Monday, 29 July 2013

Speaking about dolls


Maybe I shouldn't put this here like this at this point but.... as I was busy thinking about doll manufacture, something unexpected happened to me. I realised something was strange during a puppet workshop. I made a puppet with recycled foam, cardboard and strings, and I made a fierce Tamil warrior that seemed to scare all the other students by the way... then the next thing I know, I'm feeling violently nauseous when I look at the puppet or anything related to dolls.... 

Guess what, I'm pregnant. My IUD moved apparently. Hubby's first reaction was "sue the doctor" lol.

As I am over 40, it is considered a high risk pregnancy. And hubby is panicked because apparently in India it is very bad to have a child at such an age. And the age difference with my other children is going to be huge.  It feels really weird to be in pregnancy mode again as I was totally certain menopause was imminent and was finally accepting transition to crone/grandmother role. 

I remember so vividly going off to India in 2008 in a turmoil, trying to find a new meaning in life as I would never ever again have children.

Oh well, let's wait and see what happens next.... I feel once again God is playing with me.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Ruth Treffeisen

Last week-end I treated myself to a porcelain doll workshop. Ruth Treffeisen, a wonderful German contemporary doll artist was offering a two day workshop to construct a reproduction doll from one of her moulds.

We had to scrub the uncooked porcelain, then wait for it to be fired at 1200° celsius for a night. The next steps included painting the face and cooking the face again, stuffing the body and attaching it to arms and legs, then assembling the face to the neck piece, adding the glass eyes, a carton on top of the head and a wig, et voilà !

Uncooked porcelain

Inside the head ; the glass eyes are plastered on

Painted face with cardboard top waiting for the wig

Finished doll

Artist Ruth Treffeisen in her workshop

See this blog for a step by step explanation of the construction of a porcelain doll.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Follow your heart

Church of Ternand, France (c) Christophe Renoux

Angel selfie.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Mignonnette from late 19 th century seen on Ebay

Last week-end I attended an antique toys market. The idea was to watch old automatas and dolls and figure out how they were made.

I don't know why I always feel the urge to do things the old way, and avoid low quality and short cuts. I had actually seen in many books including Susanna Oroyan's books that a classic solution for moving arms and legs is the insert of buttons. However as I had never seen such dolls, I didn't like it.

However in the toy market I saw dolls from late 19th century and beginning of 20th century and it was an eye opener ; the small models have metallic threads going though the body, arms and legs, many models are mixed pocerlain and wood, textile or papier maché, and what's more the head is open with the hair being glued unto something that looks like cardboard or cork ! Hurray, many of my questions have been answered !

Only problem is I fell in love with some of the tiny dolls - and starting price is... 250 euros. The one I really loved costs 800 euros. I really have to get up to speed and do my own !

Here is an article in Engilsh on the subject :

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Medecine dolls - more inspiration

Here is more visual inspiration for dolls and automatas.

George Harrison by Felt Mistress
Creation by Felt Mistress

Felt Mistress makes fabulous characters. I like the zany look, and the fact that she doesn't care about being anatomically correct.

You can see her work on her website and blog. And there is a nice article about her on Creative Review

For automatas, another interesting website is The British Toymakers Guild which links to a few automatas artists. 

Watching the Girls by Robert Race
I love them all, but I must say I have a soft sport for the works of Robert  Race. I love the way he is using drift wood and neutral colours to make his automatas, which reminds me of the sculptures and fetishes I saw many years ago in the Musée d'Afrique et d'Océanie of Paris (now closed). He is mixing in his work inspiration from toys and tribal art, and it gives them a magic feel. I can just imagine how the character on the left wriggles his moustaches :o)

Moon Priest
Moon Priest by Robert Race
Here a few other website if you enjoy automatas :
This is a great blog. They also publish a book about mechanism that is realy nice and esay to read.

Rob Ives designs many paper automatas and you can download them, some are free, and if you pay a subcsciption to the website you can download all the projects and a book about automatas.

Another paper automatas website. A nice peace dove to download.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Medecine Doll

I have recently joined Barb Kobe's Medecine Doll group.

As I can never stick to something simple and within my reach, I decided to make a doll with movement and light. My basic idea was to make a doll that would be a little bit like the roly poly clown I had as as child. I remember being fascinated by this toy which would always come back up however strong you pushed it, with a pleasing bell sound too. To me this is a symbol of life ; we all have ups and downs, but the aim is to come back gently into balance. Actually when I feel very sad or troubled I always think "wait a little bit before you act". With a little time, a little perspective, the most terrible pain and confusion seem to fade away, just like the roly poly toys come back up in a standig position with time.

Of course roly poly toys are still popular with children and are given to babies.

Modern versions include weebles and unazukin, as wel as bobble-heads.



I then found out that moving dolls are very very old and can be found everywhere in the world. For instance in Japan they had a similar toy from the 17th century called Okiagari Koboshi, representing a little self-righting monk. They also make dolls called Darumas, representing Boddhidharma, the Indian monk who gave Kung-Fu to China. It is a good luck doll and the message it conveys is "never give up". See wikipedia article here.

As you can see Darumas have a big moustache and this one wears a red robe, two of my obsessions.

In Japan they also have Kokeshi wooden dolls, with a nodding head.

Lucky Girl Kokeshi Doll
Kokeshi nodding doll

In India too, there are moving dolls. The Thanjavur dancing doll are very famous and go back to the 19th Century. See here an article from the Deccan Herald. They are sold near the Mariamman temple and the ones that I like most are made in 3 or 4 separate pieces (skirt, blouse, head) that gently dance with the wind, making them seem like Bharata Natyam dancers. The bottom is heavier. They are exposed during the Navaratri festival.

Here is a video showing the assembly of the doll : there are in fact hidden metallic threads that enhance the rocking.

I started thinking about metallic thread and researching automatas. Right now I am maddly in love with the work of Keith Newstead, a British artist, and especially his delightful cat-copter :

See his website here :

Well, enough research, I need to try to do one myself !

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Quote of the day

"They who in trouble untroubled are
Will trouble trouble itself."

Thiruvalluvar, Tirukkural, Verse LXIII.3

Vaste progamme :o)