INTRODUCTION BY WANDA FUDGE
When I moved to Northern California almost 20 years ago, I joined the art doll group called the Phoebe’s and met the most creative group of women artists that I had ever seen in one room. Betts Vidal was part of that group, and I saw immediately that she was a master artist. This month my blog is all about art dolls and who better than Betts Vidal to start this blog. I’d like to share her story and some of her work with you.
I love beautiful things. My joy in life is finding beauty in simple things that to me….have wondrous possibilities. Nature shows me clouds, landscapes, an arrangement of hag stones, or sea shells and sea glass, which I’ve gathered from endless beach combing. If my camera isn’t with me, I call these observations memory photos. If it’s handy, I do my best to capture their beauty. I have a treasure trove of photos to inspire me, as well as trays, vases, and apothecary jars filled with gifts from the sea. All art exists in nature.
When I was a girl, my mother designed and made all my clothes, until I was able to make my own. I watched her remake her ballroom dance gowns into my prom dresses that were the envy of my girlfriends. It was from the gown to prom combinations that I learned to salvage and savor fabrics. That eventually led to designing cloth dolls, and combining fabrics into something unique that gave me great pleasure. Clever remaking offered many ideas for my doll couture. A no longer worn silk blouse could become a petticoat, pantaloons or gown for my next doll…a beautiful new life for both doll and blouse.
In my travels I discovered the beauty of buttons, their history and varieties. My heart skips a beat when I acquire a gathering of ‘like’ buttons. This is what inspired me to create my Button Vignette cards. Rare buttons, silk ribbons, and even fragments of vintage laces, are used to enhance my dolls gowns. Collecting is an obsession I have no desire to remedy. I collect things that give me visual pleasure and conjure up memories of my travels. My dolls have benefited from both my experiences and my collections.
Doll making introduced me to a treasured collection of life long and dear friendships. We have shared and encouraged each other in all of our creative efforts. These friendships flourished with our many travels to teach in other states and countries. Because of our shared interests we also shop together…here and abroad. Finding that perfect card of buttons, or a vintage lace that would make Marie Antoinette weep with envy, makes for a fortuitous addition to the creative palette.
These creative experiences have given me so much pleasure…a pleasure that should be shared. This is why I teach doll making. I find each class a most gratifying way of sharing my joy, and inviting others to my wondrous world of beautiful fabrics, laces and buttons…oh my!
This is an example of BETTS’ Button Vignette cards.
Here are some of her collections, beautifully displayed and ready to inspire.
This doll , Mayan Goddess of Weaving, Ix Chevel Yax, was made by BETTS in the early nineties. It was featured in Suzanne Oroyan’s book, Fantastic Figures, and included in numerous gallery shows.
This is where she enjoys using pieces from her collections.
Here she combines her love of nature and and her love of dolls.
I hope you enjoyed BETTS’ work. Since this month’s blog is all about dolls, I’d like to share work from some of my other artist friends.
BONNIE is one of the most prolific and original artists I know. Her work is well known for her unusual embellishments.
DAISY is always reaching for something new and different. Seeing where she is going with her art is always a surprise. She was an art teacher in the public schools for many years and must have been an amazing motivator for her fortunate students.
MARY PORTER VAUGHAN
MARY works long hours at her job and still manages to put out the most extraordinary dolls. Rich in imagination, with quality at it’s finest.
SHIRLEY taught doll making classes for many years. She began with beautiful porcelain dolls, moved on to cloth dolls, and now that her sight is failing, she has moved on to mosaics. It’s a loss for the doll world because her dolls are some of the most exquisite I’ve ever seen.
It’s difficult to find words to express DONNA’S work. She is so gifted and multi-talented that I don’t know where to begin. Her work is always GORGEOUS and she never disappoints.
I first saw CHRISTINE’S work when I went to a doll show. The place appeared empty until I saw the long line in front of CHRISTINE’S booth. People were standing with 2 or 3 dolls in their arms, protecting them as if they were babies. I was an immediate convert and was delighted to be able to take one of her workshops. I have yet to see anyone make doll faces quite that beautiful.
KATE has the most marvelous whimsical style . The story her dolls tell can only make the viewer smile. When KATE teaches a class, the doll makers know they are going someplace they have never been before.
SUZANNE is a doll maker, a quilter, a mosaic artist, and an artistic creative force.
ZANAIB NIA GREEN
ZANAIB knits and crochets like a mad woman. You will always find her with needles and yarn in her hands….and she still has time to make beautiful dolls.
SUZANNE is relatively new to the art doll world but her enthusiasm has no bounds. Her motto seems to be ‘I can do that’ no matter what it is.
COLLEEN seems to paint her own rainbow. She works with colors and color combinations I’ve never seen before. Her work is enchanting.
KELLY’S teeny tiny elves definitely qualify as dolls because dolls come in all shapes, and sizes. I so admire someone who can make a 2″ doll with so much personality.
BARBARA is BETTS teaching buddy. They have traveled all over the world together sharing their work and love of the doll.
ROSIE’S work is always colorful and whimsical. How can you look at those faces and not smile.
STEPHANIE is another one of those multi-talented and prolific doll artists. When I first met STEPHANIE she was new to the cloth doll world, but she is an experimenter and was already teaching us new ways of doing things. Doll makers with limited sewing skills envy the magnificent garments her dolls have the privilege of wearing.
I enjoyed making fabric dolls, but I discovered mosaics. Now I’m making dolls out of glass..
To show you that you can make a doll out of anything, MARGARET made these ladies from her worn out kitchen scrub brushes.
I hope you enjoyed seeing work from previous blogs as well as new work by these artists. If you are interested in purchasing someone’s work, let me know and I’ll put you in contact with the artist. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I love hearing from you so please continue to leave your comments regarding the artists or the blog.
I’ll be back next month with more exciting art and artists.