Wednesday, April 26, 2017

AFICC 2017 Conference

I just returned home from the Artistic Figures in Cloth and Clay Conference in Columbus Ohio where I had the honor of having taught a workshop called the Goddess.
Goddess by Marla Niederer

Cyndy Sieving coordinated the event and it was so wonderfully organized with every detail planned out.  The way everything ran so smoothly was a testament to all of the hard work Cyndy and her staff performed. 

One of the best parts of attending an art doll conference is being able to visit with my doll making friends.
Barbara and I
Christine and I
I lucked out to have Sherry Goshen as a roommate.  She is such a sweetheart and we quickly became good friends.
Sherry and I
The Hat and Heels Banquet was the kickoff event and oh my, it was such fun! 
Katie, Jude, and I

Paula and I
Kathryn and I
Hat making event

Denise and I
Attending an art doll conference is always inspiring because you get to see what other doll makers are up to.  Here are some photos from the exhibit gallery.
One of Barbara's dolls on exhibit

Vicki with her two Flower Faeries on exhibit

I had such a wonderful group of doll makers in my class. They are so talented and so much fun to spend time with!
Goddess Workshop Class Photo
There was a banquet on the last evening of the conference where some of the workshop dolls from all of the classes were exhibited.

If you don't want to wait until the next conference to take a workshop I will be teaching an online class called Flower Faeries on A for Artistic starting May 9th
 If you are interested in more information or would like to sign up click on the following link

Friday, March 24, 2017

How to Keep the Stress of Artistic Deadlines Down with a Four Step Organization Plan

Sleeping Mermaid by Marla L. Niederer will be on exhibit at the 2017 Quinlan Conference
Okay, so I have a propensity towards procrastinating timeline projects to chase all things artistically shiny down the rabbit hole.
Watercolor Art Journal by Marla L. Niederer
I am getting better about organizing my time but it continues to be a work in progress. 
Mardi-Gras Tassel Doll 2017 Workshop by Marla L. Niederer at Quinlan Conference
This is the third year that I will be teaching at the Quinlan Artist Doll and Teddy Bear Conference in May. 
Goddess three day 2017 workshop doll at AFICC
The spring is also a time of year when I am most likely to be scheduled to teach an additional live class.  This year I will be teaching a three day class at Artistic Figures in Cloth and Clay about a week before the Quinlan Conference. 
Marla Niederer at her 2016 Quinlan Conference Sales Table
Along with the live class, the Quinlan conference also provides a sales table for all artists. 
Minnie Curry, Dolores Austin, Barbara Jones, and Pamela Kisner with their dolls from
Needle Sculpting a Cloth Doll Head 2015 Workshop taught by Marla Niederer at Quinlan Conference
For those of you that have taught live classes before, you are aware of all the time and preparation that goes into teaching a class. 
Mary DeMattina and her hand painted cloth brooch doll from 2016 Quinlan Conference
 Workshop taught by Marla L. Niederer
I put together kits and written materials for students to use during and after the class. I also create demo art dolls in all phases of creation so time is not wasted during class demonstration time, etc. 
Bernice Gasaway's hand painted brooch doll from 2016 Quinlan Conference Workshop taught by Marla L. Niederer
In addition, preparing for a sales table means a considerable amount of production of new art work. 
Keeper of the Earth by Marla L. Niederer will be on exhibit at the 2017 Quinlan conference
All of this takes time and if you don’t want to spend 5:00 AM until 11:00PM every day of the month before your class and sales table is set up to happen, project management needs to happen as soon as you have agreed to participate. 
Fire Goddess by Marla L. Niederer will be on exhibit at the 2017 Quinlan conference
The trip from my home to Philadelphia is an entire day trip so the plan is to leave early the day before the conference is scheduled to start and arrive in time to get a good night’s sleep before the activities begin.
Marla and Jason Niederer on their way to the 2015 Quinlan Conference.
The first year I engaged in this conference I was still finishing the art dolls I was taking on the day I was leaving on the trip.  I never left my home until after 4:00 PM and never arrived at the hotel until the wee hours of the night. 
Keeper of the Earth by Marla L. Niederer will be on exhibit at the 2017 Quinlan Conference
For the spring 2016 conference I was able to leave the house at noon.  Both years I had spent each day from 5:00 AM until 11:00 PM working on preparing for the conference. 
Sleeping Mermaid by Marla L. Niederer will be on exhibit at 2017 Quinlan conference
I really didn’t want to repeat that schedule this year.  So, with my son Jason’s help, I have set up a Four step project management system. 
Mardi-Gras Tassel Workshop doll and Christmas Faeries by Marla L. Niederer
Step One:  Visual Timeline
I started out making a timeline so visually I was able to see when things are scheduled and need to be completed. 

Step Two:  Set up Monthly and Weekly Goals
The next step was to set up monthly calendar pages with monthly goals on each.  I print them out and keep them on my fridge with magnets.  These really helped to focus what I was working on each month but I found that I was carrying a lot of goals over to the following month.  So I started setting up weekly goals.

Step Three:  List Daily Goals According to Priority
Things still were not flowing as smoothly as I planned so I discussed this again with Jason who has been my artistic business consultant since day one.  He recommended making a daily list in the morning prioritizing my goals for the day and just checking them off as I go along.

Step Four:  Treat Your Home Art Business Like a Business
These organizational tools are not a new thing for me.  I worked outside of the home most of my life and needed to use these techniques at work.  But for some reason, I didn’t immediately think about transferring these skills to working in my home studio on my own art business.  It turns out that one of the biggest pitfalls of working in your home art business is not treating it like a business.  And yes, you can treat it like a business and still enjoy every moment of it.
Mardi-Gras Tassel Doll Workshop by Marla L. Niederer
I am teaching a one day class at the Philadelphia Artist Doll and Teddy Bear Conference called Mardi Gras.  You can find out more about the conference and the class here:

I am teaching a three day class called Goddess at Artistic Figures in Cloth and Clay in Columbus Ohio.  You can find out more about the conference and the class here:

I am also teaching an online class called Flower Faeries on AforArtistic.  You can find out more about the class here:

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Watercolor Journal Making with Maria Greene

Selfie of Maria and I
I know I have mentioned before my propensity towards chasing everything artistically shiny down the proverbial rabbit hole.  It’s because it happens all the time and has happened once again.
watercolor journal Maria taught me how to make
While visiting with my dear friend Maria she taught me how to make a watercolor journal.  Of course now I am hooked and have to make some more.  Not an activity that will help with my art doll making deadlines.  But in life as in nature, balance is the key.
Bike seen on our sight seeing travels
While in Florida, Maria showed me the sights.  I fell in love with the trees and wound up spending an afternoon together painting these in my journal.
Watercolor journal entry by Marla L. Niederer
Where there is sunshine there are bikes.  I had to add another journal entry after seeing this one.  The real one has more circular wheels than my version.  That’s the beauty of a journal.  You can paint in it whatever you want without the fear of painting a “bad” painting because you are probably never going to sell it and really don’t need to share it with anyone but yourself.
Watercolor journal entry by Marla L. Niederer
Since I wanted to enjoy our visit together I didn’t spend the entire trip painting.  I did take quite a few pictures to paint in my journal once back home.
While taking in the sights, Maria brought me to an open market in Dunedin where we ran into a Jamaican food stand.  If you ever find yourself there and run into this amazing chef cooking Jamaican Intal food buy your lunch there.  His cooking made my belly so absolutely happy!

This is my favorite tree that I saw in Florida.  Definitely a watercolor journal entry waiting to happen.

Maria makes the most lovely journals that she sells on her Etsy shop here.
Journal by Maria Greene
She also sells a tutorial on how to make your own journals here.
Until next time…..
warm hugs,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Keeper of the Earth

Keeper of the Earth by Marla L. Niederer
As I continue to work on Keeper of the Earth, I thought I would continue to share pictures of my progress with her.  I also thought I would take the time to share a little about her back story.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Keeper of the Earth started out as a response to a critique of my work while attending the NIADA conference last summer. 
When I work on my art dolls I generally do not have a detailed plan worked out.  They just seem to evolve into who they want to be if that makes any sense at all.
As I worked on this doll, along with some synchronicity, she started evolving into Keeper of the Earth.
Keeper of the Earth by Marla L. Niederer
As I mentioned in a previous post, after my NIADA critique I soothed my soul with some shopping therapy.  During this shopping therapy excursion I was quite attracted to some silk crochet thread that I wound up purchasing and brought home.  Mind you I hadn’t crocheted in over 20 years but I just had to have the thread.  Upon my return home I started brushing up on some of my rusty crocheting skills.  When I completed the skin tone and facial coloration on my art doll with watercolors I decided to do some free form crochet with the silk thread I bought to create her costume.  I really had been out of the crochet loop for quite some time and had never heard of free form crochet.  It just started doing it on my own and afterwards I looked it up on the internet and found out that it really was something other fiber artists do.  What was interesting though is if you look closely to the top of her bodice you can almost see a tree formed with the crochet stitches.
Keeper of the Earth by Marla L. Niederer
 As many of you know, I have a very strong affinity towards all that is shiny.  As a result I have quite a shiny bead collection.  It just went without saying that I needed to embellish her costume with shiny silver lined beads.
The tree is a powerful symbol that has been used throughout time.  It has been used as a symbol for the balance between Earth and Sky, balance with nature, balance within oneself.  So, I decided to carry through with that concept while creating her headdress.  I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do but asked my husband to share some of his electrical wire with me.  Before he brought it up to me, in a synchronistic moment, he played with it a little bit and created a very tiny wire tree shape at the end of one of the wires.  I saw that and of course had to search the internet on how to create a wire tree pendant.  There are several tutorials out there and they planted the seed for her headdress.  In keeping with the theme, I found some semi-precious stone chips to add to the headdress as leaves.
Keeper of the Earth by Marla L. Niederer
About this time I was considering where to go from here.  I knew that I wanted some dangles to hang from the headdress.  Of course at my watercolor group that week, in another synchronistic moment, I was gifted with some porcupine quills by one of the watercolor artists in the group.  I never used porcupine quills before but once I saw them I knew I had to incorporate them into the art doll who now was evolving into Keeper of the Earth. 
Keeper of the Earth by Marla L. Niederer
I did a little research on the symbolism of the porcupine and found out that the porcupine is a symbol of light heartedness, helpful to those in grief, but also a symbol of protection, a symbol of the warrior.  The quills could not be a more fitting symbol to add to the Keeper of the Earth than that.  So after much time preparing the quills, and concerns voiced by others on the safety precautions involved in working with the quills (I do have somewhat of a history of being somewhat of a clutz), I added them to the headdress and her earrings.
I then was left with what to do with her hair.  My first thought was continuing to use something natural such as raffia.  But as I played with it the raffia was just too overpowering for the headdress.  So I searched my studio stash and found some moss which complemented the headdress instead of overpowering it.
Keeper of the Earth by Marla L. Niederer
There is still work to be done on her before she is complete but her presence is already an expression of the hope that someday with light heartedness we can walk once again in balance with ourselves, in balance with each other, and in balance with the earth.

Until next time warm hugs,

In case you would like to learn some of the skills I use in creating my art dolls I teach both online and live classes.
Mardi-Gras Tassel Doll by Marla L. Niederer
I will be teaching Mardi-Gras a Tassel Ornament Doll at the Philadelphia conference.  You can find out more about the class and how to sign up here.

The Goddess by Marla L. Niederer
I will be teaching The Goddess at the Columbus, Ohio conference.  You can find out more about the class and how to sign up here.

Claudette by Marla L. Niederer
And if you don’t want to wait until spring to take a class, I am teaching an online class on AforArtistic that starts this coming week called Claudette: A Cage Doll.  You can find out more about the class and how to sign up here.