~ A Wealth Of Ideas ~
I have been asked the question, "Where do you get all your ideas?" more times than I can think. Usually the answer is that there are infinite possibilities, and I will certainly never run out of ideas. But some of my most interesting, and sometimes most challenging, projects have been those suggested by my customers. Things I never would have dreamed of trying, visions to which I should have just said "no", fantasies that stretched the imagination and skill...some were impossible, but many actually succeeded, and I thought you might enjoy seeing some of them.
The Drum Major
This piece was commissioned by an artist friend in honor of her son's graduation from high school. I have to admit that of all the details in this sculpture I was the most proud of the drumsticks....
Once again, a surprise for a graduate, this time a young woman with a degree in geology. Her mother presented me with a fine array of precise details, and it was great fun to try to translate them into fabric. Here are some of the instructions.
And here is the result - I love "Trilobite Me" - insider humor for sure. The trilobite necklace, rock with vein of fool's gold, and especially the tiny bottle of chemicals in the tool belt are my favorite accessories for this little geologist rabbit.
I met many wonderful people during the years I spent selling on Ebay, and two of them were sisters who delighted in trying to out do each other with personalized gifts. This one may have been the ultimate surprise!
Hand-embroidered one-armed bandit!
Audrey's 80th Birthday
My good friend Audrey has been buying my work for more years than just about anyone. Most of her purchases are for her kids, and especially for her daughter, who has an astonishing collection. Turnabout is fair play, and a few years ago Audrey's family commissioned a piece to celebrate her 80th birthday. The scene depicts Audrey and her three grandkids and a grand cake worthy of the occasion.
Take a Hike
Turnabout IS fair play! This little scene was dreamed up by the aforementioned Audrey, and is a representation of her daughter and daughter's husband and their little grandchild-the same little guy in the blue shirt crawling on the rug in Audrey's 80th Birthday! This piece was done from a photo, and it was great fun to see that the bunnies actually looked a lot like their human counterparts. I loved this sculpture so much that I turned it into a greeting card, which is available on the card page.
As a memento of a very special day, my dear niece Christine asked me to create a pair of bunnies dressed up in the clothes she and her fiance would wear on their wedding day, in as much detail as possible. Steve would wear a pinstripe suit-the photo doesn't show it well, but there are tiny grey and reddish pinstripes in the fabric.
As I couldn't find any fabric even remotely similar in such a small scale, I embroidered the stripes after the suit was sewn. Don't try this at home!
Re-creating the bride's jewelry and veil were also quite a challenge.
The happily married bride and groom...
...and their bunny counterparts!
I made this photo into a greeting card-a perfect wedding invitation which can be ordered here.
A Love-nest Wedding Cake
The daughter of a long-time friend wanted something special for the top of her cake-a pair of lovebirds! Allison chose the colors, and I had the fun of finding fabrics to fit her color scheme. There are 21 separate pieces of fabric in each bird, plus embroidered accents.
Here are the birds loving their cookie dough nest on top of the cake. I loved this idea!
This is the most complicated piece I have ever created. It was commissioned by a wonderful lady for her friends, a couple who play cello professionally.
I created the cellos using shapes cut from a sheet of clear plastic, and covered the shapes with fabric. The cellos have real strings made of thread, as do the bows.I studied the instruments and the poses of the rabbits carefully to be sure the details were correct. Their clothing would meet with approval in any orchestra hall!
Ruth asked that the duo be playing in a garden, and so I created plants and flowers from thread and fabric.
Some details of the flora:
This was an exhilarating project-fun to see how far one can go with a bit of fabric!
Watching the Garden Grow
My good friend Jackie is an amazing gardener. After she collected all the gardener bunnies I had made she started coming up with her own ideas for bunnies involved in growing good things to eat. This idea features a bunny lounging in an Adirondack chair, admiring a pot of herbs while sipping a martini. I spent many an hour trying to figure out how to get the proportions of the chair right, and how to get the pieces the right size. And then, Eureka! I went on line, found a plan for the chair, and shrunk it down to the right size. The wonders of the computer age!
I cut out the pieces in the shrunken plan, traced them onto a piece of clear plastic, cut out those shapes and covered each and every one with fabric. Then I sewed them all together according to the directions(which involved bolts and such, but you use what you have). Voila, an Adirondack chair!
The martini glass was beyond me, so I went to Ebay and bought one from a very nice man in the UK. I DID make the olive, however.
The pot of herbs contains rosemary, sage, curly parsley, thyme and purple Thai basil, all made from thread.
Jackie's latest idea involves a bunny in winter, planning next year's garden. Stay tuned!
A potter and a man with a fine sense of humor, my friend Peter operated a small and delightful art fair for many years, and I was lucky enough to be part of it. He and his friends came up with some pretty far out ideas for me, and I couldn't resist trying them out. A stuffed gold watch for an occasion I can't recall, a fabric frog with spots embroidered in the shape of tiny morel mushrooms and others which, unfortunately, I never photographed. One year Peter and his wife Nan decided to get a border collie puppy, and Peter presented me with an idea for a surprise for Nan:his collie facing off with a pair of sheep in a meadow, including realistic touches like a small pile of dog ****. Of course, he gave me photos of the real dog to work from:
Much to my amusement, the same day Peter asked me to make this sculpture, Nan approached me and asked me to do a surprise for Peter: a border collie puppy chewing up a slipper. She gave me the same photos. I'm sorry for the quality of the pictures of the finished pieces, but I enjoyed this story so much that I couldn't leave them out of this collection.
I believe they were both QUITE surprised...
Tiny Dolphins in a Fabric Sea
A couple of years ago I ran into Peter at an art fair, and yes, he had yet another wild idea, this time a tiny scene of dolphins cavorting about among the waves. Another challenge-a stuffed sea! It took me awhile, but what fun! I sewed and stuffed a round blue base, and then sewed tucks to make raised waves. The crests of the waves are created from bits of brushed yarn, twisted and stitched to resemble seafoam. Splash!
I sold many pieces on Ebay, and the really tiny bunnies were by far the most popular. Deborah became a fervent collector. She had a massive collection of Wee Forest Folk mice, and decided that my bunnies made good companions for her cute little rodents. She had endless ideas for 1" busy rabbits, and I did my best. Here are only a few of the many!
This tiny cupid sat on a mantlepiece in one of the many elaborate rooms in Deborah's dollhouse. I'm not sure what his target was-perhaps a particularly sweet little mouse.
A Valentine's Day Postman!
Has anyone seen a fox pass this way?
Deborah had quite a number of carnival mice, and was working on a circus. Before our ways parted, I finished two of the pieces she envisioned. The bareback rider is one of my all-time favorite creations.
I spent many hours figuring out how to make the Bunny Cannonball, and many more bringing it to life. Once again, one of my favorites. Note the burnt match in the carnie's hand!
I'm truly hoping to one day create a whole tiny circus. The possibilities are endless!
Minnesota entertainer Craig Carlson has been making people laugh for many years. Magician, comedian, acrobat, actor, juggler-with a great talent for making people happy! Quite a few years ago I was fortunate to receive a commission from Craig's wife, to include many of the props he used in his performances. I'll never forget this piece, not only for the fun I had working out all the magical details, but for the circumstances surrounding its completion and delivery.
The piece was to be a gift for a special birthday, and I promised that it would arrive in time. This was one of the more complex sculptures I had done, and it took longer than I expected. A few days before the deadline, I turned on the radio at my studio to hear that a dangerous winter storm was approaching. I gathered up everything I needed to finish the sculpture and dashed home to ride out the storm.
And what a storm it was. A night, a day and another night of heavy snow, 50 MPH winds and bitter cold. Time was running out , and the third day I realized that I HAD to get the package in the mail. I live at the end of a tiny 3/4 mile long country road, and at the time no one else lived on my road at all. Not knowing quite what to expect, I put on all the warmest clothes I had-the temperature was minus 20 degrees- and set off walking. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The sky was the coldest blue imaginable.There were drifts of snow halfway up the telephone poles, and my road was transformed into a wild white landscape. The drifts were too deep to walk through, so I crawled across the tallest ones. I viewed snowy whorls and peaks and spots where it appeared as though some giant tractor had left crazy irrational tracks that no one would dream of following. In some places the wind had blown the road bare, and these areas were like oases, short stretches of easy travel. By the time I got to the main road I was completely enchanted, and felt as though that walk was as magical as the little sculpture in my bag. I had no chance to take photos of the Magician Bear, but happily Craig had this one!
Thanks to Craig Carlson for the photo. You can visit Craig's web site to learn more about his many achievements!
A Day at the Beach
I have met some incredible artists on the internet. One of them is an Oregon dollmaker named TC Vollum, and much to my joy we agreed to a trade, with the piece left up to its creator. One day I received a tiny box holding a little gem of a wood doll. I named her Trixie, and set out to create something worthy in return. As I worked on this I decided it would be fun to make it into a photo story, and every day I added a new picture. I also have had the good fortune to know Christine Shearer, who has so many talents. She introduced me to TC online and made the little wooden dog, who is named Lover, in the story. Christine also is in charge of my web site!
TC Vollum has a really fun web site. You can view her work here: http://www.tcvdolls.com/, and sign up for her weekly doll adventures: http://dolltales.com/.
Christine has so many talents that I don't even know where to start. I have a perfectly jointed puppy that she made that is under 1/2" tall - a wonder! She also tells stories, and you can see all her creations here: http://www.dandelionfair.com/
On with the story!
This last photo shows Miss Bunny's arrival at her new home - I think she is very happy there!
I hope you've enjoyed seeing these pieces. I have quite a few more that are preserved on slides (remember slides?), and someday I hope to show you those also. Thanks for looking!