after working my five-hour volunteer shift so I basically went outside, sat down, and unwind a bit by watching the group perform the rest of their show. I happened to have my videocamera with me so I filmed them as they did their various fire tricks to some lively dance music.
This first clip is a general highlights reel as I focused on the troupe’s most spectacular firedancing tricks:
The second clip is a very sexy and erotic routine that is performed in its entirety:
The third clip is the grand finale that is also performed in its entirety. Imagine a bunch of people dancing and swinging flaming torches at the same time and you’ll get something like this:
Two More Artomatic Videos For You to View, June 5, 2008
I shot two more videos at Artomatic that I’ve uploaded to my YouTube account. The first one is the Peeps artist reception that was held on May 31, 2008.
The second one is the first-ever Artomatic 500 cardboard car race, which is just as hilarious as it sounds.
A Posting From Artomatic, June 13, 2008
I’ve just finished the third required volunteer shift over an hour ago and I’m waiting for this workshop on “Urban R & D: Developing a Community Research and Design Lab” to begin in a few minutes. Actually volunteering wasn’t too bad despite my totally arthritic hip (which has given me a bad limp in recent months and has definitely put a crimp on my mobility) because I was given desk jobs. (I worked the front desk on the first floor the first two times and I worked the fourth floor this final time today.)
Last night I attended the Artists’ Social. I met someone whom I had volunteered with on a previous shift and I also met up with other people whom I had met at other Artomatic events. What was cool was that I sold two of my photographs to someone who loved by two robot photos (one of the Toyota Partner Robot and the other of the Honda Asimo—both taken at a Japanese cultural festival at the Kennedy Center a few months ago).
I’m looking forward to attending Artomatic tomorrow night–they are having the first-ever Art in Fashion show, which is supposed to have fire as the theme. From the way this event is being hyped, it sounds like Project Runway on steroids.
Well, anyway, I gotta wrap this entry up and head off to tonight’s workshop.
More Artomatic Videos, June 21, 2008
I shot and posted a few more videos at Artomatic before it ended last Sunday but I’ve only gotten around to blogging about it now.
First is a video of my own exhibit, which was displayed on the 7th floor next to the men’s bathroom.
Next is a video of a couple of interactive exhibits that were done by other artists.
I previously videotaped the Peeps artist reception where I spoke with prolific Peeps diorama artist Carl Cordell. At the time he was working on a fourth diorama, “The Day The Earth Stood Peeped”, that wasn’t ready in time for the reception. I kept on going to the Peeps area for the next few weeks but the diorama didn’t make its appearance until last Saturday, the day before the last day of Artomatic. I made a short video highlighting that diorama.
I did a three-part video about the Art in Fashion show, which was the closing event of Artomatic. (It was held the night before Artomatic’s final day.) It highlighted fashions created by fashion designers in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. I had fun attending this because I’m such a fan of Project Runway and I had never seen a fashion show in person before.
After the fashion show ended, there was a big party that included all kinds of activities. I videotaped some of it but I was running out of battery power by that point so I didn’t film as much as I wanted to. But it should give you an idea of what it was like. (Some parts of this video are definitely NSFW because it includes scenes of body painting on partially or fully nude bodies.)
Well, anyway, that’s it for the Artomatic videos.
Visiting the Artomatic Site for the Last Time, June 21, 2008
I had successfully sold yet another photo to someone and he and I agreed to meet at the Artomatic site today. After the transaction was made and he took his newly-purchased photo with him, I took down my exhibit. I felt wistful as I did it but, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
Goodbye For Now, June 23, 2008
Now that Artomatic is over and I’ve picked up my artwork from the site, it’s time for me to say goodbye to this blog until the next time I decide to participate in an Artomatic.
Three months after I wrote that last farewell Artomatic post, I underwent a hip replacement followed by physical therapy that lasted until well into 2009. In early 2011 I suffered two falls within a week that knocked my hip replacement out of alignment so I had to undergo hip revision surgery followed by more physical therapy. Right now my hip is doing fine. <knock wood!>
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For the third week in a row there have been no new instructional videos from Ady Almanza. I don’t even know what on earth is going on. I knew that she was on a two-week vacation to France but I’d thought it would be over by now. I still have extra pages in my book so I decided to wing it once again by creating original doll-themed art that have nothing to do with those tutorials.
For this week’s session, I decided to try something different. Looking through Ady Almanza’s work, I noticed that all of the ones I’ve seen online have featured only females. I have a few male dolls at home so I decided to do some art featuring one of them.
This doll is a Fantasy Doll Tobias, a 1/3 scale Asian ball jointed doll that I purchased from the Fantasy Doll website a few years ago. He stands at 60 centimeters/2 feet tall and he’s currently the largest doll that I own. In the above photo he models the Red Prince Outfit that I made from scratch. (For more details on how I made that outfit, check out my post from 2011.) I had him wear that same outfit when I decided to draw and paint him.
Here are the original pages of the children’s board book before I started working on them.
Here are the pages after I finished working on them.
I decided to have him in a sexy pose, which was influenced in large part by the cover of this 1977 Peter Frampton album I’m In You (which I once owned as a teen—I was such a fan of his previous album, Frampton Comes Alive, and the fact that I loved that album cover that I bought it with my allowance money and, well, let’s say that the cover was way more memorable than the music <LOL!>).
I had a hard time getting my doll in the same exact pose as Peter Frampton on the album cover. I think it’s because of the fact that the fabric of the pants he wore wasn’t very stretchy or accommodating of action poses. So I ended up keeping his legs straight and just have the shirt go partially off his torso so one gets to see part of his chest.
I did the outline in waterproof black ink then switched to acrylic paint for the rest of the project. I applied a thin layer of red glitter glue on his pants. The results weren’t too bad.
I still have a few extra pages left so if Ady Almanza decides to go another week without posting any tutorials online, I can wing it again with original doll-themed art that have absolutely nothing to do with the video lessons.
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So far I was happy with working on the cover of my book (which was formerly a board book edition of Dr. Seuss’ classic Hop on Pop). I had little trouble with working on it and I expected the rest of the project to be a piece of cake.
But then I watched the next tutorial video and I realized a few things. The book I selected had more pages than the book in the original video tutorials. On top of it, the artist, Ady Almanza, had only used one page at a time to do her artwork. If I was to follow her example, I would be working on that book for much longer because my book had more pages. She didn’t specify how many pages the board book had to include so I naturally assumed that any board book would do.
The video mentioned that the next doll would be a mermaid yet the final picture shows just a close-up of her face. While her skin is colored blue, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s a mermaid. Any onlooker would assume that she’s an extra-terrestrial creature or maybe an extra from the movie Avatar. (LOL!)
Then there was the requirement in the video that we paint the background with matte acrylic paint. Here’s the problem: I don’t have any acrylic paint marked “matte.” I tried Jo-Ann’s, Michael’s, A.C. Moore’s and none of them have any acrylic paint that’s marked “matte.” (I later found out that they can be ordered online through the stores’ websites. They just aren’t sold on the store shelves in real life.)
The biggest surprise was finding out that, while the background would be painted with matte acrylic paint (which I couldn’t find in any store), the female in the foreground would be colored in with colored pencils. Whoa! I’ve never tried mixing colored pencils with acrylic paint before but I figured that there was a first time for everything. Here’s the video tutorial I followed.
So it was time for me to create the mermaid drawing. I decided to do a full page spread with a full mermaid body because, let’s face it, the fish tail is the only way the average person knows whether the person is a mermaid (or merman) or not. (Besides, I would use up more pages that way.) I decided to use a real-life doll as my muse once again and my Volks Dollfie Dream would spend another week serving as the model. In addition, I happened to have a mermaid tail that fits her that I purchased at an Asian Ball-Jointed Doll meet-up a few years ago (back when I was involved in that fandom until I witnessed some creepy behavior both online and in real life that caused me to leave it because, without getting into a lot of details, there are a bunch of borderline crazy people in that fandom). The mermaid tail was handsewn by another doll fan who was trying her hand at selling handmade doll clothes for a while. I paired it with a doll-sized tribal-looking necklace that I won in a raffle at an Asian Ball-Jointed Doll meet-up a few years ago. (I don’t remember if I won it in the same meet-up as when I purchased the mermaid’s tail or if I got both at separate events.) I positioned her long hair to obscure her breasts in order to not have to deal with the issue of whether to portray the mermaid as bare-breasted or wearing a bra.
I initially did the drawing in ink using a black waterproof marker. I not only decided to draw the mermaid’s full body but I decided to add a dolphin in the background as a way of showing that, yes, the mermaid is swimming in the ocean. When it was time for me to do the underpainting, I still had to deal with the issue of not having any matte acrylic paints on hand. I began reading on line that watering down acrylic paint could create a matte effect. So I decided to add a lot of water to the paint so it would create a watercolor effect (which is appropriate since I was working on an underwater scene).
But then it came time to start using the colored pencils. While most of the areas were okay, there was one or two areas where I literally could not color at all. In fact, the more I colored in those areas, the more I inadvertently wiped away the watered-down acrylic paint until I somehow managed to wear it all the way down to the gesso layer. It was frustrating to say the least because I had most of the area colored except for those two white bald patches that were large enough to be noticeable by anyone.
So then I came up with the idea of spraying a fixative on top then continue to work on it. There are two types of fixatives: One is a final fixative, which is used as the final layer and is meant to seal the work in permanently. It’s meant for when you’re absolutely positively sure that you’re finished with working on your piece because it’s hard to work over it once you spray it. The other is known as a workable fixative, which is meant to seal the work that has been finished to date but one can continue to work on top of that layer. That one is meant for people who are taking a layer approach to creating art where you draw or paint lightly, spray a layer of the workable fixative, then add another layer on top of it, then spray another layer of workable fixative, and so on. I looked around my art supplies but I found that I only had the final fixative, which meant that I had to go to a store to buy a workable fixative. Fortunately I had a 40% off coupon so I didn’t have to pay too much for the workable fixative.
Once I sprayed the workable fixative and let the piece dry, I found that I could cover up the bare white part on the dolphin but there was still a bare white part on one of the mermaid’s arm. So I sprayed another layer of the workable fixative, let it dry, then tried again. It was still no use. I just could not get that colored pencil to cover that bare white area. I became so frustrated that I switched to acrylic paint, painted a light purple skin over the mermaid (which matched her purple tail and purple hair) That worked like a charm so I let everything dried then embellished the mermaid’s tail and hair with glitter glue. Once I let it dry I sprayed a few layers of the final fixative and considered it done.
So here are the pages before I worked on the project.
Here are the pages after I finished.
I learned a few things, like if I can’t find matte paint, I’ll have to do other things (mix acrylic paint with either water or matte medium and use workable fixative spray). That’s the only way I can add a layer of colored pencil over a layer of acrylic paint.
I’m hoping that there won’t be any more obstacles like what I faced because it’s supposed to be a fun project for me and not a source of more stress.
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