Last week, I retired from paid work after 40 years. It is the most bizarre and strangest feeling.
Where does one start to be retired with no more routine, no more having to do anything for anyone else, no more compliance and most importantly no one to talk to during the day? During the final stages of my working life I have been constrained by compliance for accreditation, legislation, standards, risk management, oh&s and on it goes. I was good at it and it was so necessary working in the health industry, but I must admit it did constrain my creativity.
Last week I felt a little lost. Everyone says you have to give yourself time to recover when retiring. When I reread the above I do need to recover; to recover my sense of play, my creativity, what and who I am again. It was so easy to let work overtake! I have struggled to write, to create, to make dolls over the last 5 years and when I realise how constrained by compliance I have been, is it no wonder! So here I am, retired, and, I have made a doll in the first week. Wow!
2 weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to do a class with Linda Misa. The amazingness was being surrounded by like-minded women who love to make dolls, who love to play, who I can talk to easily about anything, of whom I am in awe! We played with gelli printing on fabric and paper and sculpted with creative paper clay to make a head which was painted using black gesso as a base. All fun and very interesting techniques. It was such a slow paced class where we all had time to enjoy the process and the company without stress and tension. It was a lovely weekend and it just happened to be mine and Linda’s birthday weekend.
During class I also met a new dollmaker who has had a profound effect on me. She is passionate, wants to learn so much, but struggles with health issues, so is having trouble completing her first doll. She realises the healing effect of dollmaking already and has shared this with me. This is my first doll in 2 years, which is a very sad state of affairs when I consider myself a dollmaker, but I can slowly feel the passion returning, the love of making a figure to represent my feelings, a way of healing, slowly returning.
I have been very slow to finish, but I finally have. I have called her "New Beginnings" which is such an apt title for a piece to represent the next stage of my life. I love the way she is just hovering just above the ground: about to take off?
Her hands are cloth with a clay thumb; her face is clay; her upper arms, feet and legs and body, are all cloth. Cloth is my passion and I have always been such a purist, but this class played with an interesting technique of ‘connecting’ clay to cloth or clay to clay which is an easy way to get the shape you want. I did struggle with making clay feet but decided to sculpt my own feet from cloth.
Another interesting technique was painting a base of black gesso over clay or cloth, then using a flesh toned paint, criss crossing with a dry brush to achieve an antique look. I really like this look and it was an easy way to get shadows where you need them by using the black base.
I have used my gelli printed muslin and cotton to make cords and to use for her skirt. I have made marks on the skirt with running stitch using one strand of thread in similar colours. I like the look. I have used an A4 sheet of gelli printed paper for the hat which I have machine embroidered. I like her hat and hats really are my signature.
So a wonderful start to my retirement and new beginning to the rest of my life. I hope you like her. Enjoy your creativity and have fun. regards Ann