Monday, 18 May 2015

Messing Up My Arty Time!

I've not been here in a while as I got myself a new day job, a bit of a promotion, and have been manic busy trying to get myself and my new responsibilities organised. The problem of course is that it's been messing with my art time :S
My head is now stuffed with ideas and they're all trying to come out at once. I'm going to have to settle in with my sketch book and try to separate them all out again soon. But in the meantime I have a very fancy Victorian lady started and a commission for a Joker in the outfit worn by Heath Ledger so have some photos to share with you.

I'm not sure of this young lady's name right now as she hasn't yet told me it. She's playing very hard to get and is very fussy, demanding all sorts of fancy trims and embroidery on her silk gown. So far she has her layers of soft cotton lawn underwear and petticoats with a dark royal blue underskirt that's pleated to the knee. Her bodice has a cream silk gathered layer around the neckline trimmed with tiny lace and surrounded with embroidery and more lace layers. And her sleeves have a ruffled cuff just below the elbow with more ribbon, beads and lace.

A few years ago I made a Joker for my husband and he sits on our mantle grinning at me all day long. And I've been asked to make a smaller version for a lady in America that I have half dressed so far. Under his purple trousers he has long drawers on to help fill out his skinny hips and legs and give them a proper shape. His shirt is cut very short to save on bulk around his waist and give him a skinny look, and I've left the fabric from around his shoulder joints to help ease the movement of them once the thicker suit fabric is gathered into place.
I carved his face up to imitate the scars the Joker has and painted him gaudily with white, rich red and lots of smudged black around his eyes. He still looks quite alien without his hair, but I'm hoping to have that added soon as well.

Nest will come his waistcoat and long coat as I'm not sure I'm going to be able to fit his jacket in as well without him looking like he has a thick body builder neck, but we'll see what happens as I go along. You can hardly see this blue suit jacket in the film of stills from it, but you can just see it peeking through if you look very closely.

I hope to have more to share with you soon xxxx

Monday, 6 April 2015

New Dolls At Last

Since the holidays I've been a bit lax keeping up here, but I have been busy making lots of new dolls and finishing off some I had waiting. Take a look below to meet my new ladies xxx
All are available now in my Etsy shop -

The Storyteller - Fantasy Art Doll

My Storyteller travels the country searching for new tales to tell and people who will listen to them. She sometimes gets invited into very fine mansions and is rewarded with fine food and a bed for the night, and sometimes she sits under a tree between the cottages where she is given humble soup and bread and allowed to sleep in a hay barn listening to the animal’s soft breathing nearby. Everywhere she goes her gentle nature draws even the shyest of children to her; they follow her in a long train until she finds the right spot, and then gather at the edges of her quilt to listen to her stories. The adults follow too and sit behind them or stand at their grand fireplaces to listen to her musical voice as she weaves her magic and carries them all away into the story.

This Storyteller wears layers and layers of petticoats, some of silk with an embroidered hem. Her gown is a magical marbled silky fabric with hints of gold over a pink silk chemise, and is trimmed with quilted designs, soft velvet and tiny glass beads. She has a quilt that she uses to sit under the trees when she wants to read that she made from the leftover pieces from her dress and a rich hand crochet shawl around her shoulders. She carries two antique books with her of her favorite authors Tennyson and Rossetti.
I was inspired to make her by one of my favorite prints by Alphonse Mucha

Charlotte – A Young Victorian Girl Art Doll

Charlotte is a quiet gentle young girl that has a soft smile and laughing eyes. She’s a very good girl, but that doesn’t stop her giggling at all the silly things she sees around her. She’s been to the market for her mother and has a basket full of roses for her. She’s hoping that she’ll be allowed to watch Cook make the dessert this afternoon as she always lets her taste what’s in the bowl and nibble on the candied fruit.

Charlotte has lots of white cotton lawn petticoats trimmed with lace and matching drawers underneath. Her cotton dress has a deep pleated hem and matching pelerine across her shoulders. Her dress is trimmed with chocolate brown and gold lace with a large hanging bow in back, and she has a brown silk bonnet trimmed with gathered ribbon and rosettes.

Guinevere – Medieval Fantasy Art Doll

Queen Guinevere is such a romantic legendary figure that makes you think of stone castles and rolling green hills dotted with woodland and shimmering lakes. Here in Wales tales of Arthur and his round table, knights in shining amour and the beautiful Guinevere are never far away. With the Lady of The Lake water high in the Brecon Beacons and old tales of a standing stone where Arthur is said to rest. We have huge crumbling castles with high towers and massive gates, and mountains and hills like you’ve never seen with green pastures alongside craggy rocks with nimble sheep trotting up sheer hillsides. The coast here can be both wild and gentle, and you’re never far from big open spaces. It’s no wonder I find all the old tales fascinating, and I’m so lucky to have such beauty around me.

My Guinevere has embroidered silk underwear and a gown of Silk Noil fabric. Her long hanging sleeves and skirt hem and train are embroidered in silver and a darker shade of turquoise than her dress in Celtic patterns. And she has a gold lariat and necklace with gemstone and glass beads and a gold chain circlet in her hair.

Louise – Regency Art Doll

My Louise is inspired by the wonderful portrait of Queen Louise of Prussia painted by Wilhelm Ternite in 1810. She looks such a happy content lady in all of her portraits but I don’t know much else about her. She has such gentle eyes, and I hope to learn more of her in future.
There are many portraits of Louise dressed for riding in her navy blue outfit and I couldn’t resist trying my hand at all the gold braid and military styling.

Louise has embroidered silk petticoats under a soft cotton lawn riding habit embroidered in a gold colored thread. Her jacket is trimmed in military style braiding and more embroidery with tiny gold lined beads as buttons. On her head she has a smart riding hat with a large black pom pom on the front. She’s ready to go riding.

Gabrielle - Art Doll

Gabrielle is a mischievous young woman who loves to go exploring. She daydreams about other lands and strange languages. And wishes she was allowed to go abroad like her brothers, but Farther says that it’s not ladylike and she should stay at home with her mother and learn to keep house. Her friends from her music class have all travelled to Paris and Rome, some even to Venice, but she must do as she’s told. She finds it very unfair.

Gabrielle has layers of petticoats, one of stiff calico pin-tucked to make the hem more ridged to hold out her skirts. She doesn’t like to wear a cage crinoline at home while she sits and works at her piano practice as they just get in the way and slow her down. She’s very busy, and always ready to head off into the woods and fields whenever she can to explore. Over another petticoat of red cotton ruffles and one of embroidered lawn she has a skirt of black decorated with flowers, and she wears a silk blouse with a neat round collar and a silky black corslet.

Effie Grey Art Doll

Effie Grey’s life with her first husband John Ruskin was one of cruelty and abuse, and to escape it she had to endure humiliating exposure of the most intimate details of her life. When she finally did she went on to marry Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais and thankfully found a happy family life.
I was inspired to make my Effie when I saw the beautiful costume designs by Ruth Myers for the 2012 film directed by Richard Laxton. It’s full of wonderful details and stunning scenes and costumes, and well worth watching.

Effie has layers and layers of petticoats in cotton and Egyptian linen to hold out her skirts, with a top one of silk with an embroidered hem. I have textured the navy silk fabric of her skirt to create a slubbed or nubby pattern as in the original, and she has a silk blouse trimmed with lace, ribbon and embroidery. Over her shoulders she has a velvet caplet, and she wears a silk hat trimmed with peach flowers, embroidered ribbon, silk gauze and pearl bead hat pins.

Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West Art Doll

Who doesn’t love the cackling, long nosed, green skinned witch from Oz with her flying monkeys and determination to get Dorothy “and your little dog too”. But in Wicked by Gregory Maguire we meet a very different person from the one that was depicted in the film, and even though it’s true that Elphaba is allergic to water and cleans her gleaming green skin with oil instead, by the end of the book it’s not her that I thought of as the evil one. In a very cleaver twist you come away from this tale with a very different view of Oz and its characters.

Elphaba has a red taffeta petticoat with lots of ruffles and black lace to hold out her skirts, and smart black underwear and stripped drawers. I’ve stamped the silky black fabric of her dress with a tree branch fabric that can be seen as the light moves over her, and trimmed her hems and cuffs with ruffles and tiny jet beads. She has a draped apron front to her gown and a pleated back drape layered with silk chiffon. And her tight fitted jacket has a high standing collar and deep V lapels trimmed with more tiny jet beads.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Doll Tools And Research

I've been lucky enough recently to be able to invest in some tool sand research books that I've been wanting to get for ages. I've been saving my pennies for my very own mini hobby pillar drill. I treated myself to a beautiful pin cushion. And I finally got a set of Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion books.

It might not seem like much, but having a nice pin cushion really does make a difference when you do a lot of sewing. And as soon as I saw these ones from Lorna Bateman on Etsy I knew I'd found the perfect one. It's made specifically to add pretty vintage embroidery to the top, but I decided to add one of my favourite Welsh Wool fabrics to it instead. It was very easy to cover and came with easy to follow instructions, and it's of very good quality.
The little potato pearl bead pinned to it has been in every pin box or on every pin cushion I've had for years :)
Have a look at Lorna's lovely shop here -

I like to make my dolls in batches, making up to 10 or 12 of each size at a time so that I can do all of the messy stuff over a few weeks. I don't have my own craft room and work in our dining room when I'm sawing and sanding all of the wooden parts I use for my dolls limbs and sculpting my hands, feet and faces with clay so I try to keep the room as tidy (??) as I can most of the time. Right now I'm in the middle of my next batch of dolls and have things drying on racks all over the table. It's only so long I can expect Cris to put up with it so once they are all made I'll have a clear table again and lots and lots of new dolls to dress and bring to life.

Each of my arms and legs is made of 2 cut and drilled wooden dowels, that's 8 pieces to each doll. And each body has to have two drilled hole so that I can string the limbs to the doll with the vintage thread and tiny glass beads I like to use. It usually takes me ages to drill the holes in each piece, half of which have to have a hole at each end so the arms and legs will bend. It was taking me days to get them all done so I thought it was time to invest in a little hobby pillar drill. It took me a while to find one small and light enough to pack away in my dresser, but I found one here -
It's a really great tool and I'm so glad I got it at last. It's quiet and easy to use with a nice solid feel to it. And getting all of my pieces drilled only took me an hour or two rather than days. I'd highly recommend it to anyone needing a drill that can handle small delicate work.

These books by Janet Arnold are a set of 4 beautiful books filled with endless details, illustrations, pictures and instructions that show you how historic dresses are constructed with pages of patterns that can be scaled up to use and to show you the shapes in fabric that are used to make all of the lovely layers, drapes, fancy swags and tailored bodices. The books lead you through the years showing you all the styles and cuts of different gowns with historic details, as well as references to the women that wore them and where you can see some of them in person at different museums and collections.

I first bought Patterns of fashion 4 when working on some of the details for my on-going Elizabeth I project as I wanted to see up close details of how to construct a ruff, supportase and stomacher for her. This beautiful book is full of stunning photographs and illustrations of the items themselves along with the embroidery, trimmings and construction. They have given me loads of ideas and I can't wait to get started using them for my doll designs. I'm just waiting on my Patterns of Fashion 3 to arrive to complete my set :)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Woodwork, Taxes And A Commission Doll

Tax Season hit and passed quite quietly this year, and I had it all done out of the way before I knew it. I was very happy after doing all of that paperwork to just relax for a few days and let my head come back to creative things. And I decided I'd get myself started on a new batch of dolls. I'm hoping to soon be able to pick up a miniature pillar drill to help me drill holes in all these wooden arms and legs as every joint needs to be strung together. I normally manage to persuade Hubby into helping me but he gets very fed up after the first 60 or so little bits of wood it's time I got myself some proper tools. Here on my work bench I have mugs all lined up with all the different sized legs, thighs and arms in all sorts of sizes, and a big jar with lots of lollipop looking wooden beads and dowels ready for me to build up into heads and bodies.

I have been doing some sewing, and here on my knee is the Toadstool top for a fairy I'm making my mother for her birthday. The wonderful Cynthia of Fairy's Nest is helping me out with the wings as I've not yet managed to find a solution I like yet when I make them. Cyn's are so pretty and delicate looking with just enough sparkle to match my Fae's dress, which is pale sage green, yellow and gold.

I've also been working on a commission Asylum doll for a lovely lady in the US. She's to be a middle aged lady with a family named Amelia. She's dressed in a chocolate brown gown that has a fine pinstripe, and will have a strait jacket, shawl and bonnet. She hopes soon to move to the nice new modern Asylum where they don't use restraints or make the patients do drudge work or be shut in all day. The new place has gardens and bright clean rooms. She's just hoping her son will agree to pay the extra costs...
I'll tell you more of Amelia's story when she's a little more decently dressed. But for now here are the details of some of her underwear.
PS - Sorry for the phone photos :S My computer doesn't seem to like uploading them from the camera at the mo.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A Custom Order - Ivy Levan

In November I was contacted by a lovely lady called Della that wanted me to make her a doll of her daughter as a Christmas gift for her. I like getting custom requests and Della's daughter was very pretty so we started talking about what she would like.
You can't imagine how surprised I was when I realised that the girl I'd be making was Ivy Levan!
After a good look around at her music videos and Google image results I was nervous about whether my style would be right with my big eyes and odd faces, but Della was sure so we started to plan out her outfit.

Ivy has a very dramatic sense of style with gorgeous dresses and sleek styled platinum blond hair. She's very glamorous and has a beautiful voice, and after narrowing down our options Della and I decided I'd make the outfit she wore when she sang with Sting on the Letterman show.
If you'd like to watch the video you can see it here -
They do a great version of Drive My Car by The Beatles.

Della told me Ivy's stunning Morticia Addams style dress was made for her and you can see it fits her like a glove. It's not a style I usually make but it was very interesting to try replicate the design in a small doll. Firstly I had to build up the hips of the doll to make sure she had a lovely curvy shape like the real Ivy, so I fitted her with black lace underwear and a tutu-like petticoat. Next came a fitted pencil skirt type petticoat over the tutu to get the roundness to her hips and give her a bum (my dolls don't have one of their own and I tailor the clothes to give the shape to the lower half of their body).

The dress itself had a really low plunging neckline, right down to the waist, so after making the panels I had to relay on strong glue to make it stay in place on the dolls body which is something I wouldn't normally do as I prefer to rely on my stitching. It's proof that the gown fitted Ivy perfectly that it stayed on her body with such a low plunge and the only way I can think it stayed on was with the help of body tape.

The shoulders are padded and shaped into small points over the tight fitted arms. And the skirt I made in three pieces so I could get the smooth front lines and the trailing hem at the back that sweeps across the floor behind her. I used a soft black satin that has a dull sheen rather than a high shine. And made her a tiny silver moon necklace on a silver chain. When it came to her hair I tried both an up do and with it down and Della decided that she preferred it loose and wild.

I really enjoyed making this doll, and I've heard from Della that Ivy was really pleased with her gift so I'm thrilled :)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year - Sale

I hope your all having a wonderful Christmas and are planning a very very Happy New Year.
I've been very spoilt and my lovely family and friends have given me beautiful gifts this year. I'm so grateful for their kindness and I've missed being able to see them all because my back has been playing up. I've spent most of Christmas laying on the living room floor, but it's not stopped me enjoying myself just because I can't get around too well. I've even managed a shot walk out in the frosty air today :)

My lovely husband bought me this wonderful little Plague Doctor doll from Angela's Animals on Etsy -
Isn't he lovely! She makes the cutest felted animals with fantastic detail, but I fell in love with this little guy with his feathered cape and tall hat. He has long fingered hands and his hooked beak is just perfect.

My Mother and Father in-law gave me the Froud's Fairy Tales book and I'm amazed at the mix of illustrations and photographs of their sculptures in it. The stories are  strange and unusual and it's all laid out so well. I love the Froud's work and hope one day to be lucky enough to own a piece of it myself.

My bestest friends both gave me amazing gifts as they always do. They are always so kind :) I would have modelled my beautiful Lindy Bop dress from Sarah and Liam if I could stand a bit straighter right now. And Becky and James gave me something that made me cry when I opened it. They gave me this ceramic poppy that was part of the huge installation at the Tower of London this year, and I'm so thrilled to have one for myself. The idea behind the installation was beautiful and the whole effect so stunning. I wish I could have seen it myself, but now I have a small piece of it in my home.

I've had books and dvd's, new makeup and a warm hat, a smart new purse and a delicate silver bracelet, thanks to all of my wonderful family and friends and feel very lucky that they are all in my life.

To start off the new year in style and as a Thank you to all of the supportive people who have offered me kindness and encouragement this year I'm having a January Sale, but this time with a little difference since Etsy has new settings for it's coupon codes and I'm now able to alter the deals to make them better and better for my lovely collectors. I've listed them below and they will be active until the last day in Jan. As always I'm happy to reserve any of my dolls you may be interested in.

Spend £20 (peg doll size) and use code HAPPYNEWYEAR1 at checkout for 10% OFF
Spend £50 (small doll size) and use code HAPPYNEWYEAR2 at checkout for 15% OFF
Spend £130 (med doll size or a mix) and use code HAPPYNEWYEAR3 at checkout for 20% OFF
Spend £275 (large doll size or a mix) and use code HAPPYNEWYEAR4 at checkout for 25% OFF

I hope you all have everything you could wish for in 2015

Monday, 15 December 2014

Dolls Are Getting Excited For Christmas

Ok, so maybe the dolls aren't the only ones getting excited for Christmas :)
I love Christmas!
I mean really Really REALLY love it. I've had all my gift bought since Halloween and my tree up since Dec 1st. All the card are written and gifts wrapped and now I'm ready with only 9 days to go until I get to give hubby his presents and find out if my friends and family like what I got them too. I hope they do as there are a few odd ones this year (not telling who's :)
I've taken Christmas Eve off from the Day Job and will spend it getting even more silly and wound up until I get told to calm down by Cris or get one evil look too many from Darcy Cat. It'll be here before you know it and I hope your all planning to spend lots of time and make happy memories with those you love.

I have been doll making but at this time of year I don't get to share much. I've been working on commissions and their all Christmas gifts so I can't share just in case I spoil the surprise for someone. There have been peg dolls and secrets and a rather glamorous lady in a va-va-voom black dress. I've also been working on a gift for my Godmother and another for a very lovely friend across the seas, and with all the packing and shipping and trying to finish off Effie and ideas I'm all in a mix. I huge horrible stinking cold hasn't helped either, but now it's gone I'm hoping to get some serious work done :)

Effie Gray is sitting very patiently waiting for her hat and a few trimmings, and my Remember and Secret ideas are coming along slowly too. Maybe I'll have some doodles to share soon. I hope your all having fun getting ready for Christmas and New Year.
Take care