I’ve caught a serious case of the blahs. After weeks of furious work, I’ve made it through the first round of spring markets, and have a little time to breathe. Instead of feeling relaxed though, I’m feeling a little anxious and frankly, a little depressed. Maybe it’s a sort of creative hangover: I’ve used up all my energy and enthusiasm making racks of skirts, dresses and blouses and now I’m left without any reserves. I remember that a few posts ago my sweet sister was having a bad week, and took the time to catalog the things that were making her happy as an antidote. I think mine will be to spend the afternoon doing a little pointless creating.
A few years ago K’s mom and I were trolling the Alameda Point antiques fair, and found an old dolly, who I immediately fell in love with. She’s pretty battered and dirty but she has a great little sideways smile and tomboy attitude with her short hair and striped pants. I’ve had her sitting on my bookshelf ever since, awaiting a moment when I might have the time to fix her up. Last year I wanted to make a gift for a friend’s daughter, so took dolly down from her shelf and drafted a half-scale pattern.
Today I pull out that pattern, and an accidentally shrunken woolen undershirt that I have had tucked away, imagining it would make a good doll. Side note: you may be thinking “good god, she kept an old shirt, on the off-chance she’d actually use it one day??? That’s mad!” and indeed you would be right. I long to be the kind of person who would never consider doing such a thing, a person like my long-suffering husband, but alas I have a weakness in this department. If I can picture what an object might become, I hang onto it, for years. Terrible.
This weakness is an inherited one, passed down from my mother. Sorting through her studio after her death I found baskets filled with antique lace, buttons, bits of string, feathers, shells, driftwood, boxes of beads, two incomplete sets of wood carving tools, broken jewelry.
She also collected dolls, restoring the oldest ones, making some of her own. Her taste ran to the unusual, and she had toys and figurines from many cultures clustered together, some fun, some creepy, some beautiful. Sometimes I think growing up with my mom was like growing up in Pippi Longstocking’s house, with the cabinet of many tiny drawers, each filled with a strange or wonderful item.
During my last stay with her I noticed a tiny pair of Indian dolls, husband and wife, joined together by a thread. They had lovely little faces, with three dimensional noses and fingers, like my flea market dolly. Working with the knit fabric I’m pleased to find though harder to stuff well, it’s easily sculpted so I’m able to form facial features.
For the last few weeks K has taken to making dinner on Sunday, and today he’s made a trip to the Farmer’s Market for ribs and veges to grill. We chat while I stuff the doll and he tends the meat. Stella chews on things and scares the robin who has made her nest next to our deck and is trying to feed her babies. As dusk falls, we tuck in. The tomatoes and strawberries are full of flavor, the asparagus the fattest and juiciest I’ve tasted.
Afterwards I head back to my studio, now covered in doll detritus. Putting her together takes some time and fussing, and I’m not quite up to the delicate task of embroidering eyes at this now late hour, so I skip to the hair and clothes, the best part anyway in my opinion.
A little more time consuming than a bloody mary (and possibly not as relaxing) it’s true, but fun none the less!