Peeling bark of a tree

Forget Forgetting

She facilitates forgetting of what doesn’t come intuitively, to let naturalness emerge.


Braving the unforgiving afternoon sun in a wheeled tin can, we arrived at the library roasted, crunchy and charred, just to rid the pile of library books I’ve completely digested, the sight of which is no longer neccessary to be reminded of what I’ve learnt, they have become a part of me, the skin that peeled off just then.

I want to give away the projection sunset lamp that is more orange than the orange-red on the sales page, the dollar mugs bought in a jiffy replaced by 3 dollar second hand mugs bought with more consideration than my in-law buying a car, and the attachment to the life I’ve had so far.

They say every cell in our body is replaced every 7 years.

Delete everything. Anything that did not become a part of you falls away.

Forget retaining. Forget recalling. Forget forgetting. Watch your body glide through air.

Doll patterns scattered on the floor

End to Begin

By the lower corners I held the bag upside down, shook and shook. They drifted and landed on the floor. I separated big from small, then grouped by shape, ordered by dates. I laughed in pain.

I’ve been avoiding looking into this envelope in which I stored my doll patterns. Cringed at the thought of trekking through the jungle for the same doll torso I’ve made so many times I could do it free hand.

Whisked here by circumstances 2 years ago, I left every pattern behind. A new collection was created from scratch.

From then every version was kept, some worked better, some worked alright, and some just take up space. I kept them all.

Keep them all just in case I didn’t feel it in my body that version 5 was good enough. Which then pushes me to make version 6 whichm of course, still wouldn’t be good enough, but then I can start counting the work I’ve done from 1, 2, 3, 4, 4.1, 4.2…

I crushed them, those expired versions I know I’ll never use again. I know I won’t really know for sure. But I’ll have to risk it. Risk living with the knowledge that I could have but moved on anyway, and it’s a beautiful day.

Then I made the same torso, adding panels until it got bigger and sturdier, holding a small head with a big smile.

A yellow face doll in the shape of a sun over the mountain
a handmade cushion of a cat staring out from the window of a house

Finding on a Changed Path

Down a few steps, turn left, walk a hundred steps, cross a small private road mostly accosted by pigeons, and I’m at the park. Instead, I turn left before crossing, round a dark bend, pass the construction site, to casually pass by a glass fronted house. I keep passing by, to see or to be seen I do not know or did it matter.

Guarded by a black faced white cat and a white faced ginger cat. From the distance, I thought they were sculptures, until the sleepy eyes followed me behind the fence.

When I come home to my front door, noisy miners sound their alarm, announcing my unwelcome.

I had wanted to draw on cardboard, and place them at the window. I don’t have paint. My rental is fully carpeted.

The garage function as a freezer or an oven but never in between.

From the old worn clothes collected in the neighbourhood, the lucky draw was a penguin toddler tee.

I stuffed it to the point it stands, like cardboard would have stood at the window as the two cats do, meowing me home.

Torn fabric painted the face.

I wanted to tell you more about how it was made. I know what got me started, I know what I ended up with, but I have no recollection of the process between.

I’ve always been asked what are my inspirations, to which I’ve struggled coming up with an answer. On IG today, inspired while still in bed, I answered’the state between awake and asleep’.

The space between consciousness and unconsciousness comes in many names such as meditative, flow-state, trippy… etc. The most relatable is perhaps the word ‘play’.

Koala Avril

Tiniest frays, trims, ribbons, seams of jeans, shirts and curtains,

They say it’s a mess,

She says it’s for the best,

She climbs the tallest branch, spread her frilly arms and whoosh she plunges into the clouds.

Cat Lord Tangleton

The thick and coarse upholstery fabric fibres wrap up bits and and pieces of throwaways. Tangled fibres matted conceals the path he took to get here.

Empire building is not not easy, not easy at all to trample upon souls. Considers the blood that stained him, Lord Tangleton wears the veneer of innocence damn well.

Bat Eduardo

Co-creating with serendipity. She traded full creative control for tenderness. The result is a silly bat she didn’t know she’d dearly love.

***

A knot atop a knot sat there while I made this and that. Winter was here then spring came, to him I tied three different scraps. He grew tall and patient. One summer day he got these things that look like wings. Ah, now he looks enough of something that I can call it something like a moth! A butterfly! A paper plane with a head! Yes, very well. Now that I know where it is, what it is, and that it is has a persistent shape in my head, I can safely put it on the table again.

I took in enough of it’s shape in my head now I know what it is, that it is in my head in one piece instead of 389.

Found some eyes. He wanted them. Someone else’s arms becomes his ears, that don’t look like ears, but are he says so.

He chose them the safety orange fuzz like how we reach for water on a hot day. He doesn’t see well, safety orange instead get him seen. And a tongue to lick sweat in the air but who cares.

Shihtzudog with ball artist textile soft doll

Moulding with Memories

An unfinished Maltese, a dying laptop and a dream of crepes stirred up a flurry of memories that became a mould for casting a new soft doll.

***

Strands of white crepe cotton wound around different colours of the rainbow and more, some not quite long enough and are left dangling.

Dangling like his ears, one down, the other folded and flipped over, from running too fast, after his volleyball.

***

The laptop is more than 10 years old, screen with a permenant giant snowflake, not safe, the browser warned. Mr Lunarian said it will be the last upgrade. It might forget. He put in a new SSD, whatever that means, and passed me a rubber-banded mint-tin. Check it’s all there, he said. I plugged it into an iPad, clicked the first folder, clicked the first file. A black photo with a blacker shadow.

Oh it’s nothing, he said.

Dog, I said. My dog.

***

On the white blank, I stitched a nose. Then sketched on both sides of it, black strokes.

I could not sketch out the eyes.

What if it looked like him. My heart is already heavy.

What if it looked nothing like him. My heart is already invested.

Is he gonna be happy sad or angry. Is it gonna be like him or not like him. Is it him or someone else?

There were two of them, brothers. Years ago, I had news that one of them passed. With my own old clothes, I stitched them in all colours, blue, yellow, orange, purple, anything but the white grey and brown that they were on the outside. I made the colours they were on the inside. One year when I visited my brother, I gave him a pair. My little nephew grabbed them as he did all soft toys. My brother shielded them and said these are precious, not your toys. He identified them as I had intended and I didn’t even have to say a word.

handmade shitzu pup play doll
ShihTzu Soft Kookies, each with his own sock.

***

What is it tell me.

NIghtmare.

Tell me.

Someone smacked them with a spade. One of them fell through the elevator in space. The dog is gone.

What dog.

They are crepes. Crepes sold at the lift lobby, and when chocolate sauce painted their faces, they jumped to the ground and walk.

Oh just crepes. That’s alright.

They are dogs, they are real.

The dream ran sandpaper on my windpipe like I ran too fast too far on a cold day underdressed.

Winded.

I woke up and sat at the table, with the white dog. He is looking at me or through me.

Winded.

What is this feeling.

I’m afraid. Afraid of forgetting the shape of what I was holding after it slipped away.

***

I am the mould.

From it, a cast.

***

The polyester nylon is shedding, getting in the way of stitches for eyes. The tail blocks the needle. Just like he would have blocked me.

***

No one owns you. You are a gift. I want to watch you run away from me again only to turn around wait and run again. You always came back, you only needed to know you could run. I was the one who ran away for real. I hope your memory fails you, like my laptop, and forget that you slept by my bed the first night you came home, that you first heard me say that word that became your name. I don’t want to see you again. I had been telling myself. If there was next life, let us both be butterflies.

***

What would appear on this furry pile of cloth. I don’t need a reference photo. It is painted on my eyelid.

Close your eyes but fight to keep them opened like trying to stay awake. When you feel the top lashes pressed against the bottom, what’s in front of you becomes columns of light becomes what’s been there all along.

***

A star of fabric radiates from the threaded nose.

My hand echoes my heart. I tugged too hard at the eyes. Try again. Too hard again. And still too hard. Tension raised the surface like your bulging eyes, like marbles seen from the side.

The nylon hair again gets in the way of stitching the eyes the way your hair sticks to your marble eyes. You smiled , tongue out.

Where are you now? Wherever you are, I hope you run free in the company of lettuce and volleyballs.

A lug handmade doll leaning against a column in the garden

Quantum Magic Slug

A reverie of creative obstacles, errors and disappointments turn into a bundle of joy. Fabric eyes that failed to meet requirements, a visiting garden slug and a worn baby onesie converged on a day and Sylvy was born.

***

It could be a Bonds suit but I can’t be sure. I was so quick in cutting the label off clothes I wont and can’t wear. The biggest baby wondersuit is for 24-36 months.

Been making dolls so long don’t know how not to. Seasoned, jaded or a zealous dollmaker I can’t decide, but without second thought, I started stuffing the wondersuit with every piece of fabric around it that isn’t itself.

Somewhere around where a real baby’s knee would have been, I ran out of fabric within my arm’s reach. It’s a sign to stand up or stop. I cut the decision paralysis together with the stuffed portion out of the remaining limp majority. Bye bye, have a good life.

It sat on the table for a day and another, and days turned into weeks into part of the table. I stopped seeing it.

***

She needs to see me. I know it’s a she, by the way she almost looked at me if only she could, if only she had eyes. She needs to really see me.

Spare fabric eyes for dollmaking
No spare tire. Only fabric eyes and arms and what not.

I make a lot of spare eyes, by accident. You won’t kow where you’re going until you start walking. And only when you’ve walked a bit that you know where you’re not going.

The chance of an eye fitting on first try is one in ten. Ok, I made that up. But the chance sure is low, because if I got it right more I would not have so many eyes.

And arms. And noses. And elastic bands. And what’s that? Some eyeballs make good wrist support. Some ok mobile phone holders. I have a spare giant doll torso that is a super duper meditation cushion.

Platypus-plushie-test
After wondersuit, before a slug, it was a briefly a platypus and something scary.

In one of the holes on the pink polka dot side, I stuck what used to be an arm of an itty bitty dachshund doll. Mirror that, and add 2 more random fabric balls.

Smiling Sylvy the slug made from upcycled baby wondersuit

***

She has been coming into the house. From the weather warped timbre deck through the sliding door shut tight.

She comes in through the same opening we cannot find. Mr Lunarian escorts her out through the front door.

She comes in the next day, through the same opening we still cannot find. Mr Lunarian escorts her out through the same front door.

At my front door, every slug is different, but all Sylvy.

I stitched up the hacked off end neatly into a soft point. I held her up in front of Mr Lunarian.

“ Sylvy!”

He puts her on his left shoulder and he closed his eyes.

” She sucks away the excess emotion, she takes away the pressure that’s not mine, she even eats up the ego I don’t have much use for right now.”

I haven’t seen much of Sylvia since. Only her magic.

Split photo of a slug plushie against a column, on the right, the same slug facing the camera
Our dearest magician.

Wishing you a Sylvy. May your Sylvy find you.

Dollmaking as resistance

“Hear us now”, I shouted standing on a trash bin, among so many others like myself, around which cars had to part. But only in my mind.

Most of my life, I lived in a place in which such action could have me jailed.

Oh no, I don’t want to be physically jailed too.

Help arrives but only when you want it

Then came the Mighty Girls.

They are dolls. They are girls.

They are me. They are me-then. I was just so slightly younger, so slightly less embarrassed to call this fantasy version of myself girls. I now identify as a person.

Mighty Normal

Maybe not even mighty. Maybe just normal—a not-yet muzzled person who still believe. Yeah.

Normal comes in different colours

I made them with orange, black, yellow, blue hair; black, brown, white, beige, orange skin; black, brown, blue, green eyes.

Something like a soft version of moulded plastic dress up dolls. What I had in mind was a DIY-eco-(anti)-fashion doll that’s like a cross between a treechange doll and an upcycled fabric doll. Actually. I have no idea what I’m saying.

What I created instead was a bunch of small raggedy resistance with resting bitch faces. Not even anti-fashion, but no fashion. No fancy dress. No dress. No pants. Just a tee.

feminist protest textile art dolls made of recycled fabric

I can make clothes. I had the knowledge. I had the experience of making clothes for people—in the worst case scenario, to show wealth, in better and more common scenarios, to speak for them in a way they could not with their voices.

Wait, isn’t it the same here with these girl-dolls, not-girl dolls, DIY soft dolls, eco dolls, DIY anti-fashion dolls?

Embody them all. Now, Fight, Skeptic, Persist, Believe, Be Kind, March On

Slogan tees speak.

Silence speaks. Noisybeak.

Is that what I’m doing? Noisybeak speaks?

Every now and then, one or two slogan people dolls pop out of my head through my hands. ( Tho not nearly as often as protesters take to the streets here in the City of Melbourne.)

Where do dolls come from?

I don’t know where these mighty- girls-people-doll-things with so much spirit come from or why they are here. I mean, I don’t even watch news on TV.

A few years ago I would have called now-me irrational. I can’t lie. The energy is in the air. And dust settles on me.

Not as many as I have been called to make have been made. I regret it tho regret is quite useless.

I had no idea where the energy was coming from. I made some. Then I did not. Most of the time resisted doing what my mind could not understand.

Being is making is being, perhaps

Mighty girls have changed over the years.

Some girls, some not, some non-binary, some with no face, some with knots for arms some with wires, some bigger some smaller, some more animal on the outside. (Maybe some more so on the inside?)

I made a big person doll for my Mr Lunarian, so he could learn to give himself love as he gives to others.

I identify with some more than others.

Nonono teaches boundaries

A blue hair handmade artist protest doll with a t that says no no no
My mentor in a rubble of bad news.

Swim girl reminds me to go outdoors.

Toadiana shows me what self-worth looks as a toad or human all the same.

Many don’t even wear clothes anymore. They don’t need it.

Naked we come, naked we go. So it goes.

So it goes.

Mighty girl Hannah

Hannah wanted a different life. She moved onto land. Sometimes she gets so tired she can’t walk, she goes to the beach to hear the familiar music of home.