Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Poor Seola. She wanted to attend the Vampire Ball. She really did. Unfortunately, she had no beautiful dress to wear, no baubles, and Neale, the famous doll haircolorist extraordinaire, has only just begun to dye her new wig. A bit like poor Cinderella, but without the Fairy Godmother. When I told her she wouldn't be going, she sat in the corner scheming. She pulled out a big black cauldron and a broom (where does she get this stuff?!) and set to making an unhappy witch's brew. Before I knew it, she had dolly parts strewn about and the pot was overheating and froth overflowing. Not sure what she has planned, but it doesn't look good! Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ragtime Rag Doll

Every year about this time I think about a new doll that is simple enough to produce a dozen or so of and that would be fun to give as gifts to relatives and friends for Christmas. Mostly I think about my sister and sisters-in-law and if they can really stand having another doll that they will have to put somewhere in their houses. Yesterday I drew up a pattern for what was to be more or less a boudoir doll. I had in mind a flouncy costume, a basic body with long arms and legs and a simple face. I made the doll with a simple black corset and low black boots and then got to thinking about costuming.

Usually what happens when I make one of the Christmas gift dolls is, I wind up making about 200 of that design because I drive myself crazy thinking, "well, this color would be better. Maybe I should try that." Usually the dolls are quite small and in the past I was able to unload most of the finished dolls through galleries and other loyal clients. This year's doll is quite a bit bigger, about 13" tall, so maybe if I wind up with 200, I'll see about putting them on Etsy. For now, I just have one and I think she turned out well enough, though the costume is not at all what I originally imagined.

When the basic doll was finished, I pulled out my yarns to see what sort of hair she should have. A blue curly wool was jumping out at me. It's got enough variations in texture, thickness and color to excite me, and it allowed me to costume in a variety of blues. With the hair on, I decided she needed an underskirt with tulle that would poof out a bit. I had in mind to make the clothing removable, so that whatever else I put on her could be mixed and matched, so I added a snap at the back for closure. I chose 3 patterned fabrics in various shades of blue to work with for the entire outfit, and used the lightest one for this underskirt and made the waistband the darkest.

I then chose 2 of the fabrics and made a short dress with a strapless bodice and added a snap to the back. The cool thing was that the doll seems to fit the same patterns I had made previously for my Blythe dolls, with just a tiny bit of alteration, so the dress came together really quickly. Next came a short jacket, for which I used the last 2 possible pattern combinations and the outfit was basically complete.

But wait, she needs a hat! I actually already had a hat I had made several months ago that I liked and that fit her. So that was the easy part. I added the hat, took some photos, messed around with mixing and matching the pieces, and voila' -- one down, 199 more to go :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

By George!

I am rather embarrassed to note that it has been nearly 2 months since my last blog post! Eeek. Where does the time go? Here in Vermont we are seemingly skipping right past autumn and going directly to winter. Not really, but it seems that way; what with all the rain and rain and more rain. The one thing that is good about this time of year is that I seem to get back to working on creative things, which for me, is always a good thing. Before too much longer, it will be skiing, and that's one of the only reasons I can think of to be in Vermont in winter.

Yesterday I finished my second in a series I am working on of American icons. I have a bit of a thing for the "Founding Fathers" to be honest. I first made up a doll of Benjamin Franklin late last year, which I so liked, that I decided to do a doll of George Washington as well. Ben was so cute, he even made it into Contemporary Doll Collector Magazine. To be honest, so did the dolls I made of Olive Malvery, Ambrose Bierce and my aging diva, Brunhilde, but I am especially proud of Ben, as he was fat and frog-like, and I just like how he turned out.

The thing with these Founding Father guys is, they aren't the most handsome of fellows. Snappy dressers, for sure, but Ben Franklin was well, quite round, and bald, and George, well, he never smiled. I think it might be the teeth. Apparently his teeth tended to fall out one by one, causing him quite a bit of discomfort, and then the devastation of having to wear falsies, which I believe never fit him quite right.

In any case, I studied the portrait of George done by Stuart Gilbert in 1797, which, in my opinion, is George at his most regal. I painted his face, with his customary scowl and gave him the customary white hair with the curled ends that was the style of the day. I did a little research and apparently George never wore wigs. He had his own hair, which was quite thick and curly. He also wore quite substantial sideburns, which made the wig making on a flat face a bit tricky. In any case, the underlayer of hair is wool roving from my own 2 silly sheep. The top layer is mohair, which I baked in the oven to preserve the curl.

I gave George black cotton velveteen britches and a vest, a silk charmeuse blouse with flounced sleeves and a cravat, and a soft black velvet coat with an acid green silk lining. The buttons on the vest are freshwater pearls. The shoes are black silk with seed bead buckles. All in all, I think he cuts a stylish figure, if not too handsome.