Sunday, 30 November 2014

Getting there!

A Little Re-Cap In 100 Words…   
Twelvemo is an articulated female form in 1/12th scale.  Each one is cast in resin, drilled, fitted and finished by hand. The figure was designed as an animation puppet and lay figure but the project developed its own momentum and the figure its own personality. Miniature, human figures are important to many cultures and items like this have a potency when handled that is more than just play... The Twelvemo figure is a highly expressive and eloquent object and can be fantastic and freaky, or strange and surreal when posed with out-of-scale props and whatever else you come up with.

Please follow, share, and spread the Twelvemo word!

Etsy Twelvemo Shop             
Twelvemo's facebook page   
General Creative Practice     

The Longer Story (in roughly 893 words)

Once upon a time I was a child and I liked dolls. Well, I liked a doll that didn’t exist. In my mind it looked like a female human but was articulated like the best Action Man, Little Big-Man and Spiderman type of action figures. It was important to me that it should just look like a normal, female, human, not a superhuman. Barbie didn’t fit the bill (ridiculous proportions), Sindy was not much better (baby faced tweenager) dolls house dolls (always looked a bit rubbish) and Spiderman was too spidery. And male, and red and blue…  

The nearest thing I ever saw to what I really wanted was a carved wooden figure in Strangers Hall Museum when I was really quite young.

I really loved this item... 
It was part of the inspiration for the Twelvemo Figure, though strangely I had forgotten all about it for many years, until I visited the museum as an adult and saw it again with a jolt of recognition.

When my daughters were young I began sculpting an articulated doll figure using Miilliput modelling compound. I made the first few casts myself, very badly, with many, many flaws and imperfections. The nearest I’ll get to winning the National Lottery was getting some Millennium Artists funding that included a bit for professional casting services. So Steve Cole at Articole Studios got involved and  helped me make a few dozen. ( He did great work for me but I think I put him off working that small for ever!

So… A few more years passed. I’ve used the Twelvemo Figure in my own work quite a bit. I’ve made some very short animations and arranged Twelvemo Figures in strange collections and situations. ( I have made one into a mermaid, and etched several with floral scrimshaw, I have painted some, given one an orange Mohican  and dressed another in leather dungarees and bomber jacket made from old kid gloves (the fingers as the trouser legs and sleeves, ready made).

I am trying to keep this brief, I really am!

I had long dreamed of getting them manufactured in large numbers, abroad, so they could be more affordable. I like the idea that Twelvemo is a Fine Art product that has a mass appeal and could be mass-marketed but still retains its value as an expressive and important object to handle. So… I wasted a ton of money trying two different factories with no luck. (One was a con-man the other just couldn’t do what I wanted.) I’d got people interested and buying the Twelvemo Figures, the ones I had left still, and one day I sold one of my two best examples to a customer who had already bought a Twelvemo from me earlier that year. But, when I realised that the second Chinese factory could not come up with what I wanted I began to regret selling her this particular one.

When I asked if I could possibly buy it back, because I was concerned that I only had one other good model left… This person thought very hard about it and said she wasn’t prepared to sell it back to me, no matter what promises I made about giving her a replacement or two when I had production working somehow… However they (the customer) really wanted to help me develop the Twelvemo project, despite her reluctance to let me buy back the figure, and so she offered me £2000 to make up for some of my losses with the factories in China.

How AMAZING is that? I nearly fell off my chair…

No strings, no demands, just an extremely generous gesture towards supporting a project she thinks is creatively worthwhile. And what I decided to do, with my patron’s support was to somehow or other start making the Twelvemo Figures again myself. I am fortubnate in having a decent sized workshop in the garden where I live, and I began to get it equipped. I have designed a small spin caster which I am still learning how to use, I have bought a vacuum chamber to get the bubbles out of the mix and I am still working on this, learning that warming the resin speeds the cure, that cold weather slows it, that clamping the two halves of the mould the right amount is an art in itself (and all other variables….) 

 The first batch are not perfect, but they are all my own work. Each one has taken at least 18 years and two days to make, hence the price but I’ve sold several  (having given the very first one to my kind patron) and I now need to make some more, so I am on to making a new mould (the old one broke eventually). When it’s working right it’ll be better as I have refined some of the joints. That’s the theory anyway… Crikey, it’s still pretty laborious but I think I am getting there! Photos coming along soon...

Thanks for reading this far. I actually do LOVE you for it. 

I am going to be showing one or two of these ‘Maid in England’ Twelvemos in a couple of places in Norwich in the pre-Christmas period. And some other items too at some of these events! There’s always my Etsy shop to visit if you want to make purchases without leaving the comfort of your own home…

5th-8th December
The Una Gallery at the Fabric Warehouse
8 Swan Lane, City Centre, Norwich NR2 1HZ

1st-13th December 10am - 5pm
Arts and Crafts Collective Christmas Exhibition
St Margarets Church
St Benedicts Street Norwich
(I’ll be there on Wednesday morning the 10th of December and also Saturday 13th in the morning too.)

I'm going to ths whether I have any work in it or not. It'll be the most fun Christmas shopping you can do probably!
11th December 5 – 9pm
GET STUFFed! Pop-Up Makers Market
At Stew Gallery
40 Fishergate Norwich NR1 1SE

Please follow, share, and spread the Twelvemo word!

Etsy Twelvemo Shop             
Twelvemo's Facebook page  
General Creative Practice     

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