Sunday, March 25, 2007

Francesca- Free Doll Pattern

UPDATE 1/2/10
Lately I have been getting several requests for this pattern (yeah!)
FRANCESCA is no longer available as a free pattern. The pattern needed some tweaking and revamping, and there were never any instructions to go with it- just the drawn pattern. More than two and a half years later, I redid the entire thing and created a really fine doll called Tikvah.
Tikvah is made from the exact same BODY pattern that Francesca started out with, only now there are 20 pages of detailed instructions and the doll is not left in cloth (unless you want her to be). There is a process involved that makes the doll look like porcelain, and all the seams are covered up with Paperclay. She is needle sculpted, hardened, painted and glossed and has a beautiful shape! Her face is needle sculpted and her eyes are inset. However you can draw her eyes like francesca's. The instructions will show you how. All in all, the pattern teaches a great deal of very nice doll making techniques. You can use it to make a simple doll like Francesca, or a very exquisite doll like Tikvah.
Here is the Francesca/Tikvah body holding her head in her hands! Can you guess whose head it is? And here's how Paperclay is used...
If you would like to buy the pattern, it is available in my Etsy shop. (Please do!)

TIKVAH is wearing different clothing than Francesca (her clothes are a lot more sophisticated). But the shoes and the Dress are still free when you buy the pattern. I will be adding a link for them here on my blog. In the meantime, just write the word "FRANCESCA" in checkout and I will email you Francesca's clothing and shoes pattern. Please note there are no formal instructions for those, but they are easy to understand.

Thanks for understanding that I can't offer her for free any more because of all the extra work and improvements I put into her... I literally worked on the pattern it for months. This is a great value!!


Please meet Francesca, whose personality I still have not quite figured out...
Francesca (fran-CHESS-ka) Is another name I remember from my childhood, that my father happened to like. My mom loves the color red, and I put this doll together with the most absolutely bizarre fabrics I had. The dress is made from oriental silk, but I did not want her to look particularly oriental... just "francesca-ish. I absolutely love how she turned out. Sometimes surprises are the best avenues for creativity.
To embellish her simple garment, I added two "skirts" - one from organza, and the other fabric from India. Here you can really see the shimmer of the organza. The Indian fabric is right underneath that, and the hem from that was left raw. The organza has intricate beading on the bottom edge, and so does the bottom of the dress. That has some beaded leaf motifs, to blend with the pattern on the dress fabric. I also created a "ruffle" of beads on the bottom, using a 5-bead picot stitch. The beads really added to this doll's outfit. Time consuming, but I'm glad I did it! I also made her a couple of cool sandals. The sandals fabric is actually made from pure silk, with angelina fiber on top. I just embroidered them together. The soles are made from polymer clay, baked and stained with antique medium.Francesca's hair is made from SOY silk fiber. YES, you read correctly- soy.
I really dig the stuff. Can you believe, it's a biproduct from the tofu-making process. It leaves over a silky substance. Since it is a natural "fiber," it is easily dyed. You can fuse it and make a very interesting "fabric" with it, too. Lucky for me, soy silk fiber makes great doll hair, and felts easily with a felting needle.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mona Lisa's Take on High Society

"You will never be in the best society unless you can learn to stand on your heads," she kept saying to them; and every now and then she would show them how it was done. -Oscar Wilde
click on the picture to enlarge
This is a mixed media oil-on-canvas / collage painting that I created just for fun. It began with no meaning at all and evolved into something quite intriguing! Somehow I really love this painting. It has so much personality and I find everyone in my house just staring at it.

I took my inspiration from a Challenge in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. The bird and "half-face" was to be used in "something." It was a simple line drawing, like what you would expect to find in a coloring book. One person used it as a hat for Mona Lisa, and I just thought that was the most bizarre thing I had ever seen, yet there was something about it that made me want to go to town with this. I just had to give it a go.

I cut the tip of Mona Lisa's head off (gee that sounds funny!) in order to put on the "hat." I decided to keep it and re-use it in the picture. Since there was a head on Mona's head, and a bird standing on that, I decided somebody should stand on the tip of Mona's head as well. Why not "close the circle" and have her stand on her own head? Why the red heels? Well, doesn't every fashionable high society woman wear red pumps?? My mother does, at any rate. Anyhow, they go with Mona's stylish modern haircut. Getting sillier by the minute... "There just has to be a meaning to this," I assured myself. I didn't know what I could do with it. I took a chance and decided to go with this idea.

One of my favorite writers of all time is Oscar Wilde. He is just so witty and constantly pokes fun at snooty high-class people who think they are the "cat's meow." I took a quote from one of his short stories- "The Devoted Friend." The story is about a Mama Duck who wants to train her babies to be in high society. "You will never be in the best society unless you can learn to stand on your heads," she kept saying to them;" and every now and then she would show them how it was done." Ridiculous, isn't it? Actually, it's quite genius. I knew I was on to something.

The story goes on to say, "But the little ducks paid no attention to her. They were so young that they did not know what an advantage it is to be in society at all."
(smart babies!)
Of course there is the old Water-rat who cries, "What disobedient children! They really deserve to be drowned." And the Mama Duck retorts, "Nothing of the kind. Every one must make a beginning, and parents cannot be too patient."

Read the whole story here

I love this story. I love Oscar Wilde's sarcastic humor.

The "lump" of a dress was inspired by Teesha Moore, a journal artist whose wonderfully zany style reminds me of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Remember that? I liked that simple shape- sort of unexpected yet gleefully simple. And it's the same shape as the "head halves," or "lumps," if you will.

To keep the "lump" theme continuous, I created a background of mountains in the same shape. I also made simple lines in the paint to create subtle interest, and made "lumpy" mushrooms.
The cat with that big striped hat is also inspired by Teesha Moore. I love the cat. His entire face has that lump shape, so he just "belongs there." The bird is also the same shape, just upside-down, and the cat seems to want to get him but he will never be able to. That's why the bird has a crown and the cat is wearing a dummy cap. (BIRD must be a full fledged member of the best society, since he is on top of the totem pole...)Still, kitty seems a bit annoyed at everybody's obvious stupidity. And I think he is right.

The mountain in the background is collaged with a sewing pattern. It's got arrows, and size options (small medium and large). The grain arrow points right at Mona Lisa. I don't think she is too concerned about size, and does not worry what the rest of society might think.... She's beautiful anyhow, even if she wears a lump of a dress. Good on her!

Finally the picture has topiares with pink roses. I happen to love roses. The roses have crystals in them. Not particularly lumpy, but they add just the right contrast.

I love roses. That's a story for some other day.

This painting was a real challenge for me. I honestly don't know how I thought of these things. But they all come together in one composition- one thing at a time- and it works! It's funny how that works sometimes.
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Saturday, March 10, 2007


Please meet Yoseffa, the model "looking good" eyes doll from the previous post.
Yoseffa is Hebrew for Josephine. I gave the doll this name because I was thinking a lot about my dad lately, whom I miss very much. He always loved that name, Josephine. His father (my Grandfather, may he rest in Peace), was Joseph. He was born in Turkey and spoke many languages- Hebrew, Ladino, Castillian Spanish, Arabic, and more. My ancestors went through the Spanish Inquisition. They fled to Turkey. My family is now in America- and I moved to Israel! Anyway, Yoseffa is an Israeli lady, clad in stylish modest clothing, and a pretty scarf she likes to wear on her hair. She's dressed in purple, one of my favorite colors. Yoseffa is all dressed up because she works in a busy office. She's smart and savvy and has a big family to come home to at the end of the day! In fact, for more than a decade, she was a stay-at-home mom. But her daughters are big now and help out a lot. When she comes home, she has a hot cup of tea almost waiting for her! She really enjoys working after all the years at home. And, she especially enjoys getting all dressed up (maybe a little over dressed?) Good for her!
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Monday, March 05, 2007

LOOKING GOOD -- 3D Eyes For Cloth Dolls

I'm on to a new doll... this one comes with a special technique and is set for publication in a magazine. I think it will be Soft Dolls & Animals, by Scott Publications. I mailed it off today....

UPDATE 18.03.2007: The article will be published in SD&A, June 2007.
It's about making beautiful eyes from scratch, creating eyelids and setting them into a cloth doll head.
It's a great technique. I hope you will like it!

Here's a sneak peek at the doll's face. Needs some more make-up, some hair, ears...maybe a hat? I wonder who she will evolve into?
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Thursday, March 01, 2007

MyThree Living Dolls

My daughters are all dressed up in costumes today in celebration of the Jewish holiday of PURIM.
PURIM is a fabulous Jewish holiday. Children of all ages dress up in costumes and share treats, participate in fun parties and have a wonderful time. It's a time for sharing and excitement. In Israel, all schools have carnivals and incredible fun in the days before the Holiday.
Purim's festivities mark the day that the wicked Haman- advisor of King Ahasveurush of the ancient Persian Empire- was foiled in his plot of total Jewish Genocide. Since the King ruled the entire civilized world in those days, there was literally no escape. Jews everywhere bonded together as brothers, donned sackcloth and ashes, fasted and prayed with ferver for G.od to turn the decree around and save them from being wiped off the face of the earth. Thus, the tradition has always been to wear costumes to remind us of the importance of ending strife, living in harmony and the fact that we can completely change a bad situation if we remember to respect and appreciate one another, and return to our Father in Heaven. This concept strikes home with every nation and religion, I think. Especially the way the world is now- wouldn't that be nice! (I'll just keep making dolls, it's the best therapy I know! hehe)

Anyway, I want to "show off"a little bit, and show you what my daughters dressed up as -two faeries and a pirate!

My oldest daughter's inspiration for dressing as a faerie in dark colors comes from a doll in Wendy Froud's new book.

My "middle" daughter loves pirate movies. Takes after her mom, who loves the old cowboys and indians flicks! Used to watch 'em with my dad....

This is my youngest. She loves faeries too, and her favorite color is orange.

They all looked so cute this morning on their way to school. It is so much fun today, seeing all the kids in Israel walking around in costumes everywhere.
Oh- and Purim isn't just for kids- some people really like to dress up. It's very funny to see people doing ordinary activities in costume. I went into town this morning and saw plenty of adults dressed in their best.... imagine waiting in line inside the bank behind a woman with a bubble gum pink wig, children's fake jewelrey and raggedy ann socks wearing a pair of crocs shoes.... It's just great. The best was a lady I saw waiting for the bus. She was smoking a cigarette, standing in that "leaning" position, you know with her hip darting out- wearing a huge, long JESTER hat with bells. Oh I wish I had a camera! I was giggling so much today.

It's really wonderful. Especially for someone like me who is so "into dolls.." Lucky for me, I have three living dolls for a day!

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