Category Archives: Art Dolls

What’s in a name?

When my super intelligent, super talented sister decided to write a blog, her biggest challenge was not how she would find the time to write (newly retired from keeping the NHS afloat, time for personal pursuits is a novelty) or what she would write about (cooking, touring, history, walking, living in the beautiful Welsh Marches etc).  No, it turned out that what caused her embryonic career as a blogger to stutter was finding a title for it.  After trying to match the expectations of her potential readers with her own ideas and aspirations she came up with this which I think works pretty well (as, indeed, do her blogs).

Duro and Helen
Duro and Helen

When I started out as a Textile Artist I wondered whether I should use my own name or come up with something a little less personal.  There were a couple of reasons: firstly, my name is not that uncommon and, coincidentally, there’s another Maria Lalic in the art world although she is higher profile and exhibits in places like the Tate; secondly, as much as I love textile art, I also love primitive craft, writing, teaching workshops, gardening and loads of other things.  I wondered about having an all-encompassing label for these things because I thought that people who liked my artwork might think that there was a multitude of people with the same name doing loads of different things.  I couldn’t come up with the umbrella term in the same way as my sister did so I settled on giving each activity a different name.  Textiles to Treasure showed off my attempts at crafts,

Mumma Doll
Mumma Doll

Rebecca Alston wrote short stories, book reviews and magazine articles and Simple Country Folk reflected my interest in gardening, simple living and self reliance.  When Lorraine from Greenweeds Web Design got involved she was adamant that everything should come under my name because she said – quite rightly – all of the different aspects of my character affected the work I produce as a Textile Artist.

I wasn’t convinced but I said goodbye to all of my alter-egos and carried on as just me.  Nowhere is this more obvious than on my twitter account where I use my 140 characters to micro blog about textile art,

Lleuadra
Lleuadra

my cat Lily,

What now?
What now?

how the garden looks,

After weeding ...
After weeding …

the weekly Porthcawl Park Run

and my treks through the local countryside.

Early morning on River Garw
Early morning on River Garw

 

Weithiau, wrth gwrs, rydw i’n ysgrifennu yn y Gymraeg achos bod diddordeb mawr ‘da fi yn yr iaith Gymraeg ac Hanes a Diwylliant Cymru ac mae llawer o bobl yn defnyddio twitter am yr un peth.   

We pretty much get stuck with the names our parents give us but of course you can wreak revenge when you name your own offspring though that is easy compared to naming pieces of artwork.  When I had my usual pop up exhibition at the year’s Wonderwool I was struggling with what to call this piece but my problem was solved by my pal, the wonderfully talented artist Miranda Bowen , who came up with a great title.

The Guardian
The Guardian

At the same event I showed some work that I had made for an exhibition that I’ll be having at Bryngarw Country Park on the 30/31 July 2016.  Exhibitions also need names! I found a snippet of a quote from the Book of Isaiah which referred to a ‘habitation of dragons and a court of owls’ so the name for the exhibition is ‘A Habitation of Dragons’ and all of the pieces of work will be inspired by dragons or dragon-lore.

The Dragon of Cwm Garw Fechan
The Dragon of Cwm Garw Fechan

That’s a lot of titles to come up with and whilst they sound a bit fictional (Heuldra, Lamia, Sreca for example), all of the names have their roots in mythology or the Welsh language.  So whilst I was standing there at Wonderwool, waxing lyrical about the variety of Textile Art I had on display, talking about the things which inspire or interest me and giving information about our NGS open garden day to just about anybody who stopped long enough to listen, a lady came up to me and said “Is this all yours?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“There’s too much,” she said, “and it’s all too different, too confusing.  I can’t cope.”  And she walked away.

I wonder what Lorraine would have to say about that.

A dweud y gwir, does dim ots ‘da fi nawr. Yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol eleni, byddaf i’n gwneud sesiwn crefft ym Maes D yn y bore ac yn siarad am fy ngardd yn y prynhawn Ddydd Gwener.  Dewch a dweud ‘Helo’ pe basech chi yno. 

If I only had a …

“Brain,” says the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, as if having one would make everything alright.  But I know very brainy people who will never be as happy as a scarecrow because they think too much and mostly about the wrong things.  Rowli Pugh

In Welsh, a scarecrow is a Bwgan Brain – which means a Crow Bogie not a Brain Bogie.  I’ve been making Scarecrows for our garden for ages.  At first they were anonymous, vaguely human shapes stuck on sticks but a few years ago, I made one called Trevor who, for some reason, attracted a lot of public attention.  Trevor was joined by his wife Lucille.  She was not refined.  How many blonde female scarecrows have you seen wearing leopardskin print leggings and low cut flouncy blouses.  Eventually,  Trevor and Lucille produced off spring and their antics led to press coverage, radio interviews and a spot on a television programme.  You can get an idea of what I’m talking about here.

Trevor, Lucille and family
Trevor, Lucille and family

It turns out that scarecrows move home in the middle of the night so you can wake up one day with completely new neighbours.  Eventually Trevor and Lucille left and were replaced by Rowli and Cati Pugh.  Nice people but they never quite reached the heights of popularity attained by Trevor & Co.

Rowli and Cati Pugh
Rowli and Cati Pugh

We’ve been managing without scarecrows for a couple of years now but opening our garden for the NGS Gardens Open for Charity Scheme was the perfect excuse to make another scarecrow.  If you’ve never made a scarecrow, here’s the way I do it but if you browse through sites like this you can get more ideas.

Start off with a long stick for the head and body.  You will need to bury at least a foot of the stick in the ground.  I made the head for mine out of a linen bag, painted with permanent felt pens and stuffed with sheep’s wool although the inside of an old cushion will do as well.

Corky the Scarecrow
Corky the Scarecrow

Put a short cross bar on for the shoulders.  Either tie it or nail it in place.  Assemble the clothes your scarecrow is going to wear.  Meanwhile put an old cushion pad in a plastic bag and tape onto the stick as the body.  Make the limbs out of rolled up bubble wrap and tape them into position too.

Corky 2

Dress the scarecrow.  Corky is very traditional but as Lucille proved all those years ago, scarecrows can be glamorous too.

Corky 3

Finally plant your scarecrow in the garden or field.  Corky has a blackboard that he uses to write messages or to teach them Welsh.

Corcy 4

Mae Bwgan Brain yn syml.  Mae e’n siarad Cymraeg yn araf ac yn glir.  Mae e’n boblogaidd iawn gyda phobl sy eisiau dysgu Cymraeg.

“It seems to me that smiling is always a better  thing to do than frowning.  There’s enough things in life to make people frown so I prefer to make people smile.  Felly, pan fydd pobl yn gwenu ataf fi, byddaf i’n gwenu atynt nhw. Mae pawb yn hapus.”

Corky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice is half the work

 

When people ask me how long it’s taken me to make something, I usually reply in decades.  That’s because my Mum taught  me to sew when I was 7.  It was an attempt to keep me occupied, out of trouble  and out of her hair.  Didn’t work, didn’t work and didn’t work but that’s Mums for you – ever optimistic.  If you were following last week’s blog about making an Art Doll, you’re probably wondering where the next bit is.  Continue reading Practice is half the work

Rain, rain, go away

 

 

The novelty has worn off as far as the rain is concerned here.  Too much of anything is not good and that particularly applies to the weather.  From my workroom window, the field has been replaced by a large pond with occasional islands.  At least Talullah, Lola and Gilbert (the ducks) are happy.  Continue reading Rain, rain, go away

The Chicken, the Egg and the Circle

 

Like anything creative, sometimes the hardest part of Textile Art is getting started.  I’m making a series of Art Dolls for the Coblynnau project all of which have to relate to their environment and the story of The Keepers.  More than that, each doll has to inspire the one that comes after it and be inspired by the one that came before it.  This is a classic Chicken and Egg situation so how do you break into the circle and start the creative process of making an Art Doll? Continue reading The Chicken, the Egg and the Circle

The Coblynnau are coming

 

The Coblynnau are Welsh Mine Fairies: they are good-natured, helpful creatures who dress in rags and live – for the most part – underground. They are fond of making stone sculptures.

 

The Coblynnau were mine goblins who signalled where the richest seams of coal were by tapping out messages to miners or leaving trails of stones underground.  Their story provides a starting point for many of the Art Dolls that I make.  Living on the edge of the scarred and rugged South Wales coalfield means that you are never far from history.  It is not beautiful in a chocolate-box way but it is a land rich in legend and magic – just perfect for a Textile Artist and Dollmaker like me.

My first art doll!
My first art doll!

Continue reading The Coblynnau are coming

The Single Step

“The longest journey starts with a single step.”

And never was a truer word spoken when it comes to starting something creative off – in whatever discipline or craft.  As this project will be set alongside The Keepers in Bryngarw Country Park, I spent some time there on a very wet afternoon last week.  I find that being outside helps me to form ideas about colours, lines and textures that I want to use. Continue reading The Single Step