Monday, 24 October 2016

A Domestic Goddess - another spool shrine by Julie Ann

Hello and thank you so much for dropping by Calico Craft Parts Blog today. A few weeks ago, I turned three spools of winter ribbons and twine into a miniature 'Spool City'. You can see it here. I just love making houses that are also art dolls and functional into the bargain, so I decided to create another spool character. Meet Athena, Goddess of Domestic Crafts.

Athena is wise and she wants to remind us that although Winter is a time of ice and snow, we can still have warm hearts and show our love for close friends and family by wrapping gifts for them with love. She offers us twine as she stands at the open door of her cosy home.

Because I had a wider spool I wanted to alter for this project, I chose one of the small framed tall house kits. I gave the whole kit a thin layer of Gesso before stenciling a brick pattern onto the roof in 3D Gloss Gel. You can see here that, as the Gel dries it becomes transparent, leaving just a raised area to paint and gild.

Here are the side panels. I wanted a raised effect only at the edge, as I intended to have a strip of tape in the middle, so I masked with some narrow tape and used a text stencil with the 3D Gel.

Once I've chosen a face, the art doll's character can blossom. I take a basic face from my library of hand-drawn faces, but it usually undergoes changes, as i colour and shade it and add definition. I chose to make Athena's face from a small heart plaque. I cut the print of the hand-drawn face to roughly the right size. This can easily be filed down around the edges. Once I'm satisfied with the effect I spray with a good professional fixative.

On the back of the house, the stenciling is simply acrylic paint, but the technique of using light over dark layers and moving the stencil a fraction to the right before re-stenciling, creates an impression of dimension.

I've added some warmth in the red and golden bricks; shading to the face and jointed arms from one of the small doll kits to reach out and welcome us. The bodice is reminiscent of warm summer days, now just a memory.

I love how the gilding paste really highlights texture on the side panels. When the house was fixed into place with glue it seemed to me that the walls were like a warm cloak enveloping Athena.

These plastic clips from a local hardware store are so useful for creating good contact between glued surfaces. It's probably my imagination, but the Goddess looks just a tad worried about what's going on here!

Now that Athena's position is more dignified, as befits a domestic goddess, I think she looks less concerned! I've used masking tape to keep her arms in place until the glue is set, and you might notice that I've added strips of hand-painted card to the frame and a narrow tape along the bottom. Whenever I add decorative tape to a project, I always stick it down with some matte medium first as the adhesive can easily peel off.

Now she's firmly in place on her spool world, ready to help with gift-wrapping and tag making!

Sheet Moss and a tiny pine cone create a miniature forest floor at Athena's feet. She has lacy sleeves and a lace skirt, stiffened with Heavy Gel Medium and gilded. The leaves scattered over the floor are punched from a scrap of hand.made paper. It's always fun to find uses for scraps when you're making art dolls.

Athena has a secret. A friend of mine asked me to if I create a spool goddess for her and this is what I came up with! I do hope Athena will make herself useful on my friend's shelf. As October draws to a close and we prepare for all kinds of winter celebrations to lighten the dark days, I hope that maybe you'll be inspired to use some of the beautiful seasonal Calico Craft Parts to create some winter-themed altered art of your own.

Calico Craft Parts used.
Framed MDF Tall House Kit (small)
Standard Heart Birch Plywood plaque
Standard Jointed Art Doll Kit Style 2 (small)
Sheet of Mini MDF Christmas shapes (Snowflakes 2)


  1. Julie Ann, Another delightful dollie shrine! It just amazes me what you create with spools ans mdf shrine houses!! Bravo! xx

  2. Aw! She's a lovely addition to your gorgeous spool house shrine village (or family rather ;), Julie Ann! xxx

  3. How enchanting...the way that Athena is nestled into her cozy home reminds me of all the things I love about the darker time of year. Thank you, Julie Ann, for giving us another vision of warmth and good will. XoX1

  4. Thank you so much to Jackie, Claudia, Heather and Chris for your lovely comments. xxx

  5. Athena is amazing, Julie Ann. I love her face, particularly the eyes, and how her arms hold the twine,

    Lucy x

  6. Thank you so much, Lucy. I'm glad that you like her. xx

  7. Athena is wonderful and very helpful too!
    A lovelier twine holder I have never seen.
    Thank you for sharing.

  8. Thank you, Patty, for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment. xx

  9. Absolutely delightful - whimsical and so full of charming details.
    Alison x