Violetta took shape from the feet up. I made her at the same time as Constance and Fifi and decided to give her similar long pointed feet. Instead of stitching her toes, I embroidered red shoes, another one of my fixations, then let her character build up from there.
I love the story of The Red Shoes and all it’s variations (Violetta’s shoes were originally much brighter but dip dying them in red wine dulled them down to a deep blood red).
The original version of the story is a cautionary tale of the dangers of pride and vanity but I prefer the later (or possibly earlier) interpretations of it where the shoes are a metaphor for the passions, drives and longings that will tear us apart if we don’t find a way to live with them in a balanced way.
I spent almost an entire week stitching and embroidering the red silk shoes in my Stitch gallery, and it became a full on compulsion until they were finally finished.
I’ve wanted to make a faun for a while now, and this one has been in progress for about a month. Sometimes I feel that a doll or puppet takes on a life of it’s own, this one has such an intense, coquettish stare and once I’d taken her out into the garden to photograph her, she looked like she might get up and wander off on her own. I’d been drawing fauns for a while without much idea of when or how they would find their way into my work. She started off as a regular doll, but as soon as I added her ears she looked like she needed horns and hooves too.
She’s a bit of a collage of fabrics and fibres, each with it’s own backstory.
Her legs are made from silk and Norwegian alpaca fleece from this farm. The fleece is from a pure white alpaca and hasn’t been dyed or chemically treated at all. The farmer, Anne Line, knows every one of her animals by name and considers her flock as members of her family. I don’t usually use animal fibres in my work, unless they are antique, salvaged or from wonderful farms like this one.
I generally use calico for the bodies of my dolls and puppets but I like the way the silk worked for this one, the dye looks more liquid than on the calico. The silk came from an Edwardian night dress that I found in a charity shop in Edinburgh about eight years ago. It was way too long for me so I took the bottom twelve inches off and kept the silk stashed away until I decided to use it for Fauna. When I tore the fabric the silk threads were so fine and wispy that I used them as the golden hair around her horns.
Finally, her little hooves are made from Victorian metallic fabric. I have no idea what it would have been used for back in it’s day, but it was left over from a project I worked on in a vintage boutique in London. I only have a small piece of it, but it’s so heavy and parts of it have tarnished to a beautiful blueish bronze colour.
I have a feeling there will be another faun on the way, perhaps a male next time….
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