Beetlejuice Mega Set

I painted a Beetlejuice set a while back after unearthing some lime green batten wool in my supply closet. It had originally been intended for a member of The Misfits from “Jem and the Holograms” set I never got around to painting. Funny how one thing morphs into another in the game of babushkaring. I was asked to paint this nine-piece set of Beetlejuice just as I was about to bury my father so I was pleased to have this to look forward to when I return. I was also pleased that my idea of putting Lydia Deetz in her red wedding gown was okayed. The gown is reminiscent of a dress one of my friend’s bride had worn in a lavish Chinese banquet but of course, at the time, I didn’t have the heart to point that out to her. That wedding had been in Canada and my family had driven all the way up there to attend and had a blast. Painting this set had made me remember one of the many fun family trips we had embarked on and I was grateful to be able to reminisce about it fondly.

This set includes Beetlejuice, Lydia, Adam and Barbara, Delia Deetz, Otho, Charles Deetz, Juno, and an itty bitty Miss Argentina.

She’s only tiny, but I managed to squeeze her name into the sash because I had plenty of practice writing as tiny as I could when I was a kid…a skill my mom had claimed would amount to nothing. Boy, was she wrong on that front!

Bink and Olive

I’ve been getting a fair bit of requests from people wanting to commemorate their pets in doll form. At first I hadn’t wanted to do it because just the thought of these pets crossing the rainbow bridge made me so sad that I would tear up just looking at the photos sent to me. This was why I never went into taxidermy when I had an opportunity to do so. But then I thought, well, it’s for people who really love their animals and the little dolls I create can bring a little bit of solace so I went for it. After all, I AM surrounded by photos of my and my brother’s bullies and I haven’t burst into tears once (lately) when I look at them.

These are Bink and Olive, straight up Basset Hounds who just looked like they’re the best boy and girl in the world! I was a bit weepy at first but got over it.

I made a special blend of paint for Bink’s coloring which I am naming after him: Bink Black. It seemed like I’ve been naming my special blends after dogs I’ve painted. For instance, one of my blends is called Jett Black after a little black pug I painted some years before.

As with all my commemorative animal sets, there’s always a little Easter Egg surprise inside. This one is no exception!

Bink!

Olive!

 

 

 

I Dream of Jeannie

If I ever have the pleasure of being granted a wish, I’d ask for more time. And probably better eyesight. There is just not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. I had experimented with cutting down sleep and replacing it with 20 minute naps 4 times a day. That didn’t work out too well. I was Zombie-Vampire Irene and had often caught myself sprinkling salt into my coffee. But I came to the realization that my circadian rhythm is vastly different from most people’s and it’s taken me that many years to realize that. It explains why I’m never fully alert until after dinner!

During one of my many late night working hours, I managed to cram in 15-45 minutes of fun painting time in which I’d work on some side projects. This was designed to keep myself interested in painting dolls day in and day out, because without some new and interesting challenges, I would have abandoned the babushka game a long time ago. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV growing up, but since I was also a latchkey kid, my brother and I would happily ignore the restriction by lunging for the TV as soon as we got home from school. Often, after a healthy dose of cartoons and my brother’s wandered off to do whatever big brothers do in the 80s, I’d continue to watch some old reruns of The Brady Bunch, Batman, Bewitched, and, of course, I Dream of Jeannie. I’d been feeling quite nostalgic these days and decided to tackle I Dream of Jeannie because it had always brought me so much happiness. I wanted to work the bottle in, but didn’t want it to be a mini version so the Hubs and I looked at some designs for Jeannie’s bottle and I found a fairly round doll to fashion it into one. The bottom bit wasn’t as wide as I had wanted, but it does keep the original nesting doll aesthetics!

It took several months and some tears of frustration to paint the bottle, largely because, at 3 AM and after a night of going through a heavy painting session, I wasn’t as sharp and with it as I would at 7 PM and kept making some glaringly obvious mistakes. But I would prevail after giving myself a good pep talk and put on some quirky TV shows and fix whatever boo boo I had made.

Painting Jeannie and Major Nelson wasn’t quite as hard, so I left it alone until the bottle was done and dusted. For Jeannie’s hair I had a very clear picture of what I wanted to do. The Hubs designed the fez hat for me with a hole in it so I could easily insert her pony tail through. I remember procuring an excellent facsimile of blonde hair that would do the trick, but I could not for the life of me find it! I tore my studio apart looking for it, only to remember two hours and a huge mess later that it was cast carelessly inside an easy-to-reach supply cabinet. Sheesh. In the end everything worked out and I was able to successfully finish the set without any more crying.

So here it is, a pure labor of love and some misery. Now, you will excuse me as I pull up a few episodes of this old favorite show of mine and sip some unsalted coffee.

Lizzie McGuire (Past and Present)

Even though I was too old to watch “Lizzie McGuire” when it first aired back in the early aughts, I was keenly aware of the program as it had been popular among the students I was teaching at the time. I knew nothing about it except for its star, Hilary Duff, because she didn’t seem like the type to spiral into madness like so many of her contemporaries (and I was right). It is why I was pleased when the show’s creator Terri Minski asked me to paint a duo faceted set of the show depicting the McGuire family as the revival is slated to be aired on TV shortly. It was fun painting the actors in both versions, as this technique had been proposed by many people in the past but had never come to fruition.

Side A features a young Lizzie McGuire and her family, plus her animated alter ego.

Side B is the grown up and older versions of the same characters. I was only a tiny bit disappointed that Hilary Duff had chosen not to wear her Mermaid Blue hair for this role.

Now, to bum you out a little…I usually do a Christmas set every year, which I actually started and was confident I would finish in time. But the Universe decided to throw a monkey wrench in the busiest time of my year and it literally struck my Dad in the head and he passed away two weeks before the holidays. The doctors weren’t able to determine what had caused his collapse and eventual death, so I imagined that all the synapses in his brilliant, clever mind finally completely misfired all at once and the fuses shorted out. His death caused no more of an inconvenience to all he’s left behind other than securing a plane ticket so close to Christmas, but I managed, so were a host of other relatives and friends, to fly in for his cozy memorial service (or participate in the simultaneous internet live streaming in other parts of the world where he had bevies of friends). It only goes to show how beloved my Dad was, and I found out all the lovely things he did for people throughout the years. I now must strive to be the person my Dad was already proud of and become much much more than that. And I know I have so much of my Dad in me that I really don’t have to miss him…he’s with me always…but hopefully not when I spend hours in a pretzel formation trying to do something about my ingrown toenail.

 

 

The Wes Anderson Diorama

Toward the end of my teaching career, I was invited to the Museum of Natural History for a professional development where the man leading the lecture was one of the curators of the dioramas there. I usually spent these PDs catching up on my sleep or daydreaming about what I’m going to do when I win the lotto jackpot, but that day, I sat, rapt and enchanted, and wished that I hadn’t turned down the opportunity to be an assistant to my ex-boyfriend’s friend, Taxidermy George, who, was one of the most illustrious taxidermist in the country back then and at present.

Taxidermy George, at the time, was running his business in his parents’ basement and was nice enough to have me over to show me his studio. I wanted nothing more than to quit my job right there and then and become a taxidermist, an impulse that practicality said a resounding no to. It turned out to be a mistake, as I found out, to even qualify as an assistant to work on the dioramas at the museum, I would need a rudimentary understanding of taxidermy.

Well, I probably wouldn’t have been too good at it since I’m not too crazy with the idea of working with dead things. But boy, would I love to do the backgrounds for the displays! As it was, the only time I got to really spread my wings was putting up the stage sets for the annual New Year’s performances at the school I was teaching and I wanted to do more of it. At 30+ years old, I felt it might be too much of a gamble to go into the set design/taxidermy business, so I kept it tamped down and wished that one day I would have the time and space to work on it, even at a miniature scale.

As it turns out, there was never time nor budget for me to indulge in this whim of mine, until one day I was looking for something in my loose dolls drawer and saw that I had an array of tiny “last dolls” that had been torn from its original set due to customization. I could turn these dolls into pieces for a diorama!

It took nearly two years for me to finish it, largely due to the lack of time. When the dolls were painted, I experimented with different ideas on the display itself and finally found the perfect frame. I learned how to do wood staining with materials I had on hand (isn’t YouTube tutorials wonderful?) and got to paint on flat canvases for the first time in years. It was a lot of fun putting the pieces together, and I wish I can remember most of the process as a majority of these dioramas were painted at around 3AM when I am in zombie-mode.

This is the first in the (hopefully) many series of a miniaturized large scale project. I admit it was a bit too ambitious for someone who didn’t have a lot of time and didn’t really know what she was doing. I chose to showcase some of the characters from Wes Anderson’s movies because I’d painted so many sets in the last 10 years that I didn’t have to do too much research. Just to let you know how long this project had taken me to complete: When I first drew out the rough sketches, “Isle of Dogs” didn’t even exist yet!

Bottle Rocket

Rushmore

The Royal Tenenbaums

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Hotel Chevalier

Darjeeling Limited

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Moonrise Kingdom

Grand Budapest Hotel

Isle of Dogs

 

 

Cursed Toys

In my humble opinion, there is nothing scarier than toys that are designed to maim and kill. It’s because of the movies solely based on cursed objects that I was never really into dolls other than Barbies. Here is a collection of some of the dolls featured in a few favorite horror movies of mine.

Here we have the titular character from “Annabell,” a movie about the most evil doll in the world. IRL the said doll was actually a Raggedy Ann, which, aesthetically, does not look like a conduit of pure evil. Then there’s Brahms, who is technically not evil in any way, but still creepy tho. There’s Billy from “Dead Silent.” I don’t think I have ever seen a ventriloquist doll that is NOT evil looking. Then of course there’s Chucky, whom I’ve painted before but I cannot leave him out from this group. And can we ever forget what that clown doll try to do to little kids in “The Poltergeist?” Last but not least there’s Talky Tina from the hit TV series “The Twilight Zone.” She is more of an avenger for abused little kids so I approve of her murderous rampage.

Well, there you have it.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

Ghosts and Monsters

I did three Halloween themed projects this year, this being the main one, an idea I’d been toying around for years now. It is basically a little sampler of a grander scheme of things, and I’m grateful I had time to churn it out.

As my longtime readers might know, I am a fan of horror movies and literature. Naturally I ate up every single movie Guillermo Del Toro has ever made. It took a while for me to figure this one out, but once I sat down to have a good think, everything just fell into place.

The first creature is of course, Hellboy, quickly followed by Pale Man from “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and of course the Amphibian Man from “The Shape of Water.” I painted him realizing that in the movie, he seemed to glow if he’s scared, angry or horny and decided to try my hand at glow-in-the-dark paints. It’s one of those things I don’t know how to photograph, so just know that the blue bits on the Amphibian Man does pop once the lights go out!!

Although I am a fan of the horror genre, I’m not particularly crazy about ghost movies…to me it seems like a cop out. However, “Crimson Peak” was so well made in every aspect, from the stunning visuals to story telling, that it is currently on the top of my favorite ghost story movie.

The same could be said for “The Orphanage,” which I also loved, especially the ending! Maybe next year I’ll be able to paint a full set from each of these sampler dolls!

Belchers Family Halloween Special

I don’t know when it became a thing, that I have to do a Bob’s Burger themed set around this time of year. Instead of painting them in various Halloween costumes, I decided a mash up of the Belchers and the Addams family. It’s not the most original mash up ever, but I did have loads of fun painting these!

As this was a quick one-off, logistics dictated that I paint a diminutive 6-piece set, otherwise I would’ve love to include Mort and Aunt Gail!

Here’s Thing with a spatula. I’m sure Bob would appreciate an extra hand in the kitchen, if not to help him flip the burgers, but to talk to like he talks to inanimate objects.

Tina and Cousin Itt are my spirit animals so it’s natural they’re mashed up in this world.

I thought it would be fun for Gene to play a mini calliope organ, something he would probably not touch in the Belcherverse, but definitely would in the Addams family.

In Louise’s fever dream “Flu-ouise,” her beloved Kuchi Kopi was disfigured, something Wednesday Addams would definitely appreciate.

Happy Halloween!

Witness for the Prosecution

This is the third (and hopefully not the final) installation of an Agatha Christie mystery set. I was tasked to paint “Witness for the Prosecution” and was encouraged to watch the movie first. I’d seen it a LONG time ago, but as my memory, when it comes to films and books, seems to be sieved, so I was only to happy to have the excuse to watch it again, and boy was I glad I had. The movie was well written and superbly acted and I began the project brimming with ideas.

This set was painted right before the advent of my Christmas season and I was grateful for the timing. I’m not saying this would’ve been a slap dash project, but there would’ve been a few less gingham or twill designs painted, that’s for sure!