Janine is always scouring for novel ideas to add to her catalogue and to challenge her talent and artistry, so, when she came across a YouTube tutorial to make plush dolls, she decided to give it a go. She gave it her own twist, and came up with a collection of cheeky characters in stripy outfits, pom-pom hats and pigtails, with the happy-go-lucky hands-in-pockets attitude that will charm boys and girls of all ages.
Janine makes them with cotton socks – the brighter the better – in fashionable colours, with a nod to current trends like the rainbow couple, and the Christmas-themed dolls she is working on at the moment.
Another style of doll is made of T-shirt cuttings: these are chubby, friendly types with a mop of curly hair, sitting babies inviting you to pick them up, just as her google-eyed lucky owl does. The permutations on these are virtually endless, and can indeed be customised for commissions, contacting the artist at her stall or via her Facebook page.
Janine has been creative all her life and proudly self-taught: “I used to keep cuttings from craft magazines, and I still have them in scrapbooks, gleaning for ideas I could experiment with, as I enjoy working with wood and fabric, as well as drawing.”
She has been crafting, and researching styles of crafting, as a passion and pastime, which she’s turned into a business some five years ago when she joined the Gibraltar Artisan Market.
The effect of these works is mesmerising.
Making decorative objects with discarded everyday materials such as ice-lollies sticks for jewellery boxes and eggshells for mosaic is one of her ways to keep busy and focused, pursuing the artistic side of her life, while keeping grounded with her other practical chores when she cared for her ailing mother, and now for her sister, who also helps her with the market stall.
One of her most curious endeavours has been eggshell mosaic to make pictures. This is time-consuming and painstakingly slow to pan out, as well as a strain for tired eyes, so it does command a considerable price-tag, but the effects are surprising, since eggshell features unique textures and shine, once varnished.
Time-consuming because one has to gather enough shells first – and eat loads of tortilla in the process: “When we were a bigger family, of course we produced more egg refuse and I kept all the cracked shells, painted them in different colours, crushed them in square-like pieces that I saved in small containers where I plucked them from with tweezers to make the mosaic.”
Collage and decoupage work well with foil, Janine says, although she’s suspended the production of this style of pictures because she’s having trouble sourcing her foil: “I used to recycle the wrappings from a popular chocolate-box brand which sells their pralines in vivid colours like green, blue, red, pink, purple, gold…” she says, “and I cut them for my collage, but nowadays their foils feature tiny print so they cannot be reused.”
Hopefully she will soon find alternative foil, because the effect of these works is mesmerising. First of all, she draws her subject matter – usually inspired by nature, like flamingos or monarch butterflies – on the back of a black cardboard support, and then she cuts out the parts she will later ‘colour in’ with foil cut in matching shapes, as if making a stained-glass window. Next, she glues the foil cuttings in place, one by one, after having ironed out the creases and minding that they don’t crumple, and aren’t under or overstretched, to avoid caving or ripping. Finally, she varnishes and secures the composition into a rigid frame.
Wood is another passion of hers – cutting and painting it – and Janine has made a name for herself to begin with, selling her popular cut-outs of Disney characters to decorate children’s rooms, and her hand-cut, hand-painted fridge magnets portraying flowers, birds, robots, and inspirational mottos.
When not sewing or knitting, Janine is painting with acrylics. She specialises in dream-like landscapes that could well be illustrations for a fantasy novel, with their world of rosy sunsets and tranquil seascapes.
Most striking are her small medallions depicting detailed portraits of birds, in the style of the illustrations you would find in a naturalistic manual or an Edwardian diary, apt to match any interior décor.
And last but not least, let’s chase our reveries with a twist on the First Nations’ dream-catcher concept: rounded canvases featuring two wolves or a unicorn complete with flowing mane, where from leather strings with, respectively, tan or bright pink, orange and yellow feathers and beads, proudly dangle from its frame. A collectible fit for a wedding or anniversary gift, perhaps, or to remind the little princess in your life to always dream big and run wild.