Monday, May 28, 2007

Let's Play Dress-Up!

"What do you want to do?"

"I don't know. What do you want to do?"

"Hey, I know. Let's play dress-up."

"Yeah! Let's play dress-up." "I'll be mommy."

"No, I want to be mommy."

"Mom, Linda won't let me be you."

"Linda, let your sister be me."

I can remember playing "dress-up" as a child. Can't you? What girl hasn't played "dress-up" once in her life? It's one of the most delightful escapes that "little girls" can have.

I loved putting on my Mother's clothes and imagining that I was her. Prancing around in clothes and high heels that were way too big for me. Playing dress-up for a day. Every little girl does it.

Whether you imagine being your Mother, or a famous movie star, or someone else. It doesn't matter. What matters is the delightful childhood fantasy. The pure enjoyment of living in your imagination for the briefest of times.

Playing dress-up.

Make believe.

Making yourself into a beautiful doll!

Is it any wonder then that I love dolls and that I design doll patterns. Designing doll patterns is the ultimate "dress-up" as the dolls can be anything I want them to be. Frilly, frumpy, beautiful, ugly, Victorian, and modern. Classy, regal, elegant, refined. Anything at all.

I can play "dress-up" any time I want.

I guess you could say that I just never grew up!

Copyright © 2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals and Linda's Blog. Linda is a doll maker and doll pattern designer.

Graphic - Courtesy of CCDS Victorian Tube Heaven

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gotta Love Those BIG Dolls!

I may have mentioned that I love dolls! Ya think!!!!

I love just about every size and shape doll, but I do seem to have a preference for BIG dolls and woodcraft's. By BIG I mean 3, 4, or even 5 foot dolls or woodcraft's.

I love displaying the 3' or larger dolls and woodcraft's around my house during the various seasons and holidays. We have all the seasons covered and all the holidays, too.

It might be a large bear displayed, a sitting scarecrow, a sitting Uncle Sam, a large Santa, tall Santa and Mrs. Claus pair, a sitting bunny, a scarecrow on a pedestal, or even a large turkey. It could even be a large moose or BIG bunny.

Whether its a large doll standing in my sun room or on display in my hall I just love them. Sometimes its a self-sitter sitting on a pedestal in the corner of my kitchen.Sometimes it's a Frankenstein waiting for the kids on Halloween. You never know what I might decide to display or where I might place them.

Wherever they may be they are always a delight to see. And, each time I see one I can remember cutting the wood with hubby and putting the dolls together.

Whether I was painting them or gluing them or sewing their outfits I always seemed to enjoy them. My large dolls are a favorite of my husband and I and were made specifically to display around the house. I also suspect they are the favorites of some of my relatives.

One of my favorite BIG dolls that I made for my house is a bear that I named "Harry."

He's a 36" bear made from a Design Farm pattern and he is so cute you just want to hug him.

Right now he is proudly displayed in my front hall. He stands there quietly surveying all that is going on in our house. Harry never makes a fuss or disturbs anyone. He's just there to watch and observe.

One of the best things about a lot of the BIG dolls is that they are wearing some of my Grandson's baby clothes. So, when I look at the dolls it always brings back fond memories of my Grandson as a baby. They are what I consider to be sentimental keepsake crafts.

Harry is wearing my Grandson's baby jeans. If you look closely you can see the diaper snaps that run along the inside legs. Harry doesn't need to have a diapers changed - my Grandson definitely did.

Harry is also wearing one of my Grandson's thermal tops. His vest is lined and decorated with 3 triangle top pockets with buttons. It is also decorated with a tree with cotton puffs for snow and embroidered with zigzag stitching all along the edges.

He is wearing a large lined hunters cap with ear flaps. Harry's body is made of wood covered with flush felt. His feet are made from my brother's old white socks embroidered with DMC floss for ties. Harry's face is embroidered and he has large brown animal eyes and a lighter color plush felt for his snout and the inside of his ears.

I just love the expression on Harry's face. Sometimes he appears sad to me and sometimes he appears happy. You never know. I think he's just happy to be out and on display. I think I'll go and give him a BIG hug.

For Kim

A Love Of Art Brings Peace!

This is a story of a beautiful woman, a love of art and its ability to bring peace and comfort in a dire time of need. It is a story of love, courage, and peace. It is not a story with a happy ending. But, it is a beautiful story in that a love of art was able to bring peace and comfort to a mother, a daughter, a step-daughter, a wife, a sister, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a granddaughter, a niece, and a friend who was dying of oral cancer at the age of 34. This is the story of my beautiful, beautiful step-daughter, Kim.

Kim was a beautiful, beautiful woman with an enormous amount of natural artistic talent. She was an artist who had developed a love of art and drawing as a very young child and who discovered that she had a natural ability for it. Her love of art was cultivated during her youth and her skills were honed all throughout school. When she graduated from high school she decided that she wanted to study art in college and applied to and was accepted by an art school.

However, getting married and starting a family sidetracked her college studies and she spent many years just raising her family. When she told us that she was pregnant with our 4Th grandchild we were thrilled. However, early on in her pregnancy she started to develop complications with her pregnancy and was told she would probably need complete bed rest for the baby to develop to full term. Well, full term was not meant to be and our grandson was born premature at 31 weeks. He would be in the intensive care unit for many, many weeks.

A couple of weeks before our grandson was born Kim had contractions and she ended up biting the back of her tongue. After he was born the cut in the back of her tongue just wouldn't heal so she was sent to a dental specialist who took a biopsy of the area. The news was devastating and the worst she could hear. She had oral cancer and the prognosis was bleak at best as it had already progressed to a Stage 4.

We were all devastated, none more so than Kim, as she was not in any of the groups that were at risk for this type of cancer and it was relatively rare. She was only 34 years old and was given a death sentence of, with treatment, at the most 3 years.

How do you tell someone who is 34 years old with 4 children, one a newborn in the intensive care unit, such devastating news? Kim handled the news with as much courage, strength, and fortitude as anyone I have ever known. At times she amazed me as she was more concerned with the impact her condition had on her family, her Father, her Mother, and the rest of the family than on herself.

We all rallied around Kim and set about trying to help where ever we could. We wanted to make sure that Kim was supported 24 hours a day as she needed pain medicine, help with her feeding tube, immediate chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and was quickly becoming unable to handle the day to day tasks of such a large family, let alone a newborn.

Kim underwent her treatment and the fatigue level was paramount. She didn't have a lot of strength and needed something that she could do when she was at home to take her mind off of the reality of her situation. She didn't want to just be sitting around so we talked about it and she thought of arts & crafts. Something she could do that she was really, really good at and that she loved that wouldn't zap her strength.

So, we scoured the craft stores and art stores and found some wonderful projects like sun catchers, watercolor kits, huge posters that you could color with acrylic pencils, picture crystallizing kits, and chocolate candy making kits.

Kim was a meticulous artist and everything had to be just right. For the Easter holiday we spent days melting and coloring chocolate so she could make Easter candy for the kids. We used toothpicks and Kim painstakingly spend hours on end apply tiny little bits of colored chocolate to her chocolate Easter eggs. They had be just right and once she was done they were works of art. When I watched her at times she seemed lost in what she was doing and for that I was grateful.

At other times Kim, her Mom, and I would sit at the dining room table coloring the two large posters that Kim absolutely loved. Again, she was meticulous so everything had to be just right. Kim was a huge Disney fan so one of the posters was filled with all the Disney characters she loved and the other was a huge vase of flowers. Hour after hour we would sit and just color. There was no talking at this point as that was no longer possible for Kim so we got her a typing pad so she could type out what she wanted to say. Sometimes she would tell me what section of the poster she wanted me to do. I always paid attention. If I didn't I'd find her finger pointing at the section she wanted me to do and the look she'd give her kids when they stepped out of line.

At other times Kim would be sleeping or undergoing treatment. Always when she was awake and had some strength she would want to work on her art projects. So we did. On sunny days we sometimes spent time on her front porch painting the sun catchers or the watercolors. Like all artists she always wanted everything done just so. And, the results were always remarkable.

We ended up burying our beautiful, beautiful Kim nine months to the day after our fourth grandson was born. She died peacefully in her sleep one night and for that we were grateful. There was absolutely no sign of trauma on her face - she just looked like an angel.

Several weeks after her funeral her Father told me he was so grateful that we had found the art projects for Kim to do. He said that at times when he watched her she seemed lost in her art and even for one brief moment on one day he could actually hear her humming. She was so completely absorbed in her art that the grim reality of her situation was completely removed for the briefest period of time. She was coloring and humming. Lost in her art like she was as a child. But, for that one period of time I am so grateful. Her love of art gave her peace and comfort even if it was ever so brief.

We framed all of the works of art that Kim worked on including the two huge posters and have them scattered throughout all our houses to serve as a tribute to our beautiful, beautiful Kim. They are reminders of a beautiful woman with a love of art who had the strength, courage, and fortitude to face a situation that most of us could barely imagine.

She faced it with more dignity and strength than any of us could and I promised her we would never forget her. Her story would be told as an example of beauty, love, dignity, strength,courage, and fortitude in the face of a dire prognosis. It is Kim's story and it is a story of love, courage, and peace. It is the story of a mother, a daughter, a step-daughter, a wife, a sister, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a granddaughter, a niece, and a friend. It is my tribute to Kim for Memorial Day.

Copyright © 2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals and Linda's Blog.