And she has a tattooed leg! Sa Jambe est tatouee!
You can see Thild and others on my Dolls and Craft Gallery page
Rae With a Sarong is 55cm tall and clearly, colors have gone to her head so that now she keeps on singing LA VIE EN ROSE!!! That’s what happens when you’re not careful with batik!
A new South China Sea mermaid. Her name is Peranga. She came with the high tide to rest on Damai* beach where she met an English man who happened to fall in love with her and is planning to bring her back to the land of the Angles.
*Damai beach is 25km away from Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo
Une nouvelle sirène de la Mer de Chine ; elle s’appelle Peranga. A la dernière grande marée elle est venue se reposer sur la plage de Damai où se trouvait justement un anglais en est tombé amoureux et va bientôt l’emporter sur l’ile d’Albion.
*Damai se trouve à environ 25km de Kuching, Sarawak, Bornéo
“I want to join the brigade”.
The petite Chinese woman who’d just spoken stood very straight and firm, in between two occupied chairs, thus breaking a large and full circle of seated knitters.
Heidi’s eyes slowly moved away from her needles and rose to meet the new comer’s look.“Can you knit?”
“No.” Was the woman’s reply. “You teach me?”
Every woman in the group looked up as one; every one of them was smiling. “Grab yourself a chair and sit next to me.” Heidi instructed before adding “and, ladies, let’s make our circle a little bigger.”
This is how Lily became a member of our fondly nick-named (by me) Knitting Brigade.
I used to knit a little, back then, when I still lived in France. When I followed Hubby to Borneo with only one metallic trunk and a regular suitcase – hardly a removal – only God knows why felt I had to pack my knitting needles? I mean, and honestly, why expect to be doing any knitting in the tropics, cooked-up in a 30 something degrees Celsius steamy atmosphere? Thirty years fast forward, Heidi provided me with the answer when she recruited me to knit for cancer stricken children and made me take my needles out of their old container.
Heidi is a gifted knitter who makes quirky dolls that represent various ethnics of Sarawak where we live. She is what I call a “generation knitter” from the Swiss Alps. My theory is that knitting is in her DNA, inherited from a long line of Helvetian women. Knitting is in her bones, while her brain works fast and her heart beats in the right place, the right combination of gifts to come up with the generous initiative of recruiting volunteers to get together once a week and knit a myriad of colourful yarns into 7.5cm squares which she assembles with a crochet into wonderfully cheerful blankets that children can hold and hug while in the ward and back home.
The Knitting Brigade is constantly growing with new and regular members who gather every Wednesday morning from 10.00 to 12…ish at the Sarawak Museum Shop & Café at the Tun Abdul Razak Museum. There are irregular members too: ladies who commute between their countries of origin and Kuching. They are friends whom we miss for a few months and hug fondly when they come back for a long visit.
The Knitting Brigade is really an ever expandable circle of friends made-up of colourful characters who bring their invaluable cheers and stories to share not only with other knitters but, too, with the Café’s customers, locals or travellers.
In fact, choosing the Museum Café to meet was a call from the heart as both Heidi and I (and Annette, and Anita, and Rosnah) are old friends of the Sarawak Museum and of its gardens. When the Café offered us a “place de charme” amongst beautiful vintage furniture and classy displays of books, old maps and crafts made by some of the most talented Sarawak artisans, we simply blended in and, somehow, my latte started to taste better at the Museum Café!
A new addition to my gallery , a Malaysian angel I named Malaisie en Rose.
A Tralala Design by Annie R.Teo
I am a batik lover and for a long time I had a vision of a mermaid with a blue batik tail. One day I finally made “Mia”
J’adore les tissus en batik et depuis longtemps j’avais envie de creer une sirene dont la queue serait en batik. Un jour je m’y suis enfin mise et voici donc Mia!
Depuis bien d’autres poupees ont suivi…
Mia’s tail measures an extraordinary 58cm (the whole doll measures 83cm), she listens to soothing songs caught inside a sea shell and glitters like salt does in the sun. Mia’s whole body is made of cloth; her face is sculptured and painted; extra long eyelashes make her look at once dreamy yet quite cheeky. For the crown that holds together her blue hair I used a combination of tinsels that I fused together on a very fine metallic fabric mesh that I then embroidered with colorful metallic threads and cottons to add interesting hues.
“Tari of the waves” is Mia’s pink sister with purple eye lashes. I created her for my friend (while thinking of her too) Tari who lives in Australia. She has always loved sailing, collecting sea-shells and creating decorative gifts with them, and her favorite color is pink. I absolutely dislike making the same thing twice yet I really wanted to please my friend, so I chose to focus on the challenge of not being able to use shells which would have been rejected by the Australian customs and excises department; instead I used pearls (yes, fake ones).
Although I do sell some of my creations in a local shop, I am more into making dolls to make my friends and family happy. My friend Helen explained to me how she never had any toys to play with when she was little, so I made country dolls for her. I also made Bidayuh dolls for Judy of Kampung Hannah Rais; funky batik cats called Kooch (Kuching is translated “cat”) with an amusing crooked tail typical of our local cats and you may say that Kooch is a Sarwakat; Batik fishes for my four young nephews who love fishing with their grand dad (my brother) and batik hearts because everyone deserves one. For Janice whose suitcase was too full I assembled a miniature French toile de Jouy doll built around a tobacco pipe cleaner, then I used the same technique to make a Bidayuh one carrying a basket made of tree bark and again a Chinese one for Linda.
When Janice gave me a pattern for an unarguably western Christmas angel I thought it would be great to have a local protector all year round so I changed the dress to black and painted it with red and gold sparkles, added a garland of gold coins around the bottom of the tunic and let her wear a Bidayuh hat on her jet black hair.
I started my first doll as a challenge to myself : as a student my art teacher always had a tough time deciding between E and F to mark my work; I guess my mark must have depended on whether she was annoyed with my inability or if she felt sorry for me. With such a history, I was convinced that although I would love to make my own dolls, it would be way beyond my capabilities. One fine day at last I figured out the obvious, that I had nothing to lose if I would give it a shot and so I did. I have never stopped since. Very quickly I gave up looking for the rare patterns that sometimes appear in Australian craft magazines; I started creating my own imaginary cross-culture characters. Now I encourage anyone who is interested in craft to dare try their skills and follow their imagination. Really it can’t hurt to try! And if you wish to express your repressed extravagance, and why not, the Lady Gaga in you, then by all means, make dolls!
Above, Irma la Douce, my first doll from a pattern found in an Australian magazine. The fabric for her skirt was brought back all the way from Martinique by my dear friend and quilting artist Claude Mougey. In those days (2002) I did not have good fabric pens.
MY GROWING GALLERY
The Borneo Dolls
A) The Bidayuhs
In Bidayuh Simbuh means “fat”.
En dialecte bidayuh, Simbuh signifie “dodue”
Kumang = Princesse
Gawai = Harvest festival -Fete des recoltes
B) TREE FAERIES AND BUTTERFLIES
The Borneo Tree Faerie’s wings are made of tree bark.
C) MORE ETHNIC DOLLS
Ramsay’s Girl’s face is based on one of Ramsay Ong’s painting.
D) KOOCH, The Batik Cat
Kuching cats aka Kooch all have a broken take (it is genetic) and so do my Kooch!
This is a Miss Kooch made out of a black & white Sarawak design sarong. She wears a pearl nakelace.
E) ANGELS & CHRISTMAS DOLLS
This Boutis angel is 45cm tall (Now gone to Western Australia). I learned Boutis or Provencalembossed embroidery from a most gifted artist who has become a dear friend, Lucie Berrestwho is fiercely involved with the Musee de Provence de Chateau-Gombert, near Marseilles, in in rehabilitating this almost forgotten art.
The angels collection was encouraged by my friend Ratna who so kindly organised an exhibition of my dolls in her Inspiration shop, Nexis, no.14 grd. floor. lot 2342, Bormill Estate Commercial Center, Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce in Kuching. Thanks Ratna, I love you!
TEO’s X’Mas Spirit
E) MORE MERMAIDS
Dugong Ulu river mermaid from Borneo Highlands
F) AND DOLLS, DOLLS, DOLLS, DOLLS…
|Caw-Girl for Jacquie X’mas 2010 Main fabric for the skirt is from Texas, the hat is from Australia, the sheepskin for the boots too.|