Yay - you can finally pre-order Patti Culea's new book, Creative Cloth Doll Faces. I can't wait for this book to come out! I 'know', via Internet, a lot of the folks who created dolls for this book and I really want to see what they made for it. I kinda want to see what they did with my doll too .. yes, I got to make one for this book and I'm totally psyched about it. It was such a thrill and honor to be asked to make one. Sure hope the publishers liked it well enough to put it in the book! One of the girls in my doll club got to make one for it too and her doll is just awesome. I know that Patti covered painting, beading, sculpting, watercolor, collage, and a few more techniques. When I visited her in August (she let me stay at her house when I took a Pam Grose class) she showed me the samples she had made for the water soluble oil pastels. Way cool! The cover is neat - click on the picture and it will take you to Amazon where you can pre-order the book! I love the fact that you can pre-order, I have one on pre-order for art quilts. That way you can be sure to be one of the first to get the book!
AARGH - turning hands - the bane of doll making! We've been talking about how to turn fingers on one of my lists. It's definitely something that takes practice when you're learning on your own. Thought I'd post the instructions that I put inside my turning tool kits. It can be pretty frustrating the first few times you turn them but with practice it'll get lots easier! Here ya go ...
1. Stitch hands with a very small stitch, 20-25 stitches per inch.
2. Make sure you have at least 2 stitches between fingers and that the area is straight across, not in a 'v'. I will make my stitch length even smaller at this point to make sure I have 2 or more stitches.
3. Make sure the fingertips are smaller than the base of the finger or you'll probably never get the fingers turned.
3. Trim and clip seams as closely as possible. Cut a 'v' at the notch between fingers. Hold two fingers (which are next to each other) apart and see if the notch opens wide, if not, clip some more.
4. Insert the largest tube that will fit into the finger without stretching the fabric.
5. Open the seam at the tip of the finger with the bamboo plunger and gently push the fabric and plunger into the brass tube. You just want the tip inside the tube - don't push the whole finger inside the tube.
6. Slide the finger UP the bamboo plunger. Work it gently, pushing and rolling the fabric up the plunger. At this point the brass rod is just a holder.
- It helps to hold the brass rod against your tummy. This gives you a good angle to work the fabric, leaves both hands free, plus it holds the tube steady.
7. If a finger is stubborn and does not want to turn - don't worry at the fabric, you will end up with a hole or a blown seam. Go to another finger and try again later. If that doesn't work - try threading a sculpting needle with a long piece of thread, no knot. Go UP through the finger leaving a tail showing outside the hand, go DOWN through the finger and take the needle off. Now you have 2 tails that you can pull to turn the finger.
... Although I have to admit I've tried that needle and thread method once and it didn't work for me. That one finger was so stubborn that I ended up making a whole new hand. Sometimes ya just gotta suck it up and admit it's just not gonna happen!
So you want to give making Fabric Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) a try? It's easy and it's a lot of fun. But be careful - they can be really addicting. This tutorial will show you how to make a collage style ATC using raw-edge applique methods.
First things first ... supplies
You need a stiffener like Timtex, Vilene, Craft Pellon, or sturdy canvas
Scraps of fabric
Different threads and yarns
Embellishments (images, stamps,etc)
Double-sided iron-on fusible (like Wonder Under)
Temporary fabric adhesive (like 505 spray)
Fabric ATCs are made up of three layers, just like a quilt. The top layer is where you do your artwork, the middle layer is your stiffener, and the backing is for signing your work. Some people like to use quilt batting for their middle layer but I think it's too flimsy so I prefer to use Timtex.
Here's a few things I gathered to work with ... a black and gold fabric for my base, a fuchsia scrap, an image I printed on muslin and then applied Wonder-Under to, a grey scrap left over from cutting out the image, some gold glitter thread (Superior Halo Gold), and a piece of Timtex.
The first thing I did was cut the Timtex to 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches. Then I sprayed it with 505 Temporary Fabric Adhesive. You can also use an iron-on fusible instead of the spray. I prefer the spray, it's quicker. Make sure to use a spray box so it doesn't get all over everything. I use the top of a box that came from a ream of copier paper. The idea here is to have your base fabric attached to your stiffener one way or the other so it's easier to work with.
Compose your design. Here I cut down the fuchsia scrap, and trimmed the grey scrap into triangles. If you don't have images to use you can always use a stamp with acrylic paint or pigment dyes. Just make sure to heat set as needed. You could also fussy cut a motif you like from a piece of fabric.
Took away a couple of the triangles and now I'm pleased with the composition. I ironed some Wonder-Under onto the white strip, then ironed that down to the black/gold fabric. Next I ironed down the image and triangles, which had already been treated with an iron-on fusible. Now it's time to take this over to the sewing machine.
I dropped my feed dogs and free-motion embroidered a starburst around the image, stitched down the triangles, and made some triangular shapes on the base fabric which echo the triangles on the white strip. The thread I used is a wide metallic sliver made by Superior. It's called Halo and it's really strong so it rarely breaks. Expensive though!
I decided that I wanted a bit of color on the ATC so I switched to a red Halo thread. Set my machine up for a blanket stitch and sewed along the edges of the white strip. Then I zig-zag stitched around the center image. Even though I used the iron-on fusible on the middle pieces I like to stitch them down too. It finishes the edges and adds color too.
Well, I'm pretty happy with this. Think I'll stop now. I took a plain piece of muslin out of my scrap bag to use as a backing. I wanted something light colored because I'll write on it. I sprayed the back of the ATC with 505 Temporary Fabric Adhesive and then placed it on the muslin and trimmed the muslin to size.
Now it's time to bind all three layers together. I tend to use a satin stitch for this, although you could bind it in other ways. You could hand couch fancy threads or yarn around the edge, bead it, use a blanket stitch, whatever you can think of. Although I would at least straight stitch close to the edge before I did any of those just to make sure the 3 layers are attached to each other. I set my machine for a narrow zig zag, set my stitch length to near zero, and then just sewed around the whole piece. I left the red Halo thread in the top and put white in the bobbin. I wanted a lighter color on the muslin back. Once it was bound I took a gel pen and wrote my particulars on the back of the card. You could always print your information on fabric and fuse it to your backing before you attach the muslin to the ATC if you don't care for your handwriting. Mine's not the neatest but I figure it's not the backing that will be displayed (at least I hope not!).
I bought this new color theory book that is absolutely awesome! One of the quilters in my color and design class brought this book in one day to show me and it just blew me away. I just had to have it! I have another crafter's color book but there's no comparison to this one. This book is called Color Works: The Crafter's Guide to Color by Deb Menz. Besides explaining color theory in great detail, each section has about a dozen examples done in different crafts. For instance, if she was talking about complimentary colors she would pick two and show the same colors in quilting, beading, hand weaving, handmade papers, knitting, hand embroidery, machine embroidery, .. it's amazing. She uses the same little design each time so you can really see how a design changes with each color change.
You know how sometimes the 'search inside this book' on Amazon is pretty worthless? This one isn't .. click on the picture below and you can see what I mean about the little designs. When you click through, right under the picture of the book is the 'look inside this book' - click that. Think it's the third page in.
I really liked the section on values .. I want to pull out my fabric stash and use her little tool to see what the grey values are. What little tool you ask? She has a bunch of pull-out tools in the back of the book. One of them is something you squint through and it helps figure out the gray value. There are also pull out tools for color wheels although I think one of the color wheels you can buy at the store would work much easier.
I hate to say it but this book covers things I wasn't taught in my Color and Design class at the University. I really need to spend more time with it - it's a great tool. Everyone needs this book in their library - especially if they aren't color comfortable like me!
Oh yeah - and it's spiral bound so it lays flat! You can work with this book and use both your hands to play with your fibers, beads, whatever, at the same time! Whoo hoo!
My little sewing group had a blast today shaping the faces of our trolls to be. We are working on Ute Vasina's Norman pattern which is a little troll dude that sits on a wagon. We all used different fabrics and were amazed at how differently they are turning out. Now - these look a bit strange because there's no coloring or hair yet - not even ears but it's fun to see how although we all used the same pattern none of them are remotely alike!
From left to right ... the little brown dude is made of the new version of doesuede, the next one is made from bucksuede bought at a Ben Franklin Crafts, the next doll is made of original doesuede in a taupe color, and the last one is made of a stretch fabric from JoAnn Fabrics. We all used different size and style eyes too - a couple are made with buttons (last two on right) and then other two are glass eyes of different styles - cat's eyes for one! We had fun with belly buttons too - we changed how we did them from the pattern directions and we also gave them little 'butt dimples'. It's going to be a couple of weeks before we can get together again to work on them but I'll report on their progress then.
The question of how to keep your gel pens and Pigma or Zig pens from clogging up when you are coloring over other media is one that comes up quite often on the doll lists. I used to have this problem too - now plain old impatience is my biggest problem. The trick to keeping your pens from clogging is to seal each layer before you go on to the next one.
For instance, if you are going to draw the outline of your features with a Pigma pen you should spray it with a fixative before you go on to your other media, especially if it's a wet one such as watercolor pencils. You HAVE to do this if you are using gel pens because they bleed like crazy. I use Krylon Fixative - it stinks so make sure you spray it outside. Let it dry overnight - yes, I know - it's hard - you want to get right into coloring that precious little face. But do it anyway. Then the next day go ahead and do your coloring, if you use gel pen or paint for the whites of the eyes, or for highlights save that till last. Spray again and let dry. Then take your pens and do the final detailing. Do a final seal. For this I like to use Craftgard - which is a waterproof sealer. It goes on kind of oily but dries great and it doesn't change the colors. This lets you clean the doll with a damp washcloth later on in life when she gets a bit dusty.
If your pens have clogged there are a couple of ways to unclog them. One way that was discussed on the lists is to gently draw them along very fine sandpaper and another is to draw them along a paper towel. I often just draw on the back of my hand until it starts to flow again. You'll just have to try them to see what works for you.
I received an email today asking for help with a certain cloth doll pattern. The instructions were so badly written that it was nearly impossible to understand what you were supposed to do. That's one of my pet peeves, patterns that are hard to figure out, or have steps missing. What's funny though is that some popular designers can write doll patterns this way and people still buy them. They complain about it to their friends but still patronize the designer. I'm guilty of this myself! Another thing that drives me nuts are patterns (either cloth doll or quilts) that don't fit on the paper so the designer tells you to add 1/4 inch (or whatever) to each side. I invariably forget and then I've wasted material.
I have one pattern that completely forgets to tell you how to attach the hands, which actually had to be sewn inside the sleeves and then turned inside out. I had to really think through what the best way to do this would be. But I shouldn't have had to - I mean, if I was making a doll of my own design it would be one thing, but I wasn't. I was using a cloth doll pattern that I bought, it should have been complete.
Being an internet junkie, I belong to a lot of doll lists. On them I have seen a lot of designers, usually new designers, ask for pattern testers to make their doll before they take their pattern to market. That makes sense to me, if you have people with different skill levels making the same design you can cover all the bases as you fine tune your pattern. Sure would like to see everyone do this!
Ah well. Maybe I'm asking too much.
Drill bits and stuffing don't mix! I got the courage to try to add the brass rod to the 'Last of the Faeries" doll yesterday so she wouldn't tip over again. It was an interesting process.
She is made with two layers - muslin, then lycra, then painted with tinted gesso so she is fairly rigid. As I posted previously I thought I could drill right up through the stuffing to make a hole for the rod. Didn't work. The stuffing caught on the drill bit and when you pulled it out the stuffing just moved right down into the hole that was made by the bit. Rats! So instead I used a whole bunch of a various tools to make the hole. First I used an awl - that made a hole but it wasn't big enough in diameter. So then I used my little embroidery scissors - that made it a big longer and wider, but I could still only get about an inch of the rod up her leg. Next I used a pair of hemostats that are really thin and sharp - ah ha - worked great! Now I am able to get a couple of inches of the rod inside her leg. I really would have liked to get about four or five inches up there but I didn't have anything else to poke up her leg. I think what I have will be enough to stabilize her as she is pretty well balanced but next time I think I will insert the rod before I stuff instead of after. Oh well.
A couple of weeks ago my sewing group came over to work on our latest project. Unfortunately one of the gals couldn't make it so we decided not to go ahead without her. We couldn't come up with a simple project to do in a short amount of time so we decided to watch the Art of the Dollmaker documentary film instead. If you haven't seen this you should. It is an extremely heartfelt look at why we make these little creatures.
The video begins with Dru Esslinger talking about how she started making dolls after her daughter died of cancer, then moves on to other dollmakers. They talk to a lot of the ladies in her club about why they took up this art form and what it does for them. It's quite a personal look at the processes they go through when creating their art. One of the most outstanding parts is the interview with Lisa Lichtenfels, not only does she talk about her creations but you get to see her studio and works in progress. It's amazing to see how she creates her figures. This isn't a how-to video though.
We recently had Christine Shively up here to teach a class - she was interviewed in this film and it was fun to see how different she looks now than when this film was made in 1999. I had forgotten that she was on it so it was a neat surprise.
What was also fun was to watch the gallery at the end of the movie and see which designer's works you can recognize. Some of them are easy to figure out.
I have to say that I cried the first time I watched this - it really touched my heart.
I was surprised to find that my local library had this DVD in their collection so check with your library if you want to see it. If they don't have it maybe you can borrow it from another library. I wanted to own it so I ended up buying it. If you get your hands on this and you belong to a club maybe you can all watch it together - it's really, really worth seeing!
I received my second issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors yesterday. It's such a treat to read. I always skim the whole issue for the eye candy then get down to some serious reading. The only problem I see with the magazine is that it should come with a disclaimer saying they are not responsible for loss of sleep! I read it at night and then I lay in bed and can't sleep because of the ideas spinning in my head. This issue has so much to offer a doll maker. There are at least two great articles on creating fabulous textiles. One is by Dale Rollerson, who I believe owns
The Thread Studio, in Australia. She shows how to create great material by stitching, painting, stamping, etc. on acrylic felt. This article is about ATCs but I can imagine a great cape made out of this. I do believe that some of her work is posted in the latest Quilting Arts magazine too .. in an article about advanced sewing/embroidery courses. Then there is an article on felting, used for small art quilts. The fabric created with different color mohairs and roving is incredible. I bet you could make a really cool doll wig this way. We have a great new yarn store in town that carries everything you could need for felting so I might have to try this.
I highly recommend this magazine to anyone who is into any form of textile art - all the ideas can be used in doll making in one form or the other.
I don't know if you can find this magazine in the shops, I can't in my little town, but that's no surprise as we don't have any of the big book stores (yet). I subscribed to this before it was even published and I'm just thrilled with it. To subscribe go to: Quilting Arts
2005 is off to a great start - I finished a class from early in 2004!
One of the best things about on-line classes is that the teacher always makes herself available even if you don't finish on time. Well, that is all except one that I've heard of.
I didn't have to contact my teacher with any questions for this little fellow but I know she would have been there if I needed her. One reason I didn't have any questions was because her class was so detailed. I printed it out and had a book full of photos showing each process step-by-step. Way better than a pattern - of course it costs nearly 6 times as much! I didn't finish the class I signed up for in December either but Anne said that whenever I was ready to pick it up again she'll be there for me. I think that is so cool! They don't have to do that - I mean really, contractually, they only have to be there while the class is in session. Probably one reason I keep signing up for these things!
I think I've only finished one doll during the time the class was given and it was a pretty complicated one. But anyway - this is a Wood Knot and was designed by Allison Marano. Everything except the ladybug on the mushroom is made from cloth. The tree stump was made by crinkling fabric, fusing it, and then glueing it to the support. Ferns were made with a couple of different batiks and floral wire. We had patterns for 3 different types of mushrooms but I only made one. Even the moss is made from fabric. It was fun to see what we could do with cloth. Cute, eh?
Click on the thumbnail to see him a bit better!
I was laying in bed New Year's Eve when I heard a loud thumping noise. I didn't want to get up but I figured I better go see what the dog had knocked over. She's good for blaming things on but it wasn't her this time. My big 2 foot tall 'Last of the Faeries" had fallen over and took out another smaller doll with her on her way down.
After standing on her own for 2 weeks she has fallen over twice now. It was New Year's Eve .. maybe she's been sneaking drinks when we're asleep. But now I need to do something to keep her upright.
A doll stand won't work because she's too tall and they look horrible anyway. So I'm going to take a big chance and try to make a hole in her foot and up her leg and insert a brass rod which will attach to a hard wood base. She's pretty rigid - two layers of fabric which was painted over with gesso and acrylics - so I think I can drill a hole without too much trouble. I think I'll start it with a Dremel and then see if I can use an awl to smash through the fiberfill. I used Mountain Mist which is really stiff so I don't know if I'll be able to do that. I sure hope I don't ruin her! Wish me luck!