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4.05.2013

Member Spotlight - Patti Durovchic from Bungalow Gals

Welcome to Art Dolls Only's Member SPOTLIGHT! ADO shares an article focusing on it's members on the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th and 30th of each month! (February's 30th installment will share on the 28th)

Today's member spotlight is Patti Durovchic, from Ridgefield, Washington. Here's what she has to say about her studio name, Bungalow Gals:


Sometimes people ask me why I call my studio Bungalow Gals, plural... if it's just me. Part of it came from a now-abandoned writing project. Bungalow Gals was the intended title of the novel a friend and I fantasized about co-writing a few years ago, inspired by the 1920's era Arts & Crafts bungalows we both live in. For months, we jotted down ideas and I secured a blog so we could each post installments of our working book-to-be without having to physically get together. Family demands took over both of our lives and the project fizzled, but I still had that empty blog which begged to be used for some creative purpose. While the name came in a round-about way, it now represents the fact that my daughter (now 16 yrs old) is the reason this venture came to life. She may not be able to actively work with me and make art, but she's "the other Bungalow Gal"... the constant companion who helped me find my creative soul.

What is your primary medium? 

Cloth… also cloth-and-clay, painted cloth, and mixed media.

How long have you been a doll maker? How did you get your start in doll making? Where did you learn to make dolls? 

It seems like I've been making art all my life... drawing, painting and learning to sew at a fairly young age. I made much of my own clothing in high school and dabbled in batik, silk-screen, collage and printmaking in art classes there. I owned my own hand-made clothing business in the 70's, strongly influenced by designers like Betsey Johnson. After I married, fiber arts and quilting were my hobbies, but the focus was on raising and homeschooling my sons, with an emphasis on creative arts. Doll making was something I'd been drawn to since my teens but with three boys in the house, that interest was channeled into puppets, stuffed animals and costumes. The boys and I made arty messes of all kinds together and had incredible fun!

And then, a turn of events in 1996 changed my life forever. Just when I had been planning to return to school and the work world, my youngest child was born with severe developmental disabilities and epilepsy. Her needs made it impossible for me to manage the demands of a "real" job. But ironically this allowed, or rather almost REQUIRED, my artist self to come out. Making art in my home studio provided a creative outlet that recharged me. Before long, I knew this what I was always meant to do.

I got back into doll making in about 2005, took some classes and became more serious about crafting and art work as a way of balancing my otherwise stressful life. Since then, I've learned from and collaborated with some of the best in the doll making community, and had the privilege of having my work featured in the pages of Art Doll Quarterly Magazine and in a book by doll maker Pamela Hastings titled: Hot Flash: A Celebration!


Share a little about your first doll. 

The first doll I ever made was a gift for my little sister. It was a Holly Hobbie doll, made from a Simplicity pattern in 1974, at the height of the popularity of the TV show, Little House on the Prairie. My sister was 11 years old at the time and I was all of 20, living away from home for the first time.



Holly Hobbie, c 1974

What art do you most identify with? 

Folk art and primitives.

Do you have a favorite doll that you have made? 

Had to think about that for a while, but, no… each is unique. Like children, I can't pick a favorite.:) I have wistful thought now and then about one that I sold to a collector who lives in Germany, probably because she is the farthest away from me now. She's a cloth-and-clay doll called "Flapper Girl":

Flapper Girl
A few others I had fun making are my folky witch that was in ADQ magazine, my Mad Hatter that was for the ADO Wonderland Challenge a few years ago, and a cloth-and-clay doll I did when I took Gritty Jane's online class. Here they are:

Witchy Woman

Mad Hatter

Corazon

What are your favorite materials to create with? 

Vintage fabrics and trims. Paint, wire and paper clay.

Where does your inspiration come from? 

Anywhere and everywhere. Nature, my children & grandchildren, other artists, music, fashion. It all finds its way in. I'm a very visual person, so I'm always sketching my ideas… I even get ideas from my dreams. I love things that are unusual, quirky, odd… and/or that are vintage and worn.

What is your favorite technique?

Probably creating painted vintage folk art finishes on cloth. I also really love photographing my finished (or in progress) work. I dream of someday owning a better camera. You didn't ask what my least favorite technique is, but I'll tell you anyway. I do a lot of stuffed cloth dolls, but I absolutely hate, hate, HATE stuffing!! 

What is the most difficult aspect in your process, and how you manage it?

Other than stuffing, I think the most difficult aspect is just letting go of a pre-conceived outcome. I hate doing custom work because I put too much pressure on myself to create what someone else has in mind. I just start resenting the work. I'd much rather create what I feel inspired to make, and let it develop as I work. Then, if someone likes it and wants to buy it, fine. Another big challenge for me is the physical stress of just sitting, hunched over handwork or the sewing machine. The older I get, the more my body complains about it, so I have to work in short stints, get up and move... do a little yoga or take a walk in between.

What does your work area look like? 

This is my very small upstairs studio, just off my kitchen.





I have another entire room in my basement, but it's mostly for storage. It's too cold and dark to work down there!


What food, drink, song inspires you?

Coffee… espresso, straight up, please. Very good dark chocolate. Sometimes a nice glass of organic pinot noir. 
Music-wise, I love all kinds of music (except country, sorry)… but what I love having on while I work is jazz. We have a great jazz radio station out of Portland… KMHD, which is associated with our local public broadcasting station (no commercials!). You can stream them here, and I highly recommend it! 


What advice would you give new doll artists?

Do what makes YOU happy. Don't worry about not having certain skills or knowing enough technique. Just DO it and you'll learn something every time. Stop judging yourself. 


What is your favorite venue to share your work? 

I have a blog and I use Facebook quite a bit, but Pinterest seems to have the most impact on getting views from new people. (Links below.)


What are you currently working on?  

Lately, I've been making a lot of my "Love Punks"... 



Valentine "Love Punks"


There's a long story to these, that started with me wanting to own a vintage "carnival punk"… which is the correct term for those weighted crazy clown dolls that you knock down by throwing a softball at a carnival midway game. I saw a really old one listed on eBay a few years ago... a really funky, painted folk art design. It also had a price tag of about $2000! I got obsessed for a while with the idea of making my own faux vintage version, with aging techniques over painted cloth. Anyway, the current "punks" came about when I got out some old cutter quilt fabric and dreamed these little versions up for my three grandchildren for Valentine's Day. They got a lot of positive feedback… so ever since, I've been making more of them as fast as my little fingers can fly.

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