Let's Celebrate Izannah Walker's Birthday!

My Izannah Walker Doll Pattern is on sale for 50% off through September 30th to honor Izannah Walker's birthday.  Izannah's birthday is September 25th, but I'm going to host this celebratory sale from now until the end of the month. So if you have been waiting to buy this pattern, now is the time. Hop on over to Etsy while it's on your mind! I made the doll in the photo below using my pattern.  


I am proud of the many artists who started their doll-making journey with this pattern and the many dolls made all over the world using this pattern. It is STILL fun to see the wonderful creations people make. 






Something I Feel Good About

When I was cleaning out mom's condo I was happy to connect with a woman who collects vintage machines.  Mom had 9 sewing machines in various states of repair  - most of which were the same model of Singer sewing machine from the 1960's. She would find them at the thrift and fix them up, or use them for parts to keep her old machine going. Mom was very smart that way. Anyway, the local quilt store connected me with a lady who collects old machines, and she took about 6 of the machines, leaving 2 (a Montgomery Ward sewing machine which appears to be never used and a solid machine and a 1980's Singer machine which weren't as great as the earlier ones.

I also found someone to take the quilting fabric who is connected with a quilting guild that makes charity quilts. 

Mom would be happy about that! 

Passages

Last year my dad passed away and this month my mom passed away. Here is what I wrote about my mom  for her service: 

Mom

The whir of a sewing machine

The crackle of frying chicken

The sizzle of lace cornbread


This was the background music of our childhood.  


A scoop of flour

A chunk of butter

a cup of buttermilk

A pinch of salt


Mom taught us to make something out of nothing. 


When I was a teenager I had a favorite dress. Mom traced the seams of the dress onto paper and made a copy of the dress for me. 


We still talk about the chicken she grilled decades ago on an old refrigerator rack supported by concrete blocks. Common kitchen ingredients became masterpieces in her hands. 


Mom taught us to make something out of nothing. 


Mom struggled at times in her life. She had to start over and take the helm in raising four rambunctious kids as a single parent. It was not easy. But in those times, she created islands of respite around a kitchen table laden with the beautiful work of her hands.

The Places We Make

We humans have a desire to "make a place". I remember as a girl finding a clearing in the woods near my Granny's house and creating a "house". Under this tree was the kitchen, under that tree was the "living room", etc. We used large leaves from Granddad's Dutchman's Pipe vine as "dinner plates" when we made mud pies. What wonderful memories these are. These places were temporary for an afternoon, or a week, or a summer. 

Brick wall from a restaurant in Bangor, ME

This morning I was thinking this: some seasons are like places. We get to design them and shape them with intention, so that they are a "house" for what is happening now. 


Fifteen Years to Now

Fifteen years ago, I started this blog. Sometimes I read things on it from the past that I've forgotten, and that is a gift for today. I've grown and changed as an artist. Life has brought me to paths I didn't imagine I would walk, as it does for us all. 

Fifteen years ago my kids were little, and I was interacting with life and school through that mom-of-little-kids lens. Like this mom I saw diligently working her way through a rainy parking lot at the grocery, followed by a little girl carrying a pink umbrella. The years pass so quickly. 

Now, one child will be charting his course on his own after college, and we will search for and build a good future with our other son for his future. Choices are available to one, while another waits for options needed to move forward. 

But some things have not changed, and in the best way. Fifteen years ago I was experimenting with sculpting with Creative Paperclay, and today I have a paperclay creation drying in the oven. There is something encouraging, and I hope symbolic, about shaping that clay and see it become something. It's a metaphor of sorts. 

Setting Creative Micro-goals



A member in an online group I lead suggested that instead of having "a challenge" we have a micro-challenge. Instead of "Make X Type Doll" we would choose "Make arms for X type doll." It was pretty successful, so each week a discussion thread has focused on goals for the week. Some of us need the structure of community for encouragement to create.

The pandemic has caused many of us to lose some creative focus and to be isolated. With extra work and constraints on everyone's plate, it really makes sense to set smaller goals. Ecouraging each other in meeting those goals has been key. Also key is having Zoom meetups where we share what we've accomplished. It's been rewarding to see others make progress and motivating to try to make progress on our own goals. If someone doesn't make progress that week, we carry goals over to the next week. We attend to see what others have been doing and to cheer them on. Win-win. 

So micro-goals are simply the smaller steps needed to meet a larger goal. "Make a doll" becomes choose pattern, cut out pattern, trace pattern on fabric, cut out pattern pieces....you get the idea. It's kind of like picking a bouquet...every bouquet begins with one picked flower. It's the collection of flowers that makes it a "bouquet"

If you want to read another post about finishing projects, go here http://www.northdixiedesigns.com/2013/10/dollmaking-day-2-art-of-finishing.html

If you'd like to read more about setting micro goals, go here: 

On the power of small wins:

This past week has brought some unexpected challenges our way, which aren't about creativity. I'm trying to remember that small steps can make for big accomplishments. 

The First of the Hopestill Clan

May I introduce you to Starr Hopestill? 


After making hand sculpted dolls for years, I decided to have a mold made of my antique Izannah Walker doll. How this came about - I was working on making my antique Izannah Walker doll  a new arm (not sewn to her directly) and a new foot (not yet attached - to be attached to clothing, not the antique doll). Anyway, as I was really studying Hope (my antique doll) so closely, I wondered what she might have looked like when new, with a different hairstyle, or skin color, etc. So I set off on a journey to have a mold made. Fragile Hope was NOT touched in any way with mold making materials - technology helped with that. It has been a years-long process to get from that thought to a reproduction doll, but I have completed that circle with this first doll of the Clan Hopestill. 

While I was painting this doll, with current events playing in the background, a classmate of mine from high school came to mind. I haven't seen or heard from her since high school (I moved away), but I remembered her as a beautiful spirit. When she smiled, she shined like a star. And so the name Starr. I will be keeping this doll for myself, at the advice of my friend Edyth O'Neill who is a long time doll maker and doll collector. But Starr needs sisters and perhaps a brother and some cousins. 


"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden