Saturday, October 20, 2007

Interview with Rachael (Motley Misfits)

What I find cool about the whole internet-thing is I get to meet and talk with people it's likely I wouldn't get to know otherwise. One of those people is Rachael from Motley Misfits in California. She found me, actually, through the Hope and Healing Project on Etsy. She's also a member of the Visual Arts Street Team (VAST) and graciously agreed to be interviewed. As you can see from the picture of What Shoes Rachael Wears, she is no stranger to the camera!

Among other things, Rachael is a writer. She's particularly interested in the process of documenting one's existence. "If each and every single person kept a diary of their lives we would not only have a marvelous record of what the varying degrees of lives were lived but proof that these individuals had existed. They live on in their lives and their record preserves them; keeps them just a bit immortal."

Rachael spent 2004 and 2005 interviewing and immortalizing "fabulously talented people" in a series she calls Adventures in Journalism for her website Cyberlola. It's great fun to read about and see pictures of the people she's met--everyone from "fetish models to fashion divas to rock musicians."

Rachael's also started a blog featuring her handmade one-of-a-kind dolls. "I make my dolls when I have writer's block," Rachael says, "or when I need to do something with my hands and need a visualization. Being a writer can be frustrating in the sense that all of those wonderful people and events that are created only exist in my head. My dolls are real, tangible creatures that I can share with everyone."

These dolls aren't the bland, boring ones you find at the mall. Each doll reflects Rachael's different moods, inconsistencies and imaginings. "I like my dolls to reflect the many facets of my personality and interests. All of the dolls that were available to little girls when I was a kid were dressed in pastels and designed to preen like a princess; I wasn't like that at all. It was frustrating to like the idea of dolls but not be able to actually pick out one that best reflected me. Now I can design all of my misfits to reflect my emotions and the way I view the world at the moment." Rachael generally starts with a blank muslin cloth doll and adds embellishments with materials ranging from spray paint to wires. If you want a kooky, spooky--maybe even neon--doll, these are the ones for you!

"My whole life has been kind of a challenge due to a limiting heart disease." Rachael tells me. She's survived four open-heart surgeries that gave her a taste for the slightly morbid and a desire to always strive to be alive, bold and bright with color. "In fact, my misfit dolls have really sprung out of depression--something I only shared recently on my blog. When I can't write, I work on my misfits and I am usually inspired by color and mood since each misfit is usually bursting with color and represents the mood I was in at the time of its creation."

Each doll is lovingly and painstakingly made. The process of doll making is a slow one. "If I break from one I have to be in the exact mood I was in when I last touched it in order to work on it properly."

Perhaps because of her turbulent health years, Rachael thinks about immortality and the importance of leaving something concrete behind, something to show she was here, enjoying life and having a little something to contribute. "My goal is for my writing to be the securing factor," Rachael says, "but I apply this goal for immortality through my dolls--solid pieces of matter for people to hold and say, 'Yes. I love my misfit. It's one of a kind, you know. That Rachael lady made it.'" Rachael continues, "I will have more ahead of me, that is for sure, I am not sure when my number will be up but I am hell bent to make sure there is something left behind for the world to take notice of."

True to her word, Rachael recently donated limited edition dolls to the non-profit organization Camp del Corazon, to help raise money for the camp the agency holds for children 7-17 with cardiac issues. Rachael also has dolls in her Etsy shop, the sale of which will benefit Rape Response Services in Bangor, ME. When asked why she joined the Hope and Healing Project, Rachael says simply, "I just saw another opportunity to help out a worthy cause."

Of course, I asked Rachael what shoes she wears and her answer reflects her colorful personality. "19th century Prairie style button-up boots and colorful platform sneakers both describe me pretty well. The boot represents a simplicity I strive for in my life while the colorful platform sneaker, though just a sneaker, is striving to be unique while remaining a simple, functional object."

You can learn more about Rachael and her work by visiting her website or her blog and purchase her Motley Misfits from her online shop.

BTW -- If you're ever in Southern California, Rachael thoroughly recommends the guava pastries from Porto's Bakery. Yummy!


Lady Artisan said...

Great interview! Janyce, you've done a wonderful job writing this up. Love the dolls.

Gallery Juana said...

Your article is an interesting read. Love the pink striped stockings.