It’s really wonderful to see Spinal Tap is still popular after all these years. Why shouldn’t it be? I got around to painting a different version of it last year and am really looking forward to doing yet another one! This one comes with a mini amp. The amp is so tiny that I wasn’t able to paint little number 11 on it for this particular set but I did in a subsequent one, except I’d forgotten to take a photo of it. Like they say, if it’s not photographed, it’s didn’t happen. Luckily I’ll have another opportunity very soon to do so!
I got a little high and dizzy while making the crown for the Freddie Mercury set and recalled an old Stephen Sondheim musical “Sunday in the Park with George.” When Sondheim wrote “Art Isn’t Easy,” I’m sure he hadn’t meant that an artist would pass out from all the toxic fumes emitting from the materials used to create a work of art. Granted, I did start most of it outdoors, but had to move it inside when the night closed in. But I’d rather suffer for my art than do anything else in the world!
This set had taken me months and months to complete. I actually started it before knowing the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” was a thing! It wasn’t the execution itself that took ages to get it made, but the fact that I first had to experiment with the new kind of paint for the crown, how to construct the velvety layer inside and finding the right type of velvet to use. Then I couldn’t find first, the time, then the inspiration. But then it came rushing fourth and I built the crown in about 6 hours’. It had been one of the final steps to finishing the set, which, coincidentally, had also brought to mind anothe number from the same Sondheim musical: “Finishing the Hat.”
I always have a ton of fun making crowns and tiaras, and this one was no exception. All the materials needed had been foraged from my vast collection of baubles and bits and that in itself had been one of the best experiences of “finishing the hat.”
I was fortunate enough to take a short trip to the East Coast this year when visiting the US. Chief among the things I had to do (stinky tofu in Flushing, mammoth ice cream sunadae at Serendipity…unfortunately both on the same day, great for me but not so good for my aging belly) was to secure a ticket to see the last ever showing of the “David Bowie Is” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. This event held several layers of excitement for me as I had not been able to do any field studies of the subjects I’ve been painting due to either time constraints and the fact that I am now based in a city devoid of cultural stimulus. Don’t get me wrong, I love where I live since walking out onto my street and seeing dolphins playing just meters down the road in the water is not something you gloss over, but I do miss the days when I would just hop on the subway and then be transported into another world.
The exhibit was sensational. I had to take careful notes, however, since I was to return to Oz and begin one of the most interesting projects I’ve been tasked with since I started this Babushka business 9 years ago. The David Bowie set has always been burning in the back of my mind but I never seem to get it come into the light, as there are just so much to choose from. Fortunately this was taken out of my hands and I only had to make a very tiny suggestion and here we are.
The space ship hadn’t been part of the equation in the beginning, but somehow it ended up in here and I was more than happy to get a few bits and pieces made to turn the first doll into a vehicle.
And here we are, a crew of David Bowies.
Life on Mars/ Yamamoto Stripes
Aladdin Sane/Thin White Duke
…and finally, The Black Star
Here’s another Beastie Boys set based on “Intergalactic.” Honestly, I can spend at least half a year painting different versions of them, they are that much fun to do.
Just for fun, I decided the last “doll” of this set should be a ghetto blaster…a little Easter egg special if you will!
I used to have one of these back in the day…it was a gift from my parents. They didn’t think people were walking down the street blasting music with it. I would’ve too if I could get my hands on a dozen D cell batteries, but when you’re eight-years-old, they’re a bit hard to come by.
Many many many moons ago I made a Little Shop of Horrors set with a non-working Audrey II. By non-working I mean it’s basically just a Papier-mâché plant that won’t open. It’s been haunting me ever since the set was completed. Every now and then I catch myself looking up at the moon and thinking about what I can do to make it even more extra.
This is the older version:
I will admit that I had a lot of fun papier-mâché-ing Audrey II. It still has a place of honor in front of the TV set.
But you know how it is when you’re looking at something online and one thing leads to another (I now know how to fully furnish an underground bunker, thanks to one of my after midnight forays into the interwebs), I found an old Maxwell coffee can, the same one Seymour used in the movie when he first bought Audrey II and things sort of spiraled from there.
This is the new and improved Audrey II. The plant structure itself, I’m happy to say, now opens. Most of the leaves and vines are papier-mâchéd. As this is one of those sets I constructed after after hours, I more or less use what was sitting around to make the greens, including utilizing hardanger fabric meant for embroidery, wires I filched from the Hubs, and tissue papers saved from something someone sent me. I suppose years of working as a public school art teacher has taught me to successfully scavenge for supplies!
As the plant now opens, I can happily put in the core cast from the movie. Here’s Seymour Krelborn and Chiffon, Crystal and Ronette…
…along with Audrey, Dr. Orin Scrivello D.D.S., and of course, Mr. Mushnik.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I love rock and roll from the Golden Ages of Rock and I love the idea of being in a band. I don’t think I would do too well in a girl band because, you know, hormones. And also when you put a bunch of girls together, wardrobes always seem to merge and I don’t like sharing. But my god, girl groups are awesome, though. Here’s one of them, the Runaways!
These gals have attitude up the wazoo. This set features a semi-original lineup of Joan Jett, Sandy West, Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, and Jamie Fox.
It’s no secret among my friends and family that I prefer music played in a continuous loop on classic rock radio. Back when people used to own CDs, my collection had been referred to as the-kind-of-albums-usually-owned-by-44-year-old-single-men-still-living-in-their-mother’s-basement. It’s true. I’d bring dates home and distracted them with cake or miscellaneous art work lying around, just so they didn’t wander over to my CD tower and discover that a majority of them bore the distinctive Roger Dean covers.
I love The Who. This would be my 900th set and I hope I did it justice. If I can’t paint the boys who had gotten me through high school and most of college with their “sound,” I should just give up the babushka game and go into actuarial science.
It turned out all right, I think.
This is the first time I didn’t place the drummer (Keith Moon) at the end of the lineup so I got to put in some details on the drum kit.
Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, and John Entwistle.
I usually listen to stand up comedies or “watch” TV and movies while painting. But for this set? It’s The Who albums all the way through, including the original Broadway cast recording of “Tommy.” I treated my friend to the show for her birthday and in turn, she treated me to it for mine. Afterwards we went again because we were theater nerds and also back then we could also get orchestra seats for $50, which was affordable for high schoolers with no substance abuse issues. I believe my friend saw the show on her own 4 more times. I would’ve gone with her, but, unlike her, I did have to watch my pennies since I was an art student whose classmates tend to have a bit of sticky fingers syndrome due to the high cost of art supplies and had to carefully split my allowance between Broadway shows and replacing my stolen T-square or Rapidographs.
I’ve always wanted to paint a group of dolls featuring some random musicians, not just a band, but different artists to represent different genres or style or whatever. Ever since I started the babushka game, I realized that A. there are tons of like-minded people out there and B. they usually make my dreams come true.
Here’s a set for a music fan featuring performers he likes:
We have Stevie Nicks in her “Stand Back” outfit, Boy George with his trademark chapeau, George Michael (RIP) in “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” , Stuart Anderson, and Dolly Parton.
I’ve been making wigs and sculpting hair on dolls for so long that crafting Stuart Anderson’s ‘do was no problem. It was Dolly Parton I had the most fun with because I never had an opportunity to sculpt breasts on a doll before and that was a treat. It brings me back to my art school days where I did horribly in my sculpture class because I simply couldn’t get the clay to go the way I wanted to. But practice does make perfect and now I can make a pair of boobs without one looking as though it’s ashamed to be with the other.