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In the Studio …

July 2, 2022

Last week I took four dolls to the Jelly at Reading. At first glance they look like a random collection, and they are. But they are among the first dolls I made.  The first incarnation was very neanderthal, this set was less so, but their outfits were not yet sophisticated. I was using fabrics and yarns that had been dyed with an arbitrary collection of natural pigments and scraps of fabrics. 

When I began to research dyeing in the studio and dye lab at university, I had all the information, guidance, and equipment to learn the vital techniques. At home on the other hand my resources and space were curtailed I was careful not to use precious fabrics and used inadequate equipment. I have however a much-improved studio space and better output.  With much research and cash investment I have learned to manage my requirements to balance with more stories and stop motion film making. My dolls are no longer random or unloved, they are all valuable members of the family.   

Nonetheless these guys need some explanation. They don’t have names or gender and the colour of their ‘skin’ is determined by the dye and mordant I use, whether it is copper, iron or alum (mordant) with weld, woad, onion skins, rhubarb, eucalyptus, avocado, log wood, Brazil wood, nettles etc.

One is wearing an broderie anglaise mini skirt and skinny ribbed sweater dyed with indigo, the sparkly shift is dyed with log wood, the gauze dress is dyed with woad, and lastly the knitted dress is dyed with weld and for the stripes I used rose petals. 

On the day they performed with a musical jewel box, silk scarf and a string of beads. 

Soon, I will be able to record that sound of the ‘music’ in the box and ‘add’ it to the film in the postproduction stage.  Sound making is in the absolute beginner’s stage.  I am hoping my past learning experience will allow me to find a path that isn’t too hot on perfection and that I will find away with not too many happy accidents but more well measured delights. 

films can be seen @coathangerdolls on instagram

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