Nellie"s Needles

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Still Icy

This is what we awoke to this sunny Sunday morning.
This is what we're still seeing this afternoon.
It's a beautiful and icy wonderland out there.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ice Storm

This picture was taken through my studio window. It's beautiful, but destructive. I'm glad to be safe and warm inside looking out.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"I'm All about Color"

Color ......

I'm All About Color (13"x 17")
Color ...... Color is a prime element in my work ...... there is no Color that I don't like ...... my world is full of Color!

This piece began with a picture taken by the camera built into my computer. This point of view seemed appropriate for my self-portrait since my husband claims I spend so much time on the computer. He often sees me peering up over my glasses and the screen to acknowledge his presence ... or interruption.

Go to the "Interpret This" blog for the whole story. This morning is my turn to reveal all about how I interpreted the self-portrait challenge for January. If you haven't read the posts of the members who've already revealed their portraits, scroll down beyond mine to do so. Also, there will be a new reveal every half day through Sunday.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


In my experience self-portraits are tricky and not easy to execute. It amazes me how others readily observe what we look like as well as all our little mannerisms and tics while most of us are often clueless. How often have you looked at a photo and reacted with "I don't look like that!" When it comes to seeing ourselves it's really hard not to be myopic. After all, we're looking from the inside out. Through the years I've attempted to create portraits of myself. None of them worth completing ... all were scrapped.

The closest I had come was a portrait of the inner me and that was accidental. As this piece neared completion, I felt the patches of colors reflected how I perceived myself.

Patchwork Perspective - 1993
The light sunny colors represent my optimism, while the cool stable ones reflect my surface serenity. Tucked under these two are the strong hot colors of emotionalism. And then there's the dark corner of personal history I don't think about or have forgotten. But then, there's the fading, but still present (a lot more so at the time this was created) emotional pain lingering in the purples. It was almost titled, "Pieces of Me". To read more about and see close up photos of this art piece go here.

Finally, I've created a self-portrait piece that's worth keeping. It was prompted by the January challenge for the "Interpret This" group. Because of my past failures, this particular challenge almost made me change my decision about being part of the group. But then, I don't back off commitments easily so I took on the challenge.

Today is the beginning for reveals of the self-portraits made by my fellow members of
Rian and Libby are the first to post. Tomorrow, the 28th, Kay and Judith will post theirs. Friday, the 29th, Karen and I will be on. Then you will see what I did with these glasses.
Go back to the "Interpret This" site on the 30th to see Debra's and Beverly's and on the 31st to view Beena's and Kim's reveals. While you're there, please leave a comment with your reaction and observation of each person's revelation(s) in the tricky task of meeting this particular challenge. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how the other's interpreted this.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bra Bags From a Bag of Bras

Do you remember this bag of voluptuousness from a post last April?It was the project my friend and I worked on while she visited from Milwaukee. They became Christmas presents. These were wrapped and under the tree waiting to be opened.
We called them "pin-up potpourri pouches" since we thought few of our friends would carry these suggestive beauties as evening bags.
The recipients came up with some other terms ... "boob bag" being one.
My favorite is "brapourri".
I wish I'd had my camera at the ready when each of them were opened.
All of the recipient's reactions were much like these two ... amazement, delight, awe that anyone put so much work into "this". There were even a couple who declared they would carry theirs as evening bags.
The one made for me by my friend hangs here in my studio.
The one I made for her hangs in her bedroom.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pounded Leaves Piece

Since the beginning of this new year I've been struggling to make this piece work. Even the possibility of cutting it up to make smaller works occurred to me.
I'm pleased with the background piecing. All those elements came together easily and fit together so well. The negative maple leaf images in the discharged linen fabric mirrored those pounded into the muslin square. The bottom piece "reflected" the muslin square. While the fabric with stripes of natural colors became winter time tree trunks. The five tapestry woven dragonflies seemed the perfect topper.
It all began with this piece of muslin that got an impromptu pounding of leaves into it. I've had moments of nostalgia for its original fresh appearance of simple leaves.
Over time I've added paint, ink, oil stick pastels, and lots of seed stitching trying to make it work ... to integrate it with the background ... to keep it visually anchored instead floating above. In recent days even more paint, ink, and pastels were added. This solution of darkening the muslin panel came to me when I began to see and think of this piece in a different context.
Earlier this month I joined the Liberated Quilters Yahoo group. The group's project, The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI), got me thinking about this disease that afflicts loved ones in so many families. At some point, I began to relate the dimming and loss of memories to the background elements within this piece.
From my own experience, I know the joy experienced when a memory or moment of recognition surfaces momentarily in a loved ones afflicted mind. That is what I now see in the muslin square.

Now that this piece has a meaning beyond that of being a delightful whim, I can take it to completion with thought and care.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Speaking of Portraits

Click here to view the making of this velvet Elvis portrait. You will be amazed and entertained.

Speaking of Elvis, Lee and I were photographed with him at the big 75th birthday bash. My t-shirt reads," Elvis Is Dead, Get A Life!"
Lee's says, "Nobody Knows I'm Elvis." Note his "velvet Elvis" pants.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Interpret This" Teaser

It's time for teasers that hint at the self-portraits being created by member artists of "Interpret This". Click on the icon photo located in my sidebar for that group to go there. Your comments and observations are welcome. This photo is one of my teasers.
I have a love/hate relationship with my eyeglasses. They are a part of every outfit ... everyday. They've become my only neck jewelry. The top pair is made from fabric and will be an important element in my self-portrait. Our finished pieces will be revealed over several days at the end of the month.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Still Playing With Dolls

Well, not really. I like setting up scenarios. This one is nestled in the corner on top of my bedroom dresser.
The mother and older daughter dolls were rebuilt. Their porcelain heads are from long ago while their leather bodies are about twenty years old. That's when I made them into this family. The younger daughter and baby are porcelain reproduction dolls that I bought about twenty-five years ago. The little girl is holding an old celluloid baby doll.
The table dressed with old linens is set for afternoon refreshments.
The star of this scene is Bernice. I designed and made her three dresses. The one she has on is cotton velveteen trimmed with old cotton eyelet edging.
She's also wearing fine sewn undergarments that are suitable to this period. The striped dress hanging in front is made of silk. I designed and stitched the battenberg lace collar.
The light colored dress is made from a printed linen and trimmed with silk taffeta.
The dresses were designed and sewn by me. For about five years I taught pattern making for dolls in workshops. I also restored and dressed old and well-loved dolls during those years. All of that seems a lifetime ago. Those skills are resurrected occasionally for the dolls of those who are dear to me. Such as my granddaughter's inherited dollhouse family and a friend's old family Bylo Baby doll. I'm afraid those naked baby dolls in my cupboard are doomed to stay that way.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Doll Who Has Everything

This doll is living my childhood dream. She has toys and books. She has drawers and a closet full of pretty clothes. She has more than one pair of shoes. She has a beautiful room all to herself.
She has a smocked top to go with her pinwhale corduroy pants.
She has a smocked bubble playsuit for summer days.
She has a pretty smocked dress for cool fall days.
She has a pleated silk taffeta skirt to wear with a fine cotton batiste blouse.
She has snuggly undergarments for everyday wear.
She has pretty embroidered undergarments for good.
She has a beautiful party dress ... and a hat that goes with it.
I made the bobbin lace trim with silk thread. There's also shadow-work embroidery and smocking that adorns this fine Swiss batiste cotton dress.
She likes what she sees in her silk trimmed mirror. This doll is named Terra after the little girl in that photo on the dresser.

Terra has a silk lined wool coat and smocked velvet bonnet to keep her warm.
At the end of the day she puts on her pajamas and slippers.
...and after storybook time says, "goodnight."

I fell in love with this 8" tall doll because she looks the way I imagined my then daughter-in-law-to-be, Terra, did as a child. Kemper, her future husband helped me to construct the box in which to build this dream room. I constructed the dresser, closet, bookshelves, and bed. It was a joy to paint and wall paper and outfit this fantasy room. Her wardrobe grew until no more would fit into the drawers and closet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More Small Dolls

In the past I have dressed other small dolls. Many of them are in my personal collection.
Beginning with the top shelf, these two dolls have the most work put into their costumes. The small doll wearing the smocked dress and bonnet is barely two inches tall.
They are keeping company with the oldest doll that I have. The black doll is so old there is no marking on the back of her porcelain head. Her composition body is jointed. The photos in the background were taken of my husband's aunts at the turn of the last century.
At the other end of that top shelf are a couple of storybook dolls, both of which date back to the era of my childhood ... the kind of dolls I yearned for back then. A doll with a composition head and felt body that I bought on a trip to England is dressed with a smocked frock and hat. She's standing behind old leather bound family diaries that are propped up with a Stieff sheep. There's nothing special about the teddy bears. I collected them for my small dolls to hold.On the middle shelf beneath those dolls is a mixed collection ... from an old celluloid naked baby to a couple that were made by contemporary doll artists to one that was made to be a cat toy. The brown skinned knit cloth one was designed and made by me. I can't recall now why I never clothed her. Under the glass bell is a porcelain reproduction doll that I dressed. She is holding an old porcelain dolly.
On the other side of the middle shelf are several ethnic dolls, an old storybook doll, a silk fabric angel made by a friend, and a very small celluloid doll under the glass bell jar. The old composition doll standing in the corner is wearing a dress made from aged silk that I made. She, too, is holding an old porcelain dolly. The cloth one in front of her is a modern artist's doll.
Beneath them on the bottom shelf is an old Madam Alexander jointed storybook doll with her original skating costume. Behind her is a modern doll that I had dressed. In the bassinet is the original Spanish doll that was copied by many other manufactures for a period of time.
Her dress and the bassinet cover are smocked. And yes, that's an old photo of me in the background.
A collection of modern/reproduction babies occupy the right side of the bottom sheld. There are photos of our now eleven year old twin grandsons along with a colored pencil drawing of their great-grandfather. The crocheted teddy bear was my baby toy made by my mother.
The pretty porcelain bowls that you see among the dolls contain lavender to keep the air fresh and deter any bugs from taking up residence among my dolls.