Birthday Doll, A Good Book and a Unique Pickle to Make

 

Birthday Doll 2019
September brings the time of year when I create a simple doll to celebrate my birthday. I started her on my birthday, but with other demands, I just managed to finish her up over a month later! She is inspired by the Ethiopian Omo River Valley people who decorate their bodies with flowers for special occasions.

Many years ago a friend sent me a link to some video documenting this tradition. I was enchanted, and promptly bought a book of photographs done by . Recently I was looking at the book and decided to use it to inform this year’s doll. I also shared the video and book with a small group of art friends and several came up with their own body adornment also informed by the video and photographs.
https://hubpages.com/travel/The-amazing-body-art-of-the-Ethiopian-Omo-tribes

When I had finished her, I realized that she was a “black Madonna” goddess. Many ancient cultures worshiped a madonna with dark skin. Marion Woodman, a Jungian therapist, popularized the concept of the black madonna and wrote the following in her book“Coming Home to Myself”:

‘The Black Madonna is larger than life itself.
Nature impregnated by spirit,
She presides over fertility, sexuality, childbirth.
She accepts her body as chalice for spirit,
Presides over the sacredness of matter,
The meeting of sex and spirit.
Rejected by the patriarchy,
Her energy has smoldered for generations.
Now she erupts in us and in the world,
Demands conscious recognition,
Demands redemption of matter.’

She certainly is a concept of woman ripe for recognition in this day and age! In many subtle ways she represents the shadow side of my personality that is emerging as I live my life alone in the now.

The Book By My Chair:
This is a book suggested to me by my sangha friend, David Green. He had it with him one Sunday. I saw that it was filled with book marks and notations and commented about this. He replied it was an especially down-to-earth presentation of basic Buddhist meditation and self help exercises. Sounded interesting so I ordered it from Amazon.

The reward for doing this has been very special. It is a wonderful handbook for emotional self-care. If you are floundering in this area, do check it out at your local bookstore if there is one in your community. Or spring for it. At Amazon you can get the paperback version for $10.87 If you don’t find it helpful, you can always pass it on to someone you think needs it!! (HA!!! that’s my little flippant joke)

A New Kind of Pickle!
I love pickles and fermented foods. Always have! When I was a kid and couldn’t find anything tasty in the refrigerator, I’d settle for a finger-full of Gulden’s Mustard.

So, when my friend Terry Enfield told me about pickled cherries I could hardly wait to make some. And then I found a similar type of recipe for pickled grapes and made them too! They both are delicious as a garnish for an entree plate. And of course if you happen upon a jar in the refrigerator, they are perfect for a forbidden snack.

Here’s a recipe you can use for either:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 – 1 teaspoon of any or all seeds in your pantry. (mustard, coriander, anise, allspice – depends on what you have.)
1/4 teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes (depends on your taste. I like less)
1 pound of washed grapes or washed and pitted cherries
Place fruit in clean canning jar.
Add a sprig of fresh rosemary (if you have it)
Place the vinegar, water, sugar, cinnamon and the seeds and pepper flakes into a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour the hot vinegar mixture (including seeds, stick etc) over the fruit.
When cool, refrigerate. Can be eaten after a day, but they taste better when they have marinated for at lease a week. Keep refrigerated.

A Final Comment

I’ve come to accept that I am an occasional blogger which means I don’t post very often. I keep thinking “next month I’ll have my act together to write up something really interesting, but my life doesn’t work that way any more. I post when I have time to write something I think is worth sharing which isn’t as often as I want. The life of an 80 year old person just isn’t as exciting as it was 20 years earlier. Finishing my birthday doll got me started again. The next post will come your way when my muse finds something that insists that it be shared. Until then, I remain in limbo searching for the next interesting “something” I can get excited about.

2017 – A Birthday to Remember

Another Year – Another Birthday Doll

For the past six years I have marked my birthday by creating a doll. This year was no different.  This time my doll was a co-creation because I used hands and legs that had been made years ago by a dear friend and fiber artist, Ardyce Stoops.  She died seven years ago and I was the beneficiary of some of her unfinished work.  I’m sure she is smiling at this particular result.

The Great Art Give-Away

This past Tuesday was special as I celebrated my 80th Birthday.  I decided to have a big party the day before marking the end of my 80th year.  It turned out to be one of the best days of my life.  Not wanting more “stuff” I decided to give away much of the art I’ve made since I retired 25 years ago. There were close to 200 pieces for guests to choose from – each person picked out two pieces.

Each person choose one finished piece (painting, collage, assemblage, or book) and one smaller piece (book samples, demo pieces, small hand-art pieces etc.)  I took photos of them with the art they had chosen and am planning to make a book of the photos so I’ll be able to enjoy and know where the work has “landed”!

It turned out to be a very special project because I got unexpected feedback from most of the new owners who sent me e-mails telling me what they had done with their gifts and how much they are enjoying have them in their home.

A Birthday Bonus

But there was another joyful bonus as well. When I sent out the invitation I suggested that people bring school supplies for a nearby elementary school that is populated with children from  families that have extremely limited financial resources.  Most of the teachers regularly have to buy pencils, crayons, notebooks etc with their own money.  My dear guests brought 19 bags of basic school supplies and contributed $123 to a discretionary fund I set up for the Principal!

When I delivered the “take” to the Principal this past Friday she was speechless and grateful beyond words.  She was totally surprised by the generosity of my friends.  And within the hour I received four e-mails from grateful teachers who had benefited from the bounty provided.

Maybe I’ve started a mini movement and that others will do the same!!!  Several friends have intimated that their next birthday may include some collective gifting and giving.

My sister, Barbara Wolff, traveled from her home in Santa Fe to help me with this special occasion.  Here we are with our “rosy glow” of an unforgettable celebration.

Another Birthday…Another Doll

Some of you know that for the past 5 years I’ve made a doll to celebrate my birthday.  With Ed missing, it was not a day I was looking forward to at all.  I scheduled it fully so there wasn’t a lot of time to be alone.  I spent the morning in a meeting and took a class in the afternoon and went out for dinner to co-celebrate birthdays with friends.  Came home exhausted and went directly to bed.

I started the next day and decided to make a simple “stuffie” style doll with beaded embellishment.  As a “process” artist my projects evolve and I never know at the start what the finished result will be.  I selected percale for her form which I painted with diluted acrylics. While the fabric was drying I collected fabric scraps, bits of ribbon and beads.  These included batik quilting scraps, golden organza and scraps of a grid-like fabric, magenta ribbons (from my sister’s birthday gift packages) and gold, red, magenta and green beads.

I cut out four rectangular layers (3 percale and 1 thin white felt) for the dolls body.  After setting aside one layer for the back of the doll, I made a fabric sandwich (percale, white felt, percale) and basted the layers together.  Next I drew the doll shape on to the top layer which I then machine stitched in place.  My first embellishment was to tack the golden grid fabric on the body of the doll.  After fooling around with the golden organza I decided to use it for hair as I couldn’t find a good place for it on the doll’s body.  Next came beading, then the application of the leaf shapes on the bottom of the doll, more beads and finally a face which I painted on percale and then hand-stitched in place.

I didn’t have a clear vision for the hair, and I wanted to use the organza, so I started playing and voila!  I found I was accumulating strands of hair.  I knotted them and added beads and found I had created braid-like ropes!  When I pinned them into the top of the head they fell into a unique hairdo which seemed just right.

1016doll-1

I fashioned a hanger from some wire and sewed it on to the back reinforced with several layers of scrap percale.  I made a 1.5” slice vertically down the back for stuffing access.  Next I pinned the back on to the top layers and machine stitched the doll around the edges several times.  Using sharp scissors, I trimmed off the excess fabric leaving about 1/8” around the outside stitching.  On the back side I ran a thin bead of PVA over the stitching so it couldn’t unravel.  The final finish of the edges involved dipping my finger into diluted acrylic paint and rubbing the exposed raw edges.  I like the way that the green paint serves to further define the edge.

2016doll-2

I ended by tacking her hair in place on the body as it had a mind of it’s own, going in places I did not want it to land and covering  the slit on her back with a decorative patch.

Now, it’s time to dream up a new project. In the meantime, I trust you are happily involved with your own projects and it being October I’m guessing that your fall calendar is already filled to the brim.