Monday, February 26, 2007

Needle Sculpting Cloth Faces

Have you ever wondered how to transform a cloth doll head into a fully featured, three-dimensional face with detailed nose, eyes and smile? It's done with a needle and thread. There is lots of information out there about how to do it. I'm not posting about the technique; rather I want to show you something exciting that I discovered today.

For those of you who have been needle sculpting for a while, you know that you need to use a long needle, which can reach from the back of the head and through to the front. Traditionally, you can use a long dollmaker's needle. However, it's a bit on the thick side, and can leave hole marks in the fabric. Doesn't make for a very pretty face!

Most of us have been using John James Long Darner needles instead- particularly size #7. The needles are thinner, and don't really leave holes. Of course, using 200-thread count cotton fabric helps- it's more forgiving and the stitching doesn't tend to leave holes as much- but still.
In any case, as far as I know, these darner needles have been the standard for needle sculpting. But, they aren't as long..... oh well, that's what there is- and we make do.

Today I discovered something wonderful.

I was in a sewing store and noticed that they sold beading needles. These needles are very, very thin. So thin, that you can pass them through small seed beads.
Well, that's great. I've got lots of [ordinary] beading needles at home. But here's the kick- this shop also had LONG beading needles. Longer than darning needles, and almost as long as dollmakers needles! And, very thin. I had NEVER seen that before.

Take a look at these two needles. Look at the difference. The top is the beading needle, and is actually thinner than the John James on the bottom. The size is not accurate in the picture- in actuality, the darner needle is a bit more than 2.25" in length. The long beading needle- it measures 4". Now that's a big difference!!!
Have you ever seen this in the States? I don't think you have. I searched and searched on the internet for such a thing, and have never found it. Is it available in other countries? I don't know. But if so, I hope you'll buy one!

This was probably the "find of the year" for me.
I bought a whole package!

Note: The doll you see above is called RUTH. She now lives in Arizona with her best friend, Pam. Pam is one of those special like-minded creative people I have met and befriended over the internet.

I am not able to teach needle sculpting on my blog, because it is so much work to post all those pictures! However I do have a wonderful class available. Ruth is that class. It actually includes a complete tutorial about needle sculpting and coloring a face. She also happens to be pregnant, which is a very interesting pattern. If you'd lik
e to make her, please click here for details. Click on the photo to enlarge.
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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Vintage Baby Face Contest

Isn't this beautiful? This is Marilyn's baby face, which she submitted for the vintage baby contest. I think she did a fantastic job!

What is this contest about?

A couple of months ago, I posted about a vintage doll that I reproduced in cloth. It came about when a lady from Jerusalem asked me to restore her old play doll from the 1950's- a childhood friend she still had and who deserved new life.
I fell in love with that doll, so I reproduced the whole doll- including the vinyl parts- in cloth.

I also offered to give away a free pattern- as a prize! There is a contest to create a face that looks similar to the baby's vinyl face.

Here's my version of the face. (It's already sewn up). I used oil paint.

So far only 2 people entered the contest. I know there were several hundred views in the web folder with the template!

Truth is, I got very sidetracked from the pattern. I am involved with several magazine articles, teaching and 3 new patterns- including this one. The good news is, that it's wonderful, and also a lot of hard work. So I am behind schedule. That means, the contest is still on!

Please do join in.
To read more about the vintage doll, visit my website
To read more about the contest, click on "Vintage Doll in Cloth" in the label cloud on your right.

Have fun!
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Faerie Shoes

These shoes are a snap to make, and are suitable for any doll- polymer clay or cloth. No pattern required- just imagination and a few basic supplies. You can even make these shoes for faerie feet with pointed "toes," as I did.

Materials Needed
  • Translucent Liquid Sculpey or Liquid Fimo
  • Pair of craft scissors (school scissors, etc)
  • Something to color the liquid polymer clay with: pigment powder, ink, or jacquard paint
  • A bit of ribbon for embellishing
  • Micro beads and beaders' wire (you can use regular seed beads instead.)
  • Gel Medium or adhesive of your choice
  • Iron
  • Teflon pressing sheet or bakers parchment paper
The first thing you will need to do is, squirt the TLS onto the teflon presser sheet.
Next, add some Tsukineko ink, Jacquard paint or pigment powder.

Swish it all around. Use as many or as few colors/ mediums as you like.

Place another layer of parchment on top, and iron.

Here it is, set and ready for shoes. It looks kind of rubbery!

Cut out soles.
Do this simply by tracing your doll's feet and creating a paper template. Then use the template to make the soles. My doll has pointed toes because she is a faerie. Remember to "mirror" your feet.

Glue the soles onto the feet. I used gel medium, but if you are in a rush, choose your favorite adhesive.
Cut out a shape to fit over the back of the heel, and form the back of the shoe. If you wanted slippers, you could leave this part off.
Add a decorative ribbon to use as shoelaces. You can poke it through the shoe or glue it to the inside. Lace it up the leg or however you like!

The final step is to add some micron beads along the edge of the shoe, and glue it down. This will conceal the "seam." Thread the beads on beading wire, and glue the whole thing down. WALLA! Beautiful faerie shoes for you.
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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Granny Doll

This is a sweet granny doll I made some time ago... she's a big old dolly, with floppy arms and legs. She was actually my first doll. I made her from a McCall's or Butterick Pattern which I no longer have (too bad!) It wasn't meant to be a granny. The pattern was for a little girl... I just wanted a granny.

Her face is colored with micron pens, and her hair is made from high quality "thick" wool yarn I bought in Seattle. Instead of two braids, she got a bun! Her dress is made out of pure silk- from a beloved dress of mine that tore. Granny was made in Seattle, before our move to Israel. The doll used to to sit on an antique rocking chair. Now she kind of sits wherever she wants!

I put Granny on the couch, to get a picture of her. I went to get my camera, and returned to discover that my dog Daisy had gotten up on the couch and snuggled with her. Now I know granny is the best-loved doll in my house!
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Rubber Stamp Painting

Recently I decided to try out a new stamp I got from Stampers Anonymous. I think the face is just beautiful. I wanted to deviate a bit away from dolls this time, and try making a painting.
Painting on a one-dimensional canvas is difficult for me. I'm much better with the three-dimensional "canvas" of a doll.... I decided to use this stamp as a starting point.

It was kind of simple. All I did was stamp the face, then draw the rest. I painted over the stamp, to give the face color.

I also alphabet rubber stamps and star stamps, with Golden's interference gold paint.

The painting itself is a self-portrait. The woman in the painting is sitting on the moon, wishing her wishes as if she were in a fairy tale. She is also wearing little girl's clothing. However, look at her face- she is not a child, but a mature woman. The idea is, you are never too old to dream and wish, and you can have a young heart whenever you want to. Just do some art or whatever it is you enjoy doing. And, don't be afraid to try your hand at something you admire.

I wish I could paint better, but I enjoyed creating this painting. My daughter loves it. It hangs in her bedroom!
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

A doll instructor's dream come true......How to share big files and photos without email attachments

If you write doll classes, share notes or patterns with doll groups or friends- or even teach online- you know what a time-consuming pain in the !%#^*& it can be to transfer all your files. We're all worried about viruses, computers crashing and stuff getting lost. ("STOP Rivkah, don't remind me!" you say...)

There is a solution, though. I have been doing this for quite some time, and it dawned on me that I should share it! It's a web-based file storage service called eSnips.

What is it?

Simply upload all of your documents to the internet, create folders or what have you, and send people invitations to view whatever it is you want them to see. They retrieve your files and download them to their own computer. Easy, simple, and very convenient. Gotta love it!

For example, let's say I have a class about a doll called "Mootsie Tootsie." There are 6 lessons (6 separate Word documents) and 5 pattern pages. WOW now that's a lot of files. Instead of spending hours emailing it all, (to more than one person no doubt) and stuffing people's mailbox- I put my folders on esnips, where they live happily ever after. They are always there when I need them.

Here's how it's done:
On the eSnips website, I create a folder called "Mootsie Tootsie". In the folder is "class 1, "class 2," etc., pattern page 1, pattern page 2, and so on. I could upload 100 documents and 499 pictures if I want... The entire folder now has a permanent home "up there" in cyberspace, and anybody who I want to see it can do so- and take the files down by themselves. It can be private, requiring an invitation to view, or public, so everyone and their granny can have a look. If my computer crashes (and I had that happen a few times), no worry. My files are still there!

Genius, isn't it?
I love this service. (By the way, it's free!)

Try it, I think you will like it too. Spread the word to your doll maker friends...
And tell them, Rivkah from Israel told ya!
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wendy Froud's DVD

This morning I was happy to find a treat in my mailbox... Wendy Froud's new DVD. I can't wait to watch it... I am always so excited to learn and try new things.
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Monday, February 12, 2007

Prayers needed for Susanna Oroyan

This morning I received this bit of news about our beloved teacher, Susanna Oroyan, who has given so much to the doll world with her wonderful books and knowledge on the art of dollmaking:

Susie is in Sacred Heart Hospital with an extreme reaction to chemo and radiation, she is heavily sedated while they are trying to stablize her. Her family has asked that we send cards. No phone calls or visitors. Please send the cards tonight or tomorrow. Her mother says the cards work wonders for her morale.

While you are at it add her to you prayer list and if your church has a prayer chain add her to it.

We all love Susie and want her to get through this...

The address for Sacred Heart is
Susanna Oroyan
c/o Sacred Heart Hospital
1255 Hillyard room 652
Eugene, OR 97401
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A New Look

You'll notice that my blog looks a bit different...
I've added a third column. And, some stuff has gone missing!

I have no idea what I am doing, really, since I am not a programmer of any sort. There is no three-column template offered by blogger, and therefore no easy way to "convert." I had to find a "hack." Since I really don't understand html code, I have to start from scratch since I can't figure out how to transfer the extra's. My goodies are gone! (or 'widgets' as blog people call them...) It will take me time to get it all re-implemented on my blog. And, I'll be making improvements, of course!

I do have a website, but this is the place that I put most of my effort. The website is more like a gallery of my work. This blog is for techniques and fun stuff. I think this is why it gets so much traffic. Last month I put up an ordinary hit counter, and it was up to over 7,500 this morning. I have been most suprised to learn this, and decided to take the blog a bit more seriously. I want it to be worthwhile and enjoyable resource for dollmaking information. Gosh, what can I say? I am speechless. Thanks so very much for making my little corner of the globe a cozy, comfy place to visit! I'll do what I can to make it better.

Why the third column?
The purpose of the third column is to display more "stuff" in a more organized manner. Its function will be to help identify the best artist materials, gadgets, resources, etc and to make them easy to navigate.

Many of you know that I am very big on techniques. I believe strongly in putting many things on the "palette." Information is key to creativity!
Please bear with me as I tamper with my blog!

At this time, I am taking suggestions, wishes, etc. Please give me feedback!
This blog is for you.
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Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Pattern- "Behind the Scenes..."

Today I began working on a new doll. It has a stocky body and a pretty developed-looking (Xtra Large)backside!

So far, the entire thing only has two parts~ Front and Back. The arms, feet and head are separate. The head will have a neck on it, rather than the neck already being part of the body-- and inserted into the head. The arms and legs- same idea.

The interesting thing about the design is the shape of the body. It has a "built-in-rear" and the legs are part of the torso.
Pretty neat, huh?

Now, I'll tell you where I got the idea!

Think carefully. Does this remind you of something?
Old Fashioned Ceramic dolls.
The only difference is, I'll make my new doll entirely of cloth.
Why not?

I purposely made the pattern oversized and "well padded." My last doll, Sarraf, is a beauty. This time I'll make something stunning but very ......
How about a big fat "ugly" troll?

Wish me luck!
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Please meet Sarraf, Faerie Mother of Elderly Beauty.

A few posts back, I showed you a doll whose head was accidentally burned in the oven. I decided not to give up on her. Truth be told, now I think I know why.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

KitchenAid Clay

My Paperclay got kind of dried out. I wanted to use it, but it had been stored just a little too long, and I just couldn't "work it." Although it wasn't "hard as stone," it was awfully crumbly and really did not stick. Adding water didn't make things better, because the clay was "hardish" on the inside, and got gooey on the outside. It was unmanageable.

How could I save the clay? I hate waste! Especially when it involves art supplies. Well, I decided to try something... you might laugh - it really does sound a bit silly. VERY silly, actually. But, I am glad I tried it because IT WORKS!

First, I made the best ball I could, and put it in the mixer with the "cake" accessory. (note: the ball is somewhat wet, and the bowl, too. I did not put excess water in there as if I were mixing a cake!)

It's working, but the pieces are just breaking up and being thrown on the sides of the bowl. The "dough" is still not smooth. More like a bowl full of lumps!

Next I decided to try "whipping" that clay. (Bad!) If beating it didn't work, this oughta do the trick, right? We'll see.
First I made a new ball of clay, to give the whipper "maximum whipping action"
By golly, it worked! The clay looks a bit "fluffier." (Well not exactly, I'm certain you can not tell the difference really by looking at the photos. You will have to trust me!)
Next I thought I would get lucky if I tried the next accessory on my KitchenAid - the dough hook.
Walla! A perfectly splendid bit of Paperclay, absolutely kneadable and ready for that next art project!
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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pod Faerie Baby

Look at what I found while walking through the woods! (oh Rivkah, there are no 'woods' in your neighborhood, just a bunch of buildings and houses, and some stores!) teehee

Okay, I made it. Isn't it cute? The baby is lying in a pod filled with "faerie pearls." (or, more accurately precious fimo!) I find these pod things lying around all over the place, almost all the time. They just lie there on the sidewalk. I think they are kinda cool!

I actually got this idea from Dawn Shiller. She makes these awesome little pod creatures she calls Seidh. I am not sure how large her pods are, but mine are quite small and difficult to sculpt in. Maybe she is more talented than I am, that's definitely possible! Take a look at her work, it is amazing.

Some other time, time I'll give you a tutorial on some techniques I used. Besides sculpting in polymer clay, I discovered interesting things about these pods themselves. I used Genesis paint, and I really think there needs to be a tutorial out there on how to use it ... I had to teach myself to use these paints as they are a bit 'different.'

More later!
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