Every year, the Jefferson County Fair is held just across the street from my house. Possibly because it's as handy as it is, I find myself entering my art each year. Years past, I've been very pleased to get blue ribbons on everything I entered, and I expected this year's entries would receive the same accolades.
I was wrong.
I entered three ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) and one of my art dolls. The ATCs won 1st Place Blue Ribbons and Honorable Mention, which was very exciting for me. But the real excitement was centered around the art doll.
His name is Yuri, and the piece is titled "Lunchtime." I see Yuri as the quiet son of immigrants, working steadfastly as an underling at his desk job, taking his lunch to the park every day and feeding the birds. He is so sweet and gentle that the birds have come to know and trust him.
In creating a doll, I start with the head, as the size and expression that emerges as I sculpt tells me who the character is, what size the rest of the body needs to be, etc. I usually know the character very well by the time I've finished sculpting a head, as they seem very pleased to have with whom someone to share their story, and I'm a good listener.
I start by selecting a set of dentures and eyeballs from my supply (I make dentures and eyes once a year or so), and around them I sculpt the head, arms and hands, legs and feet using my own unique polymer blend. Then I begin creating a body to fit the head and limbs. First I create a wire skeleton from wire, wrapping it to create the necessary "joints and bones." Next I sew batting in place over the wire, doing a crud musculature sculpting as I go. I follow that with a "skin" (nylon fabric), needle sculpting muscles and body features in place as I go. Finally, I attach the finished head and limbs. The clothes are entirely handsewn by from my own patterns (which differs from figure to figure, of course), his hair is Nutria fur (a tiny piece of an ancient coat), and the belt and shoes are made from old glove leather, with polymer soles.
But I know you're waiting to hear the judging results, right? Yuri got a 1st Place Blue Ribbon, but he ALSO got "Best of Class!" I am SUCH a proud artist today...and with the cash award, I just might have $20 to spend while at the Art & Soul Art Retreat in Portland late next month!