Just finished my newest finger puppet, Three-Eyed Fairy Librarian With Scroll.
A few years ago Target, or B-cubed — er — Bed Bath and Beyond, or somewhere was having a blue-plate special clearance sale on “artwork”. Among the dreck they were getting rid of were schlocky shiny prints laminated onto masonite which was then mounted on top of shadow-boxes. At a couple of dollars a crack, I bought a boxful of them. To make the basic structure for the reliquary I took two 12″ square boxes and prised the masonite thingy off the top. They were approximately one-and-a-half inches deep. I skim coated the outside backs with Golden’s Fiber Paste to give it a faux plastery look (and cover up the holes where I’d taken off the sawtooth hanging device belonging to the original “artwork”).
My artwork for The Holy Face was a small textile piece I did some time ago, G-d of Thunder. I scanned the actual piece into Photoshop, did some enlarging and cropping and got The Holy Face. I then printed that out onto silk crepe for the main face; bleached it out Photoshoppily and printed it onto very thin silk hobotai for the veil; and printed it out, slightly elongated, onto silk broadcloth for the face behind the scrim in the left-hand panel.
I used the slightly spooky, stylised yet primitive, shape that appears as the “frame” for several of the self-proclaimed authentic sudaria. There are at least three “authentic” sudaria; the theory being that Veronica then folded her veil into thirds, whereupon the damp image seeped through to two more layers.
I cut the shape from a piece of 12″x 12″ matboard, and then, for the right hand panel, exploded the shape to almost fill the square, barely containing the image(s) within. I used temporary spray-basting to keep a wonderful (non-metallic) gold-coloured matelasse type of fabric steady while I stitched it to the matboard along the cutout shape’s edge.
Then I carefully cut the fabric away, leaving enough to slash and fold to the back, and glue down to finish the opening.
For the left-hand panel I then stretched a piece of gold organza tightly across the opening. In the actual sudaria The Holy Face is almost unrecognisable — a blur of ochre-ish colour. In my version the organza provides the blurring. and, I have no idea why the image won’t load properly (have tried 3 times) but if you’re curious you can click on it and it should come up “my hand through the blurring”. Oy.
For the right-hand panel applied the gold matelasse the same way and then carefully stitched the “veil” to the back side of it, making sure it draped the way I wanted it to , over the right side of The Holy Face, so it would nearly spill out of the frame when it was installed.
The next step was embellishing The Holy Face with thorns and drops of blood. I had mounted it on a fairly stiff, thick interfacing for stitching. It was an interesting experience. I have no stomach for watching cruelty — there are books I haven’t read and movies I haven’t watched, despite how good they might be, because I can’t deal with descriptions of torture. (I can and have watched surgery. That’s different. It’s not the amount of blood and guts, it’s the motive.) I was stitching the “thorns” (with a very groovy yarn) from the back! – the yarn is in the sewing machine bobbin — so, an abstract experience where I was focussed on hoping the yarn would stitch smoothly. And yet. I found I was tensing up with visceral repugnance because the thorns were torture, they were getting close to his eyes. Okay, I got a grip and detached, and finished. But.
Oy. Then the drops of blood. I tried ribbon floss. I thought of other things. Then I remembered some beads. I had some nice coral beads and like the way they looked for this. I don’t normally do beading and… now I know why. Apologies to anyone who does enjoy sewing beads, but I found myself thinking, only three more… only 2 more… only… DONE! I was very very happy that only six seemed to be enough.
Before I assembled the whole thing I gilded and painted the shadow boxes (remember them?). Spray painted their edges gold and then knocked that back with burnt umber, used Golden acrylics in various combinations to loosely interpret the wallpaper motifs in the Master of Flemalle’s St.Veronica to decorate the outside. I then glued The Holy Face on the bottom of the right-hand shadow box and the slightly elongated print of the Face on the bottom of the left-hand box. I vveerrryyy carefully mounted the two frames over the shadow boxes, in the rabit where the original masonite had rested. For the glueing bits of this I was very, very happy with the way Weldbond PVA adhesive worked. It’s great stuff.
Once everything was set, I screwed on two tiny hinges and a latch.
Once again I apologise for any weird page layout issues… It was going well until about half-way down the page.
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I’ve been daydreaming about the possibilities of finger-puppets and today went and browsed through my motley yarn collection. I’m not a real knitter, nor, any longer, a weaver, but I have bits and pieces of yarns of various sorts. Even a quick assortment suggests possibilities –
butterflies? angels? robots? cardinals, bluebirds, jays? dragons? It will be fun to start playing.
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(part 2, so’s not to have to fight the photo placement gremlins)
Some of you have seen the little knotless-netting creatures I’ve made for fun. ( see Knotless-Netting Cat Toy and Theodora the Knotless-Netting Owl ). Awhile ago I began to get the idea of making finger puppets along these lines. It took a fair amount of trial and error and squinting, but I finally figured out a way to do it. I showed some of the experiments to a friend who delighted me by being enchanted, indeed so enchanted that she requested one for each of her children. In time for Christmas, of course. Since she is a dear friend, I obliged. Let me introduce you to the finger-puppet Creatures.
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It’s hard to say “fleshing out” about a ghost, but I have given her a swirl around her skeleton and ghostly innards that is part arms, part wings, part very ragged cloak. There are shreds of burnt, worn, “leather” cloak hanging from the hollow bones.
After all, when I’d gotten this far I stood her in the kitchen next to the fridge, in front of the open shelving. The Gentleman Caller got home after work and set something on the shelves, went over and opened the fridge… I said, “Whaddya think?”. He turned and said, “What?”. He had been moving around and reaching for things within 2 or 3 inches of her and neither seen nor collided with her. She is a real ghost.
Now all she needs is blood — she is alive, is she not? And carries some long-ago pain, I think, through time and space. Now she is hanging out at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette http://artlafayette.org/index.shtml as part of Go Figure: Creatively Transforming our Environment.
I am fascinated to learn that “valr”=the slain [and I think, must be connected in some fashion, perhaps cognate-wise, to "valour"]. “kyrie”=”kur”/”kuz” cognate with “chosen”. In Greek, “kyrie” means “lord” which is ideally related to chosen or at least deserving, and is best known from the Christian cry, “Kyrie eleison” — “Lord have mercy”. I suspect one could write a paper about the Valkyrie — choosers of the slain — and angels, and asking for mercy, and “Kyrie eleison”.
I’m looking forward to discussions of the linguistics here.
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She got her head and hair. I have her looking askance, in the other direction from her shy feet. Then she was ready to be fitted with her helmet, which was the jumping-off point for the whole piece — I’d been eyeing it for over a year; it screamed Viking helmet, but a little “off”. Less menacing/protective; more ethereal and elongated, as though swept upwards by a draft, or smoke.
Because of the reflective surfaces, this piece appears quite different, depending on the light and angle of vision.
The face is attached with knotless netting in wire to the frame and looks out from behind the protective grill that morphs into her skeleton.
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She’s taking shape from the bottom up. She now has her skeleton and her ghostly innards. Before I start in on her head I’m posting some pix of what she looks like now. The stretchy black/silver netting (boughten, not made) is attached at the top and bottom with knotless netting that no one can see, and anchored at each “rib” with, essentially, lashing, wrap and tie and knot. I wish I’d payed way more attention to Knot Tying and Lashing back in the Girl Scout day. http://www.girlscouts.org/ Why yes, dear reader, I was a Girl Scout from Brownies through 12 grade.
I’m growing rather fond of her, and am much less worried about being embarrassed by her in public.
I participate in an alumnae group Secret Santa exchange. Names are tossed into an online virtual hat (yes, we used to do this by hand, walking uphill in the snow both ways to the name-draw…). Members can, should they care to, make little wish-lists, or state that they are allergic to marzipan. This year my Secret Santee mentioned that her cats love cat toys made with real animal fur.
Hmmm…. Cats usually love yarn — often made from real animal fur aka wool. Hmmm…. I also have some combed but unwashed fleece. Hmmm…
I played around and started to make a mouse. I padded a real cork wine-bottle-cork with the fleece. I took some nice grey-blue yarn and started enclosing the fleece-wrapped cork with knotless netting. I made little knotless netting legs. Oooops. The toy started to look a whole lot more like a cow than a mouse.
Shrug. A cow it would be. But after a bit the cow started insisting it wanted to be a biffalo-buffalo-bison. Sigh. I gave into its wishes and started expressing its bison DNA. It was really looking rather cute! And my cat was fascinated. He made it quite clear he wanted one too, if not THAT one RIGHT NOW.
As I was finishing it up, giving it eyes, and little hooves and so forth, it started to complain again. “no, no — really — I’m a musk-ox!!” But I finished the spell without giving in, and it ended up a biffalo-buffalo-bison musk-ox wannabe.
Then to keep the peace, I made a down&dirty creature using the same methode but skipping the niceties, for my cat. He has killed, and I have resurrected, it many times between now and then.
Here are two close-ups of a little owl I made. I used various yarns to do knotless-netting, aka detached-buttonhole stitch, around a wine bottle cork. The same stitch forms the wings, tail, and tufts. The face is a goofy piece of costume jewellery that screeched “OWL” at me.
I also found this very cool website, The Owl Pages, for owl devotees: http://www.owlpages.com/index.php