I got my reader doll dressed and coiffed today. I had recently read a great book on making cloth dolls and how to make precise little garments. I tried a few but went back to draping and attaching the garment to the body. Since I am working by hand, I like using the garments to shape and add character. I love it when the fabric pools into a shape all its own. I also am still attached to visible stitches — not every stitch, but enough to show the fragile nature of human structures. Precision is not my nature.
I stepped outside my usual perimeters to make this fish. It was a “medicine doll,” a gift commissioned by a friend for another friend who had been stricken with a devastating disease. They shared a bond around the Finding Nemo movie, and turned the “keep swimming” motto into “keep smiling.” This Fish was designed with her love of shiny and tactile things in mind, and also with ideas from folklore about fish who grant wishes. She is from Laos and fish mean good luck. She is having good luck in her fight against illness and is about ready to return to work after several months and some life changing events. All I know is that the loving and well thought out input from her friends allowed me to be playful and thoughtful about life and disease and transformation. And a little fish brightened her already radiant life.
I had an opportunity to donate one of my wheelchair mermaids to the Art Institute of Portland’s (www.artinstitutes.edu/Portland) Feast for the Eyes fundraiser for both the school and the Oregon Food Bank. I was delighted to hear that she became a sort of talisman for the organizers of the event. Her spirit and tenacity inspired them when things were getting frantic. Both Eden Dawn Killen, Producer, and Bree Perry, Auction Team Coordinator, were glad to have her there.
If you want to see the kinds of fashions new graduates of the Art Institute of Portland are designing, check out this photography site in a few days. Pics from both auction and the show will be posted: Onscreen Imaging, http://www.osiphotography.com
This is part of a series of wheelchair mermaids I’ve made over the last ten years. Years ago I saw a film on women with disabilities and one feisty woman who was born without legs told children she was a mermaid. In Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid tale The Little Mermaid, Ariel gave up her voice to get legs and appear human. I’ve met so many people who are rolling forward — talking, singing and laughing in their wheelchairs — that I have no doubt if Ariel had gotten better guidance, she would have come on shore anyway and developed even greater power.
She is handstitched and needlesculpted. The cloth is all cotton and her hair is Homespun brand yarn. She is part of an original series but is a one of a kind work of art.