Whimsical Nature, Playing with Dolls?

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Lynn Wartski

Sometime at the end of last year, I started sketching ideas for HGA’s January themed show, “Artists in Wonderland”. I created two pieces for that show, “Blithe” a joyous child figure wrought in copper, aluminum, and concrete, and “No Rag-doll” a seated mixed media rag doll with a brass foil face, and pigtails created from a copper scouring pad.

I don’t know exactly where the line between playful figure sculpture and art doll is, but I’m pretty sure that I had crossed it. Figure pieces have always been part of my sculptural catalog, from a tiny dancer that came to rest within a mixed media painting of a fellow artist, to a life sized garden club president who stands sentry over flowers and shrubs.

The doll piece sparked a flurry of activity in my sketch book. I find that I have always worked in extended series. Sometimes playing with and exploring possibilities of an idea or subject theme for a year or more. This may be one of those cases, or perhaps a whole new direction for my art work, but it doesn’t seem to matter either way.

I have worked with the basic design I developed for the first doll,  a wire skeleton covered with padding and fabric with a metal face, and have tweaked it a bit to where a specific style is starting to emerge.

The faces each subsequent doll, I have hand hammered out of 16oz copper stock. This has allowed for greater shaping and depth to their features. I’ve experimented with the materials I’ve used for their eyes from glass beads in the first, to flame enameling copper headed nails, and even metal paper fasteners. The first stuffed hosiery head has been replaced with wooden balls and or fabric covered foam. And, I’ve surprised the quilter in the family searching out just the right fabrics in which to dress my pieces.  

To put it plainly, I have been playing with dolls, and look forward to where they take me next.

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