Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sunday's Feature Artist: Arts & Dolls by Susie McMahon

Hello Toads & Pond Visitors~  I am excited to showcase the art work & dolls by long-time artist, Susie McMahon.   Here's a backgrounder about her:

I am a fifty-something Virgo and a full-time artist, living in Tasmania - one of the world's best-kept secrets! I am a mother, grand-mother, ardent environmentalist and part-time musician as well as being an obsessed doll-maker. I have been married to the man I met when I was sixteen for 38 years.

Wintermoon (Wall Piece)

My Muse - cloth, clay, sticks, string and old fob-watch face and other stuff.

I have been making art all my life - to me art and life are indivisible. I completed Art School in Hobart, Tasmania in 1971 with a teaching diploma and majors in sculpting and painting.
My abiding passions are sculpting and making dolls and I have travelled extensively as a teacher in both of these disciplines.
Many of the objects I make are simply dolls - handmade and one-of-a-kind, they represent  the culmination of many years of experimentation with technique. They are reminiscent of dolls from the past, albeit with a contemporary twist. Other objects I make are purely sculptural, but there are some things I make which defy categorization, since they occupy the space somewhere in between "doll" and "sculpture". 

Revenge of Gaia

Who or what influences you? Inspires you?
I am influenced by the natural world as well as a plethora of artists in all genres too numerous to name. I have what I would describe as a rich inner life - the manifestations of which find their way onto my sketchbook pages. Finding ideas for dolls has never been a problem for me - finding the time to create all the ideas in my sketchbook can be a problem, however!

If I had to name a single doll-maker whom I admire - for sheer virtuosity and mastery of her medium, it would have to be Lisa Lichtenfels, but again there are many others who also should rate a mention.
Tell us a little about your dolls and your process for making them. Materials, preliminary sketches, inspiration, etc.
My dolls always start with a concept - the idea - which almost always means a sketch or series of sketches as well. Often I have to work out some really practical solutions to construction problems - this is usually done in bed at night when I should be asleep - I know many other doll-makers who are afflicted with the same problem! Once the idea is firmly established, I usually sculpt the head and allow it to dry. My preferred medium is air-dry clay covered with fabric and painted, but I am always trying new things. The head determines the size of the body or any constructed elements, so I draft any patterns from the particular head for the piece I am working on. Then it is simply a matter of putting everything together and gessoing and painting. The parts I like the most in my doll making are the initial sculpting and the final painting. I use whatever I need in terms of materials - the initial concept determines what I use, so the idea really dictates the medium.
Redivivus Dolls
are made from recyled and discard materials.
Redivivus is a Latin word meaning "living again"; "brought back to life"; "revived"; "restored".

Pages of Me



Millie, the apple girl

I also enjoy the challenge of teaching my craft to others and I am available to travel to do so. I am able to teach beginners to advanced students either complete projects or technique classes in painting and sculpting.     I hope you enjoy looking at my work.

Sorrowful Songs:   Duet

More Links:  Blog               Pinterest           Flicker

My Etsy store is located at     I usually have patterns, kits, instruction books and finished dolls available here.  I also have a Picturetrail site at  This site has galleries of completed works that have been sold     as well as tutorial albums showing how my dolls are made. 

Thank you Susie !!    

Our challenge is to write a new poem or prose poem inspired by the arts & dolls by Susie McMahon.   If you upload her images to your blog, kindly credit the artist for her work by showing the link to her blog site.   You are free to check out her other art and doll pieces & write about it too.

I will be sending Susie the direct link to this post.   She is very excited to be featured as a muse to our community.   I will be checking back during the week for any late entries.

Wishing you all Happy Weekend and Happy Mother's Day ~   

Grace (aka Heaven)                                                                                                                                    


Scarlet said...

I hope you find inspiration from Susie's art work ~ Wishing you all happy weekend ~

Kerry O'Connor said...

These dolls are other-worldly. Many thanks to Susie for sharing her talent so freely with us.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Susie, I was browsing your Picturetrail site, and I am in total awe of your process. What a labour of love goes in to every doll.

Scarlet said...

Kerry, I am awed by crafts like these - so much dedication & details in the creation of art ~

Thanks to Susie for all the links ~

Magaly Guerrero said...

Revenge of Gaia touched me deeply. So much pain in the eyes and flesh of a mother who is being torn apart by her children. Nothing more devastating than the sad rage fed by the betrayal of those one loves most... and this piece says it loudly.

Anonymous said...

This feature was amazing! What a prompt and what amazing works of art! So inspiring!

Crafty Green Poet said...

those dolls have a lot of character, very impressive!

brudberg said...

There is such sadness embedded in those dolls.. I felt a little bit mellow today, so a perfect fit to my mood...

Susan said...

The sculpted dolls moved me the most, really, but the idea of being made new hit me more this mother's day weekend. I may have to revisit Susie's inspiring creations again some day. Thank you, Grace! Thank you, Susie.

Susie Clevenger said...

What exquisite dolls! I look at them and it seems I can almost see them breathing. Susie, you talent and meticulous care in creating each doll/art piece is amazing. Thanks so much Grace for showcasing and introducing us to Susie's work.

Hannah said...

Thank you for sharing this inspiring artist with us Grace!

Thank you Susie for following your muse, creating and sharing...such amazing work!! :)

Scarlet said...

I am enjoying all your posts and comments here, smiles ~

Please note that for those with blogger, summerstommy2 comments as michaelt ~

Sumana Roy said...

This is an amazing work of creation
...thanks Grace for introducing Susie and her magic world and for this inspiring prompt...


I love Sorrowful Songs, Pages of Me, and Heart.

Helen said...

... in serious awe of her talent!!!

ScottlB said...

I would have to say the dolls are outstanding, I saw a picture on one of the writer's blog and I had to see them all. Needless to say how many stories can I come up with from just observing the work Susie has created. I started to piece this story together and had to make it short but it's there another day another time.

Wander said...

Hi grace...long time hope all is well