My Story Dolls are created from two parts of Chinese symbolism.
The first part being from the symbolism of the Chinese children's hats that an expecting Mother makes for her child incorporating protective qualities into the hat...read more here. I so enjoy the meaning and the care that a Mother takes in mindfully sewing something for her child. Even after studying this for over 10 years, I find the southern Chinese design to be so deeply layered that I have barely begun to touch the deep meaning of the symbolism...actually I am thrilled because it will be something that I can spend my life researching.
The second part is that I love the legends from the Chinese Calendar. Each year has its own animal and it own characteristics! This year 2012, is year of the Dragon...read more here.
So, taking both of these symbolisms and bringing them together, it makes for a perfect blending for my Story Dolls. As I said this is Year of the Dragon...
After the body is complete, I LOVE making these hats. Each one is created with the under-structure or base being of hand-quilted silks. The hat ornamentation is made from vintage Asian fabric (aqua base) trimmed with vintage silver-metal cording. The eyes are handmade and embroidered with the use of vintage sequins for the silver and black on the eyes. The nose is from Chinese silk brocade and the whiskers are handmade from various threads including metallic silver threads.
The lining can be equally as important as the fabric chosen for the outside. In this case, I used a red silk brocade that I had purchased when I was in China. The Dragon is male and needs a female balance- as the Phoenix. So, I fussy cut the two of the Dragons (mirrored) for the sides and one of the Phoenix for the front to fit within my Dragon hat. I love the shock of red hidden beneath the black of the hat base. It also makes a nice frame from hat to hair.
From there I can spring board into the garment. This year I especially loved working with this beautiful peau de soie silk fabric...pricey-yes but well worth the results! All garment pieces are lined in aqua dupioni silk.
The jacket sleeves, skirt, and pants were all embroidered with their own geometrical design in keeping with the southern Chinese design culture.
I have taught my students to use color of equal value and that are opposite on the color wheel...but to make it interesting- move off one color...so instead of going from primary red to complimentary green, I went from red to off one- to turquoise or aqua...makes it more interesting don't you think?
For her collar and her shoes, I wanted just pop of color to balance the red. Layout of the paper pattern onto the fabric is equally important to create the right drape and flow of the fabric and of course design usage.
|Also take note of the vintage Asian fabric peeping out from under the jacket with softer gold and turquoise, still holding true to the geometrical design with the black weaving within the fabric. Two glass beads serve as closures.|
|Her shoes were again created using the fussy cut technique! Vintage glass beads are the closures.|
As you can hopefully tell, I so love making these dolls, it IS all in the details and I feel so very fortunate that I can do this and share this experience with you!
Being the divine mythical animal, the Dragon can ward off wandering evil spirits, protect the innocent and bestow safety to all that hold his emblem. The Chinese Dragon is look upon as the ultimate symbol of Good Fortune. Everything connected with Chinese Dragons is blessed.
Photography: Mark Mortensen
Dragon is held in a private collection
Silk fabric information: link here