Sunday, January 31, 2010


Please meet Bibbie, the doll I created for the Traveling Doll Project. The thing I love about Bibbie the most right now is her tutti frutti hair. It has been floating around my stash for quite some time now (several years, actually), and I am so excited because I think it's a perfect starting point for her. What a personality it gives her, wouldn't you agree?
Bibbie was the name of my late grandmother's friend. One of the fondest memories of when I was a little girl (and my grandparents still lived in Brooklyn and hadn't retired and gone off to Florida yet), is of my grama and her friend with the funny name. They would talk in Yiddish ('Jewish' as they called it) and thought I didn't understand them. Maybe I didn't then, but I do now! Bibbie is a certain dialect of Yiddish that comes from "Boobie, " which comes from the Hebrew word "booba"- or doll. (not to be confused with Bubby- Yiddish for 'granny.') So Basically, Bibbie is Yiddish for Dolly. What a cute name, huh?

Bibbie is still completely undressed because I will be sending her through the mail to three other artists, who will interpret her according to what they see in her. She did mention that she's feeling a little co-wuld... she definitely needs some clothes. I hope she won't be too embarrassed if I show off her lovely "unshapely" body with love handles. She just had a knish for lunch and an extra helping bowl of matzo ball soup. I have to figure out what to make her for dinner. Something ge-shmock, I'm sure! (ge-shmock = 'delicious' in Yiddish.)
I know- maybe a tongue and mustard sandwich (yuck).

Here she is from behind. I think she has a very nice tooshie.
Bibbie is made of cloth with layers of different concoctions that make her skin smooth, durable, and shiny. Her eyes are made of polymer clay. I think she needs some eyelashes. Maybe one of the other ladies will give her some :-)

By the way:
Bibbie's body was made with my TIKVAH cloth doll pattern. Same doll, different hair and slightly different face. Grab a Tikvah pattern in my Etsy shop and try these wonderful techniques yourself :-)

Along with the doll, I created a traveling journal to record Bibbie's travels.
It's sort of a "green" journal, made entirely of recycled materials.
The pages are made of grocery bags that were cut and ironed (yes, ironed), and the cover is watercolor paper that my daughter "went to town with." I let her play with my Holland watercolors one day, and so I had these gorgeous samples waiting to be used for something special.

I added some lace, trim, glass tiles and a few pretty beads. That was all! It was kind of time- consuming, but I like how it came out so it was worth the effort. It was a good experiment!

Here are a few different angle shots of the front cover

This is the first page of the journal. I just brushed gesso down on the paper. It will be very interesting to see how other people figure out how to do art on grocery bags!
The character in the middle is a "blob doll." She is a rubber stamped image that I stamped onto a piece of silk I pre-treated with fabric medium. (If you don't put fabric medium on fabric before stamping it, it could be blurry). I then sewed it to another piece of silk RST, cut it out, turned it, and made a sort of flattish "blob doll." I was into the rubber stamp thing, and I happened to have this odd doll parts stamp, so I figured, 'why not?'

This is the first "entry." It's a collage I made with fortune cookie thingies that I've been collecting (it's a jewish habit to eat chinese take-out on sunday) It says, 'Good things happen to those who make dolls.'
I think one of those fortunes says that I will be rich and famous one day. I will have to go get some more Chinese food just to make sure.

Well, there you have it. Tomorrow is post office day and Bibbie will be off to see the wizard.
I can't wait to see how she will look when she returns!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Colored Pencils for Cloth Doll Faces

Recently I was asked, "What's your favorite colored pencil for cloth doll faces?"

Admittedly, this is like giving away my best secret ever. Here goes:

My absolute favorite pencil of all time is

These pencils can be bit hard to come by. I stumbled upon them when living in Israel. Most of their art supplies come from Holland or Germany.

The thing that makes these pencils so special is that they literally melt when coming into contact with water. What's more, they don't become watery as you would expect. It becomes kind of like paint, but it seeps right into the fabric immediately. When you spray the doll's face with water and color the pencil on, it works like magic. Shading is a dream with these pencils. I find myself dipping the white pencil in water and blending right over darker colors. I get wonderful results that I could never achieve with other pencil.

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Today I am working on the face for the doll I have created for the Traveling Doll Project.

The body is completely ready. It's been painted and varnished.
I felt that have too many "UFO" [Un Finished Object] heads lying around to make something new, so I decided to alter an existing head. I chose one that originally belonged to a doll whose body and clothing was ruined. This head has been rolling around my art desk for nearly two years!

I built up the nose a bit and hid the seams with paperclay. After it dries I will set in the eyes and then work on her skin: I'll use a hardening mixture, sand it, brush on a few layers of gesso, sand it some more, and then apply more paint again. The head already had a mouth, which looks fine, so it stays.

Here are the eyes I've made.

When this is done, I will post a photo of the entire doll as well as the journal I created for the doll's travels. That was made out of grocery bags.... you'd never believe it. But that is another story :-)

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Cloth Over Clay

Recently somebody asked about the "cloth over clay" method of making faces for cloth dolls.

This is a great technique where you sculpt a face from clay, sort of like a mask, and lay it on a flat doll head. When it dries, stretch fabric is laid over the clay. It really gives you artistic freedom in creating a beautiful face that looks like it is entirely made of cloth.

I just wanted to share a couple of pointers I discovered:

Rather than using fabric glue, you can use TEXTILE MEDIUM. It's more flexible than fabric glue, and it does not stiffen the fabric. The beauty of it is, you can brush it onto the OUTER SURFACE and use a tool to get into those hard-to reach crevices- like the lips, nose, and corners of the eyes. You can completely saturate the fabric and sort of "mold it" like clay. And as I just mentioned, it won't leave the fabric stiff. How cool is that?

Try it!

You can even use it when the face is already painted, and mix it with Pigment Powder as needed.

A good resource for learning how to do cloth over clay is a book by Antonette Cely, called Cloth Doll Making. This is a very technical book and should be in every doll maker's library.

If you would like an actual pattern with step-by-step photo instructions for this technique and the flat-faced head, I do have one. It's called Niamh. Your doll's face will turn out however you sculpt it! Cloth over clay is definitely a worthwhile technique to explore.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Boop Progress

I have been working (slowly but surely) on a cloth rendition of Betty Boop. I am up to detailing the head. I've decided to use paperclay to make Betty's hair, rather than yarn (which is what the pattern calls for). After all, she's got these wicked spiky curls and she is a cartoon....I want to keep her looking as true to the original as I can. The curls are done on pins, which support the curls and prevent them from breaking.
This is going to be time-consuming, and probably the most challenging part of the doll. But that is ok with me. I think it's worth the effort.

I also finished up her body. It's got several layers of hard coating and gesso, and painted with acrylic paint. I also put on high gloss varnish. I like the way she's coming out so far... (sorry for the nekkid doll photos, but this is art!)

I've made a few improvements to the original (70+ years old?) doll pattern, including changes to the hands and legs, and alternative techniques. If you would like to try your hand at making a Betty Boop doll, you can grab a pattern on my Etsy shop. Have fun and Boop Boop Be-Doop!
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Send In The Clowns

This is so heartwarming I just had to share!
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Boop in Progress

I got back to Betty this week and finally got her all stitched and stuffed. Here she is so far...
Side View
I have an old beaded purse that must be from Betty's time. It belonged to my Grandmother. I love this purse and I keep it in my drawer. It's one of those sentimental things, you know.... anyhow I can't decide what fabric to make Betty's dress out of and it hit me that beading would look great. I will try to mimic the pattern of the sequins and beads on the purse.The hair is definitely going to be a challenge. The pattern says to use yarn. I'm not so partial to that idea. Hmmmm...... what to do, what to do......

This project is definitely going to take me some time! I am happy with the way Betty is coming out so far. This is one of the "funnest" dolls I have ever made!
If you would like to make her too, you can find the pattern in my Etsy shop :-)

Have fun and Boop Boop Be-Doop!

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Traveling Doll Project

It's time for a challenge.... I'll be participating in a traveling doll challenge where I'm sending a completely b l a n k doll off to another artist in this collaboration, and whom will give her a little TLC hopefully and a little bit of spice and things that are nice and and and... I am still not sure exactly what I will send as I most definitely have a few headless dolls and flattish things that look like they may never be anything but might find life through the mail....

Details about the challege are here. I'll post photos on my blog along the way. First mailing is on or before 2/1/10.
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