Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Waiting - Nellie

"Waiting"- 17"x 13"

cotton, lace, wool roving, thread ravels, tulle
oil stick pastels & colored pencils
machine quilting

Dolls.  I love dolls.  I've collected dolls.  I've restored dolls.  I've made dolls.  I've dressed dolls.  This photo of dolls delighted me.  Consequently, I didn't stray far from the original for my interpretation.

To begin I printed out two copies of Kay's photo in various sizes.  Each of the paper dolls were cut out.  I found fabrics in my stash that represented the table, box and crate, and background drape.  Those fabrics were cut and arranged to portray the structures within the photo.  Wool roving was pulled apart and used to shade the cotton fabrics.  Then I began to play with the paper dolls.
The red cone at the left edge of the photo puzzled me.  I have no idea what that is.  However, it reminded me of the doll wearing a red silk gingham dress sitting on my dresser.  I took her photo, then printed and cut it out.  She filled that space nicely, repeating the shape and color of the unknown object.  She also made this piece personal to me.

There was another personalization that had excited me early on.  Initially I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally use all the doll legs that were saved from the many Christmas tree top angels I had made over the years as gifts ... they all had smocked gowns and hand-made battenburg lace wings, and a cardboard tube from the waist down.  Those added doll parts to the layout on my table looked good in digital photos that were taken to record the placement of all the paper cutouts and porcelain legs.  However, when they were attached to the actual surface  after the piece was quilted, those dimensional legs were distracting.  Actually, they stood out like sore thumbs.

There is one doll in the photo that is draped with lace.  I have drawers of lace ... both old and new.  However, I couldn't find a white piece that was the proper scale, but there was a wonderful very old black lace that was.
Studying the paper cutout composition, I determined there needed to be a focal point in the lower right corner to balance the large doll heads, my doll, and the black doll heads.  I took my clue for her placement from the black metal rod that cuts across the corner in the photo.

The construction of this piece is a collage technique.  All the elements, both background and foreground are cutouts, roving, and thread ravels that are arranged and then held in place with a surface layer of tulle netting.  Machine quilting holds all the layers together.  Within the dolls faces there is very little quilting.  Most have just the line under the eyes quilted.  This softened their gaze by directing it slightly downward.
After the fact I found out that I could have requested an image with a higher resolution than the 40 KB of this one to reproduce.  As it is, my solution worked better for my purpose ... there's more of me in the fix which adds my hand to those dolls painted faces.  The images I printed on fabric were pixelated.    I fixed that by "drawing" over lines with watercolor pencils and markers, then shaded and highlighted with oil stick pastels.  Of course, the outside edges were smoothed by the process of cutting the image out of the whole picture.  Then too, quilting lines have something to contribute, as well.

As for the title, I have the sense that all these doll parts are "waiting" for the doll maker(s) to come back and make them into completed dolls ... like the one sitting on the end of the table.


  1. Those additions are just really effective. Those dolls look very distinct even though they are all jumbled together in the same box. I agree with you that they all look like they are "waiting" to be made into full fledged dolls. Hopefully...:)

  2. This is truly amazing! When I opened it, I thought I was looking at the original photo. Then I noticed the black lace, and only then noticed your doll. This is truly a labor of love, and the additions and changes you made have improved the composition of the original. Real artistry.

  3. I have been patiently waiting to see this piece of yours since I knew of your love for dolls. You did not disappoint! Just lovely. Love the gingham doll added to the group because softens the more rigid porcelain unfinished dolls. Your use of different materials is totally you and how smart to add that black lace making that corner stand out.

    A stand alone piece with no explanation needed.
    Outstanding piece.

  4. I am amazed how you were able to include so much detail without overloading the picture. It is a great representation of the picture without it being a replication.

  5. You surprised me! I was sure you would make a doll with one of the faces!! But, I certainly love what you have done to the original picture to make it your own. Very cool, indeed!

  6. Amazing. It looks so real! You must have had a wonderful time reworking this piece and rearranging the elements. Very impressive.

    Who would have thought such an unusual photo could yield such incredible, beautiful works of art.

  7. OK, I get it now--you printed the dolls on fabric. I had to reread your commentary to soak it all in. This is definitely a clever use of photo transfer techniques. Nice!

  8. I had an idea that this would turn into something beautiful from you, Nellie! It is stunning- I can see wonderful texture, color and shading,and the way you have arranged all the elements keeps the eye moving around it. Your attention to detail is amazing (as always!). I very much have a sense that this was a labor of love on your part.

  9. Most excellent! and what a joyful piece. The doll in the red gingham silk fits perfectly with the others. I especially like how you softened the eyes - very clever.

  10. Beautiful work. That doll in the back next to the box on the left is so real looking it's like she's coming to life. The black lace is so lovely as well. It's a wonderful piece.

  11. I was really wondering where you would go with this one! The photo transfer is great. That it is a bit out of focus makes it so much better,less eerie. The black lace is a good balance from the upper corner. AND I just love the hair and quilting of that! Adding the legs and the gingham doll makes it a Nellie work! Really Great Nellie!


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