Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bag of Dolls?

Recently I presented a Santa on my blog and called the post, Bag of Bears. I had a dear follower comment that although she liked the Santa with a bag full of bears since she was a doll maker she would have liked one with a bag of dolls even better.  That got me to thinking, and I thought she might have a point about the dolls not getting a fair shake when it comes to me filling Santa’s bag. I hadn’t realized the ratio of bears to dolls was getting out of balance until she brought it to my attention.
Just the thought of causing an imbalance caused me to do a careful search of all the Santa bags and check each Santa carefully to see what toys each was carrying just to see how bad the imbalance was. It was worse than I thought. How could I have let this happen?
I put five bears in just that one bag. I only have about that many dolls with all of the other Santa figures that include toys combined. To rectify the situation I’ve made a Santa with a bag of dolls. The dolls must be a bit larger than the bears and by showing more of each doll than I did with the bears I could only get three into the bag. I hope all of you doll fanciers find this to be fair. Since I like dolls as well as teddy bears and collect both it was purely by chance that I let the bear population outnumber the dolls that severely and I promise not to let it happen again. After doing a careful count, I find there are now 10 bears and 9 dolls in bags or tucked under and arm or sitting next to Santa. The next Santa will just have to have two dolls and one bear and then the balance will be restored.
Now I have to do something about the puppet population as there are only two of them. Then there’s the Jack-in-the-box situation. There’s only one if you don’t count the square…ish box like thing in the Santa in Green Cloak’s bag that could be nothing more than a box or a large block.  Then I’ll have to address the lion and the dragon populations and then solders and then………You get the idea.
So here we have the Santa with a bag of dolls.

I know you're thinking that he looks like the Bag of Bears Santa but if you see them together you can tell they're only related. Not even twins.

Looking at him from this angle shows you that stipes are much more slimming than checks.

So does this help balance the scale? The elves really did a great job on these little lasses.

Now that you see them side by side you can see they really don't look that much alike. Well, maybe the eyes and the white hair and beard.

This is pretty much how they're arranged on the shelf. If those guys aren't staring at those cookies then I need to get new glasses cause that's what it looks like to me.

This Santa and all of the other ones I’ve posted in my blog are available for sale on my Blog Shop page. The shop is the new stand alone page I've added to my blog.

Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Legend of Father Christmas or Santa

When the Saxons invaded Britain, they brought with them their own solstice tradition. In each village, an elderly man would dress up in furs and become 'Old Winter'. People believed that he carried the spirit of winter with him and the season would be kind to any household that had been hospitable to him. He would go from house to house, enjoying gifts of food and drink. When the Saxons converted to Christianity, they did not give up ‘Old Winter’. The custom was observed all through the “Middle Ages” and eventually, he became a character in the Christmas mummer's plays.

The Vikings brought along their beliefs when they settled in the north of Britain. They believed that Odin, in the form of his December character, a portly, elderly man with a white beard rode through the world on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir at solstice. Dressed in a long, blue, hooded cloak, he sat with his people and listened to see if they were contented. He also carried a satchel of riches, which he distributed to the worthy or the poor.

After 1066, the Normans added their veneration of St. Nicholas to the mix. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in the area that is now Turkey, in the 3rd century AD. He was generous to the poor and particularly kind to children. Many of the gift bringers after this time were depicted wearing clothing similar to that of a Bishop.
Medieval and Renaissance
St. Nicholas became very popular in Britain. By 1500, over 500 songs and hymns had been written in his honor and over 700 churches were dedicated to him. He also began to be blended with the character of Old Winter. Our first written reference is a line in a 15th century carol: "Welcome, my lord Christmas."
Sir Christmas or Captain Christmas often presided over holiday entertainment in large houses during Tudor and Stuart times. An illustration by Thomas Nabbes, made in 1638, shows him as an old man in a long furred coat and cap.
Commonwealth and Restoration
In 1644, the Puritans banned Christmas celebrations and Father Christmas as well. People missed the revelry, and the figure of Father Christmas was often used to express their dissatisfaction. It was about this time that he became part of the mummer's plays. Often, he strode onto the stage at the beginning of the performance, calling to the audience, "In comes I, old Father Christmas, be I welcome or be I not? I hope old Father Christmas, will never be forgot."
In 1645, a London broadsheet taunted the government with the story about the conviction and imprisonment of Father Christmas, and "the Hue and Cry after his escape there from." In 1678, a book titled The Examination and Tryal of old Father Christmas and his clearing by Jury was published in London.
When the monarchy was restored, so was Father Christmas.
The Victorian Father Christmas included characteristics of all these figures. He was usually drawn as an old man in a long, hooded coat. The coat was usually green, but it could be a variety of colors .... blue, turquoise, purple, green, and brown .... and could be trimmed with furs or decorated with stars.
John Leech drew the illustrations in the first publication of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” the Ghost of Christmas Carol wears a long green cloak and a holly wreath.

Changing Appearance
Father Christmas's coat was usually red after about 1880. The color was probably influenced by the popular choice of red for the American Santa Claus.

Father Christmas Today
In the United Kingdom, Ireland, and many Commonwealth countries, children still write letters to Father Christmas to tell him what presents they want. Some mail or email their letters. Others follow the traditional practice of throwing their letters into the back of the fireplace, where they will be swept up the chimney for "delivery" with the sparks.

As you can see from the legends that surround the gift bringers from around the world, I have plenty of inspiration. 

I hope you've enjoyed the history behind Father Christmas or Santa or whatever persona we've chosen to represent the spirit of giving and the figures I've crafted in his image.

I've just added a stand alone page that is my Blog Shop. It lists the items that I have for sale at this time, so check it out if your are interested.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My First Award

I was recently given a Versatile Blogger Award, twice, first by Linda at Olde Baggs 'n Stuft Shirts and then by Mina at Green Witch with Sprinkles. I have to tell you I had no idea of what to do about it. Although I felt honored and totally surprised by receiving the award I really didn’t have a clue as to how to respond. As a fairly newbie when it comes to blogging I needed help with how to proceed and Linda was kind enough to offer to hold my hand, figuratively, along the way so here goes.
The original rules....just so you know and in case you want to follow them, were tell everyone 7 things about yourself and then pass this award along to 15 other bloggie friends that you find to be very versatile in their blogging life.  I’ve never been very good at following rules so I won’t even try to do so now but will muddle through it my way.

7 things you may or may not want to know about me:

1. I have two younger sisters who are my best friends.

2. I have been 24 years old for the past 42 years and was 13 years old for a very long time
 before that. Age is just a state of mind.

3. Although I’m an artist to my core, I’ve spent most of my life being a techy and am
 better at writing a program for a CNC controller than I am at writing a piece for my blog.

4. I would have chosen, “Off My Rocker” for my blog name but my sister beat me to it and
 I felt, “Just Plain Nuts” wasn’t descriptive enough.

5. I believe in magic.

6. I’d love to live in Madrid or Tuscany as both places appear so beautiful and full of magic and poetry.

7. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I have always loved Santa.

I would like to award the Versatile Blogger Award to the following bloggers:

Crystal from Crystal Clear

Heather from Rose Hill Designs

Geralyn from Sprinkled Blessings Studios

Joyce from The Bears Blog

Maggie from Off My Rocker

Kristin from Kristin Dudish

Jan from Laughing Dog Arts

Josie from Hey! It’s Dark in Here

Carolee from Musings from Behind the Easel

Rona from New Challenges

Those of you who I have tagged may do anything you wish with the award just know that I have found your blogs wonderful places to visit and feel you are worthy of the award. I would have also tagged Mina and Linda with the award but am biding my time. I'm sure a way to show them my appreciation will some day present itself.

Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What, another Mrs. Claus?

With this latest incarnation of Santa I couldn’t resist making a Mrs. Claus in the same style to see how she would look. Before I made the first Mrs. I’d had so many ideas of what I could have her doing, and the very first idea was to have her holding a cookie sheet of cookies she had just taken from the oven. This idea stayed with me so I felt I should do a figure with a cookie sheet of ginger bread boys.
This little gal is approximately 10 ½“tall and the perfect size to be one of the last three Santa’s wife. I’ve dressed her in a lighter pallet than I did for the others in this style as it is more feminine and works well with her white hair. Speaking of hair, her hair is worn in a long braid hanging down her back. Our little Mrs. has a playful nature as we all know, and her striped stockings are proof of it.
When decorating her kitchen, Mrs. Claus chose to use her favorite colors. Everything is red and green, of course. Her oven mitts match the dish towels and curtains and the seat cushions of the benches and chairs. Even the walls have touches of red and green. If I continue making figures of Mrs. Claus in the kitchen I’m going to have to do a painting of the kitchen for her to be photographed in front of.

Please forgive the photography and the wrinkles in the back ground as it is tissue and hard to smooth out.

I sat her centered on the shelf with the other Santas and I caught two of them eyeing the cookies. You could tell they were thinking, "What's she doing with only six cookies? That's not going to be enough to go around."
I’m going to my sister’s for a workshop this week so I won’t be posting or blogging for a few days. Hopefully when I get back I’ll have something to show you.
Have a wonderful week, and thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why I Prefer Santa

Recently someone told me that I should make a Mrs. Claus. I did make one back in the middle of March, but haven’t gotten around to posting her. She was the first female sculpture I created if you don’t include the snow people.
I haven’t made a second Mrs. Claus as I’m not sure if people are interest enough in the wife of Santa to want to purchase her. When I decided to make this figure I had thought of all the ways I could make her. She could be working in the kitchen baking ginger bread cookies. I could have her holding a cookie sheet with the cookies she’d just taken from the oven, or have her mixing the dough. Maybe I could have her sewing clothes for the dolls or making teddy bears. I had so many ideas of what she could be doing but decided I’d give her a day off from work and dress her up in her out doors clothing and send her out for a walk.
When sculpting Santa there’s this wonderful beard and everyone expects him to be plump. With Mrs. Claus there is no beard to hide the double chin or the lines around the mouth and being female she would worry about looking too plump. See the problems this causes? Females are just so complicated, aren’t we?
Since I’ve made three female figures and you’ve already met two of them it’s only fair that Mrs. Claus gets her turn at a post.  If you decide to leave a comment please do not spare my feelings and be honest as to whether or not I should pursue making another Mrs.

Someone recently said something to the effect that my figures look something like me. Let me make something very clear. I look nothing like this. Really. I look terrible in red.

If you compare a profile photo of Mrs. Claus to Santa you will see they have the same physique.

Does this dress make my hips look wide? I just had to say that. Sorry.

Here are all three of my little ladies.  I know their colors don't work well together and for some reason the perspective is skewed. 

Now that you've had a chance to see what a Mrs. Claus would look like, would you make another? Let me know and like I said, be honest.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Are stripes really slimming?

This is the Santa that I said I was working on in tandem with the two previous ones I posted. As before, the colors of his clothing are darker and muted. I went with stripes again as I’ve heard that if worn vertically they are slimming and make the wearer appear taller. Since this guy is about 12” I figured he could use all the help he could get.

Here he is, teddy bear in one hand and the smallest of trees in the other.

From this angle you can almost see the tree. Only kidding. It actually looks bigger shot from this angle.


This is a better angle to view the teddy bear. Hey, Prudence, what do you think? Can he come to visit you at the Bears Blog?
I haven’t been putting all my time and energy into sculpting this week. It seems that I tend to be just a tad obsessive when I do things. Not just some things, but everything. For example, I collect DVDs, and have been known to purchase 12 in one week. Not just once either. Then there are the paperback novels. I have over 800 books packed in containers sitting in my studio. I have three closets full of clothes, I have two pantries filled with food and I have two freezers filled to capacity…….Get the picture? I can’t seem to do anything in moderation. I also don’t spend much time sleeping so I have more waking hours to fill, and for four months now I’ve been spending from 10 to 15 hours each and every day working with my paper mache clay.
This would not be such a problem except for the fact this medium can be very hard on your hands. I try to do most of my sculpting with tools but do get it on my hands and believe me; it is very drying, not to mention hard to remove once it’s dried. Another thing about working with this medium, it becomes very hard. In addition to the sculpting tools I also use files and sand paper when working on my pieces. I’ve worn out one set of diamond files and am now in the process of wearing out a second set. I’ve also worn out my hands.
For a while now I’ve been experiencing problems with my hands. When I went with my sister to the coast I’d hoped that giving my hands a rest for a few days would help. It seems I have developed tendonitis in my ring finger and thumb on my right hand.  I’ve had tendonitis in the thumb before but not the ring finger. Having the two acting up at the same time has had me cut back on my hours like nothing else could.
I was feeling bummed out but some marvelous things have happened to me this week that have lifted my spirits and helped me through this latest development.
First thing that was unexpected and smile bringing was I won in The Olde Bagg’s: All things OZ giveaway.  I couldn’t believe it. I won something and not just any old something either. I won Oz Pez dispensers. When they get here I’ll photograph them so I can show them to you.
The next thing to happen was I went from having 12 followers to having 24 followers in a matter of days. Wow! Is that cool or what? These are really wonderful followers too. They have helped me out of the funk I was in and I want to say a big thank you to all of them and to all of the rest of you.
Then, another wonderful thing happened. I became a great-great aunt to the sweetest little boy thanks to my great niece Jordan. She is such a sweet heart and I know this little guy is going to be just as sweet as his mom. Happy Mother's day Jordan.
The latest thing is that an artist that I admire greatly spent several hours sitting with me in my studio yesterday praising my work. He could not stop complimenting my little guys and gals. I could feel myself getting all puffed up. I hope he knows how much he helped this old gal feel better about the way things have been lately. If my hands have to fail me at least I got something good out of them first.
So, I’ll continue blogging and will sculpt when I can, but will try to control my obsessive nature and do it in moderation. I may also try working in other mediums when I can’t sculpt. I just bought some oil pastels that I watched Marlene work with and since they were new to me and something I didn’t have, of course I had to get them.
Thanks for stopping by.