Gut Instincts

I have collected dolls and made dolls my whole life. But in later years I have become increasingly interested in spirit dolls and santos, or cage dolls. Come spend two days with me as we explore combining found objects, wire, metal and an ancient material used by hunter/gatherer cultures the world over, hog gut or sausage casings to make our own spirit dolls.

Sausage casings are clean and packed in salt water, however they do emit a slight odor, much like the sizing in watercolor paper, or the family dog after a dip in the creek. But the beauty is they stick to themselves! So when used like paper mache no other glues are required. They also stretch and conform as they dry and create unusual and luminous effects over found objects and steel wire. The casings can be dyed, painted or inked when wet. Or after they dry, they can be written on, painted, sewn, stapled, anything you can do to paper. Sausage casing might be used to bind in a functional capacity or merely to adorn your doll.

Since I make jewelry and artwork with found object, I thought it would be fun to explore using this unusual media with all sorts of pieces of wood, metal bits, tin   you name it! I can teach you some joining techniques for metal such a riveting and making tabs. We can also just run wild with wire and bind our bits together. I often use Paperclay for the head, or face so we will try our hand at that. Speaking of hands, I made my dolls hands out of polymer clay, but hands could be made out of anything — whittled wood, or they could be abstract and symbolized by two dangling rusty washers! And of course adorning and embellishing your doll will be the delicious finale! While this class is not for vegans, or the faint of heart, trust your instincts and start dumping out your cigar boxes of rusty, forgotten treasure and come make a truly unforgettable art doll with us!

About the Instructor

Melissa Manley lives and works in southeastern North Carolina a few miles from Wrightsville beach. She received her BA in studio arts from University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Years later she went back to gradate school in Metals at East Carolina University. While there Melissa was fortunate to study with enameling master Linda Darty and the godfather of found object Robert Ebendorf. She earned her MFA in Metal Design at East Carolina University in 2006. Melissa now teaches metals and jewelry at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington in addition to teaching workshops around the country in collage, book altering, watercolor and jewelry making for the past 7 years. Her work has appeared in Somerset Studio magazine, Belle Armoire magazine, Crafting Personal Shrines by Carol Owen, The Fine Art of Enameling by Linda Darty, Making Connections by Susan Lenart Kazmer, 500 Enameled Objects by Lark books, and Collage Lab by Bee Shay. Melissa winds down from the dizzy pace of making a living with her art by kayaking and beachcombing with her partner, kayak instructor Robert Smith, and her teenage daughter Meredith.