Tuesday, 27 December 2011
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas of your own, and are looking forward to a fantastic Start to the New Year ahead of us. I can't say I'll be sorry for this year to end. There have been too many sadness's and hardships for my friends, family, and myself this year to make me sorry to see it pass away. And I hope that the new year can go some way to make right what can be made right, and to soften the pains that exist.
New Year is always such a strange melancholy time. With the passing of another year I always feel that I should try and take stock of my life and make plans for the future. I'm not one for new years resolutions, but having a goal to work towards always helps me to keep myself going in the directions that I want, and not those that I fall into. Like so many of us I get caught up in the petty details of life and can forget to focus on what's important to me and my loved ones. It's an important time of year, this passing, and one that I intend to make full use of to plan out the next twelve months ahead of me.
This time of year is so cold and miserable in Wales. The roads will freeze and the snows come. Everything will be pretty and white at some time or another. But the days will be short, and the nights extra long even though the shortest day has already passed. Being a Summer baby I'm not keen on this time of year as I hate to be cold. The only good thing about January, after all, is the Sales!
So, with my plans for next year already involving making sure I improve each and every doll that I make, and my wish to make many many more of the characters bubbling away in my head come into reality, I've made one decision early. To have a big 25% OFF SALE and make room for all these new lovelies in my shop, and on my shelves.
From now until the end of January I've reduced over two thirds of my dolls by 25%. Including some of my very favourite dolls - I'm very proud of the stunningly dramatic Mary Shelley, with her hand corded petticoats and tons of layers with her tiny waist. And the pretty Elizabeth Armistead with her lace applique gown and pretty bonnet. Some dolls that I've reduced are some of the first that I ever made, and they'd already been reduced once. I decided to reduce them further to make them even better value for money, and so that you can now find one of my dolls to suit any budget. You can see all of them here at my shop. I hope to find many of them new and loving homes - www.NatashaMorgan.etsy.com
He's been nagging me for years to make the creepy twins from his favourite film - The Shining. So, this year, I finally got around to making them for him.
If someone had asked me to describe what these two creepy girls where wearing before I actually checked I would have been convinced that they wore pinafores. And I wasn't the only one to be surprised that in fact they actually have quite plain blue dresses with white lace trim and a white sash. I couldn't quite get one of the details around the hem right, so decided to leave them plain. And I finished them off with white bead hair-clips, black shoes with white bows, and long white cotton socks. And I'm happy to be able to say that he loved them.
These two have waited ever so patiently in a box among my tools and fabric, waiting for the day when I would actually let them out and give them some clothes so they wouldn't have to suffer their embarrassing predicament.
I've been putting off working on these two as I'm a little scared of the tiny tailoring and details needed to make them look just as I want them. But after managing to get Joel's tiny tail coat together for my friends wedding cake toppers I'm feeling a bit braver, so thought I'd give it a go now before I loose my nerve again.
As I usually do I started with the underwear she'd need to keep her decent under her flimsy gown. And she wears a long shift with short tight sleeves under short stays.Her floor length petticoat has a high waist just under her bust which has two straps over her shoulders to make sure it stays in place.
I've already had the first of my troubles with these dolls as the pretty cotton fabric with teal flowers on that I bought for her just would not work out. It was too bright, even under a voile overlay, and the scale of the flowers was just too big. She unfortunately looked much too much like her sister Mary, so I had to take the whole of her bodice and sleeves off again and have to wait to dress her any further until I find a fabric that will work for her.
He wears long drawers that are gathered below the knee, like women's underwear of the same time they are split into two separate legs attached to a waistband.
His long fine cotton shirt has wide baggy sleeves and a split at neck, front and back so it can be tucked more neatly into his trousers. He has a separate tall stiff collar that comes right up to his chin, tied with a long cravat or tie that's been wound around his neck quite a few times before being tied neatly in the front in a smart knot.
I found a scrap of the lovely champagne gold silk that my Godmother gave to me to make it. Left over from my cousin's wedding accessories, it was the perfect colour to go with the sage or olive green I've bought for his coat. It has the textured matt side of the fabric in front, and I've used the shiny polished side for the back. I gave it tiny pearl bead buttons, a high neck over his white collar with deep lapels in the front, and the straight square waist that will show beneath the front of his coat.
I still have a lot to do before both are finished. I decided early on that I wanted to dress them in outfits as they would have worn when visiting or taking a walk rather than in evening wear. So I've got a few layers of clothing to go before they can be considered properly dressed. Miss Elizabeth still needs her gown, as well as maybe another petticoat, a pelisse (coat) and bonnet. And Mr Darcy needs his morning coat and a tall top hat now his narrow straight trousers are finished. I've not decided on the finishing accessories yet, but I'm looking forward to figuring out what they'll be :)
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
I found out today that my last shipping date to the USA, Canada, or Australia is Monday 5th December according to the UK Postal Service. I'm really disappointed that in this day and age Britain can't do any better than this. And it makes this my last chance to offer all of my wonderful customers the chance to get my own little Scarlet free of charge and get her to them before Christmas day arrives.
And have learnt just how kind, supportive, and truly amazing people that you don't know can be. So this is my small way of saying Thank You.
I just wish I was in a position right now to offer you more. Which is why I've decided to give up Scarlet; my patient companion that has always listened to me babel away when I'm trying to decide which direction to go in when I'm stuck or when I'm trying to refine what I'm doing.
Scarlet is a small (approx 20cm) doll that has jointed shoulders, knees, and hips. She's dressed in scraps of fabric and lace, and wears a mix-match of tiny jewellery pieces. But she's very special to me for so many reasons.
She's the very first jointed doll I made. The first that I sculpted in paperclay, and the first doll that I managed to perfect applying marabou feather hair on. She's not one of the first of her kind - She is the very first!
I agonised over how to attach her legs and arms before finally being brave enough to drill the holes in her limbs, hips and torso. Only after practising on little scraps of dowelling did I finally manage to do it. Still, there was quite a bit of trial and error before I was happy, and I unfortunately wasted quite a bit of the strong vintage thread from the wooden spool given to me by my Grandmother. And I still string my dolls in a very similar way.
I'd also used feathers on some of these earlier dolls as they remind me of a tattered little clown with feather hair I owned as a child that I loved dearly. But Scarlet was the first doll that I managed to get the very full, wild, and in this case mixed colour hair, just as I wanted it - even down to the tiny sparkling gems cut from a piece of a broken old bracelet that I used as a hair clip for her.
Scarlet wears a tiny black bodice under a high waisted tartan tutu with a wide lace petticoat, and has white and turquoise stripped knee high socks. She has perfectly stripped black, dark cerise and white hair. And has lots of bracelets, a sterling silver coker necklace, a diamonte hair clip, and a tiny faceted glass bead hanging from her waist.
She's imperfect, small, and has overly pointed feet. But she's my own, my friend, and my first.
Scarlet has helped me come such a long way in making my dolls, and I'll miss her greatly ( I don't mind at all if i get to keep her). But I can't think of a better way to say Thank You.
I wish I could offer more.
I couldn't resist making four of my very smallest dolls as hanging decorations for the Christmas tree this year. And as I wanted them to be suitable to hang from a shelf or against a wall or object after the holidays, and after making my Little Red Riding Hood, what could be better than more Fairytale dolls. So instead of choosing the most popular or well know characters I went with my favourites. As well as having a ribbon to hang them from anywhere you can think of, all these tiny 20cm dolls can sit on any ledge or on top of books and other objects among your treasures. The first can also stand unaided if you puff up her skirts and petticoats.
But I still always loved it :)
My Princess is dressed with layers of petticoats in crisp cotton lawn, with a deep ruffle around the hem of her topmost fancy one; which is why when they are puffed out a bit she can stand unaided. She has a white chemise under a cream stripped bodice. Her high waisted silk dress is a rich paisley of sage green, blue, gold and white with long pointed medieval sleeves. In her arms she carries a silk cushion trimmed with lace and red satin ribbon to hold the tiny offending green felt pea.
This young girls devastating life and hardships ended in the joyful reunion with her much loved grandmother. After her seeing beautiful images in the tiny flames of her matches she saw the one thing that made her happiest of all things. When they found her they thought she had used the spent matches in her lap to warm herself. When we know she had used them to hang onto her last vision long enough to be able to pass over and go to be reunited with her family.
I left her with her shoes on, before she lost the thin too big hand-me-down slippers in the snow. And cut the matches themselves from real ones, painting the ends and tieing them together with vintage thread.
This little doll even smells Christmas-y as part of what I used to stain her apron was powdered cinnamon from my baking cupboard. And for a change I tied up her hair. But if you prefer it down and wild like my other dolls the thread holding it can be snipped, and the feathers blown around to make them full again.
His little life is a sad one again. After starting out with only one leg after being the last to be made from the tin ladle and there not being enough left. Then falling from the window and not being found, being sent through the drains in a paper boat and having to fight off rats, and being stranded in the dirty gutter among the rubbish. He is rescued by a kitchen maid and taken back to the very place he had started from, with his love still there waiting for him, standing on one tiny foot with the other stretched behind her in the doorway of the play castle.
My Steadfast Tin Soldier has dark blue trousers with one leg folded up neatly and tacked in place to account for his missing leg. His uniform is made in the style of a period Victorian soldiers uniform, with a red jacket trimmed with white epaulets and straps for his equipment bags, with a white high collared shirt underneath. He has gold coloured bead buttons, and I gave him a tiny heart shaped blue enamel charm on his breast as a medal. I made his hat from black felt with a strap under his chin and decorated it with more gold beads.
This little man didn't stay with me long once he was finished, and is currently on his way to the lovely Nancy in Canada. I really hope that she likes him when he gets there, and that he looks just as I pictured him on her tree this year.
Over her lace trimmed bloomers and shift she wears a pretty dress that has a blue pattern with sprays of pink and purple flowers, with a tight bodice and puffy sleeves. She has a wide pink satin sash trimmed with white ribbon and her glittery spangle attached in the middle.
She has really full gathered skirts and petticoat to make her look like a ballerina. And they stand out around her in a soft folds. Near one hand she has a small metal heart attached to her skirts so she can't loose it. I imagined it as a gift to her from the Steadfast Tin Soldier before he left on his adventures.
I'm not sure what it is that I'll be making next. I have one project to finish as a Christmas gift, and then I'd really like to work on something a little larger again. Maybe I'll get to work on my Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.
Saturday, 19 November 2011
Everything was leading me to do something different and new. Something of pure fantasy and imagination, letting me do what I wanted to do in a way that happened spontaneously rather than the way I usually plan everything out. So I looked in the one place that always provides tons of inspiration and looked through my book shelves.
Me being me I still couldn't decide.
I love fantasy and fairytale, but don't really ever turn to it when looking into what dolls I'd like to make. For some reason I turn to real women when I decide to make a new doll, and love to share the little known lives of the women from the past to give them a voice, even though it's only a tiny one for a little while. So when I spotted the three ancient fairytale books standing on the bedside table in my guest bedroom I knew straight away who my next doll would be - Who could be better than Little Red Riding Hood!
As soon as I'd made the decision I had a bright shining idea burning in my mind of just how I wanted my Little Red to look. I knew she had to have a pure white dress with a red sash, and a red satin cloak. I knew that I wanted her to be a young lady rather than a little girl, so started by making her a pair of lace trimmed bloomers, a corset and lots of white cotton lawn petticoats so that she'd have a really full calf length skirt. And an chemisette or blouse under her bodice in tight gathers with a lace collar.
I love the way my Little Red turned out. It was such a joy to do something so different I'm planning to make four tiny dolls as hanging decorations of some of my other favorite fairytale characters that can be hung on a Christmas tree, against a wall or from a shelf. There will soon be The little Match Girl, the Princess and the Pea, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and his Dancer all finished and ready :)
Sunday, 13 November 2011
Every character she writes has been so carefully thought out that even the hardly mentioned have a life that jumps from the page and sticks in your mind. And even though there doesn't seem to be much meaning in her books for our modern lives I always take something away from them with me that lasts much longer than it takes to read them. And I always go back to read them again and again.
The awkward family relationships and courtships, the mistakes made and waiting needed, and the power held by a few over their friends and relations tell a deeper story of life during those times than the romantic tale that sits on the surface. And the very different way in which women then lived thier lives can really be seen in her novels.
As gentle as she is she still had strong opinions of what she should and would wear, and gave me a few problems along the way.
No matter how many times I think about it or look into it it just somehow goes right against the grain not to give a doll a pair of knickers or bloomers. I know very well that people are going to look up her skirts because I do it myself. And I've no idea why we do it even though I've tried to work it out many times. But there it is. Jane Bennett has no pants on!
The Miss Bennett of the fabulous BBC TV series of Pride & Prejudice (with the lovely Colin Firth) always wore this kind of neckline instead of the square neckline favored by Lizzie. So when I think of her I always she her this way. Her gown has narrow sleeves and a narrow satin sash, and the hem is trimmed with lace applique.
Jane should have had a cream crush treated silk pelisse coat. And I made two attempts at making one for her. The first went very wrong and had to be redone from scratch. But I was very pleased with the second as I'd managed to sew in an extra detailed puff at the shoulder and a shaped hem in three points. She's not wearing this lovely coat as she just refused to look tidy in it. And instead looked boxy and restricted like I'd made her a silk straight jacket instead.
The second problem she gave me was today when I started taking photos. I'd forgotten that in her pale dress with her pale blonde hair that she would almost disappear into my cream backdrop. And I missed the brightest part of the day to try and make sure that the photos wouldn't just show her round eyes.
I really enjoyed making another Regency doll as I love the style and simplicity of the clothes. Once I've finally plucked up courage I'll get started again on Darcy and Elizabeth, but for now I'm working next on a true fantasy - My take on Little Red Riding Hood :)
Sunday, 6 November 2011
It was a beautiful day, and as you can see the Bride and Groom looked fantastic!
The ceremony took place in a rustic converted barn, and after dark the guests send paper lanterns floating into the firework laden sky. The sun shone all day long, and the music and company was fab. It was a really lovely wedding.
I was amazed to see that my little figures looked fantastic. They suited the Burtonesque wonky tipsy purple and black cake as if they had been made together. And I was relieved that after only seeing a few photos of The Dress I hadn't done too bad a job of making it's tiny doll copy.
It was so nice that they got a lot of admiration throughout the day. And I can't wait to see the photos the professional photographs took of them, rather than the few snaps I managed to take on my phone.
I have to add as well that I love the little bugs made of icing that were positioned flying around the cake. It's a really nice touch, and really made the whole thing fun.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
Just wanted to share my first look at my little bride and groom cake toppers on the wedding cake. They looked fab. Ans the wedding was fantastic. How often do you get to go to a wedding where the happy couple, bride in her fab glam purple dress, get up on stage and perform with thier metal band :-)
Lanterns were sent floating into the air. The roller derby team where looking fab in vintage style with sick tattoos. And I got to wear my blue faux fur. That's me you can see in the mirror behind the cake :-)
Sunday, 23 October 2011
It's still amazing to me how barbaric some of the treatments were. It wasn't that long ago, but the "experts" knew very little about how to treat even the simplest mental conditions. Resorting to horrific procedures that more often than not only made the poor patients worse, and gave them further problems to deal with.
Each of them felt it necessary to share what had happened to them with the world. Either to try and make sense of it for themselves, or to try and open the eyes of the ignorant public to what was actually going on behind those big locked gates. Some of them even campaigning for reform of behalf of those they had left behind.
The descriptions of what they went through is enough to bring tears to even the hardest heart. The experimental surgery, the harsh treatment and beatings by attendants and nurses that themselves had been promoted from among the patients, the water treatments, mental torture and often filthy conditions...
These women went through Hell and were somehow still strong enough to re-visit their ordeals by writing them down for others to read.
Total lack of understanding about mental conditions meant that most of the women writing these accounts were perfectly sane. Probably even more so than most of us, convicted to the care of asylums because someone wanted them out of the way, or because they held views that their fathers and husbands did not agree with. Some even for being too fond of clothes or for just not being as pretty as they once were.
I know that this has to be one of the oddest subjects for a doll that there is, but these glimpsed snapshots of asylum inmates just stick with me, yearning to be made into something tangible, something that can be cared for and looked after. Something that can be given a good home, maybe a pretty view for them to look at, or a generous heart to help balance their minds.
Why shouldn't they be made?
I know that I'm not the only one that has suffered from some sort of mental condition form time to time. We've all experienced stress at some point during our lives, maybe a period of depression, or even the occasional outburst of hysteria or panic.
Then there are those that struggle with greater problems such as long term depression, nervous breakdowns, or horrible phobias . And know we know enough of these awful conditions to know how the treat them, to have sympathy for the sufferers, and to treat them with respect.
I've been there when family members and close friends have been suffering beyond anything I could do anything to help with. And I've seen them come out of the other side of the most hideous experiences and illnesses to be an even stronger more beautiful person than they were before.
I'm always amazed how my loved and cherished family and friend always manage to amaze me more as time passes with their strength and courage.
But we do, don't we?
We carry on and make the best of things.
And that's why humanity is so amazing. And why I'll continue to make these sad little creatures when one decides it's time to be made. And I hope that someone out there can understand why I do it, and open up their lives to a doll like Ivy May.