Thursday, February 28, 2013

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

Please allow me to introduce you
to one of my favorite and
best-kept-secret doll making tools:

The diamond file.

I love this tool because it allows me to get into the tightest of spaces and file down the tiny bumps wherever they may be.

I have two files. One is square and the other is round. The round one is great on curves and the square is great when I need a tiny tool on a tiny flat surface. The. Best of all is the tip on both tools.

Diamond files are meant for glass. Once upon a time, I wanted to try my hand at making jewelry.  That's when I got these tools.  I tried it once and decided I'd had enough jewelry making!  LOL!
I gave the jewelry to my daughter and repurposed the files for my dolls.

Much better!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I'm starting a new doll!  

Well, not exactly...  

Rather than starting a brand new doll, I decided to work on an old girl that I never really finished.  

It's been quite a very long time since I've created a doll, so I wanted to work on this one since I've been thinking about her for years and I know I'll be thrilled when she's finally done.  Have you ever made a doll and felt it was taking too long, so you just wanted to hurry up and finish it already? We'll I think that's what happened with this doll. She's pretty but I always felt she could be beautiful. Really beautiful.  Somehow I just love her more than most of the other dolls I've made, and I felt the time was right to give this doll a chance to reach her full potential. She has waited patiently for almost 4 years.  I am so excited to begin this project and I can't wait to see how she comes out (this time I'm not rushing!)  

This Monday afternoon, I got on the subway and went straight into Manhattan - to Pearl Paint, the biggest and oldest and best art store in NYC. I've never been there before, but I felt it was the best thing I could possibly do!  I bought paint, brushes and art stuff I'm missing, so I can get straight to work.   I gave away a lot of art supplies when I moved to NYC from Seattle so "the cupboard was bare." I almost "went shopping" online, but I decided not to.  I'm so glad I took the trouble to get on the train and go.  It was absolutely invigorating and it felt so good to just be there, in the midst of so many art supplies and materials.   I felt like I was sitting on a giant palette that was flying like a magic carpet.  

This is going to be a big project with a complete transformation.  She is a fabric doll, but that's about to change :-)  When we are through, she will look like porcelain.  It will  get a little tricky since she's already got clothing, and I can't remove it.  I can take her legs off but her arms are not removable, either. Sorry honey, but off with your hair!  

Here she is, sleeves rolled up and sporting her beautiful body bag.  What a good sport she is! 


I've already rushed ahead of myself and gotten started on her head and neck.  Let me show you the whole process.  Let's hone in on the legs.  Those were easy to remove! I'm laying down the first of three coats of a mixed media mixture that will prevent the paint from cracking on the soft fabric over time.

 Here is the recipe:
Mix 1 part of gel medium and 1 part modeling paste.
Brush the mixture on 3 times, allowing it to dry for a few hours in between coats.
Sand each coat with fine sandpaper.  
When done, paint with skin colored paint and then apply glossy glaze.

The technique was developed by Helen Pringle and taught to me by Deanna Hogan. 
I love this technique.  It allows us fabric doll lovers to achieve a certain look for our artwork that is usually found in porcelain dolls.  I also love painting, and now I'm not afraid that the soft fabric will cause the paint to crack or peel over time.

Back to my project!  :-)

Before laying down the protective undercoating, I actually added a some paperclay to improve her needle sculpted nose.  I also built up the area where her lips will be, and a little on the brow above her eyes. In addition, I "smeared" paperclay over the seams so they would disappear under the paint.  I let the paperclay dry before brushing on the undercoating mixture.

By the way, here is a little tip when using this method:  Dab a bit of fabric glue onto the fabric before putting the paperclay down.  This really works.  If you don't use the glue, the clay could just fall off when it dries.  It also makes it easier to get it on there in the first place.

 I think I can see her smiling underneath the undercoating.  Can you?

Next I'd like to work on her hands.  I think I can improve them.
This is the original hand with seams running down to create the fingers.  I love the unusual shape of the [sewn] hand, but I don't really like the way the fingers are all one length.  Here is my chance to change that. 

I added some paperclay to the tips of the fingers.   I found it a bit difficult to control the clay because the area is so small, but I think I can get it to work.  The index finger is a little on the fat side. (the picture above shows it better).  I'll just have to deal with it... nobody's perfect.

To suggest fingernails, I cut a straw on an angle.  I'm pressing down into the clay to make indentations.  When it's dry, I'll paint them.  Should I use magenta like I'm wearing?

I feel I'm off to a good start.  I hope you enjoy reading about this transformation as much as I an enjoying the process.  I will post more photos as she progresses..  Come back and visit again!  

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