Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Antoinettes

I have been chitchatting back and forth with a good friend, who is also a doll and Marie Antoinette afficionado, like me. He has more knowledge of the era than I do, and I was wanting some costume ideas for the rats. I have had a good time making the big haired girls, and wanted to make some with a slightly different dress, maybe a bit more full, but the proportions are difficult. The rats are only 5-1/2 inches tall, and getting all that dress on those little sausage bodies, which lack either hips or bust, is a bit of a challenge, to say the least.

In any case, I worked on it for a few days. It's not exactly what you would see in that era, but it is coming closer. The problem with this scale is, adding fabric adds bulk. Then you get something that looks unnatural in terms of drape and just how it all sits.

I made 2 ratty girls, Celeste and Celine. They both are made of the loveliest Schulte mohair that came to me already a pale pink, so I didn't have to fuss with coloring it.

I gave them both high headed up-do's, made from a really soft artist yarn. The yarn itself has interwoven beads and lace. I dyed the hair for Celine a pale pink and left the hair for Celeste white. Doing the hair is a bit of work, because it requires making a base for the hair to wrap around. I used soft wool and felted it.

The dresses are both made of hand-dyed silk charmeuse, that has been laundered, so it is soft and has a muted sheen. There are loads and loads of ruffles.

The sleeves are off the shoulders and the neckline is quite square. That was a new thing for me to try, as I wasn't exactly sure how to attach the sleeves, but I got it worked out.

I gave a final underlayer of white tulle. I wanted the dresses to be poofy. I think that made them enough so, without making the dolls tip over.

All in all, this little project took me a ton of work. I am pleased with the results, and I think it was worth it, but was surprised how much time I could spend figuring out each little thing. I hope everyone is staying warm! It is below zero (F) here today, and I will not even step a toe outside. Brrr! Have a great week and stay creative!

XOXOX - Cindy

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What To Do About Elephants

A client asked me recently if I made elephants. I have been busy making little animal dolls as part of my own line of tiny stuffed dolls since November. Rats are my true love, stuffed animal-wise. I really am that odd :) But, actually I have come up with quite a menagerie. I have also made a pair of foxes, a cat, some bears and mice.

Can I make elephants? I wasn't really sure. I started one over the week of Christmas, but didn't like how the trunk came out. Obviously, on an elephant, the trunk is pretty important.

I did a switcheroo with the trunk I had made, and well, that was really all that was necessary. I liked what I had made. That's always a good thing. This little girl is called Teena. She is the same size, body-wise, as the other tinies, so will wear the same clothes.

Since those bodies are not super fat, I gave her kind of a circus dress and bloomers to fill out her look a bit. She has a blue and white striped neck ruff to fill her out even further.

She is made from a lovely cream distressed German mohair. Her limbs and inner ears are a cream and Christmas red polka dot print. Very holiday-esque, but also keeping with the circus type thing that I think of when I think of stuffed elephants.

Okay, so now I make elephants, too :) I really like her. The rats are not overwhelmed by her, because other than her trunk and inner ears, she is just their size. By the way, the bigger elephant and some of the pillows in the photos are from Paula of SweetRedCottage. She makes charming stuffies in a larger size, perfect for cuddling.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Marie Antoinette and Rose Bertin

 Over the weekend I have been chit chatting back and forth with a longtime friend.  One of my first doll friends, actually.  He has a love of Marie Antoinette and all things late 18th C, probably more than I even.  He has recently put together a lovely shabby 18th Century doll box and needed some rats.  I had a few in mind.  Why not Marie Antoinette and her dressmaker/milliner Rose Bertin?  I have been on a Marie Antoinette tear lately, which surfaces every once in awhile.  I haven't made her as a rat yet.  My friend likes symmetry.  2 is better than 1.  I decided to make the Queen and her friend.  
 For Marie I used the very nicest off-white Schulte mohair.  It is soft like a bunny and just lovely.  I figured Marie would be the less shabby of the 2 rat girls.  For her hair, I had some really lush yarn. I think it is silk.  It is a bit puffy, spun-like, and has pearls and lace and ribbons woven in.  I gave her a fantastic up-do.  A bit of a rat's nest, but, well, that seems a good choice.  
 Her dress is a lovely silk/rayon satin that I dyed and laundered to give it a very soft, pale blue, ethereal feel.  I had done a cloth doll Marie for this same friend years ago.  Her dress was a light blue as well, though I think slightly icier.  This color is nice.  It has a bit of chiffon trim and decorative thread edgings.  With her white fur and hair, I think she looks lovely.
 I wanted Rose Bertin to be a fine lady, but not quite as pristine as Marie.  I used the same yarn for her hair, but dyed it up a shabbier tone.  It is more gray-blue-beige.  Her fur is a Schulte distressed natural cream mohair.  It is a bit shabbier, not as lush, but still very lovely.
 Her dress is 4 different silk fabrics, all in sort of a fawn shade.  The rats are funny, because they are very short, and all that skirt makes them seem even shorter. 
 Trying to translate the big gowns of that time into such a small scale, and on rats no less, is a bit of a challenge, but I like how they turned out.
 Not sure which girl I love better.  I am super pleased with them both.  Sometimes when I am in a crazy mood, I just have to do something different.  The hair is a new thing.  I like it.
 Even the back of the heads looks good.  I am so, so glad we don't have to wear our hair in these sort of rat's nest these days. I tend a woodstove all day.  I would be up in smoke in a second.  But, I like the romance of it.  Hope you are having a lovely, creative, fun-filled holiday season.  XOXO Cindy