Windows, No. 6

That’s a photo I shot in Chelsea when I was in NYC in 2007. It’s one of my favorite window photos.

As you might surmise, I haven’t been posting or commenting much because I’m sewing. But I AM reading you, so don’t try to slip anything by me. I’m like Santa that way. Or a mother. Or a Compound dog when someone’s in the kitchen. Or the Talamasca. (Hi, MGH.)

Enough with the similes. Right now, one of my models is posed in front of me wearing a design I just finished and she’s SO FREAKING ADORABLE. I’m having a lot of fun with this collection because I’m making myself take on new challenges. I know that some of my readers are not into the doll stuff and the fashion; others of you will see it, evaluate and comment on it, then move on and forget it. For me, however, there has to be a reason to do this beyond just making doll clothes. I have to learn something from it or take something from it that I can use in the future.

To wit:

I begin with raw materials. The doll comes first. Then I choose fabrics after much consideration of color and texture. Once I’ve settled on those, I begin to create a context that includes structure and story. I create new patterns or modify old ones to cut my design pieces. Then I start putting the pieces together. Very often, this involves a lot of frustration. I make false starts. I do things wrong and have to rip them out and redo them. Sometimes I throw everything away and start fresh. Eventually, I have a look. Then I choose how to accessorize it, enhance it. Sometimes it all requires research. Sometimes I need another pair of eyes for praise, criticism, or input. Sometimes I need help doing something I haven’t tried before.

Finally, where there was nothing, there’s suddenly something!

For those of you who create in the visual or performing arts, I don’t know how much of this is relevant to you. But for those who have asked what my writing process is, go back and read that paragraph.

I always begin with a character. Like each doll I work with, my character becomes my muse. Everything I’m going to develop in terms of plot, setting, point of view, or theme, for example, is structured based on who that character is. Conflicts, career, relationships–these are how I accessorize and enhance my character. And writing has all the same frustrations: starting and restarting, deleting, talking through some snag with someone who understands my writing style. For each new work of fiction, I have to try new things, meet new challenges, to keep the process from feeling stale.

Finally, where there was nothing, there’s suddenly something!

It’s possible that I’ve begun to forgive myself for my year of not writing. It’s possible that all this sewing and painting and photographing things were ways of refilling my creative well. It’s been kind of crazy to have a fully-formed character in my head for several months now, to wake up thinking about her and figuring out more things about her life, to even talk about her and her story to other writers, and STILL not be writing. I guess she’s just not posed right in front of me yet, looking SO FREAKING ADORABLE that I can’t resist her.

Thanks to everyone who commented and e-mailed about my runway post from Monday. I do need to clear up something. I didn’t make a lot of those clothes. They are vintage and new Mattel (or Mattel knock-offs). I’m going to put some thumbnails behind the cut of exactly what I did make. Because I’d never take credit for anyone else’s work. Except maybe, you know, Tim’s. 😉

Click here to see what I did sew if you’re interested.

Windows, No. 2

We’ve recently switched our thermostat from air conditioning to heat. A couple of times since, I’ve heard this odd, part musical, part moaning sound late at night and tried to determine if it’s coming from the furnace.

In looking through my photos, I found one of several stuffed owls (cropped to a single owl in the above photo). It occurred to me that maybe what I’m hearing is an owl. Tom said he’s seen one recently near The Compound. Of course, now that I want to hear the noise, I haven’t heard a damn thing.

This window display reminded me of another book I think might be interesting: The Stuffed Owl: An Anthology of Bad Verse. Because, as certain characters in a novel called The Deal could tell you, mocking bad poetry is a good time.

Windows, No. 1

Beginning my own new photo series with a theme of windows. This photo:

has led me to this book, which I think I really must own: Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems, edited by Vasiliki Katsarou, Ruth O’Toole, and Ellen Foos. Description: One hundred contemporary poets—local stars and literary luminaries such as Kim Addonizio, Margaret Atwood, Billy Collins, Elaine Equi, Jorie Graham, Maxine Kumin, Paul Muldoon, and Charles Simic—join together in this anthology to celebrate clothing in its many forms and functions: as desire, as ghost, as body, as poetry, as talisman, as transformer of the soul.