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.


  1. I love her! And I love the body details that you are adding.

  2. Marla can I ask a question about Claudette. I'm making her right now from a class I took with you ages and ages ago. In 2015 actually. I had health issues between then and now. I was wondering when she is done how tall should the finished doll be?