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 : http://www.keithnewsteadautomata.com/

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