Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Beauty of a Needle Sculpted Art Doll

What I love the most about needle sculpting my cloth art dolls is that they never come out identical.  Even though I can use the same exact pattern, fabric, etc, each doll seems to have its own personality and never looks quite like the first one I created.  I love this aspect of the needle sculpting process because it makes each doll unique. 
I just completed a second Goddess while in the process of preparing materials to teach her as a class next spring at the Artistic Figures in Cloth and Clay Conference.  Don’t they look so serene sitting together?

If you are interested in joining me in a class I will be teaching an online class which starts soon on AforArtistic 
You can find out more information about the class by clicking here

If you would like to join me in the live class the Goddess at Artistic Figures in Cloth and Clay you can click here to find out more information.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Designing an Art Doll

Some artists will sketch out their ideas as part of the process of designing an art doll.  They will explore and develop a theme for the doll, a color scheme, decide on the materials and techniques they will use all before they begin.  This method works very well for many artists.
I never was able to work that way.  My art dolls almost happen by themselves.  I put a lot of time into practicing, developing, and refining techniques but when it comes to the actual design it feels like it just happens as I engage in the process of creating the art doll.  I thought I would share with you the process of how I design an art doll during the creation of the Goddess.  
She started with a new eye technique that I wanted to experiment with.  After I used the new needle-sculpting technique I wanted to see how she looked painted so I used watercolors for skin tone and facial coloration.  I was pretty pleased with how she looked but couldn’t figure out “who she wanted to be.”  So I let her sit for a few days.
While she was sitting I engaged in one of my most time zapping past-times,  surfing the internet to explore what other artists are up to.  Art often inspires more art. I have always been fascinated with watercolors which is why I use watercolors for skin tone and facial coloration.  I am also fascinated by jewelry and all that is shiny.  So it is no surprise while surfing the internet that I would be fascinated by the beautiful watercolor jewelry that Ross Barbera creates.  I had found his website and free tutorials quite some time ago with the plan that someday I would follow his tutorials and create some watercolor jewelry of my own. You can see his tutorials by clicking on the link to his site here:

Since I was working on my art doll I decided to follow one of Ross Barbera’s free tutorials on how to make rice paper earrings and use the techniques he shared to create a waterlily headdress for her.  Since I am not new to wire jewelry fabrication I designed the waterlily headdress to attach the rice paper to.  I love the translucent nature of the watercolor painted rice paper coated with varnish.  I experimented with a few sizes of the waterlily headdresses along with a few pairs of earrings while I was playing.  

Now what does she want to wear?  Well, with her headdress inspired by translucent waterlilies she seemed to be asking to become a Faerie Princess, Queen, or Goddess.
She needed clothing that would lend to an ethereal look so I started playing with cheesecloth.  I know some artists hand dye cheesecloth to use in costuming but I had watercolors still on my palette from the rice paper part of the headdress.  So I just painted some cheesecloth to use for her skirt. 
As I was drapping the cheesecloth on her as a skirt we had an ice storm.  The picture of the trees don’t do justice to the beauty that surrounded my home and studio but it gives you an idea.
 As a result of the ice storm I decided to use silver lined rainbow silver glass seed beads to embellish her skirt and bodice.
I usually take pictures of my progress when working on a doll and took some pictures of her seated on a pedestal.  As I looked at the pictures I noticed that the way the cheesecloth was draped it looked like the foam from the sea.  She now had an identity.  There is a Goddess, or Bodhisattva, known as Kuan Yin. She is filled with compassion, peace, and is strongly associated with water. 
 I continued embellishing her costume until she felt complete but wanted to exhibit her in a way that further conveyed the essence of water.  I also decided to give her “Henna” tattoos to further convey her peaceful nature.
After the doll was complete I asked my husband to create a turned and carved pedestal that I antiqued with blue paint to give the finishing touch to her presentation.

I hope you enjoyed following the process I used in creating the Goddess. 
If you wish to learn how to make your own Goddess in a live class I will be teaching a three day class at Artistic Figures in Cloth and Clay April 20 – 23, 2017 in Columbus Ohio.  If you would like more information on the class and how to sign up click on the following link
If you don’t want to wait that long to take an art doll class, I am teaching how to create your own Fire Goddess on AforArtistic this month.  If you would like more information on the class and how to sign up click on the following link.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

I Am So Excited to be Teaching Two Brand New Classes!

Lately I have been busy working away on two Brand New classes that I would love to share with you! 

I will be teaching the Fire Goddess online class on A for Artistic starting September 27, 2016.
Click on the following link to A for Artistic to learn more about the class and sign up to join in on the fun!

I am also teaching a Live Three Day Class at the Artistic Figures in Cloth & Clay Conference that will be held in Columbus, Ohio April 20 -23, 2017

Click on the following link to the Artistic Figures in Cloth & Clay website to learn more about the class and sign up to join in on the fun!

Hope to see you in class soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fire Goddess, or Look who is sitting in the really cool Fire Throne?

Okay, so you are probably waiting with anticipation to see the Art Doll that I have created to sit upon the Fire Throne that my talented husband created for me.
I didn’t want to hold you in suspense any longer so here are a few pictures of her seated upon her Throne of Flames.

“The Fire Goddess is a symbol of transformation as she destroys the old to let way for the new.  Fire brings warmth, light, and comfort.  It is within the glow of her warmth that the embers of our creative spirit grow.”

The Fire Goddess is the first in a series of Four Element Goddesses. 

I am so excited to be teaching an online class on A for Artistic on how to create your own 19” tall Fire Goddess soon! 

warm hugs,

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why Attend a NIADA Conference as a Visiting Artist

 Luella Mossom and her Gallery piece

I have been inspired by NIADA artists since I have been creating dolls.  I never realized that doll making could be an art form until I opened a magazine years ago with the art of NIADA Artists Robert McKinley, Lisa Lichtenfels, and Nancy Wiley in it. 

Gallery piece by Connie Smith

Gallery piece created by Lisa Lichtenfels

From the moment I saw their work I became smitten with the desire to create art dolls, yet had never attended a NIADA conference until this past month. 
Gallery piece by Joe MacPhale
After attending the conference I have to ask myself, whatever took you so long? 
Gallery piece by Neva Waldt

 I thought I would share some pictures from the trip and give you a few reasons to attend the conference next year so you don’t find yourself asking what took you so long to attend.
Gallery piece by Theresa May

One reason to attend is the location of the event always seems to be a great place to visit.

The NIADA Conference was held in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.  Since my husband has a childhood friend that lives in that area and my close friend Christine has a son that also lives in that area we took the road trip together.
Bob had no idea that the Torpedo Factory was a series of art galleries and studios when Christine and I brought Bob and Russ along to see it.  They spent most of their time chatting away while Christine and I explored the studios and chatted away with several of the artists there. 
Russ and Bob at the Torpedo Factory Art Center
Christine and I at the Torpedo Factory

We enjoyed exploring the area and dining by the waterfront.
Old Town Waterfront
A major reason to attend is to actually see the art work in person.  
Gallery piece by Cindee Moyer

The pictures I am sharing don’t compare to the experience of seeing the art in front of you.  
Gallery piece by Marlene Verhelst

I attended the NIADA gallery exhibit at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria with my husband Bob.  
Gallery piece by Nina Tugarina

The artists were so warm, welcoming, and willing to explain in considerable detail the meaning behind their work, answer technical questions, and describe their techniques, materials used, etc.  
Gallery piece by Karin Otto-Burfict

I was so inspired by the work exhibited in the gallery. 
Gallery piece by Tatiana Baeva

Gallery piece by Sandra Oglesby

Gallery piece by Donna May Robinson

Gallery piece by  Tamara Pivnyuk

I was not alone in that inspiration either.  My husband was fascinated with Eva Hodinkova’s use of wood and motion in her art. 
Gallery piece by Eva ZHellerova Hodinkova

 He is now even more interested in creating jointed wooden dolls.

There were a series of wonderful programs presented at the conference which I enjoyed completely.  One of the programs was the Ten by Twelve program coordinated by Shelley Thornton which I was one of the lucky visiting artists to participate in.  It gave visiting artists an opportunity to present their work to NIADA members and attendees. 

The Keynote speaker was Leslie Molen.  She gave such an inspiring presentation!
Gallery piece by Leslie Molen
Another Reason to attend are the demonstrations provided by NIADA Artists.  I attended demonstrations on costume design (presented by Theresa May), the use of the color wheel (presented by Leslie Molen), creating shoes (presented by Nina Tugarina), making eyes out of polymer clay (presented by Diane Keeler), and stylized hair (presented by Cindee Moyer).   Each demonstration was filled with very useful information and techniques for the creation of art dolls.
Demo by Theresa May
One more reason to attend as a visiting artist is to have a critique done by NAIDA Artists of your work.  Donna May Robinson and Sandra Oglesby critiqued my work.  They gave me invaluable insight and guidance to steer my growth as an artist.  
Critique of Marla Niederer's  work by Sandra Oglesby and Donna May Robinson, photo by Sandra Oglesby
A reason to attend any doll making conference is to have fun, make new friends, and reconnect with old acquaintances.   Doll makers just tend to be a group of warm hearted sharing souls.  I attended the NIADA banquet and enjoyed visiting with new friends.  At the conference I also met some of my Facebook friends for the first time.  They are as lovely in person as they are online. 
At the conference everyone is presented with a souvenir doll.  I was the lucky recipient of one of the 3D printer souvenirs created by Tanya Marriott.
Marla Niederer with Tanya Marriott and one of  the 3D printer souvenirs Tanya created. 
And last but not least is the Exhibition and sale by NIADA artists.  It gives attendees an opportunity to see more work by the artists and engage in some wonderful shopping.
Since my husband has been expressing interest in doll making and is a very talented woodworker, I introduced him to Larry Blount.  
Larry Blount, photo by Stephanie Blythe
Larry Blount is one of the NIADA artists that utilizes wood in his doll making.  Bob and Larry seemed to enjoy a nice chat together during the show.

Attending the NIADA Conference was such an enjoyable experience that I can’t wait to return again for more!  If you are interested in more information about NIADA and future NIADA events just click on the following link to their website.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

If Sawdust is Man Glitter, than my Husband is Definitely One Sparkly Dude

I brought my husband, Bob, with me to the Quinlan Art Doll and Teddy Bear Conference in Philadelphia this past spring.  Although Bob has always been very supportive of my artistic pursuits (he actually went with me to an Art doll conference!), art dolls and teddy bears really haven’t been his thing.  He has seen all of my work but really hasn’t paid much attention to the work of other artists.  When he viewed the work of all the very talented doll artists and teddy bear artists at the conference he was thoroughly impressed and wanted to try his hand at doll making.  I used his first attempt at a tuck comb doll that he made out of a too hard wood to really do much carving as part of an assemblage art doll which you can view here.

His next attempt is still a work in process.  Again he is working on a jointed wooden doll.  He hasn’t completed the carving process yet.

Bob also helps me create props for my dolls.  I am currently working on a Fire Goddess and asked him to create a throne that is a cross between a throne and a pedestal for her to sit on (I love how her feet look when her toes are pointed down!).  I asked him to either have the sun or flames behind her head on the throne.  These are a series of photos of the process of making the throne and the unpainted throne. 

To me, the throne he created is a work of exquisite art!  What do you think?