When I finished her upper body, I wasn't happy. I thought to myself, "This doll is really derivative. There is nothing original about her. " Derivative of what? Well, ME, and a dozen other mermaids I've made. Definitely recognizable as my "style" - pretty face, unusually small but flashy tatas, mixed fiber hair embedded with freshwater pearls, plenty of 24K gold. She's pretty, and other folks liked her, but I was really discouraged and felt like I was just repeating myself, which is essentially boring
So she sat in a ziploc bag for a while. She's sat in a bag a lot over the last year.
I switch back and forth from more-or-less improvisational bead embroidery to doing highly structured and counted bead weaving, often from another artist's pattern. Each process can be done with focused intention, and each is a relief from the other. I've always like Chinese lacquered and articulated fish ornaments and Linda Richmond made a pattern to bead one. It was great fun, I made it in a couple of different colorways, adapting it to the beads I had on hand.
I tested some original designs for a beaded pinwheel and made two Kaleidocycles.
Every once in a while I'd get Leilehua out and feel stymied by how "derivative" she was. Talk about your inner critic! We are our own harshest judges. My husband recently suggested I could think of her differently, perhaps as being the culmination of a long series of increasingly accomplished dolls. OK, maybe.
My final tail fin is livelier and has more dimension. It's a lovely tail.
When I tried to put the tail segments together, they didn't work at all! They completely nested together instead of rising in tiers. I was almost in tears myself at that point. I tried various ways of tacking the tops to narrow them, none of which worked. Back into the bag she went!
A few weeks ago I took her out again. She was prettier than I remembered and I decided to make her a new tail, bead embroidered instead of woven. Starting from her hip size, I drew out the new tail and laid it out. I didn't have any felt the same color as the body, so I decided to make it fuschia and tie in the body colors. It seemed a bit large from the beginning, but Leilehua kept saying she liked it.
When it was done, it was obviously out of scale and belonged to some other mermaid. Back into the bag with Leilehua and the new mermaid began to come into being.