Editorial Note

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By the way, astute readers might have noticed a completely different theme went up last week. I was so embarrassed by that old one, which I had tweaked until it was uglier than sin. I have more plans for upgrades to this site, but they’ll have to wait until I have time to create some graphics for them. Hopefully, less embarrassing graphics. Meanwhile, this lovely free theme will do. If you like it, check out the designer’s work from the link down at the bottom.


AWOL

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Well, it’s been about a year since I posted here, but what a year it’s been! In March I got a part-time job that looked  like it was going to be a real, actual, long-term job. Then, in May, to our utter shock and amazement, we found out I was pregnant. After years of fertility treatments, my doctor had  finally advised us to adopt, and then six months later, God answered our prayers. I guess He just wanted to be perfectly clear about where this blessing came from. In July, I lost my job because I wouldn’t commit to coming back after the baby. I wasn’t exactly devastated — it was a lousy job anyway. I got a temp job that was supposed to be for two weeks but ended up being months long. Then, in December, the blessed event came to pass. Talk about getting knocked on your butt! Due to unforeseen circumstances at the birth, we spent a week in the hospital and then I spent six weeks on my couch, unable to drive or really get up and do anything. I wasn’t even allowed to lift the baby in his carrier.

But! Look what I got to show for it!

Newborn super genius

Newborn super genius

So, while I was too busy working full-time and too sick from being pregnant and giving birth to do any crafting or blogging, I spent a lot of time thinking about where I want to go with this blog. My original idea was to be an artist review blog, like Polymer Clay Daily, only for art dolls, but the sad fact is that I’m much less interested in traditional western art dolls anymore. I’m much more into ball-jointed dolls (bjds) these days, and I want this blog to reflect that. Also, I learned from my tree thrones project that people like to follow along with my projects, and I figure maybe blogging about them will give me more accountability to actually finish stuff in a reasonable amount of time.

So, I’m going to start blogging again. Expect more bjd-related content, more personal stuff about my life (though that’ll always be kind of minimal. Sorry, I’m just not an exhibitionist) and more “what’s on my sewing desk” type posts. You can also expect some renovations soon. I’m  studying web design, something I’ve done off and on for several years (the studying, not the designing) in an effort to get the skills to make a new theme for this blog. I’ve come to hate the one I currently have so much (the colors — what was I thinking?) that I may go ahead and put a new freebie skin on anyway. I also need to do some behind-the-scenes housekeeping.

So thank you for following along as I embark on this new chapter in my life. I hope you will take the time to comment now and then — I live for comments! Talk to you soon!


Retooling

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Hi all. I’m retooling this blog a bit, since my interest in original art dolls has waned a bit. I’m going to focus more on whatever pretty things are occupying my attention at the moment, which will mean a lot of figurative art of every kind, ball-jointed dolls, the occasional home decor topic,  and of course lots of crafts and art dolls.

I know nobody’s reading this; I haven’t updated in so long I don’t have any viewers anymore. But hopefully the new focus will prompt me to update more often. My intention is to aggregate links to pretty things. I hope you like my taste and will come here to find pretty things to inspire your own creativity.


I’m back!

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Woo hoo! It’s been a really frustrating couple of months, but the blog seems to be up and running now.  I’m not really sure what happened to the colors, and I still have to restore the pictures and my plugins, but right now I’m just jumping for joy that there is actually content on this page!

I don’t have the energy to do a full doll post right now, but here’s a tutorial for making puffy paper stars that I thought was really cool:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-lucky-paper-stars/

Keep an eye on this space for future changes. There will be a new theme in our near future; I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to make changes to this one or build a new one from scratch; I’m going to get rid of the ads which aren’t making me any money anyway, and I’m going to expand my content a bit to include other kinds of figurative sculptures and dolls.

I’ve kinda missed you guys. I hope you’ve missed me. Stay tuned…



Kamila Mlynarczyk–The creepy art of Wooded Woods

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Programming note: This is a big week for Needle and Clay, which must explain why it’s been so hectic. Today I bring you the first ever Needle and Clay artist interview, with Kamila Mlynarczyk, who very kindly responded to a few e-mail questions I sent her last week. Then, on Saturday, swing by for the first ever Needle and Clay blog party! There’ll be lots of pictures of Halloween dolls and decorations, and a link to the blog party host, Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist, who has a list of dozens and dozens of other bloggers and artists who will participate in the party. It’s going to be a lot of fun, so don’t miss out!

I’m not really an expert on the Addams Family tv show, or the original comics by Charles Addams, but in the movies it was implied that there was a larger Addams clan, made up of individuals that were just as morbid and freakish as the familiar Morticia and Gomez. The dolls of Wooded Woods seem to represent the rest of the clan, in the style I like to call, “Victorian gone horribly wrong.”

Kamila Mlynarczyk, who goes by Alimaky on eBay, should be the poster child for Mrs. Blathersby’s Orphanage for the Unattractive and Mentally Unsound, an artist group I’ve mentioned before. Her work perfectly encompasses that group’s theme of creepy or strange characters rendered with careful attention to detail and engrossing background stories. Mlynarczyk says she thinks her work would have developed into this form anyway, but MRSBO sped things along. “It’s a really supportive environment to showcase fringe dolls that normal groups tend to sweep under the rug,” she writes. “What MRSBO did do was encourage me to write for my dolls. I had never really done that before and when I starte, wow… it was hard to stop and felt very right. And now, if one of my dolls doesn’t have a story, it just doesn’t feel finished to me.”

Their stories are often morbid little tales of mysterious births and abuse, always ending with a tragedy that explains how the child ended up at Mrs. Blathersbys. There’s something very sensuous about her sculpts. They have red noses and wide lips, but at the same time they are often pale and bear signs of their unfortunate histories. This is probably what makes them so fascinating; they remind us — sometimes humorously — of the fine lines between life and death, and between “normal” and “freakish.”

Most of my questions for her were practical ones about her artistic process. She says she usually starts with a vague idea for a doll and then starts sculpting. “Afterwards I match fabric and hair together and the story is always pieced together as I’m finishing her/him. Whatever I do, whatever plans I do make, it always gets better.” When she works without a plan, which she calls “indulging herself,” she finds that even stranger ideas occur to her: “I take more risks and that means that I’m more open to drastic changes in my style, which usually means great success or great failure.” She also notes that her husband plays a role in her creative process as a springboard (mine does too, I wonder if that’s true of most creative people).

Many of her pieces come with beds, coffins or other pieces of furniture. She says that although her dad is an amateur carpenter, she never learned to work with wood until she started making dolls. Now she learns as she goes along, often using reference pictures, and cleaning up her mistakes with a belt sander. She has recently started experimenting with paperclay for the fine details.

I really admire her pictures of her work, although she insists she isn’t a gifted photographer: “Ever since my husband made me a lightbox out of pvc pipes and some white fabric, it’s been easy to take good pics. You can definitely find do-it-yourself instructions on the web [like this one, at Strobist] … I also have four $9-dollar office lamps aimed at the light box.”

Check out Mlynarczyk’s work at her website, WoodedWoods, and her blog. She also sells a pasteboard book with all her stories and characters from 2007-2008, which is a great way to contribute to the artist and get pictures of her work for inspiration.

Have a great week, and don’t forget to come back on Saturday for the Halloween blog party!



Programming note

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Mark your calendars for the online Halloween Blog Party being sponsored by Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist! On Oct. 18, everyone who has signed up will feature special Halloween-themed art, recipes and decorations to inspire you for your Spooky Day celebration. I’ll post a link to the list of participants on that day so you can enjoy the rest of the party. It looks like some real talent is signing up, so don’t miss out!

I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do for the party. I’m not really working on any Halloween art of my own this year (I seem to be doing Christmas instead), but I have a friend who does great Halloween stuff, so maybe I can talk her into letting me take some pictures (pretty please, Deb? I know you’re reading this!). Or perhaps I’ll do my first artist interview with a Halloween artist and post it on the 18th. Anybody have any suggestions?