Meet Gatarra….

Goodness it has been a long time between posts.   I have mostly been posting on the food blog (manwomancookeatdrink.com).    There has been a bit of creating going on, mostly tote bags.   Since the last post I now have an embroidery machine which is changing things a bit – it wasn’t new, but new for me.   I have also been playing around with applique and free motion embroidery.   Have decided to go back to making some dolls and this is the first where I have used free motion embroidery for the faces.  It took a bit to feel “safe” doing this, but in the end I just thought ‘what the heck’ and went with it.     My inspiration for this doll came from a couple of artists :  Gordana Brelih and Isabelle Cellier (I have ordered her book and awaiting it impatiently!).   I hadn’t seen their work before and am in love.

Gatarra is Italian for “mad cat lady” – I quite liked that.



Twiggy 2

A couple more twig dolls finished.   The next challenge is some decent photos of all of these – at the moment it is mid-winter,  I seem to think about taking photos at the end of the day and that is death to decent lighting.   And I think they need to be named,  I feel kind of sad that they are anonymous, though I guess we all are to a greater or smaller extent to the wider world.   Come my beauties and be loved…….


Twig Dolls

I was given a doll made with twigs, some paper mache and printed fabric.   It is quirky and fun.   And I had a ‘hmmmmm’ moment.   Plus we were gathering autumn twigs for the fire and it just seemed to all come together.

I then made some fimo faces (from a Sculpey mould) and painted them.  The wondrous thing about making these dolls is that you can use the smallest pieces of fabric.  And that’s a great thing when one has a mountain of small pieces of fabric!   I wanted to use beautiful fabric – so far the dolls have been made with pieces of silk, sari silk, dmc threads, a variety of ribbons and of course I just couldn’t help myself – a wee bit of beading.   Coming together nicely I think.



The process for these dolls is improving – the finish is much better – hope everyone else is in agreement (because some of you may just be getting one!).   Over the Christmas holidays I was on holiday in the Bay of Islands and visited a gallery in Opua and was lucky enough to talk to Charlotte Scott (http://www.theslightlymadquiltlady.blogspot.co.nz/).   I loved her work and the dyed silks.    I mentioned that I was finding it difficult to get the right weight backing for my dolls and Charlotte suggested pelmet vilene.   Well I had to wait until we were a bit closer to home but I went into Spotlight (in Hastings) and they had never heard of it (!) – but I did purchase some very heavy weight interfacing and lucky lucky they had a sale so I bought a roller blind (to use the fabric) for only $10. Happy with that bargain!    Have now made a couple of dolls with this combination and now feeling much happier about the finish.   Am still going to search out some pelmet vilene though.

Below is another doll that I have recently finished.  I have used some embellishments from the multitude in my ‘studio’ (I hesitate to say that with pride because it demands a HUGE tidy up).  These include some pearls (faux) from an old pearl necklace bought in a 2nd hand shop and the velvet and beaded ‘belt’ is a piece of a Trelise Cooper ribbon salvaged from another project.    The skirt part of the doll has freehand sewn writing with the word Angel oversewn with gold thread.    The face is from a painting by William Clarke Wontner “A Beauty in Eastern Costume” (c.1916-1925).      The backing has the wording “Speak the Language of Angels”, and the backing is painted vinyl.  This is a flat doll made as a wall hanging.




Another doll…

I LOVE making these dolls.   They are a perfect way to use my imagination, utilise fabric, and add little pieces of embellishment.  Two things that I still need to do more work on though.

First thing that is nagging away at me is figuring the best way to display them.   If I put a little hook 2/3 of the way up the back, then the head falls forward when it is on the wall.  But when I put the hook higher up it often exposes the hanger –  a personal dislike.  Blast.  Am sure it will come to me at some stage……

Second is finding the best material for the backing.  Currently I am drafting the figure onto cotton, backing it with a medium weight stabiliser and then sewing the fabric detail on.  Then backing the doll with a vinyl.  I would like it stiffer – so thinking that either I use a heavier stabiliser or a heavier weight backing.  Will have to experiment with both.   Any maybe the result will solve the first problem.

Here is the latest:


and the back:


Oops,  how bad is that,  this is the first post for 2015.   Life has been busy,  the inspiration not always there, so the creative side has been a bit dormant.   Made a few fabric patchwork rugs just for us –  and not really a lot else until the last few weeks.  Had the usual Saturday evening surf on the net and found some inspiration to get me going again.   Decided to create some larger pieces that can be hung – these have an Angel theme and will be great for Christmas time, or any other time – always good to have a bit of glitter somewhere no matter what time of year it is!   The art dolls are made from recycled fabrics and embellishments, with some hand embroidery and hand beading.

These have a heavier backing which I think provides a better base for hanging.  Just need to find the best way to hang them.

This one is called Life is a Wonderful Fairytale:


and here is the back, which has been painted red and gold.


The next art doll is Speak the Language of Angels.  The stars are all handworked (both sides) with sequins and beads.


Back of Speak the Language of Angels:


Rag Rugs

Over the last 12 months or so I have made three of these.   A great project for a winter night,  and also to use up a stash of fabric that I won’t be utilising in any other projects.  I searched the net for helpful hints about how to create rag rugs,  found my own rhythm and knotted away.  I knotted as I went along,  so no need to sew the rounds together.   I also only used one strand of material as the fabric was pretty thick.    It certainly wasn’t orthodox,  but they look fine.   If nothing else the dog loves them.

IMG_1351  Though so do I.   We have one at each of the side and back doors.  As they are from furnishing fabrics they are heavy and sit well.   Haven’t attempted to put them through a wash yet.  Not sure whether it will be a hose down or I will put into the washing machine.  They are now wearing in nicely,  a bit of fraying starting to come on,  and the colours fading and muting from the sun.     It’s an easy technique,  whichever you choose.  I must admit I didn’t worry about it being perfect as I went along,  as they are meant to be rustic.  That makes it even easier to do quickly.  And along the way I learnt a fantastic knotting technique for knotting the strands of fabric.  It is a slip know and is a quick knotted joint, but does show in the rug and does create a bit of an uneven texture. Cut a slit lengthwise, about ½ inch from the end of the first strip. The slit should only be large enough to allow the bulk of the next strip to pass through it. Cut a similar slit about ½ inch from the end of the second strip. Bring the UNCUT end of the second strip through the slit of the first strip, and then through the slit in the second strip. Pull the strip snugly to tighten the knot.   Ok it sounds easy,  but for me it was one of those “why didn’t I know this before” moments!

Hope you give rag rug making a try.  Though if you are in the Antipodes, you might want to wait a month or 3 until the weather cools down.