Hustle

It’s always a treat to get requests from the UK. I’ve mentioned before that the BBC had a huge influence on me growing up. I learned English and watching Monty Python and Benny Hill. It’s harder and harder to keep up with television shows even though I watch A LOT of it while I’m working so it’s great to be introduced to something by someone who feels passionate enough for them to want a set of dolls immortalized after the characters, like this “Hustle” set.

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This set features: Mickey Bricks, Danny Blue, Ash “Three Socks” Morgan, Albert Stroller, and Stacie Monroe.

Now, pardon me while I go hit up my local library for all 8 seasons for this show!

The Ronettes

Years ago, when I was young and silly, my friend and I wanted to form a girl group called the Screaming Librarians. It would be her and me and I assumed she would be the lead vocal while I provided the music. I had many years of classical piano and flute under my belt by then but I’d listened to enough Emerson Lake and Palmer to know that I can probably rock a Hammond Organ if I A. get my hands on one and B. get a couple of daggers like Keith Emerson and stab the keys with it. We would play CBGB and Limelight and The Tunnel and take the club scene by storm. The closest we got to performing as a unit was our 11th grade poetry class where we recited a poem about bats dressed as Goth bats and flapped our arms around a papier mâché sheep and then we sacrificed it. I still have no idea how I got talked into the whole thing and why there’s a sheep involved and how we ended up repeating this performance in front of the entire junior class at an assembly and how we managed to get an A on it. I do remember having to take the subway with the sheep and the commuters giving me a wide berth despite the fact it was rush hour and thinking maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to tote this sheep to school each day to keep the pervs would stop trying to press up against me.

This is why I have quite a lot of respect for girl groups featuring performers with actual talent. Their only gimmick is the fact that they can sing, and quite well. This is my homage to one of the best girl groups to date: The Ronettes!

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Sordid Lives

I’ve been dealing, for the past few months, with some trashy behavior by an unsavory neighbor. It seems like these days I cannot look out the window without seeing her waddling around in broad daylight, wrapped in a towel, cigarette in mouth, shouting out her conversations and generally behaving like White Trash Neighbor No. 1 in a sitcom.

So it seemed apt that I was asked to paint “Sordid Lives” during this time. There were tons of cigarette holding, fried chicken eating, shotgun wielding, hair roller wearing and beer bottle clutching involved and it made me think about how life does imitate art and sometimes the other way around. Well, it’s clear that my neighbor is living her life as sordidly as she can make it, whereas I’m just painting it!

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Set one features Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram, LaVonda DuPree, Juanita Bartlett, Sissy Hickey, Latrelle Williamson, Noleta Nethercott, and Dr. Eva Bolinger.

Some details:

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Set two is all about the same characters but some in different outfits: LaVonda again, Noleta but with runny make up, Earl all gussied up, Juanita, Sissy (this time in a matching plaid short and shirt ensemble), Latrelle and Dr. Eva.

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More details:

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Thanks Scott and Craig! You guys rock!

The Big Lebowski 2.0

Sometimes I feel, when I’m painting the same sets over and over again, like an automaton. This is not necessarily a bad thing since I can pop on a movie of a more cerebral nature and actually watch it while I paint. But it can get a bit monotonous and not the least bit challenging. That is the case with the Big Lebowski sets, so I decided to do a brand new version. Gone are the Dude’s loud cardigan, Walt’s multi-pocketed vest and shorts. Gone are Maud’s golden Viking Bowling Princess get up and helmet that I had to sculpt the horns onto for every set. Only Donny and Jesus sort of remained the same but with different hued outfits. Just to make it more interesting, I included a severed toe with green nail polish. It was a lot more fun to paint, but it didn’t stop me from queuing up some mid-season shows whilst working on this set, though!

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Penny Dreadful

You wouldn’t believe how excited I was when I first heard “Penny Dreadful” was coming out. It had everything I loved: Old timey characters from my favorite classic horror tales such as the Werewolf, Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, Dorian Gray, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde (although that character didn’t appear until the final season and was in fact a bit of a disappointment since he didn’t go through any physical changes), just to name a few. Every time the show introduced a new element such as the appearances of witches, voodoo dolls, Vanessa Ives’ stint in the Victorian asylum, an old Indian who became a werewolf…I would pee a little in my pants. No, but you know what I mean. I would watch this show on my own because I can be trusted to keep my inner horror nerd from going nuts around other people.

For someone who rarely got emotional watching movies (except ones with dogs in it), I found myself getting a bit teary eyed watching the last episode. In order to make this show last just a little bit longer, I worked on a “Penny Dreadful” set after I’m done with my after hours. Late night, me alone with my dolls…seems apt, doesn’t it?

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This set features Vanessa Ives portrayed by one of my favorite actresses Eva Green, Sir Malcolm Murray, Ethan Chandler, who is also a werewolf, The Creature, whom I just wanted to give him a hug because he’s so sad and lonely, the immortal Dorian Gray, Lily Frankenstein, and of course, Dr. Frankenstein.

Itty bitty Dr. Frankenstein has a teeny weeny syringe!

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Twin Peaks Revisited

It’s been a long time since I’ve painted Twin Peaks so I jumped at the chance to do an update. I was given a choice to paint Laura Palmer as a corpse or as a prom queen. Ever since I received these tiara charms, I’ve been looking for an excuse to use them so I naturally was leaning toward the prom queen version…until the night before I was to tackle the project. A flash of inspiration hit me and I quickly went downstairs to the chest freezer and rummaged around until I found some puff pastry sheets. The plastic protecting the frozen puff pastries were perfect. They had precisely the color, the give, and the thinness to recreate a miniature body bag. My new dead Laura Palmer’s body bag would not be painted on, but rather, wrapped. Then I did more rummaging (not in the chest freezer, thank you very much) and unearthed the crepe hair I had purchased years ago on a whim and matted it until it looked like it was drudged from a swamp and viola! A new dead Laura Palmer!

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There’s also a new addition to the cast, Shelly the waitress, along with Agent Cooper, Evil Bob, and of course, the Dancing Dwarf.

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Because of this set, I got to do more rummaging (this time in the pantry) for the onion jam so I could use up the unprotected pastry sheets and made several batches of onion jam puff roll ups. The things I do for art.

Gold Coast Bakery 60th Year!

For the Gold Coast Bakery’s 60th anniversary, I was asked to create a set of dolls after their mascot, a baker. If you live on the Gold Coast, you might have spotted one of their trucks tooling ’round town, or pawed at their products at the supermarket.

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It’s always a great deal of fun painting cartoon-like characters. And bread. I love painting bread, more than I love eating it!

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Spirited Away

Believe it or not, my mother was the person to introduce me to all things Miyazaki. She came home from her errands one day and gave me a video tape from her Chinese video rental place.

“Here,” she said as she also attempted to shove a bao into my gullet, “watch this. You’ll like it.”

The video tape in question was “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” Although my mother and I are two very different people, she knows me like no others. She was using the word “binging” in the context of “cramming TV shows” before it was being applied to anything other than an eating disorder and had me watching the entire original Japanese version of “The Ring” miniseries (there were about 60 episodes or something insane like that) in one weekend, so naturally I immediately popped it into the VCR, knowing this woman gets me. Boy, she was right. I did enjoy the movie tremendously. The artistry, the details, the story. It brought a hardened New Yorker such as myself to tears. After that, every time she’s in Taiwan, she would hunt for the latest Miyazaki masterpiece before it was barely out of Japan and I was hooked for life.

Even though I try to stay away from painting dolls based on animation, I couldn’t turn down a chance to do one of my all time favorite Miyazaki films: “Spirited Away.”

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This one features No Face, Boh the cranky baby, YuBaba and YuBird, Chihiro, and the Kashira (the trio of heads that bounce around).

When this project was proposed, I immediately dug around in my supply drawers and found something that would be the perfect representation of the three heads. It took some sawing and sanding to make them all fit. Most people believe I stand around all day painting dainty little things when in fact I have a Dremel at the ready, fully charged at all time for emergency adjustments, a belt sander downstairs, and a box of band aids nearby for any power tool-related injuries. Even though “traditional” nesting dolls sets aren’t quite as trying to make, I do enjoy these challenges now and then to break things up a bit!

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

I always look forward to the New Year because it’s when I paint for my friend Susie’s charity projects and she usually proposes something I’ve never done before. This year, however, someone else beat her to the punch. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” was one of those off-Broadway shows I went to see on a whim without knowing anything about it and it, along with the movie version, had made quite an impact on me. Also, I’d seen and met the creator and star in person at a Broadway flea market years before (he was representing “The Secret Garden” table because he had been Dickon on the show) and thought he was really sweet and very cute. What a great start to a new year!

The buyer and I agreed straight away that this set would only feature Hedwig in various stages of her transformation (but in reverse).

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One thing that worried me was the cape she wore in the opening scene…I had to find a fabric stiff enough to withstand the amount of paint, glitter and subsequently the wool that would be piled on it. Fortunately the last time I was in the States I had this crazy notion that I would have time to start teaching myself how to needle point and bought a roll of canvas. It’s good to see it put to good use if not for what it’s really intended for.

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As much as I love painting these dolls, I never pass up a chance to do something different!

Some close ups:

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