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The Desert Dweller
July, 2003

The Desert Dweller is my second sculpted doll. If standing, he would be ten inches tall.

He was made in a four-day workshop at Beth Lane's in Tularosa, NM. Marilyn Huston, with whom I made my Green Man, was the teacher.

His face and legs are made with Prosculpt, Marilyn's choice because it doesn't require kneading to soften. It joins seams without lines and is exceedingly strong and durable.

His eyes are glass and his hair is flax. There was an out-of-the-ordinary aura about him from the time I started working on his face, and I knew he just had to have those elf-like ears.

The snakeskin hood was a lucky accident. Marilyn had tossed onto the table an old snakeskin purse that had already been cut from. I looked at it and decided, Aha, this desert dweller needs protection from the weather, and snakes live in the desert, so, ... the corner of the purse became his hood.

His body was made with a wire armature. The main wire was then wrapped fairly tightly with another thin wire so that the clay has something to adhere to. Then the legs were given an undercoating of Paper Clay and baked. The next day we covered this undercoating with Prosculpt.

A mixture of one third Premo Sculpey and two-thirds Super Sculpey was used to make his hands and feet. This combination is easy to work, needs minimal conditioning and is hard but not brittle after baking, according to Marilyn.

I didn't decide he was going to be barefoot until I already had his leg and foot attached to his body, so it was much more difficult to do his toes than it would have been if I had made his bare foot separately and then attached it to the leg. As it was, I had to maneuver his entire body upside down and all over the place as I worked on his feet. I went to a lot of trouble to make the underside of his feet and toes look as realistic as possible - and they don't even show!

His sandals are made from the same snakeskin. I made the soles from thin cork because it looked rugged and desert-y.

Here you get a glimpse of his belt, which was also made from the same skin.

Those pricklies sticking out his pants legs are for protection, I suppose. I had a small broom among my Green Man supplies and made wefts of the bristles and then glued the sections around his legs before I wrapped them. The body has a wrapping of quilt batting, then a stocking body over that. I used dental floss to cinch in a waist and stitch him some nice buns.

His garments are made from gauze fabric which I bought already in this desert-grey-green color. Actually, in reality it is a bit greener than it looks here.

I wrapped his arms, legs and body with folded raveled strips of the gauze fabric, and added separate larger pieces as required to finish his clothing. Fabri-Tac in a fine-pointed dispenser was used for gluing.

I cut out appropriate pieces and trimmed them to fit, eliminating the need for separate patterns. I just loved the way this stuff raveled and draped. It provided an appropriate finish for this desert dweller, who presumably made his clothing from whatever was handy, and it also eliminated hems, etc.

I knew I wanted him gathering something, so included a gathering bag and made his hand to hold a plant or bloom. Yucca blooms are edible, I understand, and that or something similar is what I wanted him to be gathering, but didn't have anything appropriate in my stash of cactus stuff that day. I may replace what's in his hand when I come across or make something better.

The hands are the very last thing added to the doll after dressing and wigging, to avoid damaging the fingers. I just added the last few wraps over his wrist and then the over-sleeve.

The base is a piece of that white pebbly styrofoam used as packaging which I gouged and hacked into the shape I wanted so he would fit under my largest glass dome. I painted it with a red iron oxide acrylic paint-and-Tacky glue mixture, then went out into Beth's backyard and scooped some very fine red sand to sprinkle over the wet paint.

He is seated on a piece of driftwood that also came from Beth's place. The greenery is cut from larger stems that I have purchased over time because they reminded me of desert plants. After I poked them into place I spread some glue around them and sprinkled on more red sand.

The little cactus was made from a small, rather thick-leaved little green plant that I painted Seminole green and sprinkled with diamond dust. It was already in my box of cactus and desert stuff. I asked my husband to bring my cactus stuff up from El Paso when I knew that my person was going to live in the desert.

Here you get a good view of the purse corner that formed his hood. I turned a piece under and glued it for a finished edge. Because the material was a bit stiff to work with, I tied a piece of dental floss tightly around his neck and arranged the folds of the hood under the string the way I wanted them. A doll needle and dental floss was then used to stitch the gathers in place and then the tied floss was removed.

I debated about having his hair stick out over his elfish ears and tried it both with and without. I went for the hair sticking out.

This is the second completed Green Man. I plan to do more eventually.

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