I've been playing with water soluble oil pastels since Patti Medaris Culea introduced me to them earlier this year. If you like using watercolor pencils on your faces you'll love these. They blend like the pencils but the colors are more vivid.
The brand I have is Portfolio - you find them in with the Crayola crayons. If you want to see what the box looks like click here. The link will take you to an Amazon.com page. I've been drawing faces on fabric the last few nights just for fun. I like to practice making faces this way rather than stuffing heads - much faster. Anyhow - my doll club has decided that we are all going to make a fabric postcard and put it in our exchange bag for our holiday party. I decided to use one of my faces on mine. I'm not the best artist but with practice I've gotten much better. Here's my postcard.
The background is a piece of fabric covered with leftover threads and then tulle and then free motion embroidered to hold everything down. I think it still needs a little something - maybe a bit of hair.
The butterfly is an iron on and I'm not really pleased with the placement but I was afraid to get it too close to the edge - that it would interfere with the presser foot when I did the satin stitch around the outside.
Duh - it's an iron on - I could have placed it when everything else was done.
Sometimes I just don't think!
A rose is a rose is a rose ... what do you do with extra heads?
I am making a garden with mine. If I have a good head that I'm not using for a doll I frame it with silk flower petals. Then I hang them on the wall.
I suppose I could eventually put them on dowels and put them into a flower pot - I think that would look great. With this last flower I discovered a great way to add the hanger. The flower had so much hot glue on it that I had to use my heat gun to melt it to take the petals apart.
I couldn't get the very bottom unglued though but I was able to remove the stem. What I had left was a round plastic disk with a hole in the middle that was attached to a couple of leaves and petals.
The hole allowed me to put my hanger (a braided piece of embroidery thread) through it and then I attached the whole piece to the doll's head.
I have a little sewing group that meets at my house on Sundays, the four of us call ourselves the Dragon Ladies. One of our group couldn't make it this past Sunday when we were going to start on a new doll. Instead of starting without her we decided to play with needle sculpting. I have a book with accompanying DVD that shows different ways to needle sculpt doll heads. I've had them for well over a year but for one reason or another I had never tried the techniques.
We all made the same head and followed the same sculpting instructions but the difference in each doll face was astounding. Now, most doll makers know this to be true, so why am I writing about it? Because after using my instructional materials both my friends decided they had to buy their own copy. I hadn't meant to market the book - I thought it was just something fun to do together.
Word of mouth in such a small market can help or hurt a designer. I wonder how many designers have thought about giving away a pattern to one person in a doll club with the provision that they make the doll and take it to show-and-tell at their club. I know in my club when the girls see a doll they like during show-and-tell quite a few of them buy the pattern afterward. There's quite a bit more enthusiasm seeing a finished doll that you can touch and feel than a picture on a website or magazine.
I am curious to see if someone would be interested in experimenting with this.
I recently signed up for an on-line class with Ann Maulin of Australia at Lisa Risler's site. Today I received an email from Ann that said I am the only student in the class. I was quite surprised at this because I think she is a wonderful designer and I've heard great things about her as a teacher. But that said, now it's like getting a private class with her, I'm really excited about it.
Why would you want to take an on-line class? Many reasons - but my main ones are 1) ability to learn in-depth from designers I admire but know I will never meet in person for a class, and 2) to learn a specific technique with more than surface details. They are also great for tackling something that you may think is too complicated to do on your own.
Have you wondered how on-line classes work? They are all run pretty much the same way although the software used gives each one a different appearance. The classes are broken up into sections, usually one lesson a week. Those lessons are posted on a website, and may be in the format of a Microsoft Word file or, more likely, a .pdf file (Adobe Acrobat). Once you sign up you will receive a website address and password to use to access the class area. You go to the website, enter your password, and click on the week/lesson you are on. You can download (save) the lesson to your computer and then you have the choice to either print it or just read it on your monitor. I tend to print out the lessons and put them in binders. Don't be surprised if you end up with a book - these classes are way more than just a pattern and simple instructions. The best thing about these classes is the dialogue between the students and the accessability of the instructor. On every class I've taken there has been some sort of bulletin board to post questions to and to share pictures on. You work your way through your lessons and if you have a problem just post a question to the instructor. They usually check in daily so you don't have to wait long for help. The last class I took had 67 students in it and there were lively discussions on the bulletin board.
There are lots of doll web sites that teach classes, just do a Google search on "online doll classes". All the sites I've used show up - although you do have to go back about five pages to see them all.
Give it a go - you'll learn something, maybe make a new friend or two, and end up with an awesome doll!
Today brought an epiphany of sorts for me.� �In my Art Dolls as Self Image class we were given exercises in journaling to help find a theme for our dolls.� We were supposed to look at what we like to do, what colors we like, and a few other things to guide our thoughts.�
I couldn't think of anything I was passionate about.� I mean, there's things I like to do, but reading books just didn't translate into a doll for me.� Then this evening I was over at a friend's house working on a mystery doll pattern for our doll club's next round robin when I realized, during a conversation, that I do have a collection of sorts that I'm passionate about.�
I just didn't put it together because the pieces are so unrelated.�
My wedding dress, some framed artwork, my favorite type of art, an old dance group I belonged to, and even some vintage postcard images I recently bought all have the same theme running through them.� The Belle Epoch - end of the Victorian era - from about 1895 to 1914.� Toulouse-Lautrec, the Impressionists, Moulin Rouge, mutton sleeves, walking skirts, S-shaped corsets.� I can see the doll forming before my eyes!�
Do you have a theme running through your life that you're not aware of?� Look around, see what you can find - you might surprise yourself.� I certainly did!
I recently took a class from Christine Shively and there was something a little off about the doll I made in her class. Took a while to figure it out and it actually was another artist friend of mine who told me.
I had placed the head pattern on the bias and, after stuffing, the head ended up too big for the body. I like to place the head on the bias for 2 or more piece heads since the nose and cheeks fill out better but this doll was a flat face. Even the little bit of extra stuffing was too much for this doll.
So - I'll pop her head off and make a pin doll out of it. Next head will be on-grain!
A fun thing to do to learn about bias is to take a leg pattern piece and place it on the cross-grain, the straight-grain, and the bias. Then sew and stuff.
Look at the difference in the legs when you're done. One will be shorter than the other and one will be fatter. Keep this in mind when you are sewing your dolls.
We have been having quite a discussion on Doll Street regarding wobbly heads, or more specifically, how to avoid wobbly heads.
Seems that the most popular method to use is to put a stick of some sort in the neck and pack stuffing around that. Some folks like popsicle sticks and some just use dowels.
I like to use a short piece of dowel myself, the size depends on the size of the doll.
One trick that I didn't see mentioned is to keep the length of the dowel/stick fairly short depending on how you are going to joint the doll. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to get your needle through the body only to run into a solid piece of wood! So keep it small and you shouldn't have that problem.
Make sure to put a bit of stuffing into the top of the neck before you insert the dowel too - helps keep it from trying to pop through.