Some time this fall I was listening to the a morning AM radio show and heard an announcement that there were places to drop off items to send to servicepeople stationed in the middle east (Darryl Ankarlo's Links [he's a Marine Dad, so he was especially supportive of the Marine Moms] for Giving to Servicepeople) before Thanksgiving. Well, this was a perfect opportunity to send off the small travel sized packets of toiletries we'd been putting aside for this purpose. In looking at the page, we found they had books and magazines on their wish lists too, so we gathered together a bunch of books to send as well. Now, I participate in an online "random act" club called "Book Crossing." It's something like "Where's George," but with books. We register books at the site with tracking numbers, make a little journal entry about the book, and leave it in a prominent place to be found, in the hopes that the finder will come to the site, type in the number and find the journal entry, add a note that he/she found it, read it, make a journal entry, and then leave it to be found and read again, and so on. Well then, I started thinking that labeling all the books with Book Crossing labels would be a fun thing as well -- the books were likely to be passed around and, since the soldiers have access to computers and the internet, I thought it would be a good way to have them participating in something at home at the same time, so I registered and labeled them all with Book Crossing tracking numbers. "What an opportunity to spread the word about Book Crossing as well as give the servicepeople an opportunity to connect with 'the public' here," I said to myself as I labeled the books and bookmarked them with an additional paragraph of explanation. The night before we set off to drop off the personal care items and snacks as well as a bag of books, it seemed like a good excursion for my "travel doll," Luisa, and my first My Scene doll repaint, Emily, to go along on for some experimental pictures, so I made a little book in doll scale (Blacklist, a book I wanted to order), and put it in a little bag in a little basket so that the girls could participate in the pre-Thanksgiving books to soldiers effort through Marine Moms.
When I got home, I started thinking, "Well, what if Luisa were to meet a G.I. Joe through sending her book -- I could have a new storyline developing with her meeting someone through her book contribution and work a G.I. Joe into her story...." I participate in an online art project of "Travel Dolls," in which our dolls all have personalities and lives and we take them places and they do things and, if we're lucky enough, they even meet each other. Luisa doesn't have a public web page with her story on it yet, but should soon.
That was the spark of an idea to use dolls for my Book Crossing Artist's contribution -- I had promised something for their bookplate fund-raising project and had been wracking or racking my brain to think of something I could contribute (which could meet their stipulations that the piece also be available to them for auction after printing as a bookplate, that it be something different from other images they'd printed, that it have someone reading, and that it be done as a special piece for them), and so it grew.... first on my dresser ...
I took the head from Luisa's body transplant (a Rio Christie) and put it on Luisa's old body, and tried a sweater on her which I had knit, and propped her up on a faux-sheepskin remnant of a dog toy next to a G.I. Joe, and then replaced him with an "International Peacekeepers" doll for the uniform and the equipment, thinking of a Book Crossing sign between them as the basic image and a good way to remember service personnel overseas in the random acts of Book Crossing kindness. It seemed timely and appropriate and a good project for me to spend time on as a contribution, as it was entirely different from anything I had done before, in terms of art.
at this stage the picture snaps into more clarity by the addition of a blue-green in the jacket and wallpaper (and the center doll is out at Ali Baba's Spa getting her hair done)
and an experimentation with angle -- to try to get all sections important (which the blue-green did, but the soldier and his attention on the book should be the focus of the entire piece.
the theatre drop-off and Barbie's hair all done up after a visit to AliBaba's Spa
...and here the book is sharing thoughts with a serviceperson overseas, including him in the life that goes on here: