Well, the launch of SPECIMENS OF THE SECRET FOREST, my latest online class came, maybe, at the worst of times.Maybe not, I don’t know. The world is going crazy. But I decided not to give in to the madness.
For me, this amazing opportunity to be a part of Jeanne Oliver’s network made my day. I’ve admired her for a long time and now, after working for months on this project, it is finally released and you can sign up to escape from madness for a while and visit the enchanted forest and their beautiful inhabitants when you click on this link.
After I got the news that the class is ready for enrollment and I should start letting you know about it, I started thinking and debating internally if I should be this happy when the world is on fire, and after a lot of thinking, I came to the conclusion that, yes, we ALL have the right to be happy, even in these days.
Because happiness is force of nature. Happy people have hope, and with hope comes the will to overcome things. And we will overcome this. Together, let’s create more happiness and spread it to the ones around it who need a ray of light to brighten their day.
Go and hug your pet, tell your love ones you love them, make art, help the ones in need. I promise you, it will be worth it.
Once upon a time, an artist stumbled upon a great discovery, It was called the Secret Forest. Many creatures inhabited that place, and she became friends with them. Knowing she had to go back home, she began a new adventure of documenting and replicating the creatures she met using thread, fabric and clay. And then documented her discovery with a beautiful ink illustration.
I really admire her and when she contacted me with an invitation to teach at her site, I was all head over heels 🙂 I’ve been working on this for a few months now, and every time I posted new dolls and you kept on asking if I was going to teach a class, I had to resist the urge to tell you I was working on a very super secret project!
But today it’s time to reveal it! Yay!
In this course I’ll guide you step by step into the process to make a handmade mushroom doll. You’ll learn how to transfer the pattern to your fabric, how to sew the doll, some tips and tricks to make the stuffing easier as well and dyeing the fabric and adding the grungy look. For the face we will be using polymer clay but you can also work with air dry clay if you prefer. You’ll learn how to sculpt a face and paint it to give it a lively look. Then you’ll learn how to give it some finishing touches to make your creation look more authentic. After you have your specimen ready, it’s time to document it! Using ink and coffee you’ll learn how to draw your doll and it’s components to give it an old, authentic look.
The universe sends you unexpected gifts, and it’s up to you to accept them or not.
My son had been asking for a cat of his own since we got Echo, my daughter’s emotional support cat. To be honest, we were putting it off because we already have one cat, but the universe had other plans for us.
This void started showing up at our doorstep, meowing loudly and looking hungry, so decided to feed him and didn’t think much of it, the neighborhood cats hang around our house so we thought he was looking for a free meal.
He kept hanging out at our front porch for a week in the mornings and cuddled to my son before he left for school, then came back looking for him after he came back from school in the afternoons.
The day before thanksgiving was very rainy and cold and he disappeared, but on thanksgiving he showed up cold, wet and super hungry… He ate two cans wand asked for more! We setup a shelter for the night and decided to take him to the vet the next day.
Our vet said he was in good health, had no fleas or ticks so she gave him his vaccinations, some pills and wished us on our merry way. My son was grinning all the way home, even more when the cat wanted to get out of the carrier to sit with him and purr really loud.
His name is Loki, AKA The Void. He is so dark that if he closes his eyes all you see is a cat shaped hole in the fabric of reality. This was their first night together. He curled up next to him and slept, and slept, and slept. You could hear him purr all across the room! To be honest, I had never heard a cat purr that loud!
I had never owned a cat before, much less two so I had no idea what to expect, but Loki settled up very well and Echo accepted him well, so now I have a shadow that follows me around everywhere I go in the house.
He kinda knows how to cat. He never had toys so he didn’t know what to do with them until Echo showed him his catnip trout, and the laser pointer is a total mystery to him. He does not climb much yet but is very curious and my plants and furniture are under attack, but it’s OK, he’s learning the rules of the house. He took over my laptop as soon as I sat to work. The god of mischief demands pets.
Echo took over my favorite chair and now Loki took over the one in front of it. Now I’m going to need to buy another one so I can read at night! I am truly in love with this cat, his dark fur make me think of magical powers and he will truly be an inspiration on my work. I am already studying the movements of my mini-panther and you will see him and Echo in my work very soon.
And you know what else has been funny? Since he arrived I have been getting lots of good news and opportunities that will make 2020 a very interesting year. Black cats bring good fortune after all.
My new upcoming big event is the 2019 Handmade Holiday Show, running from Dec 1st to Dec 9th, where I will show my newest Art Dolls, Paintings and more.
I’m making experiments with the new Danita dolls for Sale on the event. Besides using polymer clay for the face, I’m daring to to a little bit further in the construction of the body, specially the limbs. Since some of the dolls will be mushrooms, I want them to have a “just pulled out of the earth” look.
I’ve made mushrooms before but they had normal bodies with a mushroom cap. This time I’m daring to go more with my vision and less with the “safe” version, the one I know most people will like. I’d decided that I’m going to be more authentic with my creations from now on and I hope they’re well received. Going for the look I know people will like leaves me in a grey zone with a nagging feeling that I should have dare more and see where it takes me little by little.
The process is always painstaking, not only because of the labor I have to put into each doll, but also because there is an incredible amount of time devoted into researching. I take trips to the forest, look at my reference books and create lots of sketches until I am satisfied with my vision.
Even more, now that for this series of art dolls I will be truer to myself and my vision, and I will take more risks to create what I have in my mind instead of making what will be a safe, easy to sell creation.
You can tell from the look of this assembled doll that I am pushing my ideas to a new level, using more organic shapes for both her legs and hands.
I am aiming for a grungy, “Just pulled out of the earth” look that will make her look like I just harvest them during an autumn walk in the Danitaland woodlands.
Adding mossy details, organic pigments that I brew and distill in my studio and new fabrics for the Mushroom crowns, this daring new creation filled my heart with joy.
Make sure you get a reminder by going to the 2019 Handmade Holiday Show page and click on the GOING button. Facebook will remind you when the event is active and you will be able to adopt your favorite Danita Hand Made Mushroom Art Doll there.
Day of the Dead, or Dia De Los Muertos in Spanish, is a very important tradition in our culture, and this year was very,very important for us.
You see, this year, my kids had their first encounter with La Muerte, the grim reaper. Our cat “The Doctor” died tragically and suddenly about a month ago, and it was a very difficult experience for everyone.
As a school project, kids create an altar for a loved one and then present it in class. My son made a special altar dedicated to The Doctor, with food, drinks and a drawing of the doctor on top of it. He said that he cried a little when he made it, but he thought it would be a good way to honour his stay in our family.
We also placed a can of cat food for him and basically everyone cried because we miss him a lot. For my daughter was very very difficult to remember him, but we held on and honored him.
On November 2nd, the date of Dia De Los Muertos, we went to a secluded corner of our favorite forest for a very special ceremony.
This is our private pet cemetery. It is the place where we scattered the ashes of our sheepdogs, Lennon and Sofa and we try to visit on this date to honor and remember their loyalty and love. I still miss them, specially Lennon. He bonded with me and I miss his loving stare and warm black and white fluff.
We also had something very special too. We didn’t tell the kids, but we were carrying the ashes of our beloved doctor to be scattered in the same corner.
It was a very, very, very emotional moment. My kids learned that saying goodbye and letting go is never easy, but it also a part of life.
There were lots of tears and sadness, and it made me very sad to look at my kids cry too. It was very difficult for them, but then, life can be very tough sometimes. All we can do is prepare them for what’s coming ahead of them, and unfortunately death, grief and letting go will be part of that journey.
My son said that seeing the ashes fly gave him closure, because he now knows that The Doctor will be chasing birds on the forest, enjoying walking on dry leaves and maybe one day we will see his spirit around. For my teenage daughter, it was much more difficult. There were lots of emotions, and letting go is very, very hard for her. But I hope this will help everyone on my family to move on.
Our new cat, Echo, was there too. Now the mantle of protecting my daughter and helping her with emotions has passed down from The Doctor to Echo, and I know that his love will protect everyone in my family. I know you will do an amazing job.
Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos are very special to me!
They are my favorite holidays of the year, and I always go out of the way special art to celebrate, like Jack And Jill (Who are still looking for a forever home to be displayed all year). It’s a lot of fun to let my darker side flow and create dolls and paintings that are out of what you are used to see.
My traditional Frida dolls wear dresses inspired by the fascination Mexican culture has with death, skeletons, flowers and skulls during the traditional celebration when we set our table and invite our ancestors to dine with us.
This Year, Frida is wearing a very special handmade mask painted with bold colors and flowers, just like the sugar skulls that cheerfully decorate our altars.
I really loved this doll, she immediately found her forever home, even before she was finished and I got many requests to make another like her. I love her so much that I have to oblige and now I am in the process of making a special edition of custom dolls just like her.
Each of my dolls begins with a sketch and an idea, and they are assembled and painted by hand.
With each doll you adopt, you are getting a beautiful work of art that will never be repeated, infused with my love for creation and a tiny part of my soul to spark their beauty.
They wear handmade clothes
One of the most time consuming processes for me is deciding what clothes my dolls will wear. I will sift trough my collection of fabric scraps and samples until I find the perfect pattern that will match the doll’s character and personality.
And you get to choose the fabric this time!
I found the perfect combination of patterns and colors for each of the dolls that I will make for this special edition, and you will get to choose the fabric if you make your reservation ahead of time.
Which is your favorite?
Your doll will be beautiful!
Each doll will have very special details, like a custom made necklace using real polished semi-precious stones, a handmade mask and flowers in her hair, which will be made from organic wool and set on a traditional Mexican hairdo, just like ones Frida used to set her hair when she appeared in public.
You will love your original doll!
Each face is sculpted and hand painted by me, she will have a beautiful profile and my signature expressive eyes that you love to gaze so much.
And she will travel in style.
If you are like me, you love getting packages on the mail, and I will make your unboxing experience worth it! Frida will travel in a sturdy cardboard box and beautifully wrapped so you can love her as soon as she is out of her traveling package!
Ready to adopt your very own Frida doll?
I hope that now that you know more about the process and what you will be getting got you interested in adopting one of the special Frida dolls I am making!. You can reserve your adoption on my online store, and if you prefer Etsy, they will be available for adoption there too!
I got these amazing Caran D’ache Luminance Colored Pencil Set some time ago. They are some of my favorite and most cherished color pencils. I love their creamy texture and how I can create color gradients with them.
But there’s a huge problem. I love them so much that I don’t want to use them. So they stayed in their box, and I only too them from there on special occasions. Kind of like the Good China our grandmothers used to get out of the cabinet on Christmas.
But no more. I decided that color pencils should be used, not staying on a box waiting for the perfect moment to be used.
So, I was brave and I took them out of the box and into a container I made for them. Now they are available for me when I need them, and I will use them! Oh yes! Just wait and see!
I’m an anxious person. There’s no way around it. Sometimes it’s easy to manage and we get along quite well. I know it’s there, sleeping and tiny and I have a great day.
And then, on other days, my anxiety grows and overwhelms me. Thoughts of failure and self hatred creep up from the shadows and make my day miserable.
Life for me is like this color palette. Sometimes the colors are very bright and happy, sometimes are meh and life moves along, and then some other days I see everything in hues of darkness and sadness.
But you know what? I am learning that in order for colors to blend and be beautiful, we need both. We need bright, bold colors to lead the way, and we need the darker colors to mute and control that brightness, to give us delicate shades of subtle colors that make everything beautiful, because we cannot have one without the other.
Life and art have shown me that I can do something with those negative emotions and then turn them into something beautiful, with meaning that once it’s on paper, it’s mine to control and to own, and to give it the direction I want.
That’s why I say that I art away my depression and anxiety. I found an amazing way to show myself that even in the darkest hues, there is something to learn and to celebrate, and that by combining it with the bright colors of the good days, a beautiful mosaic of the hues and colors that paint my life emerges.
One day I was having a terrible, terrible day and nothing could lift my spirits. I know that painting and putting color on paper always brings me up, but that day I was just not feeling it. I really wanted to just end the day and put an end to the terrible day I was having.
So, I took my watercolors out of habit and put a streak of color in the paper. And then, I combined it with a very different color and I had an amazing revelation.
They did mix. I know, it’s painting 101. Watercolor will mix when you put them together and apply water to them. Of course I knew that.
But the meaning was deep. My experiences also mix up. The good and the bad. And I cannot have a totally dark day as I cannot have a completely fine day. There will be mixes, just like the colors. And it’s always beautiful.
This sheet is made with very very few colors, they are just mixed in different amounts and with different techniques. The colors are the same but the way they mix makes them unique and special, each color that comes along, just like good days and bad days in our life, combine to make beautiful things.
And now this became a ritual for me. Every time I am down and depressed, or anxious about the future because sales are low, or because my kids acted up, or because I am still a struggling artist… I do the same thing.
I pick a few colors and mix them up. And it is so therapeutic. It’s just like meditating to me. The world and my troubles disappear into the paper as I pick one color, then just a tiny bit of the other and put it on the paper.
Then again, now with a little more of the new color, and it goes into the paper. And then a tiny bit more. And then more, and more, and more until what started like one color becomes the other one, with many shades in between.
See what I mean? Two colors here. Only two. Mixed in different quantities, just like happiness and sadness in our days. Isn’t it beautiful? I think it is!
Knowing so much can be made with just two colors makes me so happy! So I keep doing it, over and over again until I feel better. Sometimes I can fill page after page of this and to others it may seem like a waste of great materials, but to me, it’s the world.
And you know what? It works so well that once I am done with that, I feel my creativity recharged so I usually start painting something right away. It may be an old sketch, or maybe an entirely new idea, I never know. I only know that I will love the result.
Like my dear friend the witch here. She has a beautiful contrast of yellow, golden blonde hair against a dark purple and burnt orange robe, with little moons inside.
And since she is a witch in Halloween, she has a jack-o-lantern where she will put all the candy she will get when she goes trick or treating on Halloween night.
You can meet her on my online shop if you want, along with other Halloween I’ve been working on.
I hope this advice helps you out as much as it helps me. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the materials I work as well doing this, and I hope that if you doit it helps too.
And if helps, don’t forget to share your results with me on my social media, tag me on a Facebook or Instagram post, or send it to me on email if you want. I will be super happy so see what you did!
Finally, it’s time for the new batch of moths, faeries and angels to fly out to the world and find their forever homes! They are available on the Healing And Transformation Auction event on Facebook.
Each little doll is hand made by me. I transformed humble materials like Avocado pits, Eucalyptus leaves, Rusty nails, Old rugs, Cotton fabric and clay into beautiful one of a kind soft sculptures.
They have painted faces with alchemy symbols, blooming flowers and astonishing, life like eyes that will mesmerize you as the heal and transform your life when you hold them in your hands.
Want to meet them? Of course you do! Scroll down to your favorite doll and click on the image, it will take you directly to the auction page where you can place your bid as a Facebook post comment. Good luck bidding!