Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Coming Full Circle


I've been asked a few times recently why I'm making ceramic jewelry "all of a sudden" and if I'm going to still make art dolls.  Here's the story behind the ceramic jewelry.....

I have been "crafty" for as long as I can remember.  When I was little a perfect Saturday afternoon was having an appliance box I could cut windows and doors in and color flowers and bushes on the outside of to make a pretty snazzy play house.  I loved to color and filled many coloring books and went through reams and reams of paper.  Art class was my favorite class all through school and I also liked heading over to my grandmother's house to help her during the holiday season with all of the Bazaar crafts she made to sell.

When I was a teen I took art every year and filled notebook after notebook with poetry and journal writings.  It seems that I was always doing something creative.

I had my first child at 20 and was in a very difficult and dysfunctional marriage for 8 years which didn't allow for much creative time.  I was focused on survival and through the years I added two more children to the mix and well, let's just say I was way too stressed and way too busy trying to keep a roof over our heads and food in our mouths to worry about "crafts".  I did sneak in a tiny cross-stitch here and there though.  :)

Once I finally broke away from my ex-husband and started getting my happy back again, I looked into making things again.  I started making tea lights out of baby food jars and faux stained glass paints.  Then I played with making ornaments and painting things.  Just here and there, on my off days, when time allowed.

In December of 2003 I met and started dating a man who had a love for ceramics and making pottery on the wheel.  I had played with clay in school but never had the chance to fire anything or learn to use the pottery wheel so I was pretty excited to learn about ceramics and even more excited to be dating someone who was creative.

I had went back to school to earn my Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies and needed to take an elective so I chose to take ceramics, specifically, hand building.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!  Every Saturday I would wake up excited and ran out the door to go to my 5 hour long ceramics class.  I looked forward to those 5 hours each week.  I learned pinch pots, coil pots and slab work.  I was in heaven.  Just the way the clay felt in my hands made me happy.  Later, my boyfriend and I went in on a kiln and a pottery wheel together and he taught me how to use the wheel.  I truly felt as though I had found my calling.

We never did get the wiring done to be able to use the kiln so I had quite a few pieces of pottery sitting around that needed to be fired but no finished pieces.  Time went on, we grew apart and eventually broke up.  He bought me out of my share of the kiln and wheel and I packed up and moved to Florida.

It was after marrying my current husband that my passion for creating really came alive.
In 2006 I discovered polymer clay and started making snowflake ornaments with faces from craft molds.  I thought they were pretty cool at the time but looking at them now I just laugh.

I played with these for a few months and then saw the awesome dolls of Jodi and Richard Creager and thought, wow!  I want to make that!  So I sat down with my husband and we both tried our hand at sculpting just a head.  I so wish I would have taken pictures of what the result was because they were AWFUL!!!  I mean like so completely awful!  Somewhere between an ape and an alien is the best way I can describe it.  I was so discouraged and decided there was no way I was ever going to be able to sculpt dolls.  My husband pushed me to keep at it and one day I sat down and forced myself to keep working at one little face until I got it right.  After two separate 4 hour sessions, I finally had a face that looked human and I was so happy and hooked.

 I finished that "doll" (more a sculpture than a doll) and I still have it today.  It's really really bad, but it's the first one I made that looked human and it has a special place in my heart.

Don't you just love how his "clothes" are plastered to his body?  Oh, and that's SOLID polymer clay.  I didn't know about armatures back then.. lol.  And the gloss.  GLOSS!  What was I thinking?

From there I went on to make another sculpture, a wizard.  this one was also made as solid polymer clay... lol  I just laugh and shake my head.

I was pretty proud of him at the time.  I added texture to his clothing and worked really hard on those fingers and my family was impressed.  :)  God love them.

From there I read like a mad woman and learned about armatures and doll versus sculpture and I was trucking right along making gypsies and elves and then I saw a Haunted Dollhouse online and I was completely derailed.

I was so fascinated at the detail in such small stuff and how cool this haunted house was and how real it looked in the pictures and I had to try to make some myself.  I started with a witch's cabinet and before you knew it I was making miniatures about 10 hours a day and couldn't get enough of it.

I made lots of witch cabinets, pushing myself with each one to make it better and better.

Then I started making Gypsy tables and pushed myself to make those better and better

and then I made a gypsy seller's wagon that I so wish I hadn't sold.

My all time favorite creation that I am totally kicking myself for selling was the Fairy Magic Store that I made in 1/2 scale.  I spent weeks working on that piece and could cry now when I think about it being in someone else's home.  Boo Hoo!  I am happy to say that the person who bought it on eBay loved it every bit as much as I did so that made it a little easier.

At some point in 2008 I was really missing playing with clay. I was doing really really well with selling the miniatures and had even built up a pretty nice group of repeat buyers but I wasn't inspired anymore and I really wanted to get my hands in clay again. (I sometimes question that decision from time to time but I think I needed to do that)

So, I decided to make a few miniature dolls in a Halloween theme and that was all it took.  I enjoyed working with paperclay so much that I ran with it.

As most of you all know I started making a lot of art dolls and had some success selling them but not the same kind of success that I had selling miniatures.  I didn't really care because I was happier working with the paperclay.  Something about that feeling of clay drying on my fingers is so pleasing to me.  I made many dolls and participated in many doll swaps and I was really happy making them.... until.....

My husband bought me a kiln.  We wasted no time deciding on a product and gathering the needed supplies and I was in my glory!  After 8 years I was finally able to work with ceramics again and I was/am loving it.  There's something so exciting about it for me.  Learning how this glaze reacts with this glaze and how it then reacts with that clay and at that temperature and and and and.  lol  Pendants are satisfying because I can make a lot of them and when I'm testing techniques and glazing I'm not as invested in time and money with big pots so I don't feel bad when something doesn't turn out great, or as I had expected.  Opening the kiln and seeing rows of pendants makes me happy and sure, I want to make bigger pieces too but for right now I'm thrilled making jewelry pieces.

So there you have it.  I didn't start making ceramics "all of a sudden", I've simply been given the ability to do what I loved again.  As far as dolls go, and miniatures for that matter, I plan to make more, just not as many as I used to.  I have a gypsy table in mind that I want to make and I have 3 doll heads staring at me every day that are begging to be finished but they simply have to wait their turn as I work like a mad woman to make enough pendants to have in my very first art show in a few weeks.

I hope all of you will stick with my little blog here even though I change what I do a lot.  I hope I inspire you in some small way or offer you something valuable here from time to time.  Most of all, I hope you stick around because I've really enjoyed getting to know you all through your comments here.  You guys rock!

Sorry for the long post but I wanted to give you all a little peek into how my crazy mind works and why I seem to jump around from one medium to another.  There is a method to the madness, I swear.... lol.



Diane MacNaughtan * Dianie Mac * said...

I Love your story and it was so nice of you to share..

I love and have enjoyed seeing everything you create. I think it's a beautiful thing for artists to be able to explore all mediums with such passion.
We are always evolving.

Oh, and your jewelery is Fantastic!

I love visiting your blog :)


Georgina said...

Loved the story! I too was in a rocky marriage for 25 years,or as I say, I lived in the centre of the storm...calm within, but chaos around me. When it ended, I returned to school and got a B.A. in art with a discipline in ceramics. I was really into the 70's ceramic movement back in the day and wanted to learn how to make it...had to wait a bit.

I have my wheel and slab roller, but unfortunately, I have no place to put my old kiln, which I will probably give to a buddy of mine, who is a member of a local Native-American tribe, so he can work with children. I'm hoping to get back into it someday, but till then, I will continue making art dolls using paper clay and polymers...still doing the clay thing, just a different twist.

Enjoy your love and can only get better!

sassypackrat said...

It's nice to finally know the back story. You've mastered quite a bit in a few short years! Reading this just shows how an artist progress, you take up new passions and others fall by the wayside. I think it's a natural part of artistic expression, you go where the passion takes you.

So rock on girl and do what you love!

~Madalynne~ said...

I love this post Moriah. It addresses what I think a lot of creative people struggle with. Should we specialize in one particular medium/product or do we dabble/explore other things and jeopardize what we have established. The path you've chosen seems to have brought you to a good place :)

Mary Ann said...

Wonderful post:) I think anyone who is artistic dabbles in a lot of mediums because it's a part of their evolution to become a mature artist.

yoborobo said...

Moriah, I never questioned your interest in ceramics. Probably becauseI bounce back and forth from different media like a pingponging madwoman! It made perfect sense to me that you would love clay/kilns, since you love sculpting and working with your hands. I love seeing all your art, so keep on posting it! xo

Dena Wilton said...


I first saw your lady bug icon on the OWOH run 2010 and I have always love your fun creative whimsy!

Your story is awesome and I love that you continue to challenge and rework your creativity. Moriah you inspire me!

Daydream Retreat said...

Thanks for sharing this story! I've taken many turns along the way and can totally relate as I've recently moved away from dolls too. I'll still be out here reading about your new adventures. I'm so glad you've found peace in your marriage too :)

Amanda from said...

I am jealous of you and your fabulous talent. I have no place for stuff like that in the house I live in now. I am just happy to finally get a table that I can start getting an "office" together in an unheated basement area so i can set up a work space. I may buy a heater so I am not like the office of scrooge before his epiphany. However, I totally think making pendants is a great idea. I mean really you can learn so much of how things will come out when making small pieces then investing so much time to go..oh crap.