Rococo lady, part 1

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram, have been able to see the development of my latest piece. A needle felted portrait of ... what exactly?... a snow queen, a drag queen perhaps? My first thought was Rococo when I saw her outlines taking shape, so I guess that's what she'll be. 

Prepping my 'canvas.' At this point I still have no idea what I am making other than a face.

The birth of a face. This is such a magical moment - always - when I see the features of a face emerge from the wool.

Mouth, nose, cheek bones and eye sockets are in place. Now the fun part starts.

This is where I go a little crazy. I know I'll cover it up with white wool again, so the initial colors can be as bold as I want them to be.

See? The colors are just shining through.

First time I am using eye lashes. What a dramatic effect!

The bow is added for maximum Rococo effect (I used one of my daughter's ballet shoe ribbons).

Two angels at my table

A few days before I had to take down my art show at Sugarfactory, I received a message on Facebook from someone I didn't know. Eli West, a fellow fiber artist from America found me on Instagram and wanted to interview me for the new blog he is writing together with his colleague Hannah Crawford. Eli and Hannah were coming to Amsterdam on their grand tour of Europe in search of fiber arts and artists. How very exciting!

We met at Sugarfactory where I showed them my work and they asked me a lot of questions that are still resonating inside of me. What an amazing honor to be asked about my work, ideas and process.  It gave a whole new dimension to my own idea of myself. Thank you guys!

After the interview we said goodbye and I thought that was that. But it felt weird not knowing anything about them, so I invited them to tea at my house a few days later. This time I got to ask questions, which I won't share here, except that it felt like I had always known them. 

The next day my husband Greg was having the premiere of his comedy show How to be Frisian at the Rozentheater and they - thank goodness - came along and laughed really loud - like Americans do - in a room full of Dutchmen who smile really hard, but don't make a whole lot of noise.

Within 7 days we had seen each other 3 times and now they were off to Paris. A part of me wished I could have sneeked off with them. I can't wait to hear more about their adventures in fiber Europe and about the community they are planning to gather through their blog, which you can read here.

Meeting Eli and Hannah was magical and I am so very very thankful.

Etsy update: Four historical busts

After having been home with me for a couple of weeks now, my dolls are ready to leave again!

I just uploaded my four historical busts to my Etsy shop.

I hope they will find a loving new home.

But if not, I don't mind keeping them.

It would be great though if they can stay together.

Four seasons in Vondelpark Amsterdam

Those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook will probably remember seeing these pictures before. You also might remember I am taking them to keep myself occupied while practising my daily walks. 

Today I realized I have been walking almost every workday for a whole year now.

I thought it would be fun to choose a landscape for every season.

Even though the Vondelpark is not a very big park, every season still offers totally different pictures. And now it's Spring again and nature is waking up. If you want to see it progress, follow me here or here.

Opening party art show SCULPTURES IN WOOL

It's almost April, but I am still reminiscing about the opening of my art show on my 45th birthday early February. What a party! So many lovely people showed up. 

I was overwhelmed by all the love and attention I got. I am glad my husband took some photos so I have a better image to hold on to than the foggy one in my head.

This is the wall in the foyer. I printed four of my photos on black wallpaper. 

What a thrill to see the name of my website - finally ready - on the wall. 

Getting a big hug from one of my oldest friends.

So happy to finally show my work to everybody I love.

Here are a couple of pics from my guests.

I even gave a speech. Which is kind of against my nature, but I am so glad I did it. I just had to explain. At 40 I finally realized I had always wanted to be an artist. I started to take art classes here and there, and I discovered the art of needle felting. Some of my work might not be that easy to look at, because a lot of my dolls are pretty sad, but they are a part of who I am and I am willing to show that part now.

I concluded by thanking a bunch of lovely people; my husband Greg for his love and support, my children Ila and Imre for their patience, my friend Marieke from Woolwoofles for inspiring me to make needle felted dolls and my father Peter for letting me show my work at his club Sugarfactory.

I've been spoiled with flowers, books and other lovely things. Thanks to all who came to my opening party at Sugarfactory!


Art show in February in Sugar Factory, Amsterdam

It's been 5 years ago since I had an art show, and this time I am doing it all alone. Quite terrifying actually. I underestimated how much time I had to invest in organizing the whole thing. For the past month I have been living from deadline to deadline. Great for getting things done, that's for sure. 

Today I made the invitation. It took me all day and several versions. But I am actually quite pleased with it now. Tomorrow I will send it to the guests that I hope to receive on the 6th of February which also happens to be my 45th birthday.

Listing a crochet baby blanket on Etsy

As much as I love crocheting, I don't like taking photos of my work.

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There are so many artists out there, on Instagram for example, who take absolutely gorgeous pictures of their work that not just give lots of information about the product but that also convey a whole atmosphere that I would love to live in. I don't feel like I have that talent. 

Don't get me wrong. I have no problem taking a picture of my work lying flat on the ground. But it doesn't convey more that the shape and structure of the product.

And it is hard to see how big this blanket is, as there is nothing to compare it to.

It wasn't easy to find a spot in the house that had good enough light and wasn't cluttered. So I ended up in my daughter's room (amazingly not so cluttered!). Her pink walls are so lovely.

She even had all kinds of props to help display the blanket.

Now my question to you is: are you getting a good impression of the blanket this way?

Or is a photo like the above one good enough? I'd love to find out ;-)

Summer flowers - August

Browsing through my photos I realize I have not been walking much in August. I thought I would pick up my good habit once the kids would be back in school, but I've kept myself busy with all kinds of others activities. 
I don't feel entirely guilty as I am taking pilates classes twice a week now. But I should keep walking too. In September I've been biking a lot more across town, delivering cakes for our new business Missbaksels. It's a lot harder to photograph flowers when you're biking!
Meanwhile I've been taking some photos of flowers at the school gardens that I visit with my son's class once a week. Enjoy!









Needle felting for market

Early August we came back from our vacation in France. Having been away for three weeks from my studio, I was very eager to get back to 'work.' 
Together with my friend Marieke from Woolwoofles, I was planning to sign up for a couple of markets to see if anyone would be interested in buying our work. So far I hadn't finished  a whole lot of dolls and wasn't sure I wanted to part with the ones I had, so I decided to start a whole new series of dolls that wouldn't take me too much time to make. Ha! I was wrong. These babies also wanted a lot of attention! But they were fun to make.
The technique I used here is called needle felting.  You basically stab wool with a very sharp barbed needle until the wool clings together. The more you work it the firmer it gets. 
For the dresses I used scraps of fabric that I have collected over the years. Embellishments are made with (vintage) lace, ribbons and buttons.
Unfortunately the market turned out to be a bit of a disappointment as nobody wanted to buy one of my girls. So I took them home and now they're happily sitting on their shelf again, watching over me as I type this blog post.

















Summer flowers - July

Early July I kept up my daily walks in Vondelpark and enjoyed the beautiful weather and bright light.  But then our Summer break started and gone was my routine. We took it easy for a week - slept in really late - and then got in the car and drove to France for the rest of the month.

There were days that were too hot to even think of photographing flowers, but I did manage to capture a treasure here and there.

If you're curious where exactly we went on holiday, I invite you to take a look at my other blog called Pig Islands where I share unique holiday places that I have discovered though out the years in Europe and the United States. I hope you enjoy and would love to hear what you think.

Vondelpark


Vondelpark

School gardens

School gardens

Vondelpark

Vondelpark

In my garden

In my mother's garden

La Pierre Verte, Uzès (France)

La Pierre Verte, Uzès (France)

La Pierre Verte, Uzès (France)

La Pierre Verte, Uzès (France)

La Pierre Verte, Uzès (France)

La Pierre Verte, Uzès (France)

La Pierre Verte, Uzès (France)

La Pierre Verte, Uzès (France)


Gite Baron, Cazouls-lès-Béziers (France)

Cazouls-lès-Béziers (France)

Gite Baron, Cazouls-lès-Béziers (France)
Please do not copy or reproduce my photo's without my permission.

Spring flowers - June

Can you still call them Spring flowers in June? 

Again I bumped into some jewels on my daily walks in Amsterdam. It has become some kind of obsession I have to admit. I cannot go from A to B without trying to spot flowers worth photographing. There are so many that qualify. 

Next month I will be in France and I am eager to find out what will enchant me there. I hope you will check in with me in August again for more (flower) photos.

Have a lovely Summer!

Ophemert

Ophemert

Ophemert

Ophemert

Ophemert

Ophemert

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

School gardens Amsterdam

Derde Kostverlorenkade Amsterdam

Derde Kostverlorenkade Amsterdam

Bellamystraat  Amsterdam

Derde Kostverlorenkade Amsterdam

Derde Kostverlorenkade Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Jacob van Lenneptstraat Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam
Please do not copy or share these photos without my permission!

Spring flowers - May

Here is a selection of flowers that I photographed on my daily walks in May. Again I used no filter and I did not edit them. I keep being amazed at the quality of the camera in my iPhone. I hope you enjoy them too!

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Derde Kostverlorenkade Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Jacob van Lennepstraat Amsterdam

Frans Halsstraat Utrecht

Curacaostraat Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Vondelpark Amsterdam

Hoeve De Pippert Ophemert

Hoeve De Pippert Ophemert
Please do not copy or share my photos without my permission!

Textile collage number two in the Pink Girl series

This time I created a new image with the same fabrics I had left over from last time. It's a very fun process, to almost randomly assembling little scraps here and there, until it feels right.



I am not making a drawing before I start. Wouldn't have to patience for that. I am drawing with the fabric itself.




The girl is embroidered with silk (my grandmother's silk) with a very simple stitch. Even here I don't make a sketch. I see her face in my mind. And my hands follow that 'print.' I don't mind if she turns out differently. It's about the process, not necessarily about the result.



My girls have a mind of their own. I took the skirt apart a few times - even after working on one a whole afternoon - because my flower girl wanted to have more ribbons and an apron.




The textile collage is attached on a canvas that is ready to hang on the wall. If desired it could be framed, but I like it just the way it is.



New kind of project: the textile collage

Inspired by my friend Marieke from Woolwoofles, I also started working with scraps of fabric. It resulted in three different textile collages, of which I am listing the first one on Etsy today.


We both love to go one of the best Amsterdam markets, the Noordermarkt, where you can find vintage clothes, fabric and haberdashery. Over the years we have both accumulated huge amounts of ribbons, yarns and beads. We both never throw away any fabric that might be reused. 







Introducing: Lia Miché

Last weekend we went to visit my mother who lives in the east of the Netherlands. One of the things we always do when I visit is to have a look at what she's been working on lately.



My mother is an allround artisan and artist. She can work with textile, thread, paint and clay, but recently she's been focussing on watercolors.


I took some snapshots with my phone (which could be better quality) because I got really excited about her latest work.


My mother is a very sensitive, very fragile but also very intuitive person and I love to see her character shine through in het art work. I believe it is pure and authentic. And I am truly touched when I look at it.


Some work is more abstract. But it has the same transparent and somewhat insecure quality of the still lifes.


But my favorite work is this portrait of a dancer. She has character, she's communicative and she's just lovely.







Every day is Valentine's Day

It was the evening before Valentine's Day that I realized I wanted to crochet a heart. 


It would be such a great item to sell through the store of my friend Anouk, Fabrique Romantique in Amsterdam.


Well, too bad that I was too late, I crocheted seven hearts anyway. 


And my friend Marieke from Woolwoolfles gave me a garland of sweet little red roses to sew on the hearts.


Adding my label still feels quite special :-)


At least I am ready for Valentine's Day 2015, but honestly, wouldn't we be all happier if we'd celebrated love every day?



Left over hearts make great Christmas ornaments too!



Creating Marie

On my to-do-list today I wrote: 
- baking almond cookies (I didn't)
- moving the couch (I did)
- dusting (I didn't)
- vacuum cleaning (I did)
- writing (I didn't, until now when I should be cooking dinner for my starving children)
- researching website building (I did)
- washing the windows (I didn't, but my husband did - sort of)

I should compliment myself that I got half of the things done that I set out to do today. I could have easily gotten all seven of my chores done, since there was no doll making in the planning. 

However here is the evidence of what I spent most of my day doing. 


 Who is this new creature? An angel or a dancer?



Male or female?


As soon as I give them eyes, their soul appears.


Ah, Marie it is.


Giving her a bit more lips.


This is the moment when I have to stop touching her face.


Even though it's not quite done, I will leave her like this while I continue working on her body.


Introducing: wool sculptor Irina Andreeva

While browsing for felt creatures on Pinterest, I bumped into the amazingly talented Irina Andreeva. She is a Russian artist who makes unique woolen sculptures of mostly little girls and cats. She uses natural colors, lots of greys, that contribute to the pure and somewhat melancholy emotions of her creatures. 

Unfortunately all her social media are in Russian, so I can't tell you more about her than you can see for yourself when you browse through her photos.

I am not sure about her technique. She must be starting the sculptures by dry felting them. But there are some pictures online where she soaps the surface and rinces with water. It would explain the smooth surface.

I am curious to see if she uses wire to support the structure. As you can see in one of the photo's, the dolls are quite big.

It is an absolute inspiration for me to look at these pictures and I only feel more compelled to keep working on my own dolls.
















Copyright Irina Andreeva

How to present one's work

Over at Christmas, I was talking to my father about the dolls I have been making recently. My family had wanted to see them and I showed them by holding them in my hands. After having them been admired, I put them down again. A pile of colored wool. Just limbs. Almost carelessly tossed aside.

I have been thinking about that image a lot. 

Making the dolls is one thing, but showing them is quite another. How can I show them in a way that does justice to the nature of their character? I need to talk to someone.

My father instantly googled the name of the artist he had just met in Barcelona last November: 

Gerard Mas (Spanish sculptor, born in 1976)

What started as a search for ways how to present one's work, turned into an intense fascination for Mas's work. Here's a sample of what I found online.

The repetition of the statues and the pedestals could work for my dolls too.


It took me a moment before I spotted the bees. The expression on her face is  powerful and distracting.

Again, a quick glace doesn't do this one justice.

Like a fish on a plate. I wonder how big this one is.

Do you see 'it'?

The skin texture is almost real.


How about a frame?

Here the pedestal is part of the sculpture.


I welcome any suggestions about how other artists have presented their work. Please leave your comment below.