Saturday, May 09, 2015

Needlepoint for Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

Ever since I can remember, my mom made needlepoints.  These weren't your average needlepoints.  They were on the "okay this is really different" side.
I'm not saying that needlepointing is 'unplugged" or that people who do it are not like the "rest of us," but my mother's needlepoint canvas choices stun everyone who walks into the house.  Literally.

She loves nudes.
Nudes, nudes, NUDES!!

What a childhood I had!
And I'm not kidding.

After at least 45 years of needlepointing (some of her pictures are from my earliest memories), the entire house is full of bare-breasted needlepointed portraits from Picasso to Klimt to Renoir and more.  My poor dad!

So this year, I bought my mother just what she needs for mother's Day- another needlepoint.  It's not nude but I like it.  It's eccentric, like me.

Come to think of it, this looks like a great doll candidate....

I found it in this Etsy shop.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all the moms.  I hope you find what inspires you!
Read more ...

Friday, May 08, 2015

Dolling on a Park Bench

How to you make time for doll making when you are extremely busy?

Take it with you!

I'm on my lunch break now, and it's a beautiful day in City Hall Park. I've brought a doll head and a needle, thread, pins, and fabric along.  Rather than listening to music or doing nothing, I'll do some dolling on a park bench!

Today is Friday and everybody in my office adheres to the jeans-on-Friday policy.  I  just added the eccentric sneakers.  Yep, that's "me!"  Dolling a-la-lunch break!

I am making fabric hair for this doll.  An experiment of sorts-  I'm tired of needle felting.  I want to try something different so I'm " sculpting"hair.  It's not going to be a quick process, so I need to account for my time and make it happen.

I'm an accountant by profession... and you know what?  I think that career track is directly related to being an artist because you have to be detail-oriented and disciplined.  Just like money, every moment accounted for can make or break your goals.  Sometimes just finding 15 minutes here and there is all you need.  So I debit my dolls and credit my lunch.  Or is it the other way around?

But in the meantime, I'm enjoying dolling on a park bench for a few blissful minutes before I have to run back to the office.

I think my doll is enjoying the park, too...

Some people are looking at me like I am strange as I am taking these photos.  
"What is that??"
Maybe strangeness is a doll making virtue.  Let's call it 'eccentric.'  Better yet, let's call it passion.  Whenever you are passionate about something, you find a way to do it when you really can't.
Lower Manhattan, watch out because here I am.  Or, here we are.  Me and my dolls, that is.  

Back to work!!!  (Yes, I'm a government accountant)!  I work for the Comptroller.
I don't think my dolls can run for Mayor but they have my vote anyway!

City Hall

Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy dolling!
Read more ...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Attaching Ears to a Cloth Doll

HEAR's a quick tip for making and attaching ears into a cloth doll.
Begin with completed ears.  They should have a "stem" on the end where you turn, and lightly stuff them.
Insert a paper clip as so:

Next, turn the paper clip on a 90ยบ angle and sew it in place.

It needs to stay this way, so sew the corners down.

Using an X-acto knife or very sharp embroidery scissors, make an incision in front of the seam.

Use a little bit of tacky sewing glue being the ear to make it stay in place.  The glue should be on the base of the ear, not the lobe or the part we tuck our hair over.

And HEAR she is!  Ready for some touching up and on to her hair and a body.

Here is the actual ear template that I used. The correct size for a 20-22" doll is a drop over 1.5 inches.  You will need to adjust this template to your needs :-)

Read more ...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

SMITTEN WITH MITTENS -- Making Prettier Hands for Cloth Dolls

If you've tried your "hand" at cloth doll making, I'm sure you've seen different ways of making hands.   I'd like to talk about the kind of hands that have all the fingers sewn together like mittens.  They're not just for beginners!

Often cloth doll patterns offer "advanced" and "beginner" hands for the same doll- advanced being those with five fingers which need to be turned carefully and skillfully.  The "beginner" patterns are plain old mittens.  That leads you to believe that to make a more beautiful and realistic hand, you need to make the fingers separate (which can be a royal pain).  After years of subscribing to that theory, I've changed my mind.  I think the "mitten" type hands can be more elegant and realistic.

Mitten hands are basically just a stump with the thumb sewn on separately.

Sometimes it's nice to make just two fingers together.  It's a nice, elegant pose.

This is my favorite type of cloth doll hand.  I hope you will try it!

Read more ...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

3D Fabric Eyes

I'd like to share a new doll in the works.  She's getting 3D fabric eyes.
So far I just made a pair of eyes, turned them around and stuffed them lightly.  Then I set the eyes into the head.  Slits were made using an Exacto knife.
I'll need to add eyelids and carefully set the eyes in place underneath, probably with a bit of extra careful manipulation.

Here is a closeup of the eye.  It's made on muslin, and colored with Prismacolor pencils.  I'll go over it again once the eyes are permanently in place.

These eyes may look a little (ok, a lot) funny now, but I hope they will look great when I'm done!  

I hope you visit again to see how she turns out.  Happy dolling and thanks for stopping by!
Read more ...

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Shrunken Heads

My husband says he's scared of my dolls because they look like 'shrunken heads."

Men can be extremely silly!

Read more ...

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Robert McKinley's Book

Robert McKinley's amazing book- DOLLMAKING- One Artist's Approach is the best book I have ever seen on Polymer Clay doll making.
I have been reading it and I must say, I have not seen anyone construct a body pattern the way he does.
He uses cardboard!
I hope to try his technique.  How about you?
 Happy dollmaking! 

Read more ...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stuffing, Anyone?

I propose a stuffing challenge.

I would like to do some "scientific" and "hands-on" research/experimentation on the various stuffings that are available.  I'd like to make pictures of all the stuffings to get a comparison, and then compare the different texture/lift/lump and other qualities that different stuffing has in order to come up with a "top 3."

Would anyone like to help me in this experiment?
First I would need help compiling a list of "contenders." Once the list is complete, then I will look for "stuffing reps" to mail me a small amount (handful) of said  stuffing in a ziploc bag. 

Any takers?  (givers, I mean?)
Please leave a comment below with the name of your favorite stuffing.  If you would like to donate a small from your stash in the name of dolly science, please email me and I will send you my address. rivkah[at]dollmakersmuse[dot]com.

May the best stuff win!
Read more ...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Push-up Doll

Sadly, I have been neglecting the gym.
There's only so much time in the day, and I have two choices with precious spare time:

•Shlep to the gym in the freezing cold
•Sew a new doll (which is extremely overdue)

Here is my solution:

Push up doll.
It's NOT cheating! :-)
Read more ...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Boo Boo Dolls

Ever sewed and stuffed what you thought was a great cloth doll pattern  - only to come up with a blob of weirdness?

I'm onto a new project - fixing what I call a "boo boo doll."  

Boo boo dolls are dolls that didn't quite turn out the way you wanted, but still have potential to become very "happy accidents."  It takes a bit of extra patience, skill and risk tolerance, but the effort can be very rewarding.

Meet Salvage Sally, my new friend in the making.  

We're off to a great friendship because I'm not giving up on her despite fact that she's quite "challenged."  And besides, I've spent waaay too much time on this doll already.... sound familiar?

This poor doll is the product of a vintage pattern with many unusual darts. For those of us who enjoy making our own doll patterns ir improvising on what's already familiar, it's always nice to learn something new. Vintage cloth doll patterns are so different than most of what's trending today in the cloth doll world.  They are full of the most intriguing darts, folds and cut-outs.   It's fascinating to see how they can "sculpt" the shape of a cloth doll's body.

Naturally, I thought it would be a great learning exercise to try one of these old patterns.  I've dabbled in old patterns before, and although I find that it can be necessary to "doctor up" the pattern a bit in order to improve the finished doll, it's worth the effort.  I've done this for Betty Boop with success, and I had another itch to try something "new" and see what I can learn.

I chose a vintage pattern with tiny little feet, and a flat face whose head is already attached to the body. Generally speaking, most "mainstream" modern cloth doll patterns require the doll's head to be sewn onto the body separately, so this seemed like an interesting twist.  The legs are also pre-attached to the body, and I thought that would be fun as well.  What kind of "seat" would this doll have?  This isn't a baby doll, it's a woman. The pattern itself is so "different," like nothing I'd ever seen before, and I just had to see how it comes out!

What came out is a poor soul in dire need of salvation.

Side View

Back View
She looks like a turtle with a tushie. 
Her chest and shoulders are broad, and her thighs look too skinny for the rest of her legs.  A real boo boo doll!

One redeeming quality that I really do like on this pattern is the teeny little pointy feet.  They're so dainty.   I'll have to figure out how to *not* put shoes on her!

The head is kind of interesting, too - but I'm not sure yet just how I'm going to deal with that giant tree trunk of a neck.  I'll probably try narrowing it a bit, but may end up leaving it alone and hiding it with a high - collared neckline on her dress (or whatever she decides to wear).  I'm not sure yet, but I'll figure it out as I go.

Side View of Head, Looking Left

Again, this doll is the product of a bizarre set of darts.  I'm pretty confident it's not me, but nevertheless, now comes the real challenge - modifying the existing doll and creating a suitable foundation for a work of art.

To repair this doll , I plan to use the following  techniques:
  • Ladder stitching to manipulate excessive areas
  • Adding a wire armatureto correct posture and curvature of body and limbs
  • Adding more"skin" and stuffing underneath to add to areas lacking substance 
  • Sculpting pliable clay over cloth to hide "surgery"
  • Painting to make her look beautiful and bring out her best

Stay tuned to see how Salvage Sally evolves!

Read more ...