Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gnome for the Holidays - Folk Art for the Woodland Lover

Oh, there's no place like Gnome for the Holidays....

I have loved Gnomes since I was a child. I remember when I received my first copy of the Gnomes book by Poortvliet and Huygen. I loved flipping through the pages and learning all there was to know about these sweet wee ones. The intricate details about their life, how they dressed, what they ate, and who they were delighted me. This was my first exploration into fantasy art and I was enchanted.

Now as an Art Doll maker I created my own wee Gnomes. They may be my favorites, created from felt and clay, each having their own short story that goes with them. 

Gnome Felt and Clay Art Doll Ornaments by Jeanne Fry

I suppose part of the reason that I love them so has to do with their affiliation with the woodlands, as I am a mountain girl. Maybe it's their bold colors. Maybe it's the magic they carry. Or, maybe it's just the smile they can bring to your face. 

I make several of them near the holidays, but truly I have my own personal collection that I display throughout the entire year. I hang them on curtain ties, fan pulls, set them on bookshelves and near my potted plants. They seem to be tucked away in many little corners of my home, scattered about, enchanting the house. And oh yes....they decorate their very own little woodland Christmas tree every year. They find their place amongst the grapevine, birds, nests, and pine cones, bringing the lore of the forest into the living room. 

This year I have a few up for adoption.
This is Cinnamon Twirl.
You will only see Cinnamon Twirl during Autumn. She scampers about the pumpkin farms, tasting the apple cider, baking pumpkins, and cinnamon candies. Her little gnome home always smells of banana bread, welcoming her visitors with cinnamon kisses.

 This is Flower Power Grandma. 
Spending her life looking through rose colored glasses, makes her a Grandma who teaches her children's children to look for the positive in every see the glass as half full...and to find a rainbow every day.

 This is Violet. 
Violet is a busy busy little gnome. She spends most of her time in the gardens, tending to the many flowers...pruning...weeding..and watering. She sells them to Monica's Flowers Shop once a week.
Everywhere she walks, flower petals fall from her pockets. She leaves a trail behind her.
Once evening falls, her petal trail leads to a spot under the old oak tree where she sits and delights in a bowl of black raspberry ice cream and a cup of hot mint tea. 

 This is Peanut.
"Peanut" dreams of the carnival, and hopes that one day she can join their caravan. She loves being a gnome and her gnome family, but her desire grows stronger and stronger each day to join the carnival crew and take care of the elephants.
She has been fond of elephants since she was very young. Their majestic size and loving character has always made her heart sing. Her gnome friends try and discourage her from her dream, telling her that it is unrealistic. Her family tells her that she needs to carry on tradition and be a baker as her mother and grandmothers were. But....Peanut knows that some day she WILL join the carnival and live out her dreams.

This is Om Gnome.
Peace and Tranquility surround her. She sits with her friends and leads them in meditation, spreading the joy of peaceful living.

This is Love Button.
Whether the skies are blue or grey...whether you are spending your day alone or with others...sometimes our hearts can feel a little blue. "Love Button" is here to remind you that you are LOVED always and watched over.

This is Martha the Flower Shop Keeper.
Martha Gnome and her husband built their flower shop 50 years ago in their busy little town of Mars Hill, NC. They tended their shop with loving care while raising their 7 children (who all were taught their great wisdom of gardening). Today, Martha's shop has been passed down to her granddaughter Marla, so that she could finally spend time traveling the Appalachian mountains and enjoying her retirement. Yes, she does still call and pop in to make sure that everything is running smoothly, but more out of a sense of habit. She is quite confidant that Marla can take the reigns and will help the shop blossom more beautiful than ever.

This is Radella the Listener
Radella Gnome resides in Colwyn Bay, which is in Conwy, North Wales. Her personality is much like her town, filled with beauty. Radella, since a child, was always an excellent listener, and anyone speaking to her knew that she was as captivated with their words as they were with her raving red hair and sweet eyes. When she grew older it was of course a natural choice that she became a counselor so that she could truly help those that came to share their story with her. She emits serenity, healing, and love to those around her and she is admired by all that meet her. She is often found on the seaside and is always ready to share a story.

And lastly, this is Bea.
Every gnome in the forest has a particular job, and Bea spends her time as the chipmunk keeper. She watches over them and helps them build their homes safely in the woods, protected from bigger animals. She visits their homes each day, covering them with leaves and flowers from the woods, creating a camouflage. She loves to play with the little ones, who run and scamper so quickly, and she herself has learned the skill of swiftness in her movements. 

To see my current inventory of Art Dolls and Gnome Dolls, please visit my Etsy shop here

Friday, November 29, 2013

Exploring Creative Passions with Art Doll Quarterly Magazine

I'm an artist who works in many mediums. From Painting to Assemblage to Gourd Art (each speaking to my creativity in their own ways), I would have to say that creating within the world of Art Dolls is the most freeing. Historically dolls have been made for thousands and thousands of years. Replicating our  human condition brings a sense of awe.
Their focus can be on Expressions, an homage to a historical figure, or maybe to recognize our complex spirits as they go through levels of personal growth. 
When I am creating them, my focus is typically to portray our diversity as women, to inspire, and to empower. I find this form of art "forgiving". Their imperfections become their Perfections...their  uniqueness is their Beauty.

The inspirations can come from anywhere, perhaps a luscious colored piece of silk, a uniquely shaped gourd, a quote, a poem, or a sketch. We also get inspiration from other artists. Gathering together, sharing stories, and new techniques  motivates us to explore and deepen our own artistic talents.
While there are many doll artists in the world, they don't seem as plentiful as other types of artists. Here in my region, having  participated in many art shows over the years, I have only personally met possibly 25 to 30 doll artists. So one of my greatest joys is receiving my Art Doll Quarterly magazine from Stampington and Company.
November/December/January 2014 issue of Art Doll Quarterly

This gorgeous magazine is eye candy, reminding one of possibilities yet to explore. But more than that it features interviews with doll artists, the business of art dolls, a show and tell gallery, listing of events, offers new techniques, and engages the artist with upcoming challenges.
(You can find the new issue of Art Doll Quarterly here)
After we got moved into our new home I finally had a chance to sit down with the new November/December/January 2014 issue that was lying on my desk enticing me to come and read.
Heeding its call, I made myself  a latte and got comfy as the winter storm was blowing outside. 
A perfect afternoon with a Latte and Art Doll Quarterly
The first delight for me was the article "Sea Whispers -  Using Plants to Create Natural Dyes". This wonderful piece shared techniques for creating natural dyes and a tutorial for the Sea Whispers Doll from artist Sharon Matthews from Tasmania. The article truly resonated with me because of my love of using earthy materials and the naturalness of the process.

I browsed through the business tips on selling your art dolls, which always has useful information. Halfway through my latte, I then became enchanted with the feature "Felted Nativity" by Briege Connolly. She shared such sweet little felted characters for her Nativity scene, with a detailed tutorial and wonderful close up progression photos.
Cheryl Lommatsch offered an article on assemblage techniques she used in creating her "Chattering Birds and Flying Babies" creations.
"Answering the Call: Song Characters"  and the "Show and Tell" showcased doll artist submissions from near and far.
And as I sat and watched the snowflakes blowing by the windows, I read about Michelle Lynch's "Adventures in First Time Doll Convention Teaching".  I always enjoy hearing about how someones art brings them to travel additional avenues with their craft.
You can get a peak view at the newest issue and subscribe here

The magazine was as usual packed with inspiration and new learning. As I went to rinse my latte cup out, I stopped to place the magazine with the others in my collection. I save them all, for those days when you need to try something new and ignite your creative fire.
Art Doll Quarterly Collection
Now I sit and I have enough time to create a piece of magic for the "Mermaid" Challenge that is due on December 15th?
Or maybe I will try the new technique I learned with natural dyes in the creation of this work in progress. It is paper clay sculpted on to an antique bed post topper.

Happy Creating !

Friday, November 15, 2013

Selu the Corn Mother - Gourd and Clay Art Doll Sculpture

This week I was inspired to create Selu, in honor of our upcoming show this weekend, The Selugadu Festival. Each year the Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center  holds this festival in November for Native American month.
Selu is known as the Corn Mother, or First Woman of the Cherokee. In legend, she was the First Woman who came to be when emerging from a corn stalk.

She represents the Feminine, Agriculture, Sustenance, the Ability to provide for oneself, and Preserving the ways of the People.

I sculpted her from Gourd and Clay which is attached to a wooden base. The trunk of her body is painted like multi colored corn. When sculpting her face, I wanted to bring a sense of balance between Strength, Wisdom, and that of a Mother. She is emerging from dried corn husks.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Butterfly of Happiness an Asian Themed Cloth Art Doll with Pink Wings

She floats through the sky on the back of a Crane, fluttering with a smile and singing with the songbirds. When she arrives for a visit she brings a bounty of happiness. Her glittery wings wiggle when she laughs, and her smile is infectious. 

She knows all about the negative impacts of worry and stress. She chooses to immerse herself in Happiness. The Laws of Attraction are on her side. Even on the darkest of days, everything she touches turns to gold.

I was inspired to create this little beauty, by the fabric. I love the bamboo leaves and origami cranes printed on the fabric,and from there she became who she is. The butterfly wings were an afterthought....they came into the creating near the end. I re-purposed them from an old Christmas ornament.  I felt she needed more, you know, that one more thing. They give her the uniqueness that she is deserving of. 
Butterfly Happiness a Cloth and Clay Art Doll by Jeanne Fry

Monday, November 4, 2013

Inspirations of an Art Doll

As an artist, I delve into many forms of art and technique, depending on where the source of my inspiration comes from. 
Wisdom Keeper Art Doll by Jeanne Fry

My paintings are often inspired by Nature, Animal Totems, my own Personal Growth, and Color. When the creative fire is lit, and my hand feels the urge to pick up the paintbrush, I can already envision what will come to life on the canvas - the sketch appears in my mind and quickly wants to be be transferred to the canvas. 

My Mixed Media work, creating Shrines, taps a different part of my creativity that is inspired by quotes, phrases, and the written word. This creative fire lives within my more "poetic" self, and seems to happen more during the Winter season for me. This is my contemplative time when I spend more time writing, reviewing where I have been and where I want to be.

But the creation of my Art Dolls - this is most freeing form of art. The inspirations can come from anywhere; they can come from history, ancient culture, a found object, a skein of fabric, a glimpse of a woman and our phases of life. Wherever the inspiration comes from, there is no predestined thought in mind. That raw fire is left to its own devices to become whatever it is meant to become. Sometimes they go in a much different direction than I would have thought. Art Dolls are diverse and allow the artist to use one or many forms of art in their making, whether it be sculpting with clay, bead work, fiber art, wood carving, assemblage, felting, or using natural materials. The more diverse they are in the creation, the more complex their artistic value. Each art form allows for yet another aspect of the inspiration. 

Work in Progress - Gourd and Clay

Hand stitching cloth body

Clay Sculpted Faces

I have always felt that being an art doll artist deserves more value and understanding in the art world. No matter the materials or techniques used, this creative form is depicting figurative sculptures of our human identity, and can be a part of our history and culture as they have for centuries.
My art dolls are called "Wisdom Keeper Art Dolls", and are created as an empowering form of art for women. They come with short stories that focus on reminding us who we are and being supportive in our personal growth. They are meant to bond us as women and celebrate our diversity.

This week I acquired some beautiful fabric and some wonderful vintage assemblage pieces that are calling me to the work table where my creative spirit can run wild.

If you are an art doll artist, I would love to know what inspires you. If you are an art doll collector, I would love to know what attracted you to this art form.

You can learn more about me and upcoming art doll workshops on my website here

You can also see my current artworks in our online Etsy Shop here
Jeanne Fry Art on Etsy

Monday, October 28, 2013

Koi - Love and Good Fortune Art Doll

"Koi" is symbolic for love and relationships. (Koi fish are very auspicious- good fortune in Feng Shui. There are many types of coloring on Koi, each representing something different. The coloring on the fish on this particular doll are symbolic for good fortune and love. The Yin Yang symbol is said to portray two Koi fish meeting - a balance- a union.)
Koi fish used to be all black and later the colorings changed. Legend says that they would swim upstream in a river, through waterfalls, until they reached the top which was called "Dragon's Gate". Here they were transformed into a dragons - their colors would change - and they were considered good fortune.

Koi the Art Doll ~
Koi has grown into a beautiful woman. She has journeyed through many lessons, swam through her own waterfalls, and has reached the Dragon's Gate in her own life. She has fulfillment in being a woman, comfortable and happy with her own self, not dependent on another person. She has learned that she needs to look inside her self for her happiness for truly only she knows what speaks to her soul.  Her persona is filled with beautiful color. Now she wraps her Koi Shawl around her shoulders, beautifully beaded, as a symbol of her attainment. She stands tall and wise and smiling. While she is in absolute contentment, she knows that  some day her "other" will come to her and she will be able to fall into a healthy and loving relationship, while never giving up "her self".


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Flor de Muerto a Cloth and Clay Art Doll for Day of the Dead

This year my creation for Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos), is a Contemporary Folk Art Doll/Figure named Flor de Muerto. 
Flor de Muerto (Flower of the Dead) are thought to attract the souls to the offerings that are made on the alters during the Day of Dead celebrations. The Art Doll was created to represent the Flower of the Dead, and honor the ancestors.
Flor de Muerto, a Cloth and Clay Art Doll for Day of the Dead

She is a Cloth and Clay Art Doll, hand stitched from a beautiful Dia de Muertos themed fabric. She was sewn into a relaxed seated position, and has a black fabric flower sewn at her waist. Her face was created from clay and painted in shades of white to resemble the skull theme, and then detailed with a flower design. Thick black fibers create her dreadlocks hairstyle. 

She is a wonderful addition to  Day of the Dead Alter, symbolic of calling the souls to the offerings and love that is extended during the holiday.


Friday, September 6, 2013

You Are Loved a Contemporary Folk Art Doll with Big Eyes and Big Love

We all have those moments of feeling a little lost and alone, don't we? No matter how strong and empowered as women we can be, there are just some days when we feel a bit vulnerable. Even when we are surrounded my lots of people and life is busy busy busy, we can still feel alone in this big fast-paced world.
For this very reason, I created "You Are Loved".
You Are Loved, Contemporary Folk Art Doll by Jeanne Fry

I wanted her to be a reminder that we are never truly alone, no matter what the circumstances. We are all going through similar struggles. We all have a journey that we are traveling. And we all are here to help one another on this path.

"You Are Loved" is a Cloth and Clay Contemporary Folk Art Doll. Her body was hand stitched from a beautiful blue batik fabric that is rich and soothing, and then filled with a polyfil. I created her face from clay and painted it with layers of shades of blue and white. Her big sweet brown eyes command your attention, just sending one armfuls of compassion and love. A charm is attached, resembling poetry script, memories of love notes and dreams. Fibers and ribbons are sewn on to her dress, giving her a flowing and feminine allure.

She is meant to travel with you, keep in your purse or tote bag, hang in your car, set her on your work desk, hang her in your creative space, or even on your nightstand. Let her remind you whenever you look at her, that you are not alone and You Are Loved.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Goddess of the Milky Way Spirit Doll

This weekend I was inspired to create the "Goddess of the Milky Way". I had spent the week before thinking about how we can often think that our problems are so big and overwhelming that we become paralyzed in discouragement. Sometimes all we need is a little change in perception to remove the road block and move forward.

One evening while sitting on my porch gazing at the stars, I started to think about how very small each of us humans are in this vast we are all just a very tiny part of the bigger picture...and how each of us has the same moon, the same stars, and the same sky shine over us.
Very quickly those things that we all worry about seemed to not matter quite so much. Each new day brings new thought. Each new day brings another stretch of our journey. And each new day we need to remind ourselves not to be distracted away from the Beauty of Life by every day stresses.

The Goddess of Milky Way was created to be that reminder.

If you would like to see more of the Goddess of the Milky Way, you can find her listing here in our Etsy shop here
Goddess of the Milky Way Altered Art Doll on Etsy

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Jade the Crystal Healer a Contemporary Gourd and Sculpted Art Doll

Jade the Crystal Healer comes from a special little town in Virginia, exactly half way between Fairy Stone Park and Shenandoah Caverns.
Jade the Crystal Healer, a Gourd and Clay Folk Art Doll by Jeanne Fry

 She lived in the same home as her mother and grandmothers before her, and carried on their tradition of crystal healing. She was taught how to dig for crystals, cut them, polish them, and about the healing properties of every stone that exists. She has dedicated her life to helping others, educating them about their uses and helping each person find just the ones they want and need.
You can see more of Jade listed in our Etsy Shop here
Jade the Crystal Healer Gourd and Clay Art Doll

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"Believe" a Gourd and Clay contemporary folk art sculpted Art Doll

We all have those moments when we think that the fulfillment of our dreams is so far away. We try so hard to reach for those stars. Sometimes we make some gain, and then there are moments when we feel like we took ten steps backward. 
"Believe" is hear to remind you that you must visualize your dream, keep it at the forefront of your mind, and "believe" it will come to fruition. 
"Believe" a contemporary folk art gourd and clay sculpture by Jeanne Fry

Negative thoughts and feelings of despair will hold you back even longer, but when you take a moment and close your eyes and see your dream coming true....the Universe hears your request and soon you will have some assistance. She reminds you to stay aware, for answers may be right under your nose. 
There is always a way.
The Universe is abundant and able to provide for all of your wants and needs. One needs only to be open and believe.

"Believe" is a gourd and clay contemporary folk art sculpture.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Sea Turtle Spirit

Sometimes we have those moments when our emotions consume us. They can be at the forefront of our mind and direct the words that come out of our mouths as if we were an actor on a set being instructed by the cue cards.. And while sometimes it can work out, more often than not those are the moments that we wish we could undo.
We humans are passionate beings, always striving to find that balance between the heart and the mind. It's a practice, a lesson that we are continually tested on.
Finding that balance is what inspired one of my new little Wisdom Keepers.
Shelley the Sea Turtle Spirit, a Wisdom Keeper Art Doll by Jeanne Fry

Her name is Shelley, and she is a Sea Turtle Spirit. The sea turtle totem focuses on mastering the balance of emotions. It reminds us of the importance of flowing with the ebb, like the waves in the ocean. It knows how the passion of our feelings is part of the human experience and a beautiful part of our soul, and while we can't just shut them down....we can acknowledge them, accept them, and then release them. We can use them as a tool in our life's path, factoring them into the equation, but not allowing them to take full control. It teaches us wait...and make our decisions with a clear head and heart.
Close View of Sea Turtle Spirit by Jeanne Fry

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Antonella the Sunflower Carrier Folk Art Doll

Antonella is the Sunflower Carrier. She was present during the very first existence of Sunflowers in Tabasco, Mexico and since that glory filled day so long ago she has carried them far and wide. It became loved by many for its numerous uses and is known to some as the fourth sister, to the three sisters of corn, beans, and squash.
Antonella the Sunflower Carrier by Jeanne Fry
But aside from all the uses that exist for the sunflower, Antonella knew that this beauty was a Sun Goddess in her own right. She carries its seed in her pockets, planting and spreading the beauty wherever she travels.