Sunday, May 24, 2009

IOLCC Doll Competition Dilemma!

Well, it's time for me to start planning what the hell I am going to make for this years Imitation of Life Construction Company's (IOLCC) annual international "Dimensions in Dollmaking" show. Hosted annually by the San Diego Quilt Show at the fabulous San Diego Convention Center, this event showcases the work of artists from as far off as Tasmania and Israel! It is I feel, the most visited concession at the quilt show, and with good reason! The best of the best is on display...along with the works of those determinedly on their way to joining those ranks. The show has been covered by Art Doll Quarterly and many other magazines.
So it's pretty daunting to me to come up not only with a doll worthy of sitting on those tables...but one that fits the theme without me feeling like I am 'selling out' to a typical and
expected idea.
This year's theme is "Make Me Laugh". Instantly, tables filled with 78-104 clowns appeared in the vacuous space that also is considerate enough to allow for my tiny brain. Now, the artists that send their work to this show are for the most part imaginative, original people. I know because I sit there monitoring the booth and am pretty familiar with the pieces. But then again, there are some who do create the first thing that probably popped into their heads. I am diametrically opposed to doing this, and it is my mission in life to defy pretty much everything. Particularly those things that are common sense and make most people's lives easier.
The thing is, that the people who DO make the first thing that popped into their heads, create a piece that is the first thing that most visitors relate to. And therefore, the most popular.
What I do is pretty predictable...if you know me. It's going to have to be a female, and she's going to have to bear historic significance. ALWAYS. But I do try to come up with a persona that nobody else will think of. Not just for the sake of originality, but also education. I think it's fun to discover a person I knew little to nothing of. But that might be just me.
In contemplating a female of historic interest who made people laugh, a few popped up immediately.

Lucille Ball
Now really, is there anyone funnier than Lucille Ball? She raised that ballet bar pretty damn high. She's THE person to aspire to if you are a woman comedian. She's also the first person who's going to pop into the heads of at least 1/3 of the artists participating in this competition.

Lucy is also probably THE most recognizable person that the visitors will relate to in making their vote. Is she worthy? Heck yes! Is she original? She's been done to death in the doll world. So, no, I don't think so. Is she a shoo-in? Ehhh.......depends on how she's depicted. She'd have to be recognizable. Otherwise nobody would 'get it'. A Lucy from her earliest days looks very different from the Lucy the world knows and loves.

Barbra Streisand
(as Fanny Brice)
Then, there's Barbra Streisand. Not only is she a funny girl, she portrayed a historic comedienne in a very well known movie. She's well loved, instantly recognizable, and she's pretty distinctive. Will anybody else come up with a Barbra? Not as likely as a Lucy. But the visitors would be able to relate to her. She'd probably need to be in character as Funny Girl, Fanny Brice for people to really 'get it'. The pregnant bride springs instantly to mind.

Fanny Brice

Which naturally, takes me to Fanny Brice. THE original Funny Girl. I highly doubt that anyone else will do her. I believe that this is because no visitors will be quite able to remember her. Whoever remembers her will likely be dead, and therefore not able to visit the display. People will relate to Streisand AS Fanny Brice. But probably not realize she was actually a real person. Which makes me want to shove her down the public's collective throats, so they learn a little something new. Will anyone relate? Naw. Will anyone look at her twice? Not much more than to say, "Oh, that's nice. Who's Fanny Brice?"

Fannie Beane

My ultimate desire is to represent somebody NOBODY ever heard of, and that's Fannie Beane! Why do I like Fannie Beane? Because she is one of the earliest vaudeville comediennes, and she played DEADWOOD. How cool is that? She headlined at the famed Bella Union Hotel. That can't have been an easy audience! You history buffs who've cried (as I have) at the demise of HBO's "Deadwood" will know that establishment.

Will anyone relate? NO. Will anyone look at her twice? Probably NOT, other than to say:
"Who the hell is Fannie Beane and why did she think it was okay to show her face at this show, which is obviously about funny things, like Lucy, and...clowns?"

So yeah, having a hard time deciding what to do. My Dave says go with Lucy. I said no way. Then again, selling out and making a clown might finally get me in one of them fancy periodicals.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale

Jenny Lind
The Swedish Nightingale

Jenny Lind was born Johanna Maria Lind, October 6, 1820 in Stockholm, Sweden. Jenny was (shock!!) the illegitimate daughter of Anne Marie Fellborg, a schoolteacher, and Niclas Jonas Lind, a bookkeeper. Her parents did not marry until Jenny was 14 years of age. Wow. You just don't hear of that type situation that often in the 19th century. Makes us 21st century live-in sinners seem more normal, doesn't it?
When Jenny was nine, her singing was overheard by the maid of Mademoiselle Lundberg, the Principal Dancer of the Royal Swedish Opera. Thus began Jenny's illustrious singing career.
Hans Christian Anderson fell in love with Jenny in 1843, and while they remained close friends, his romantic feelings were not returned. Hans wrote three fairytales inspired by Jenny; The Ugly Duckling, The Angel, and The Nightingale. The Nightingale fit....and from then on, Jenny Lind became known worldwide as "The Swedish Nightingale".
Jenny married Otto Goldschmidt in 1852, and bore him three children. This was her only marriage. She gave her last performance in Dusseldorf in 1870, and died of cancer November 2, 1887.
Jenny Lind was one of the first worldwide celebrities, coming to the United States after an invitation from P.T. Barnum to tour. She may well be the first celebrity to become a 'brand'. Her name graced cribs and cradles...dolls and songs. Women strove in droves to imitate her fashions. So, step aside Cher, Madonna and Britney. You've got enormous shoes to fill.

Here is my version of Jenny Lind, made for the IOLCC (Imitation of Life Construction Company) competition in San Diego last year. The theme was...oh god, what was it? Oh yes...something about having wings. I can't go into the world of fairies and faes, it's just not my thing. I don't do animals. Not well. So me being me, and going against the grain, I had to find something historical to get around the whole 'wing' thing.
Is a Nightingale not a winged thing? That's how I came up with Jenny.

Jenny is made of paperclay over an armiture..and she's quite a heavy gal. I mean, um...sturdy. No girl wants to be referred to as heavy. She is completely handsculpted. I did try to come up with some resemblance to the real Jenny, but the plastic surgeon in me did whittle her somewhat bulbous proboscis down a just a tad. Her hair is also hand modeled, as I didn't want to risk sending her into the hands of others to display and having mohair somehow get pulled out of shape. And it's a good thing I did....because Jenny came back from the show missing a couple of her digits. She's lucky she wasn't a pianist...
She's wearing a ballgown made from contemporary changeable silk taffeta, which is enhanced by antique fabrics and beaded trims. No good, useable, historically significant, displayable, wearable antique garment was destroyed to create Jenny's gown. The gown is covered with netting (with pleats of silk ribbon) from an antique gown that was shredded Her headpiece is all antique 'bits' as well. She holds a miniature reproduction of sheet music (I believe it's the Jenny Lind Polka...can't truly remember, it got lost in the show). Her mitts are also antique lace. I like how she turned out, and apparently a lot of other people did too. Which made me a happy camper.
There was a gentleman at the show who kept staring at her, leaving...coming back and staring at her. He said she looked just like his niece, who worked at the Whaley House Museum in San Diego. Hmmm...............that was very interesting, as I was Head Docent there for a few years. What a coincidence. But you'd think I'd know who he was talking about..I couldn't figure out who worked there (and I know EVERYONE who does and has since 2000) that this doll could possibly resemble.
Finally figured it out, he was right! She's just much younger than Jenny...and much more lovely. I wonder now how much of my memory bank threw this gal into this doll? Weird.
Alas, I still haven't gotten round to rebuilding her poor little fingers.