Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Creating Success Around the World ...

It’s the first of the weekly features I’ll be writing for the 'Creating Success Around the World' blog hop this May, and I thought I’d start the ball rolling with ‘Craftivism’ – crafting for a good cause. I’m very privileged to know Barbara Mitchell a local artist whom I met through helping with the doll project at school for the Uthando Project, something close to Barbara’s heart. It’s a project that brings together doll-making, creation of community and the children of Kwazulu Natal. Now there is a wonderful book written about it called “100 Dolls – Countless Hearts” which features stories from doll-makers, and includes patterns for dolls you could make for the cause, either sewn or knitted and even has patterns to help you accessorize your doll!

The book explains the Project: “The children of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa face complex relationships because of the destabilising effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Everyone is affected and often children shoulder responsibilities which would normally be borne by adults. Having a doll for play lightens the spirit. Loss and grief can be approached more gently by their carers with the silent friendship of a handmade doll sent with love.” Please visit their website for more details, and perhaps you’ll feel drawn to creating a gift for someone in need too.  You can also order a copy of the book from the website.

Now let’s meet Barbara ...

Barbara with one of her beautiful Uthando creations as seen in the book
What excites you about making your ‘textile figurative sculptures’?

There are so many levels to it! I love textiles, I love fabric and having nothing but scraps which I manipulate with stitches, and VOILA! - there is this beautiful creation. I really love nothing more than using calico and muslin – and embellishing the materials myself as opposed to buying ready- made. I also love that it’s a historic woman’s past-time – I feel connected with a long line of women – it’s about hearth and home. There’s this maternal feeling – sort of ‘Mother Earth’ pieces. I enjoy capturing the character and becoming acquainted with that character. I don’t plan anything and everything changes as it goes! Really I love touching, feeling and playing with the materials. It’s all about experimentation.

What’s your favourite part of the process?

I love it all! But I can say my least favourite part is stuffing! I just want to get into the personality – I love the designing of the components and the experimentation. It brings together so many different art forms – painting, sewing, claywork, felting – it’s mixed media. As a form it’s so open to anything you want to interpret and express.

'Izabella waitin' for her fella' ... a collaboration between Barbara and her daughter Jessica
You are one of the contributor’s to the book featured here: “100 Dolls – Countless Hearts” Can you tell me what’s so special about the Uthando Project for you?

I was drawn to the project as I was born in Africa and have an affinity to everything African as my childhood was spent there. It feels like I’m giving something back to them. It’s been great to work on the project with the children at school – it’s good for them to learn to make something for somebody else not just for themselves. Actually, my interest for figurative sculpture was awakened further when I made one of my first dolls as a donation for an auction to raise funds for the project and I wanted to experiment more!

Can we see your dolls on display anywhere?

Yes! They will be at the Mazenod Art Exhibition in August, and I am also going to be part of the Open Studio (site yet to be updated for 2012) circuit later in the year (and I will also remind you nearer the time via this blog!)

Barbara also informed me that she will be running a doll-making course sometime within the next month from her home studio – keep watching this space for more details nearer the time.

Barbara's doll inspired by a Japanese fabric
What an inspiration! Creativity is fantastic for feeding our own souls, but what a greater gift to create something with love for somebody else.

Thanks for visiting and see you again next Wednesday when I have another inspirational crafter for you to meet!  Use the buttons below to visit the other hosts for May and also to link up your own blog to the hop  xx

Jill in Australasia
Jill in Australasia
Suzy in the Americas
Suzy in the Americas
Divya in Asia
DIvya in Asia
Larissa in Australasia
Larissa in Australasia
Charlene in the Americas
Charlene in the Americas
Creating my way to Sucess


Jill said...

What a great interview Larissa. Barbara's dolls are just amazing - and making dolls for kids in Africa - what a fabulous cause! I'm going now to read up some more about it! Thanks for the intro!!

Jill @ Creating my way to Success

Suzy Myers said...

Her dolls have such wonderful personalities! Thanks so much for introducing us!


Divya N said...

Great Feature...her dolls not only look good but also feel good