Thursday 23 March 2017

...starting as I mean to go on

The last couple of days have gone well, in that I've actually managed to set aside time to focus on creative pursuits (the fact that I'm using up annual leave this week and haven't been at work has definitely helped with this). 

On Tuesday I sat down at my desk in the back room and the first thing that caught my eye was a half-opened package containing 6 plain wooden Matryoshka nesting doll sets I bought on a whim from Ebay a few weeks ago. 

I realised when they arrived in the post that I hadn't actually bothered to check the dimensions on the listing - I'd just chosen the shape I liked best and somehow assumed they'd be of a certain size that seemed right in my head. When I measure the gesture my hands instinctively make in the air to demonstrate "how big?", this turns out to be around 6 inches tall for the largest doll, and maybe one inch tall for the smallest.

Unfortunately, the actual size of the dolls is 3 inches tall for the largest, and a microscopic teeny-weeny half an inch for the smallest. It's basically the same size as my little fingernail.

So they've been sitting there ever since, and could easily have been consigned to a "one day" project drawer for the rest of eternity, but I decided that there was no harm in having a play with at least one of them. This isn't about perfection, it's about letting go. 

I started with the biggest doll - I'm not completely crazy - and told myself to just go with the flow and see what happened.

Around three hours later I came up for air.

She's still a work in progress but I'm happy so far:

I sealed the wood with matt Mod Podge and used acrylic paint for the face, and Posca and Gellyroll Moonlight pens to draw the rest. I've used these pens for pebble painting and like the control they provide when working in fine detail on small surfaces. I'm planning to seal with spray varnish as the ink is not very 'flexible' (compared to acrylic paint, for example) so will be liable to chip more easily.

I deliberately didn't look at any pictures of Matryoshkas before I started because I didn't want to get bogged down in "getting it right". I started with her face. I wanted her to have minimal features, a bit like a Waldorf doll - open to interpretation. Haven't decided yet whether to give her a mouth. Her rosy pink cheeks make her look quite friendly, so maybe she doesn't need one. 

I added the simple triangle pattern to frame her face, and then decided to just 'wrap' her head-to-toe in a decorative scarf/shawl using the same colour scheme of dark blue, light blue, white and gold, and starting with a wide border. The winding leaf pattern is a favourite 'doodle' of mine, and I love the way the two tone blue background turned out to echo the leaf shape. After the border got wide enough I drew the circular motif on the back of her head. It just seemed to fit there and I'm continuing to fill the rest of the space with these decorative circles, letting them flow from the pens. 

What I really wanted to 'note-to-self' in this post is just how energised and happy I felt after those three hours. Even if I can't put in that much time very often, it really is worth trying to make the effort.

In other news, I've continued to work on 'Betsy's poncho', for my friend's little girl, using this pattern and several different balls of self-striping sock wool. Will post a picture when it's finished. In the meantime I'm loving the random juxtapositions of colour created by the yarn. So painterly.

Finally, a couple of charity shop finds this afternoon that have potential for future projects, in my head anyway.

Couldn't resist this jolly elephant metal shelf thing - or, more accurately, couldn't resist the set of four identical jolly elephant metal shelf things - there are actually three more scampering along after this one! 

Can't decide whether to leave them in their rather weathered, slightly distressed state, with maybe a lick of varnish to stop them rusting any more, or whether to give them a complete makeover. The perennial "Where are you going to put it/them?" question is still hanging in the air. They could be given individual homes around the house, or even be individually re-homed to worthy elephant-appreciating friends and family. But I also have my eye on a spot of bare wall next to my work desk which might just be big enough for the whole jolly herd...

And then there's this chap - "Funny-Looking Sheep", according to the lady in the shop:

He has been languishing in my favourite shop (the one where I get toys to use with children at work) for weeks. I know because I must have picked him up and put him back half a dozen times, until I finally caved today. He needs a good wash and maybe a few stitches in his shoulders, and he's a bit too stiff and unyielding to be cuddly, but I just like his expression. I'm thinking maybe a long, stripey, Tom-Baker-as-Dr-Who scarf might be just the thing for him. 

Note-to-self - can't keep bringing more things in, need to find a way for things to also go out

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