Sunday, December 30, 2007

In the Dark

The days are so dark and wet that I feel like I should be hibernating. Plus I'm on vacation, so I've reached the point of any good vacation where I'm not quite sure what day of the week it is. This deep part of the winter can be a little disorienting.

I was feeding Michael's cats while he went out of town for a few days. Next to his mailbox, there is a forest of toadstools. Some things thrive in dark wet days.
Michael's babies, Bob and Violet, are little furry rays of sunshine. They're happy to see me when I come to fill up their bowls.
Christmas lights and a fire are also important to ward off the darkness. This is the illusive Wee, our number one cat. We've had her the longest, and she was an only cat for many years. She's camera shy and more than a bit crabby. The other cats have chipped away at her status as number one, but she still gets the best place by the fire.

But even these dark days have been productive. Here are a couple of last minute gifts I made. Allie wanted a sleeve for her laptop. This one is flannel.
Michael got an apron made from a fabric printed with Hawaiian shirts.

I also finished a baby quilt for a student who is a new mom. I made a bunch of these blocks awhile back, and they've come in handy.
This quilt
has been successfully made larger. It's in the closet now at the head on the line to be pin based and quilted.
Yes, it's dark and wet and cold, but I look around me and my world is filled with light and bright colors. I hope you fill these dark days with your own brilliant lights.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas at My House and Doll Resources

On Christmas Eve we had our Christmas dinner, gifts, and general celebration. Alex got a flashlight for his truck.
Here I am with Michael, still wearing my cooking apron.
It's rare that I get a picture with the kids where they're not making goofy faces.
Allie's boyfriend Roger joined us. They're all about the hats, as you can see.
And we had a few cats join in the festivities. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.

Now that I'm on vacation from school and have a bit more time, I'll be planning my next projects. Here are some doll sites for eye candy and general doll inspiration. Later I'll be launching a new doll project, and these artists have given me some great ideas.

Martha Stewart has a good basic doll tutorial and pattern on her site. Under "crafts" on her site, search for "Making Dolls" and you'll find it. Sorry, but the address was too long to make a link.
Jennifer Gould has a site with a great gallery and she sells patterns for her dolls.
Cozbi inc. has a beautiful site with inspiring dolls for sale and other items. Check on the "muñecas" link to see the dolls.
The Doll Loft has a site that sells patterns and other supplies. I want to try their fine felted wool for doll bodies. The proprietor, Ellen Lumpkin Brown, has two excellent doll making videos on Quilter's TV.

Two great doll making blogs are Mimi Kirchner's Doll
and Deborah Grayson Bailey's Urban Wild Flower Dolls.

Enjoy their work. In the future I'll post about some of the books on doll making that I've found.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Doll is Born

On Friday Michael and I went to see Julie & Julia, a truly delightful movie in which Meryl Streep plays Julia Child. The movie has a heart warming portrayal of love between mature people: Julia and her husband Paul, and it's also about friendship between women, and blogging! Plus there's food! Who could ask for more?

I was inspired to re-post this blog from 2007, when I finished making my Julia Child doll, which was my response to reading her wonderful book My Life in France.

Here are some final clues to the identity of my doll:

I hope these ring some bells for you. I explained to my daughter that I had made a doll of Julia Child, and she said, "Oh yeah, Rachel Ray talks about her!"

So here's my homage to dear Julia Child. She was an influential presence in my life: my whole family watched her throughout the 60s and the 70s, and a lot of these memories came back when I read her memoir My Life in France. One passage in particular captures my impression of her from her early TV days:

"On the evening of July 26, we ate a big steak dinner at home and, at eight-thirty, pulled our ugly little television out of hiding and switched on Channel 2. There I was, in black and white, a large woman sloshing eggs to quickly here, too slowly there, gasping, looking at the wrong camera while talking too loudly, and so on. Paul [her husband] said I looked and sounded just like myself, but it was hard for me to be objective. I saw plenty of room for improvement, and figured that I might begin to have an inkling of what I was supposed to do after I'd shot twenty more TV shows. But it had been fun."

Julia Child was America's first celebrity TV chef, but she began her career by authoring Mastering the Art of French Cooking, (1961) which she wrote with her French co-authors Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, after an extensive recipe testing process than took ten years. The patch Julia wore on her early TV shows, which prior to my research for the doll, I thought was a Cordon Bleu patch (since Julia graduated from that cooking school) was actually a patch her husband Paul designed for Julia and her two French collaborators. In 1952 the three friends started a cooking school in Paris, L' Ecole Des Trois Gourmandes, which Julia translated as the School of Three Hearty Eaters. She wore this patch on her blouse through the early TV shows.

There is a wonderful website at the Smithsonian Museum, where Julia's kitchen from her days in Boston has been recreated with all of its original tools and appliances. She popularized the wire wisk in the U.S., which I included as an accessory for my doll. She also closed all her TV shows with her signature phrase "Bon Appetit!" which I machine embroidered on her dish cloth.

I wrote the following poem a few years ago, calling up some of my youthful memories of Julia. I hope the doll captures some of her hearty and creative spirit.

Dinner With Julia

We’re lined up on the cracked vinyl couch
waiting like soup kitchen diners
for Julia Child to light up
our living room
with her mannish hands,
her schoolgirl squeals.

We’re waiting to see Julia cleave
knives to slabs of meat
and dump the scraps on the floor.
She always sticks her fingers in the food
and then puts them in her mouth.
She’s sweaty and dishevelled as a saint
before a vision of God.
We’re waiting to witness her rapture.

Today Julia pulls bolts of tripe
in ascending sizes from off-camera.
White fields of fat and muscle,
blankets of honeycombs,
only Julia would bring out these pieces
huge like winding sheets for the dead.

We’ve never seen a woman
handle so much meat
and as off-handedly as if she were
unfurling towels for the clothes line.

And menudo, of all things,
a la francaise, who was to know
that anyone but us Mexicans
crave tripe, which when cooked,
fogs the house with its sweaty smell for days.

My mother clucks her tongue.
La Julia is carving the tripe
into squares big as hands.

My father howls through his
tumbler of red wine, says
she must be drunk, tossing those dirty plates
off-screen without a thought.

But we all love Julia,
wait weekly to see her,
a broad-shouldered
square-bodied woman
who cooks with both hands
up to her elbows in the food
and opens her mouth all the way
to laugh.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I got tagged by JoWynn at Parkview 616

Stop by and say hello to her, and check out her link to the work of dollmaker and embrioderer Kay Susan Warner. It's an inspiring must-see.

So here's the MeMe:

1. Jobs I've had:
elementary school teacher's aide, donations sorter at the Salvation Army, waitress, college professor.

2. Films I can watch over and over:
Moonstruck, Coal Miner's Daughter, the British tv series Absolutely Fabulous (it's like The Devil Wears Prada, but in bad taste).

3. TV shows I watch: Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Sopranos, The Hills, whatever my nineteen year old daughter exposes me to.

4. Places I have lived: San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego County. I've spent my whole life in California.

5. Favorite foods: Dungeness crab, (the season just openend), salmon, winter squash, chocolate cake.

6. Favorite colors: barn red, lime green, orangey-gold.

7. Places I would love to be right now: I'm not a fan of hot weather, but today's a cold wet day here in the northwest. I'd sit on the beach in Zihuatanejo and drink a beer. Here I am last January doing just that:

8. Names I love but would not use on my children: I love names that would fit opera singers: Solange, Monserrat, Rosario.

Who wants to do this meme and hasn't already? Consider youself challenged.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Just Hanging Around

The doll is now fully clothed, and yes, she's pinned to the design wall to have her photo taken. I made her a skirt from a piece of recycled wool. It's a tube with darts and a waistband, very simple, but I feel clever for having lined up the lower edge with the existing hem tape.
Here she is with the book I used for the body pattern. It was published by Dover in the 70s and I picked it up at a thrift store. I found a pattern for her shoes in the book: some lovely, practical flats. Then it will be time for accessories.

Both Sue in Western WA and Catherine posted in the comments that they thought she was a self-portrait doll. That was one of my original ideas, to make a Lady Professor doll, but I decided to make Lady X, whose identity is almost complete, instead. I will definitely make a self-portrait doll in the future.
Drum roll please. Here's the drawing of November commenters for a goody bag to celebrate my 100th post. ...And the winner is...
Whoo-who! I'll send you an email Susan, or you can send me one through my blog. Goodies are coming!