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!
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!
There’s also a new addition to the cast, Shelly the waitress, along with Agent Cooper, Evil Bob, and of course, the Dancing Dwarf.
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.
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).
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.
As much as I love painting these dolls, I never pass up a chance to do something different!
Some close ups:
I can’t exactly call this version of Absolutely Fabulous as 3.0 since only a few changes were made to the original 2.0.
And here’s the newer version:
I was asked to put the words “LaCroix” somewhere on Edina. For her, merely toting LaCroix clothing and accessories isn’t’ enough. The designer’s name must be shown somewhere on her person so I put it on her head. I always thought of her fashion sense as “tastefully tacky.” The new Bubble doll required some rummaging around in my supply closet. The little doodads on her head were leftovers from a Christmas card/ornament (yes, I used to have time to hand-make all my Christmas cards that the recipients could hang on their trees) which had somehow followed me all the way from New York to Oz. Sometimes your subconscious minds does know what it’s talking about!
Once a year I get a request to paint a set of dolls based on a little girl’s latest obsession, which is, quite frankly, very flattering. Although I don’t exactly produce dolls, I do recall, as a child, my bedroom had a wall of shelving units that I literally cluttered with knickknacks. Some were toys, most were miniature rooms I made out of Kleenex boxes, but a majority were ornaments that made dusting day a real headache. The point is, there are children out there who appreciate receiving ornaments as presents rather than toys and I look forward to this time of year when I get an email from the little girl’s mother.
This, apparently, is the year of Harry Potter. I’ve done a mega set a few years back so I was happy to repeat a few of the characters and adding three new ones. This set focuses on the students themselves.
When Harry Potter was at its height of popularity, I was a school teacher then and was amused to find all the girls in my classes were VERY attracted to Draco Malfoy, so I wasn’t surprised that he would be the first doll. Most girl appreciate a bad boy, I suppose. Hermione’s all about girl power, so’s Ginny and Luna, the two other new additions. Harry and the slovenly Ron are also in the mix, almost as an afterthought.
In the first Harry set I did I was asked to paint the characters’ accompanying creatures. That’s done again for Harry and Ron, but with the others I played it up with wands and broomsticks and also the time turner again for Hermione, an artifact I kind of wish I have so I can finally sit down and eat my lunch!
Gilmore Girls is one of those shows I never got around to see when it was first aired. I think I’d just graduated from college and was too busy navigating the zany world of adulthood to invest in a TV series. Also I was too cheap to get a proper cable hook up and relied solely on one of those rabbit ear contraptions which ended up being used to dry hastily sink-washed scanties. I had maybe two “good” channels I could watch without getting a headache when the wind was blowing eastward so I missed a lot of great shows then, Gilmore Girls being one of them.
As per someone’s request, I got to paint this set featuring characters from the show that best resonated with the buyer. Since I spend a majority of my day painting with Netflix on the background, I figured I ought to give this show a try. I’ll tell you what, it’s really weird to see my former Princeton Review SAT prep teacher on the screen. Lauren Graham is fabulous, of course. I’ve only ever known her as a no-nonsense test prep teacher who was good at her job and got annoyed at me when I had to leave my final review session early so I wouldn’t miss my ride. That’s the mark of someone who gives a damn.
This set features Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Emily, Richard, Kirk, and Lane.
It’s really wonderful to see someone from your past doing so well for herself. Maybe it’s time I check out “Parenthood!”
Years and years ago I did a mini “Lord of the Rings” set featuring the fellowship. Since then I’d been wanting to update it but never got around to it…until now. I was asked to do a large set of 8 featuring a wizard, a hobbit, dwarfs, and a dragon from “The Hobbit.” It’s really hard to fit this mega set into my insane schedule, but I worked on it after after hours and found that I do my best work after dinner; when noisy and crabby neighbors have retired for the night and I was refreshed from a bracing shower and dinner.
Usually I can’t wait to finish a set and send it on its way, but this one…? I kind of wanted to keep it around for a bit!
Smaug was painted all in one go on a dreary Saturday afternoon. I streamed two movies and three 1-hour TV show while painting this set.
Gandalf: Hatted and unhatted.
Thorin and Dwalin. Seriously, Dwarfs cannot be this hot in Tolkien’s vision.
Fili and Kili and Bofur and of course, Bilbo.
This is one of those project I never thought I wanted to do until it was presented to me several months ago.
“What if,” the email stated, “there’s a Frida Kahlo set featuring Diego Rivera, Trotsky, and Frida’s house?”
“Oh my god,” I murmured and put down my turkey sandwich. “Let’s do it,” I whispered to my email page as I stabbed out a reply with my crumb coated fingers. I was at my parents’ house when the request came so I had to do a mental assessment on my inventory. I distinctly remember having received a peculiar house set that’s larger than average which would be perfect for Frida’s home/museum and crossed my fingers, hoping I haven’t done something stupid to it like painting a lurid flower on it. As soon as I got home I headed straight into the sweatshop and it was still there, unmolested by my impulses and two months later, I got to work on it.
The main challenge is trying to find which aspects of the house/garden that needed to be included. After some back and fourth, we decided on this:
As I was working on this set very slowly late at night after other ones are sorted, it seemed like a really daunting project. But it got painted in the end and all I can say is that I am forever grateful to Netflix and Stan and Hulu+ for keeping me sane throughout the entire process. But honestly, it’s not as bad as I made it sound. I’ve been doing miniature interiors since forever.
Since I had once spent a great chunk of my life commuting on the subway, I often daydreamed about having an entire car devoted to my comfort.
Since there’s an extra doll left in the set, we kicked around the idea of painting one of Frida’s fetuses or a monkey. We settled on a monkey.
Okay, so this wasn’t my idea at all, but I felt like I had to do this all-Divine set, both in the glorious jumbo set and also a mini version. It took several nights to paint, as I had to do it after after hours, but I powered through it and this is the result!
The large set and…
the mini set!
It features Babs Johnson, Dawn Davenport, Francine Fishpaw, Rosie Valez, and Edna Turblad.
…and a side-by-side:
I love the big Babs, but the mini has its charms too!
This is one of those sets I don’t paint often and am always glad when I get to do it.
I do have to agree with Stephen King that the movie isn’t as great as the book, but it is still able to scare the living daylights out of me with each viewing and that’s what’s important!
This is also one of those sets where I have to cast the physical doll instead of just reaching for a ready-made one. The itty bitty Forever and Ever Twins are cast in polymer and baked to perfection. The problem with this technique is that I have to be super careful before varnishing it or else the paint gets scuffed up. Doing this set does keep me on my toes!