Sunday, September 07, 2008

Make a Baby Challenge

Thinking about making a baby?
Read on...

You know how sometimes you get involved in something that starts out small, for pleasure... and it turns into something that was poorly planned, should have been a little better organized... (sounds like pregnancy, right?) Well such is the case with a little challenge I have gotten myself involved in. I think I have been doing a lot of this behavior lately! (don't worry, I am NOT pregnant!) Here's the story:
I decided to host a fun "make a baby" challenge based on one of my patterns. The pattern involves very interesting techniques that I discovered while reconstructing a vintage doll. Anyway, I was only expecting a small handful of signups, so I didn't really take the time to properly publish the details. Well I should have known better, because I'm kicking myself for it. Ah well, my next doll will be a self-portrait. A silly woozle-kopp lady with all kinds of "stuff" hanging out!
Soooo.. I'm going to write the details on my blog and the challenge is formally open to all!
The challenge deadline is January 1.

Where to get the pattern? This pattern was published in Soft Dolls and Animals Magazine. If you don't have the magazine, you can buy the pattern here on the right hand column for a nominal fee. (all proceeds are very much appreciated!) If you are unable to pay then email me privately and I'll send the pattern anyhow.

Skill Level: ADVANCED
Becky is a cloth version of a vintage Arranbee (R&B) doll. She was inspired by a lady in Jerusalem who had approached me with a very important task: restore her childhood doll. It’s easy to see why this doll has been so well loved!

To restore the doll, I took the original body apart and traced around it to redraw the pattern on paper. Much of it was decrepit, so there was guesswork and room for ‘originality.’ It is a very interesting pattern, and not easy to assemble. At one point when I was sewing the new body, I got scared that I would not be able to remember what to do again. I have to use the old pattern and match up needle holes in order to solve the puzzle! Here’s a peek at what I was working with:

I invented a special “joint” form paperclay so the cloth counterparts could be “inserted” into the body, like the original. They are actually held in place with wire. See how they actually weigh the arms and legs down? Just like the real McCoy!

Becky’s face is done in a way that keeps the original doll in mind as much as possible. The face was digitally photographed and subsequently altered with Adobe Photoshop, to get a black and white pencil sketch. The sketch was then converted again so only the shadows and facial landmarks show.
Print this onto inkjet photo transfer paper, and you’ve got a perfect foundation for a true vintage baby face.

I’ll show you how to paint the face and build up color, layers and details using Genesis Artist Oil Paints or traditional Fine oil Paint. Below are two versions of the same face. The first is with the Genesis paint and the second is done in Oils.

The hair is painted right onto the doll. Have fun making whimsical baby pin curls!

Lastly, there is a sweet dress pattern that you can use. Or, even better, design your own!

I hope you will take the challenge, and MAKE A BABY! To sign up, use the link on the right hand sidebar. I will be available to answer any questions you may have, and will plug you into a special Becky classroom where we can all collaborate. Winners will be published in doll art-related newsletters and possibly a magazine.

Have fun!


  1. I'm interested in taking you up on this challenge, but I couldn't find a link anywhere for your email so I could humbly ask for a free pattern (since I am just a poor student).

  2. What an interesting process you show here. Thank you!


  3. Hi, I want to sign up too but have had problems. I think I already have the pattern pieces in a mag. though

  4. This may sound like a silly question, but is the idea of this challenge to complete the patterns exactly as presented? That is, is the challenge about technique? Or: is some degree of interpretation allowable or even encouraged?

    To be specific: would it be out of bounds to do any needle sculpting on the face?

    Thanks for your help

  5. Dear Margaret, please email me privately at rivkah.mizrahi at gmail dot com. I will invite you to the yahoo group or send you a special link where you can get the files. The magazine instructions are highly edited and not as in depth as the original.

    Great question. Are you in the yahoo group? I will address it there. But to answer your question, yes you can needle sculpt but you must use the template because it is part of the doll, because it is an actual photograph of the face. However you can interpret it as you like- ie. painting, using colored pencils, needle sculpting, adding 3-d eyes, etc.
    With regards to the clothing, you can change that pattern and make whatever clothing you like.

    Kind regards,

  6. Anonymous9:44 PM

    I'm happy to have come across your site this evening! I am trying to achieve a more painterly look with my own dolls and really like the face on this doll..nicely done!


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