Monthly Archives: February 2021

Elise was a Piano Once Upon a Time

This is a true story.

This is the story of how a tiny doll and her special hedgehog friend came to live in my studio….

Long, long ago, there was a seed, well several seeds, really.

They grew up and became majestic trees.

They sang the song of the wind and the sun and the moon and the rain and the stars for probably hundreds of years.

And, then they were cut down.

They became a piano.

And the piano sang  songs of love, and sadness and grief and joy.

Eventually, the piano wore out.  Completely.

The piano tuner shook his head sadly and declared it to be done.

But he had a friend who made things with wood, so he offered some of the wood from the piano to his friend.

His friend happily accepted the wood from the sad and gone piano, and because he is a generous and kind person,

he offered some pieces of the wood to his Mum.

That’s me.

I was sure I could feel a very, very tiny doll singing little tiny songs inside the wooden scrap….

I cut a little bit of the piano wood and loved how it felt in my hands….

I cut out rough shapes that would be just the right size to carve my favorite size of doll- 2 and a half inches tall.

I carved:

and carved:

and carved and carved and carved some more.

While I was carving, I asked her what her name is,

and she declared: “Elise, of course!”

She said that even though she preferred playing Mozart when she was a piano,

that she had always loved it when her family played ‘Fur Elise’.

(An interesting thing happened when I told my daughter about tiny Elise-

she knew, even before I said Elise’s name that that was the name of this tiny, but

determined little wooden person!)

Elise let me know that she wanted old fashioned boots

and cream colored stockings and camisole

and that lovely amber color from the shellac for her hair.

She also told me that she wanted me to tat her dress,

and while I was at it, to make the tatting shuttle that I would use

to tat her dress.

And, to make the tatting shuttle a hedgehog, and

to use the bit of wood that was around the lock that used to keep the piano closed.

Elise  helped me to figure out how to get the lock out of the wood….

She insisted that the lovely round brass keyhole had to become part of her tatting shuttle.

Elise chose some old tatting cotton that I had been given

(from the estate of the friend of a friend who didn’t know what to do with it)

Elise and I started freeform tatting her dress.

Sometimes, it didn’t go well.  sigh.

Tatting is the pits to try and unpick, so scissors were the best option:

Elise got a little annoyed at times with all the trying on and taking off of the dress,

but I reminded her that she was the one who demanded it be tatted-

crochet would have been infinitely faster!

She fell on her face and refused to co-operate for awhile, but eventually,

calmed down and we got on with the tatting:

Eventually, Elise’s dress was done.

It’s a bit cattywombus but Elise has forgiven me for that.

She understands that freeforming when making a tatted dress can mean that things are slightly ‘unique’.

Elise is looking forward to having adventures with the other wooden dolls in the studio.

She has placed a few requests for things that she would like to have, thank you very much.

Elise may look young, but you must remember, that she’s a doll with a long, long story!

(and has more to tell, but that is for another day and until then, she and her hedgehog friend will enjoy life in the studio).

 

I have joined a group of wonderful bloggers from all over the world – The Scrap Happy Bloggers- who work with upcycled materials and post once a month.

Here are the links to all their blogs: Do check them out 🙂

Kate Gun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
KerryClaireJeanJon, HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2 and Noreen

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Carved Wooden Spoon Wooden Dolls Hearts and Flowers 2

In my previous post, I showed you the little sister of this wooden spoon wooden doll- Springtime LINK 

Her big sister is also a celebration of flowers and hearts and love …

Flora is in love with flowers-

and dreams of them, night and day

She has a Compass Rose to help guide her by the Sun and Moon:

Her heart shape spoon is extra large to help her gather and carry and share a whole lot of love and beauty.

When I was carving her, I was sure that there was a poem that was supposed to accompany her.

Sure enough, when I had finished the carving,

I went to bed, wondering what poem it was that she wanted me to burn on the back….

As I drifted off to sleep, this little haiku popped into my head,

so I jumped out of bed and wrote it down.

I burned it onto her, first thing the next morning.

Here is the poem:

“In the Seed

The Flower waits

Birthing

the Universe”. …………

May all your seeds and flowers give blossom and birth all manner of beauty in your life!

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Carved Wooden Spoon Wooden Dolls Hearts and Flowers 1

I have fallen in love with carving flowers on my wooden spoon wooden dolls.

Nowadays, I carve the wooden spoon part of my wooden dolly spoons in the shape of a heart, to symbolize gathering and sharing love and kindness.

This  Hearts and Flowers Sister is about 6 inches/15 cm tall and is a celebration of the river and the ocean and flowers and butterflies and dragonflies:.

To be honest, she’s also about dreaming of much much gentler weather than we are experiencing right now.

We have had a brutally long ferociously cold spell of winter, and I am so longing for Springtime, and for flowers to be in bloom

instead of blistering icy cold shattering winds!

I miss the ocean, and it’s so cold that I am not even going out to say hello to the river, even though we live close to it.

so I carved  flowers as a love song to the flowers and waves for my longing to walk along the ocean’s shore:

It has been such a long time since the dragonflies danced in our neighbourhood

and of course, the butterflies are cozy in their cocoons, dreaming of springtime…

Seriously…. Springtime, I am longing for you!

I carved ‘Springtime’s Sister and the next blog post is all about her. LINK

 

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How Fairy Tales Influence My Work

I love the fairy tale, ‘Vasilisa The Fair’, which is a Russian story of a feisty and stalwart young woman with the usual cast of troublesome characters… miserable step mother and step sisters etc’ with the astonishing Baba Yaga thrown in to boot.

I discovered the story more than 45 years ago in a gorgeous version that was told by Alexander Pushkin and illustrated with gobsmackingly exquisite pattern and color play by Ivan Bilibin.

The part that I have always loved the most in the fairy tale is that Vasilisa’s mother wanted to embody her love and feelings of protection for her daughter

when she knew that she was dying and grieving the leaving of her child.

So, she made Vasilisa a small doll that carried all her love for Vasilisa, and became a mentor and guide.

The little doll that the loving mother made was a living blessing for her beloved child that she had to leave too soon.

In my workshops on dollmaking as a healing art, I have always told the story of Vasilisa and her mother making the blessing doll.

I invited participants to make a doll that would represent Vasilisa’s doll for them.

So that’s my history of Vasilisa’s doll….

A few weeks ago, I shared a photo of a  Comfort Doll that I named: Middle Sister, to a dollmaking group on Facebook that focuses on healing dolls.

This dolly spoon is one that insisted on me ‘getting her right’, and  I wrote about that process HERE 

The moderator of the group said that the Middle Sister doll made her think of Vasilisa’s doll,

which hadn’t occurred to me as I was thinking that I was being influenced by the  thousands of Comfort Bears that I have woven, knitted and crocheted over the past 20+ years.

But, the moderator’s comment gave me a   H.U.G.E   ‘AHA’

Yes! indeed!

I felt that this little doll, who was the third in my ‘Comfort Doll’ series

was VERY much an homage to that wonderful energy of  Vasilisa’s doll.

Here are the first 2 dolls in their original state:

I had been feeling that these 2 dolls were not finished… they needed to be painted… which I struggled with,

because I had been wrestling with adding color and somehow thinking that it was against the rules,

(Huh? What rules? Who made them? um… I did… oh)

And, so I jumped into the wonderful fairy tale energy of color and pattern, and re-imagined these two little dolls:

Big Sister:

and Little Sister:

And, NOW, they are truly what they are supposed to be!  Hurrah!

The Three Sisters have been joined by 2 more Vasilisa Comfort Dolls:

I was processing having seen 2 heart wrenching documentaries about grim realities in the world,

and that sorrow flowed out into this Comfort Doll:

Her name is: Vasilisa Comfort Doll: She Stood at the Lake of Sorrow.

I tried to lift some of the sorrow from her face, but she said not to do that….

to acknowledge the sorrow but reach for the beauty.

So I did.

And, the latest little Vasilisa Doll is part of a series of carved wooden dolls that are also spoons,

that I am carving flowers into.

We live in a winter world here in Western Canada, and I am longing for flowers!

So I am carving them!

This is Vasilisa Comfort Doll: Sweet Little Flower:

Carving out space to honor the sorrow and reach for the Beauty,

as well as the longing for flowers is very much a Vasilisa thing to do,

so, I believe that this is how a fairy tale percolates through my mind,

and influences my work as an artist.

Oh yes, one more thing: The Vasilisa Comfort Dolls have Heart shape spoons as essential elements of them,

which is a powerful metaphor for me about gathering the love,

and stirring up healing and empowering energy.

I think that Vasilisa’s mother would approve.

What fairy tale stirs your soul?

 

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Learning to love the surprises when carving wooden dolls

I absolutely love carving wooden dolls, and have learned that the dolls have ways of taking me in unexpected directions while I am carving them.

This little bunny was carved from upcycled maple wood- a huge tree in our neighbourhood was cut down and we were given enormous chunks of the trunk.

I knew that a bunny was waiting to be carved from the wood,

but didn’t expect her to insist on a different body than I initially carved….

and then to want to go back to her original body once I had done more carving on it.

This lead me to make some changes and now, there are 2 rabbits, where once there was just one….

I was VERY surprised by this new rabbit, and am delighted with the ideas that she has brought with her!

Luckily, ‘Maple’ Bunny and ‘Surprise Rabbit’ are the best of friends:

I’ve made a tiny video that is all about going with the flow when creating one of a kind wooden dolls.

It also has a slide show showing the step by step process of carving a Maple Bunny’s head.

I hope that you have some lovely surprises and not unwelcome ones!

Take good care ❤

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