Inspiration: The image came to me in meditation while listening to a reading during High Holy Days celebrations. The biblical text (Genesis 22:1-19) is entitled “Abraham’s Faith Confirmed” in the NKJV. G-d tests Abraham: he calls to him, and Abraham replies, “Here I am.” Then G-d tells him to take his son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering on a mountain in the land of Moriah. (Isaac is Abraham’s beloved son, granted to him and Sarah by G-d long after normal childbearing and child-creating years—according to the text, Sarah was in menopause and Abraham was 100 years old [Gen. 18])
Materials: The figure of Abraham is constructed with a wire armature, covered with stretch cotton Lycra and stuffed with wool. His face is molded from Creative Paperclay, painted, like the rest of his body, with Jacquard textile paints. Abraham’s eyes are hematite beads; his hair is off-white, curly mohair. He is dressed in a striped caftan; he wears leather sandals. Isaac is made from a wooden artist’s manikin, painted reddish brown; his face is molded from Model Magic, painted with Jacquard paints; his hair is fake-fur fabric. His clothes are purchased doll clothes, altered to fit. The ram has a wire armature, covered with fake-fur fabric. His face and hoofs are made out of Model Magic, painted with Jacquard paints. The upright ram, leaning on the bush, is based on the 3rd millennium BCE figure found in a royal tomb in Ur. (Note the similarity in color and texture of Isaac and the ram.)
Description: The base is 28” long x 24” wide. Abraham is 26” tall; Isaac is 16”, and the ram is 8”.
Inspiration: It came to me in meditation that I had to make a tableau of the Magi—but with a feminine presence, the Shekinah, witnessing the Magi bringing their gifts. According to Hebrew tradition, the Shekinah is the indwelling aspect of G-d, a quality often associated with the feminine. (As the figure took form, she gained a crown and another name: The Queen of Heaven, a name that draws on Christian and pre-Christian traditions.)
Materials: The foam base is spray painted with beige-brown Fleck Stone. The Magi have wire armatures, padded and covered with “skin,” then clothed. Their faces are molded from air-dried Creative Paperclay; bodies and faces are painted with a mixture of different Jacquard paints. The figures’ hair is made of red wool, black and white merino and silk, white mohair, and brown angora yarns.
Description: The base is 4’ x 2’. The four kneeling Magi are 26”-tall pose-able figures, three male, one female. The Shekinah/Queen of Heaven is approximately 26” tall, not including her crown.
Inspiration: The image of Adam and Eve, the Tree, and two snakes came to me during meditation on Genesis 3.1-3.24. I also imagined including four rivers flowing out from under the Tree of Knowledge (as described in Genesis), and the Garden surrounded with twelve gates (“There’s twelve gates to the City, Halleluiah….”). I saw a winged cherub watching patiently for Adam and Eve to pluck from the tree and get kicked out of the Garden.
Materials: Adam and Eve are adjustable wood artist manikins covered with fabric “skin.” Both figures have bead nipples, and their genitals are hidden beneath beaded, sequined fig leafs. Eve’s hair is yarn; an embroidered leaf ribbon adorns her neck and a floral ribbon serves as her headband. Adam’s hair and beard are upholstery trim.
Description: Construction is 3’ x 2’ at the lowest level of the base. Tree is 41” tall. Adam and Eve are 26” high. The cherub is 15” from nose to tail.
Inspiration: It came to me in meditation that Aladdin was the same as the Arabic name Allauddin, which means “Nobility of the Path/Nobility of the Faith.” And then I realized that the dingy lamp he found by going deep into the cave (deep within) was, in fact, the Divine Light that shines within each of us.
Materials: The figure of Aladdin/Allauddin is constructed with a wire armature, covered with stretch cotton Lycra and stuffed with wool. His face is molded from Creative Paperclay, painted, like the rest of his body, with Jacquard textile paints. His hair is black fake-fur fabric. He is dressed in Ikat silk pantaloons, off-white silk tussah shirt with gold trim, green brocade vest lined with gold and red brocade, and a glittery gold and red waist sash. He wears tall lambskin leather boots trimmed in gold. A gold starburst with semi-precious stones pins his shirt closed at the neck. Rings adorn his fingers. A large Model Magic dagger is stuck into his waist sash. The base is fabric-covered and painted with Fleckstone. A tiny, electrified lamp lights up the cave.
Description: The base is 24” long x 20” wide. Aladdin/Allauddin is 26” tall.
Inspiration: Another meditation, another image: Jonah and the Big Fish.
Materials: The base was spray-painted with green American Accents Stone Creations texturized paint to represent the ocean. Fabric waves, stiffened with double-sided fusible Pellon 72, adorn the base. A gold Shiva paint stick added glitter to the waves.
The Big Fish is formed out of papier mâché, constructed over a wire and mesh armature. Its inside was coated with Sculptamold, then painted with pinkish-grey American Accents Stone Creations spray paint. The scales are overlapping scallops of yellow, orange, and pinkish-orange packcloth. Its tail and two fins are Angelina fibers, with yarn inclusions; its eyes are made of Model Magic, a flexible, air-dry material. The pupils are rhinestone ornaments. Its teeth are Model Magic, painted with pearlescent Jacquard paint.
Description: The base is 2’ x 4’. The Big Fish is 3’ long x 18” wide by 18” high at the widest point; its tail is 12” long. Jonah is a 12”-high wood manikin.
Inspiration: I recently read a fascinating book about Mary Magdalene by Siobhan Houston (Sounds True Publ.) and starting thinking about the legends that surround her, including the “alternative history” stories that claim she married Jesus and, after he disappeared from his tomb in the cave, they fled to Egypt.
Materials: Mary Magdalene and “He Who…” are wire-based forms, stuffed with wool batting, covered with “doll skin,” and painted. Their faces are painted Paperclay. Her hair is dyed wool roving; his is dyed mohair. He is wrapped in a single length of white cotton and has an ankh dangling from a chain that hangs around his neck; she wears a wrapped white cotton gown covered by a caftan of silk noile, dyed with natural mineral dyes; she wears an semi-precious stone pendant decorated with a silver snake. They both wear leather sandals. Sarah is made from a stained wooden artist’s manikin; her face is made from painted Model Magic; her hair is dyed mohair. Sarah’s dress is coarse Japanese blue cotton.
Description: The base is 36” long x 24” wide. Mary M. and “He Who” are 26” tall; Sarah is 16” tall.