African Mask

African Mask

Sunday, 15 January 2012

TippyLaLa, Angels from Africa

My name is Alex Boyle and I run a studio called TippyLaLA. This is the home of the Angelique Angel range. I have been making dolls for about eight years now. About a year ago I decided to make an angel for one of my daughter's friends for her birthday. the Angelique Angel was born at that moment.

It is a limited edition range. I have decided to only ever make 800 of them. For that reason I sign and number each one, and I don't ever make two alike. So if you own one of my angels you have something Unique and Special, but I do make other angels and I plan to do more limited edition ranges too.

It takes me ten hours to make an angel from scratch. I start with merino roving which I dye in different colours. I use acid dyes and creat colourways that take my fancy. I tend to prefer pastel shades though some can be bright as well. the next step is to card the wool. At this point I might add in other fibers: alpaca, tussah, silk, sari silk to mane but a few. When I have the effect that I want I make felt using the wet felting technique.

I use a traditional Waldorf technique to make the head and face. I like to keep the features very simple. I think it makes my angels look serene and angelic. In the assembly process I do a lot of decoration on the angel. Her character is taking shape at this stage and I may choose one of many ways to embellish her. Beads, sequins, embroidery stitches, needle felting, braids, buttons, flowers.

The first Angel I ever sold was carrying a white dove, made using needle felting, in her hands.

This is Angelique Angel, number 16. She is an angel that I made where I have executed every step short of sheering the actual sheep! I was in Northern Ireland some years ago, doing a workshop on dyeing techniques at Mourne Grange. We were given the fleece of a sheep to work with and had to wash it, card it and dye it. It was the first time I used acid dyes. With acid dyes you can mix the colours or you can add several colours to the dye bath in such a way as to minimise their mixing. This gives a variegated effect. So, I have used pinks and blues in creating this dye lot, and where they have blended, there are lovely shades of lilac. I only had enough of this woll to make two angels and I had to mix in a blue merino in order to have enough. Her texture is somewhat different than the others because the wool has not been through an industrial process. She is 35 cm tall.

The other Angel that I'd like to share with you is one of my favourites. I know you are not supposed to have favourites amongst your children, but with this on, I just can't help it.

This wool was also prepared in a workshop at Nuturing Fibers in Philadelphia ( we have one in South Africa). Here I was able to use some fibres that I don't usually have access to and you will even find strands of glittery threads in this felt. This is the only time I will ever use something synthetic, for the odd strand of glitter.

Not all my angels are holding something but I like her particularly because she is engrossed in her book. It has also been suggested that she is singing from her hymnal in the church choir. A lovely pastime either way... Her book is made using the needle felting technique. The cover is dark borwn and the pages are white.
She is number 21 in the range and is 35 cm tall.

I am 41 years old. I live in Cape Town with my three daughters, husband, a Golden Retriever and a cat. I have worked in IT most of my working life but it is really all kinds of craft that gets me going. I was a handwork teacher at Raheen Wood Steiner School for a while and I offer all manner of craft classes in Cape Town. I do evening classes and Saturday workshops. I teach children and adults in my studio and at a local art centre.
You can see my shop by clicking HERE.
You can see my angels on Facebook by clicking HERE.

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