Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ambrose Bierce

In December I worked on my first male figure. I'd never attempted a male doll before and thought, why not? I chose a figure that it seems a lot of people aren't aware of, but who, at the turn of the 20th Century was a well-known literary guy, having written the book The Devil's Dictionary, which you may have heard of.

He had the reputation as a sardonic critic and was nicknamed "Bitter Bierce." Many scholars believe his tales of war are some of the best ever written on that topic. In 1913, Bierce went to Mexico to travel with Pancho Villa, thereby gaining a firsthand perspective on that country's ongoing revolution. While traveling with rebel troops, he disappeared without a trace.

I decided on Bierce because I like him a a character for one, and for two, I was challenged to see if I could paint the mustache! I painted the face first, and when I was happy with that, I set myself to the task of drawing up a body with male proportions.

On first attempt, I came up with a body on the scale of a giant super hero. It dwarfed my other female dolls and was rather silly. It took another couple of tries before I was satisfied. Final size is about 14" tall.

From there, I gave him cotton underthings and some snappy leather boots. He got a white cotton shirt and a black silk tie.

And then, as was the style of the day, a woolen vest. I made a little pocket for an imaginary watch to fit in, from scraps of suede. The buttons are crystal beads. I made him a watch chain from Swarovski crystal beads and some glass seed beads. His hair is silk and cotton yarn, which is peppered looking, which I like.

Finally I finished him off with a chocolate brown woolen suit, pants and jacket. The bulk of the wool, since the jacket is lined, and Bierce was a slender guy, made steaming and pressing mandatory. There is an actual buttonhole and a little button at the front of the jacket. I gave him a little handmade book to hold, and voila! I think he looks quite snappy. You'll have to let me know what you think.


  1. Looks just like him!! Such detail on the suit, the shirt - you are amazing!

  2. Thanks, Deena! He's quite a dapper fellow :)

  3. Cindy, it was such a treat to see how you constructed this chap! You did a brilliant job on painting his face - amazing! Dapper fellow indeed!

  4. I think you nailed the face perfectly.... he's great.