Look at them both, look into their lovely eyes, saying "please enter the draw and let me come and live with you, please, pretty please!". Yep, I've tried my best but Lauren and Nicole, those Mature Beauties are used to living the High Life and frankly they are BORED of living with me! They are eager for pastures new and on Monday they will get their wish, as I will be drawing 2 random names form those who have entered the competition, and then I will be posting them off to their new homes.... they are a little reticent at being split up after all this time, but also keen to get on with life's big adventure!
See This Post for details of how to enter and Good Luck! ;O)
Thanks to the ever informative Miss Caro-Chan for putting a name to a rather endearing Japanese influenced look I've been noticing over the last year or so... Dolly! A rather splendid new twist on vintage eclectic eccentricity with a dash of cute thrown in for good measure... get up in the attic and dust off Great Aunt Clara's moth eaten fox stole, team it with a hand-cuff necklace and away you go. Love it and just wish I was young enough to get away with wearing it myself... well, maybe not the fur... I prefer my critters with a pulse :o)
Well, I guess we have to be thankful that it did stop for a whole week... but - it's back!
Of course I don't always stay in my room now, I am getting a bit more mobile and do go downstairs, for part of the day... and even when I am resting my back in bed, I don't always get to see the view as often there's a woolly head in the way! We have 3 cats in this house and they love to keep me warm by lying on top of me... probably because I am the stillest thing in the house.
Thanks so much to all those lovely souls who have featured my Doll giveaway on their blogs and an even bigger THANK YOU to those of you who have given a donation. Here's a reminder of what is going on and how to enter the draw:
We've all probably given generously to various appeals to help out the people of Haiti already but the Earthquake last month is going to devastate so many lives for years to come. I can't even imagine how shocked and desolate those people who have lost their family, friends, homes, livelihood, everything, are feeling right now but I am sure that these wounds will take an age to heal. Haiti was one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere and now what little they had is in tatters.
That's Lauren above in Red...
I can't do much but have decided to give away, completely free (I will pay all postage/packaging costs) 2 of my Art Dolls, if you can just help me raise a little more for the people of Haiti. To enter you just need to give a small donation to help Oxfam's work in Haiti, so to enter go to justgiving I will draw 2 names out of a hat on March the First and send the dolls out to the 2 winners. To find out more about Oxfams work there go to oxfam_in_action or read the post for the 6th of Feb.
and here's Nicole in mint!
If you have a preference for Lauren or Nicole, just leave a comment below indicating which. If both names drawn prefer the same doll, the first drawn will get her, but they are both lovely! :o) If you donate using a different user name than on Blogger, then please let me know in the comment. I know many of us prefer our charity donations to be anonymous but this site allows me to send you a "Thank you" email, and I can later use the email contact to ask for your address if you win one of the dolls. Donations are in £ Sterling as it's a British Charity but anyone in any country can donate and here is a reliable currency converter Currency Converter to help you figure out that donation amount. Thanks again for you time and Good Luck :o)
The new air-dry clay that lovely Kaerie Faeirie recommended, LaDoll, well, my experiment was a bit 50/50 at first. My dolls are literally "rag" dolls, often no wire armature and I think this clay might be better for use with rigid sculpting. I think we need to take into account climate also, as Miss KF is languishing in the sub-tropical haze of Florida while I am freezing my ta-ta's off in North Wales during the coldest winter for 30 years! So to set the scene, the first night I messed with LaDoll it was around minus 15c outside and I was sat next to an open log fire, the doll was left in that room, which has no other heat source, overnight, so maybe going from dry heat to literally freezing in the course of a few hours wasn't ideal.
It's not just the LaDoll that's beginning to crack!
It wouldn't adhere to the cloth at all, even wet, wouldn't adhere to gesso very well and what didn't fall off overnight had big cracks in it by the next morning. The Papydur, which is what I usually use, goes on like a paste, you mix it with water, but once it dries out the cloth doll is hard as rock wherever you plastered it on. I basically make lovely cuddly cloth dolls with heads hard enough to use as a murder weapon... should the need arise, always keep a Freaky Little Thing handy in case of intruders ;O)
Papydur is a nightmare to get smooth though, and sets so hard it is difficult to sand afterward, LaDoll is beautifully smooth. The LaDoll has set kind of like Fimo, so still has some elasticity, not very stable on top of a squishy fibre filled torso. Next day I peeled off what was left on the body except where I'd sculpted the face and jawline, I decided to persevere with that as the LaDoll was much thicker there and the stuffing underneath much firmer. I covered the rest in a thin layer of Papydur for hardness and once that was dry, redid the smooth LaDoll skin. The finished Burlesque girl has an elaborate costume but will still have a lot of flesh on view so it needs to be good! After sanding and painting hopefully you won't see the join!
I am determined to keep that lovely floppy Huggability of a rag doll for Freaky Little Things but "Burlesque" (I've thought of a name for her, but in the spirit of the challenge I will tease you... not yet!) is going to be more rigid than usual. Because she's fibre filled underneath it all I still want to button joint her and give her free moving limbs, Burlesque is all about pose and poise after all. Button joints work best when they are squeezing the dolls body and I don't want to risk cracking the Paperclay "Skin, so I've built flat button "platforms" at her shoulders, like you would get on a rigid plastic or vinyl fashion doll. Her bum is not getting the paperclay treatment though, and is going to remain temptingly squeezable... ooh La la! :o)
I am stunned and actually in tears at the tragic news that Alexander (Lee) McQueen has died in London today, apparently taking his own life. It's strange when the death of someone you don't know really knocks the wind out of you but McQueen was young and vibrant and here and loved and made us proud to be Brits. An astounding and towering genius in fashion and one of my favourite designers, I hope you find peace wherever you are. I wish I believe that last part was possible, but sadly I think when we are gone, we are gone.
I was only thinking the other day: how nice to be a Snail? You have your own place, no job, no worries, NO CREAKY BONES, no bones at all in fact, and you get to leave a sparkly path wherever you go. (OK, who am I kidding, I'm usually to be found at the end of a trail of spilt glitter, beads and sequins) But, whatever, I kind of envy their freedom. However, every life style has it's perils and I'd forgotten about Blackbirds, the yellow rimmed eye of peril in the sky. Many a sunny afternoon lazing in the garden I've wondered at that crack-crack-crack down on the dry stone wall, only to find a Blackbird thwacking the be-jesus out of some poor shell dweller. They sit up on the chimney tops at sundown, trilling their beautiful farewell to the day and you'd think butter wouldn't melt in their beaks! Sooty snail nemesis.
I've always had a soft spot for snails, as a child I used to collect them and paint their shells with my mothers nail varnish to tell them apart. I'd make them a lovely flower arbour to live in, a large terracotta dish filled with dandelion blooms and daisys for them to navigate. I'd get called in for lunch and when I'd come back my supposedly slow moving pets would have fled the arena. Not sure what the Blackbirds thought of the varnish, possibly I saved the snail's lives - as the Blackbirds mistook them for free roaming human toes and stayed well away. I'd like to think so.
Crickey! What what is this strange looking creature? Well, she's my burlesque doll, or at least the torso, yet to add arms and legs. She's a bit of an experiment, so keep your fingers crossed for me :o)
A few weeks ago I went a bit Prima Donna and asked the lovely Cindy Sowers to remove a paragraph that she'd written about me for the TDP Blog Artist's profile. She was confused as to why it upset me so much, but she very kindly amended her article. It was taken from my own blog after all, and just alluded to my joint problems, but I am feeling pretty touchy on that subject right now. I'm just in my forties but over the last few years the arthritis and occasional mobility issues have often made me feel physically much, much older and combined with other, deeper personal issues I've been battling for years now, day to day...well, of late I feel as though my problems are coming to define me. Am I becoming just a long list of ailments and issues?
What do I do? Do I pretend it's not happening, bury everything and just repeat "I'm fine" like some deranged mantra... or bleat on about it, here on my blog to virtual strangers and virtual friends alike? Neither option seems particularly healthy. A Confession: I have PTSD, I have had it so long that it used to be called Stress Anxiety Disorder when I got diagnosed. I don't want to share, but it causes havoc, even years and years after the event that triggered it and is something I just have had to learn to work around. I also have arthritis and other minor irritations that I personally believe are caused by living in a recurring state of high alert. I think I am using up my body's resources at a higher rate than I should and it comes out sometimes in weird rashes and nervous ticks and all sorts of tiny ways that no doubt summon the word Hypochondriac into my GP's head unbidden! Besides, I know if I remind anyone to file me under that overused acronym -ptsd- they will roll out The Medication (rejoin the Walking Dead, no thanks) and cajole me to therapy sessions which just trawl through the detritus and stir everything up again.
So I keep wavering on this topic of do I talk about this kind of stuff here or not? Some of the time I feel fine, my demons are quiet, my joints work, I forget about it all... but there is one thing I want to share with you... in the hope it might help someone else travelling down this road unprepared... Arthritis is tangible, I was fooled into thinking that something which has shown up very un-missably on an X Ray and even on an MRI scan, well, there should be pills for that, right? Something to make me feel better, isn't that why we go to the doctor? So, I finally gave in and opted for heavy duty anti-inflammatory and pain killing drugs. Big time!
It's not like me, but the Doctor doles out the pills and the agony becomes this hazy thing you stand/sit/lie beside... the injury this time is to my sciatic nerve and nothing can interrupt that signal to the brain, it's far too fast, so the pain killers just kind of displace the pain. Very odd sensation, to feel extreme pain but just not be so connected to it. What the doc told me is that they are highly addictive and have to be managed, what he didn't tell me is that for many, many people those drugs will have quite unpleasant physical side effects. What was not mentioned was the fact that those of us with a sensitive stomach will be affected quite suddenly and violently after about 2/3 weeks of relative peace, as our bodies try to purge what is poisoning our systems and that it will probably go on for about 48 hours. I won't go into the gory details as I'm sure you can figure it out, that lovely view of my window, or even a fuzzy cat head, is not what I've been staring at every 20 minutes or so since Saturday night, just my disheveled reflection in the toilet bowl. I seem to have morphed into a character from Trainspotting.
Charming, you're thinking, why are you sharing this on your blog? Because, as I said, Doctors might tell you about morphine, but they don't seem to tell you this about combining anti-inflammatory drugs and high dose painkillers that include a lot of Codeine. I know I am unlucky that they have affected me so badly, but I also know that I am far from alone in having this violent reaction. I'm just sharing this with you because a lot of people develop Osteoarthritis in later years, a lot od people have back injuries and need relief. When the doctor first prescribes these drugs they seem like a MIRACLE, but just go easy, try not to take the maximum dose and wean yourself off them as soon as possible. This is my third attack after trying 3 different brands of pill combinations and I think I'm done, I can't put myself through that again. I could joke about the weight loss but I am staring at a corpse in the mirror so maybe not, this doesn't feel funny at all. Dealing with the pain head on seems an easier, if daunting, option right now.
What is the best defence against arthritis pain and sciatica/back damage and broken bones if you can't take the pills then? I need to get through this bad patch then exercise, weirdly enough, supervised stretching and low impact exercises that lengthen the ligaments (one of which has partially detached!) and improve elasticity so the weakened bones are better supported. We need flexability and good posture not muscle bulk. Even when you have moderate pain the stretching will help, but get expert advice first so you know your doing it right. And I guess Glucosamine and a healthy diet and keeping the weight down won't hurt either... just keep moving, it's what our bodies are built for and ANYTHING is better than the hell I've just been going through.
This is the view through my bedroom window, the one I've had for the last 6 weeks pretty much full time. There are much worse views of course! I have come to know the comings and goings of the Squirrels that live in the pine (American Grey intruders sadly, not our native Red Squirrel, now incredibly rare but still to be seen in some parts of North Wales if you know where to look) and have watched their acrobatic antics with amusement. They are always very active just before it snows, so I've seen rather a lot of them!
I've also watched the noisy sociable Magpies in the bare trees further back, and the Crows and Jackdaws they share them with. Wrens, Tits, Finches, Robins, Thrushes all bounce about in the branches keeping me entertained. At lunchtimes on Schooldays the enormous Herring Gulls come up en masse from the coast and wait to ambush the school children walking back down to school with their hot fish & chips. The Gulls love to dive bomb them and steal away their lunches to a chorus of screams. The Gulls don't appear at weekends or during School Holidays, they must have Diaries as well as watches?
Anyway, with a loud and painful "crack" yesterday my spine has returned to it's normal shape pretty much, both my legs now both the same length... always helps unless you want to limp round in circles all day. I'm starting to get about a bit more, 5 whole hours downstairs, mainly sitting, but walking with a stick today and working on my Burlesque Doll. So things are slowly beginning to head back to normal.
Thank Heavens, I was worried I might turn into Bill Oddie!
I got an email from Oxfam today, thanking you and me for our support by raising funds with the Art Doll Giveaway, I include a few excerpts below: "On behalf of the people of Haiti, we are extremely grateful for this support." "All of the money raised through your Just Giving page will come directly to our Haiti fund, allowing our teams across the region to respond immediately to the situation where the need is most urgent. Your generous fundraising will enable us to reach even more survivors, and provide them with lifesaving supplies of water and essential sanitation." "Our response in Haiti is currently helping a total of 85,000 people affected by the earthquake, with plans to extend this support to reach over 110,000. As the focus of relief efforts in Haiti turns towards recovery, we have started to employ people to clean up their makeshift camps and improve their living conditions, eg removing rubble, clearing market spaces, helping to dig latrines. This “cash-for-work” effort is set to expand across nine sites where Oxfam has recently installed clean water and latrines, serving 80,000 people. We also have installed water bladders at five sites, bringing clean water to 65,000 people. Water trucks are arriving daily, and we’ve put monitors in place to call for more when needed. We’re working hard to provide effective sanitation for 75,000 people. Work on latrines and washing areas has been completed at two sites, including on latrine designed for use by disabled people, and will soon be completed at a further three sites. You can find out more about Oxfam's response work in Haiti by visiting our website which we are updating with news, reports and podcasts from our staff on the ground at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/oxfam_in_action/emergencies/haiti-earthquake.html"
A huge personal thank you to each and every one of you who has helped me reach 75% of my modest goal so far. I know that most , if not all, of us have already donated our money and fundraising efforts to help people after this devastating event, so that makes your donations even more appreciated. The problem in Haiti is enormous and will take many years to overcome so every last penny/cent will help :o)
So, what's a Stump Doll? Well, to my knowledge they date back at least as far as Tudor Britain, possible even earlier. The defining thing about them is that they are made from one piece, be it fabric, wood, ceramic, whatever... and so usually they have no limbs. A Russian Matryoska nesting doll would be an example, at least the tiny Babooska in tne centre is as she is carved from one solid piece of wood.
Why did I make Lauren & Nicole as Stumps rather than my fully jointed dolls? Because I envisaged them as sitting propped up among the perfume bottles or trinkets on a woman's vanity, in front of the mirror, a reminder that you've still got it, girl! All around us the media is obsessed with youth and those of us over the age of 30 are all meant to be saving up for surgery so we can all look like startled Barbie dolls in a wind tunnel.
I admit that I dye my hair, I've put on weight and the lines are beginning to creep up on me... but you know what, I am so much less self-conscious and self-critical than I was in my teens and twenties. I know who I am and I'm pretty happy with who that turned out to be. Anyone has a problem with that, then frankly my dear, I don't give a damn! That's what Lauren & Nicole are all about, staring in the mirror and instead of seeing all the faults, actually seeing what's behind the eyes, and realising that you are OK with it. Hell, these Gals are more than Ok, they are on fire!
That's why they are stump dolls, it's all about the faces, no distractions. Each one is a meticulously hand painted portrait on canvas, unique and never to be repeated, These 2 women came out of my imagination, but I know they are out there somewhere, having a ball :o)
To enter the competition to win either Lauren or Nicole, just make a small donation to the Oxfam Haiti appeal here, your donation is greatly appreciated and I will draw the 2 winning names on March the first. Thank you :o)
We've all been moved to tears and to give generously to the people of Haiti already but this Earthquake is going to devastate so many lives for years to come. I can't even imagine how shocked and desolate those people who have lost their family, friends, homes, livelihood, everything, are feeling right now but I am sure that these wounds will take an age to heal. Haiti was one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere and now what little they had is in tatters.
I can't do much but have decided to give away, completely free (I will pay all postage/packaging costs) 2 of my Art Dolls, if you can just help me raise a little more for the people of Haiti. I have set up a page where you can leave your donation, however large or small. The donation will go to Oxfam's work in Haiti, each donating person will be entered into a draw for the dolls. I will draw 2 names out of a hat on March the First and send the dolls out to the 2 winners. To enter go to justgiving and make a donation, thank you.
If you have a preference for Lauren or Nicole, just leave a comment below indicating which. If both names drawn prefer the same doll, the first drawn will get her, but they are both lovely! :o) If you donate using a different user name than on Blogger, then please let me know in the comment. I know many of us prefer our charity donations to be anonymous but this site allows me to send you a "Thank you" email, and I can later use the email contact to ask for your address if you win one of the dolls. Plus... how can I enter a name in the draw if you donate anonymously!?!
Thank you all in advance for your generosity and Good Luck. Thanks too, to the lovely Deena Maurus who helped me find "Justgiving" and figure out how to do this.