Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mouse Color

"I had mice that I kept as pets when I was very young, and I've always liked the way they look. Even rats. I'm not scared of them."

       Catherine Deneuve

The girls are getting fancier!  I am having such a fun time with the little mice.  This week I made 3 mouse girls and a very fancy guinea pig, all in bright colors.  

Normally I like to use colors that are a bit more faded, more vintage feeling, but honestly, I think the bright colors on the rodents makes them very festive and just a little more fun. Who doesn't need a little pop of color for a bit of fun?

"All this is only for the mice and myself to admire!"

      Catherine the Great

Not really - you can get a mouse, too, if you know where to  shop :)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Ladies and Gents in Waiting

I finished up a batch of ratties over the weekend, inspired by the ladies and gents of the 18th Century. That is really the era that I take most inspiration from.  I love Victorian garb, but honestly, there is nothing like the fashion of Marie Antoinette or the Duchess of Devonshire.  The flounces and the frills!  How I love them.  My rats are not an exact representation, obviously, as I am a whimsical sort, after all, but let's say loosely based.  The rats -  I really love them!  They make me laugh.  I don't know.  I guess I am just plain goofy.  I am a grownup person, and this is what I do!  Not even just as a hobby, I actually charge and rely on sales for this craziness :)  Let us say that my ratty dress shop, House of Rodentia, is up and running :)

I sometimes feel like I have the weirdest of things that I do during a regular day.  Whenever anyone asks me what I do, I start with the usual, "I'm an artist."  No one ever leaves it at that, though I feel like it would be so much easier if they did!  Once they hear, "Artist," they want to know what that entails.  They always ask, "What kind of things do you do?"  I think they are imagining I am a painter or perhaps a potter, if my hands are any indication. I generally shuffle a bit, sizing up the person who is asking to see how much information to give.  I don't want to overwhelm or frighten anyone, after all!  After years of just answering, "Doll artist," which no one seems to have a clue about, I still haven't come up with a good response.

Sometimes I say I design costumes in miniature, which then causes the questioner to ask what I mean by that.  If I had said, "I make miniature mice and rats and costume them," I am pretty sure they would be a bit alarmed!  If I had said that I make dresses for big headed plastic dolls, I think what I actually make isn't what they would be picturing.  Despite the fact that the Blythe dolls and ball jointed dolls are super popular around the world, people usually don't have a good grasp on the idea of dolls for grownups.  It's too out of the ordinary for most people to comprehend. People who work in miniature are kind of their own odd lot, I think.

Well, then, all that being said, I love what I do.  I have been making little dolls and dresses and things since forever.  The rats are my favorite.  The Blythe dolls I am grateful for that - it really got me into a much better groove with dressmaking in miniature.  If I hadn't spent so much time on the 1/6 scale dresses, it would have been really difficult for me to get a handle on 1/12 scale with the level of detail I like.  For now I do both - the dresses for Blythe dolls, the rats and other tinies for myself and anyone I can cajole into getting hooked :)  I think the ratties may be starting to catch on, though. Time will tell.

It's about 95 degrees here today.  Whew!  I am decidedly NOT dressed in 18th Century garb.  I am wearing shorts and flip flops and the lightest weight tee-shirt I can get away with.  It really does get pretty warm in Charleston.  Not complaining, just saying :) Enjoy whatever season you are in!  Hugs - Cindy

Saturday, July 1, 2017

House of Rodentia

I don't really know how many folks these days take inspiration from Beatrix Potter.  A lot maybe, but  have never really bothered to query anyone.  I have always been a huge fan of small animals in human clothes.  Probably something weird about my brain, to be honest. The story of the Tailor of Gloucester is a favorite.  I especially like the opening paragraph that reads:  

In the time of swords and periwigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets - when gentlemen wore ruffles, and gold-laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta - there lived a tailor in 

It turns out that the story was based on an actual tailor, one John Pritchard.  Apparently he had a similar situation to the tale (he had been given the task of making a coat for the mayor, but then, unfortunately, took ill.  Upon his return from his sick bed, the tailor found that his assistants had made up the coat for him in his absence).  He supposedly spread the story that fairies had done it, but Beatrix Potter liked the idea of mice assistants and so her version of the tale reads that way.  The opening words Potter used in her story, "periwigs," "lappets," and "paduasoy," hark back to the 18th Century, which is the style and era I like best to borrow from in my own miniature dressmaking work.

When I was a child, my parents took me to see Disney's Cinderella, or at least that's how I remember it.  I was pretty young on my first viewing of the movie.  What I most remember is the dressmaking assistants.  The mice!  I have kept that in my mind over the years, as well as the mice from the Tailor of Gloucester and always imagined that my own little dress shop should have mice and rats to do the assisting.  

I have been making rats and mice as miniature dolls since about 2015. I have sold quite a bundle of them.  Over time I have tweaked the ears and shape of the head over and over and over, and finally feel pretty satisfied.  The newest version has wired legs and arms, so a bit more posable. I have gone to a jewel nose, stuck with the German glass eyes and jointed limbs and head.  I have continued with the painted feet and quilting fabric arms and legs.  All in all, I feel good about them as they are today.

I have been designing miniature fashions now, well, since childhood.  I imagine my assistants as small mice and rats I have designed from mohair and cloth.  There are no actual rodents on the premises.  I have 2 trustworthy cats, after all.  The imaginary mice and rats are inspiration for miniature clothing that I like to make for small cloth animal dolls designed by me (rats, mice, bears, bunnies and sometimes others if I am in the mood) and the larger plastic Blythe dolls that I have had in my house since 2009.  I have recently given my miniature dress shop the name House of Rodentia.  I think it has a certain ring to it, though perhaps a bit crazy.  But, well...

In my dressmaking, I often switch around, alter, or resize pattern pieces I designed for one thing, to go with things they weren't originally meant for.  Which leads me to the serendipitous discovery I made this morning.  The 18th century dresses, coats and waistcoats I have been designing this month for my newest mouse and rat dolls fit (although in a far shortened version) perfectly the Blythe dolls, the giant Alice girls that seem to have slid down the rat hole.  A girl's gotta have decent dresses if she finds herself in an alternate world, for goodness sake! This may sound silly to you, but to me, it is a boon.  Because it means that the clothing can be switched, and if someone gets one of these newer mouse dolls, they will also have a dress that their Blythe dolls (and probably other dolls as well) can share.  How's that for economy?  Always trying to be helpful :)

I hope your creative time is keeping you busy, happy and healthy.  It's summer here.  I am loving the heat!