Thursday, September 27, 2012


Fabric is piled onto my work table where I sort/discard/keep various bits and pieces that would fit the themes I want to work.   One problem that I have - like a kid in a candy store - is that I am presented with so many choices, so many designs and patterns and colors that I quickly go into overload. 

After my first assemblage I Ieave these carefully crafted piles on the table and walk away  to return the next morning.  In the early morning - even before getting out of bed - I realize that in some cases I might have been swayed by the fabric itself and ignored the general, overall design of this series of dolls.

These dolls are meant to be 'whimsical',  'simple', 'humble' and somewhat 'vintage'.  I want them to speak for themselves.  As I look at some of the piles of fabric that I had laid out the day before I realized that some of my choices would present a 'mixed-message'.  Hmmm -- this is not something that had occurred to me before. 

Looking at other doll maker's dolls - I am drawn to the designers that are always 'true to their design'.  Dolls tell a story - they can't help it - and if I want to tell my story I must carefully practice continuity.  So - its back to the drawing board - or at least to the fabric stash - to look for the 'just right' pieces that will do the job, carefully keeping in mind my dream.

"Identity in the form of continuity of personality is an extremely important characteristic of the individual." - Kenneth L. Pike

Monday, September 24, 2012

Along the Blue Ridge

Photo from Blue Ridge Parkway 75 site
We live not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway which runs from Georgia up into Virginia.   Built during the 1930's in the midst of the Great Depression much of the work on the Parkway was carried out by the Works Progress Administration.  The purpose of the WPA was to put as many men to work as possible so hand labor was used extensively, even when power equipment might have been more efficient.  Another New Deal program utilized by the Parkway was the Emergency Relief Administration.  ERA crews carried out landscape work and development at Parkway recreational areas.  The best-known public work program was the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Four CCC camps were established on the parkway and their crews of young men toiled at roadside cleanup, planting, grading slopes and improving fields and forests.  You can still see small plaques here and there that show these were the work of the CCC or WPA.  Whenever we drive along the Parkway I imagine hundreds of men working in those mountains, dynamiting tunnels and shoring them up with timbers and rocks.  Many of them were away from their families working in heat and humidity part of the year and cold, damp air the other part of the year. 

Photo by Mary Mercurio

Around November 1st the parkway closes to traffic -- it is often snowy up there, roads get icy and there isn't money or need to keep the roadway clean and safe.  We always try to get up there at this time of the year while the road is still open and the foliage is just starting to turn its lovely rusty colors.

Photo by me

Along the way we pass Looking Glass Falls.  A beautiful waterfall just off the road that winds up to the parkway.  It's always worth a stop and a walk down to see the water going over the rocks. 

Photo by Mary Mercurio

I'm ever so thankful to those who worked so hard to make this area accessible.  I thank a government who gave the opportunity of work to these men and in the process kept this area as a sanctuary of the US Park Service for eternity.

 "Every noble work is at first impossible." - Thomas Carlyle

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"The Traveler"

"The Traveler", wandering the world's roads.  Exploring far away, and not so far away places. Looking at him he looks a little bit world weary doesn't he?

For him it isn't the destination its the journey.   No GPS for this little guy -- he'd much rather carry his trusty maps and figure it out for himself.

He traces each highway and byway with his finger tips deciding where his travels will take him.

" But even if I'm left high and dry at the end of this wild journey, just taking it is a great feeling." - Olivia Wilde

Monday, September 17, 2012


I've gone through my fabric stash and pulled out 'possibilities' -- pieces that may or may not qualify for doll clothing.  There are homespuns and flannels, fine cotton and old lace, you can even see the old sock that I've used just recently.

The other day I found a bunch of old buttons at a local thrift store.   I was in heaven -- not only for the possibilities they represented but also for the fact that I got the whole bunch for less than $3.00 and I was contributing to a worthwhile cause *smile*.

Recently I found some rusty leaves at a shop in Dillsboro, NC and made my monthly trip to Honeysuckle Hollow here in Hendersonville.  There I found more vintage lace, some tags and a couple of felt hearts.
For now I'm set for materials - let the ideas and inspiration begin...

"I dwell in possibility." - Emily Dickinson

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Ever have a favorite pair of socks - or a special hat - or an old baggy pair of pants that you just love?  When the time comes that they're no longer wearable it can be hard to relegate them to the trash (in my case these favorite pieces of clothing are kept until they are no longer even fit for donation).  I had just such a pair of socks.  They were a teal color in a wool-like knit.  I loved them!  When they wore out I couldn't just throw them away - they were placed in my 'stash of stuff' just in case...

Here is the result of my recycling.  "Socks" just grew and became a special repository for my favorite pair of socks.  Part of one pair became a sweater -- another part became actual socks and the last portion of the second sock became a hat quite by accident.

When I had finished "Socks", except for a head covering, I was experimenting with various 'hat' designs.  All of a sudden I grabbed up what was left of a cut out sock section, placed it on his head, gathered the top, hemmed the tails hanging down and voila!

"Socks" is now ready for what will surely be cold weather and my old socks are keeping his little feet warm.

"I think winter wear is communal.  You get some gloves and a scarf from a lost-and-found box, wash them, wear them for a while until you lose them.  Then somebody else does the same thing." - Adrian Grenier

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fern Grotto

On the side of our house there is a slight hill - mostly huge rocks that have been here since time began - only disturbed thirty years ago when this small subdivision was established.  Some of the sites had to be literally dynamited in order to build a house.  Eight years ago we found this house -- nothing extravagent, nothing really exciting -- just a comfortable house in a nice neighborhood.  When we drove up to the house we were just thinking that it was a 'pleasant' place.  We turned the corner to see the side of the house and I believe at that point the house became ours -- for there was this 'grotto' of rocks and ferns, trees and plants and bushes -- like a mysterious oasis that hadn't been touched. 

Our 'grotto' is still there today -- still covered with ferns coming out of the rocks.  Rocks that have moss and lichen covering them in interesting designs.

Even in the heart of summer this bit of 'forest' is with us -- my thanks to the first owners of this house who did not blast away every bit of rock but left us with such a marvelous gift.
"Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul." - Thomas Merton

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Let me introduce "Capriccio" my version of the musical definition: "a quick improvisational, spirited piece of music."  At times while I worked on him it seemed we were making quite a lullaby -- other times a cacophony of sound roared in my head. 

Who would think that making a simple cloth doll would take so many steps (and because of my lack of skill and/or foresight several steps done over several times)?

There was the head which I thought was finished only to discover that it was too narrow for the features to be used.  Back to the drawing board.  There was a hat that I completely discarded after working on it for several hours -- hated it.

There still lingers arm issues which I finally just 'accepted' with note-to-self to improve that part of my future creations.

I have made many cloth dolls before, but this time I'm feeling quite unsure in creating my own pattern, incorporating features that have to be learned and mastered and in knowing what I want - like reaching into a still pool of water it seems to get disturbed with each reach I take.

Meanwhile I'll continue to make music -- while trying to bring my dreams to life.

"A dream is the bearer of a new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope." - Howard Thurman

Monday, September 3, 2012

Body Parts

I've been working on doll 'body parts' -- drawing on muslin, stitching, stuffing and painting.  My least favorite part?  Definitely stuffing and yet it is one of the most important jobs in making cloth dolls.  A poorly stuffed doll will lose shape, or not even develop the shape you were aiming for.  Its worth the time and patience to stuff well - as probably every cloth doll creator has discovered.

Painting is my favorite thing -- it means the stuffing is over *smile* and looking at freshly painted bodies, arms and legs awaiting further attention is exciting.  From this point on the 'fun' part of creativity enters the scene.

"Arrange whatever pieces come your way." - Virginia Woolf


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