Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sculpting in Layers - Work in Progress

I've been spending my days sculpting, relaxing, and listening to music. One of the nicest ways to spend some days off I can imagine.

I've had a lovely holiday off from work, and today is my last day. I've spent my time with my dear husband, getting all the little chores done that get missed during a normal week, having some lovely days out, and spending time making new dolls. We even got to go visit the National Botanical Gardens of Wales, and the National Museum and Art Gallery in Cardiff. It's been to long since I went to the art gallery and I really enjoyed getting to see wonderful works by the best artists in the world. Including a favorite Van Gogh of rain soaked fields, and beautiful soft Claude Monet visions of stunning gardens and classic architecture. But my favorites, as always, were the portraits from tiny miniatures to massive full length portraits. All those faces gazing out of the canvas of people long since gone. Each telling it's own tale of the times in which they lived, the Sunday best clothes of the poorer classes, and the lavish get-up's of the rich. All staged in a setting befitting the social standing of the person shown - some in a studio dressed with the highest care and depicting carefully chosen objects and refinements that can be viewed as a puzzle to the life lived, and others shown in their true settings of everyday life with the dirt and grime of their own society there for all to see. Like the poor hardworking miners of the Welsh valleys captured as they sit quietly alone in the crowd of their local pub, taking a hard won rest and well earned pint while still covered in the black ink dirt that sticks even to their eyelashes like make-up and will never wash off, so deeply it's ingrained. I really must find myself more time to enjoy all the wonderful things the galleries in this country hold. And some day soon maybe I'll get to re-visit some of the fantastic galleries of other countries that I've visited before, and find new treasures in new countries too.

My table has been covered with bit's of dolls all week. And after cutting and sanding what seemed like thousands of bits of dowelling things are starting to look a little bit more doll like now.

Above (first photo) is just some of my new girls (and two boys this time), some almost finished and some still waiting for further layers of paperclay to fill out areas that have shrunk during drying and to re-shape lips, noses, cheeks and eyes. This next week I'll be spending a lot of time finishing these off and getting them sanded ready to be painted next weekend.
I've managed to get all the hands and feet sculpted for all 26 dolls, all of the bodies, and all but 6 of the faces. I was a bit annoyed to find I didn't have the right colours or sizes of eyes I needed for the largest dolls so I'll need to take a trip out button shopping before I can finish those 4. And the two small ones at the front (left second photo) need a very specific eye colour as they're to be cake toppers I've been asked to make for my neighbors wedding. I'm a bit worried about making them look like actual people, so if you have any tips I'd be really grateful for your help.

All the arms and legs have been sanded, wet polished and finished. As well as this one little body that's one of my small 5in dolls. I've given up trying to sand paperclay with sandpaper. All it seems to do it tear up the clay and leave horrible scratches, even when I use the finest grade I can find (which clogs up and I end up using tons of it). So have gone back to my trusted Basic Grey file set, which never seems to wear and always does the job - no matter what I use them on. I really should get another set of them, and I really recommend them if you need to sand or file small bit's and bob's as they have very good points to them, and all the shapes have been really useful, especially the round file, the curved - flat file, and the slightly tapered flat file that's just a little thicker one one edge than the other. To get rid of the very faint lines left by sanding this way I then wipe over everything with a damp cloth. I've no idea where I found out how to do this, but through trial and error with different techniques I've found that if you "polish" and rub dry paperclay after sanding with a damp cloth you get a very nice smooth finish. I use a 100% cotton face cloth as it's just rough enough to take off those rough spots but doesn't leave any marks. While the clay is still damp I then rub it all over with a damp finger to make sure it's totally smooth. Which seems to give the clay a sort of seal so that the paint that comes next will sink in, but not so far that it'll take loads of layers to get them finished. Then they get pinned back up on these concertina fold corrugated card boards that I salvaged from packaging that was being thrown away. I've no idea how I'd dry anything without it loosing some of it's shape without them.

My husband pointed out to me that my dust jar is a bit odd. I suppose that to some it could seem a little bit strange, although I don't really see why myself. He's not the only one that's asked me why I have a jar of dust, so I thought I'd try and explain.

Anytime I make something from paperclay I always sand it over a sheet of newspaper to try and control some of the mess. I was getting a bit fed up of throwing away this Dust as I was sure I could find some use for it. And once I started looking I found loads of things I could use it for, so now I save it all in my dust jar.
This fluffy white dust is fantastic stuff, and as paperclay can be expensive in the UK as I have to get it shipped from the US I think it's only right that I don't waste it.

It's oddly heavier than you'd think it would be. It's not that it has a weight, as it doesn't. It's just that it doesn't move or puff up everywhere if you move slightly or a mouse breathes in the next room like the sandings that come from a lot of air dry clays and other things, so you can play about with it without holding your breath, and you don't have to worry and clean up every two seconds when your in the middle of sanding something in the first place. It is possible to turn it back into clay if your careful with how much water you add to it. But it doesn't have the same texture as a nice new block of paperclay does, so it doesn't really work for the same things. I have used it to make some lovely casts by mixing up the dust to a stiff consistency and pushing it onto rubber stamps then leaving it to dry before removing. They came out really nicely with a lovely aged look because of the slightly rougher texture it dries to. I've also used it as a filler for fine cracks in other clay projects by mixing it up to a sort of jam consistency and rubbing it on with my fingers in a few coats. This was fantastically messy in that lovely child-like mud-pie making sort of way, and gave a really nice finish. I really do use this dust on all sorts of things, and it's very versatile - You can add it to acrylic paint to get a thick gluey textured paint that holds brush marks and scratches like a think oil paint - Layer it onto paper or canvas with your fingers to get a smooth surface like plaster or lay it on thick and scratch into it - Mix it up thinly and wash it over projects to give them a ghostly milky matt wash (so long as you get out all of the lumps, or not if you prefer) - It can be used in any consistency to add a little fill to bed items onto things and stop them looking like their floating on the surface - Or brushed dry onto painted plastic as a blotter to get rid of that horrid sticky thing that happens sometimes. There are tons of things to do with this dust, so I'm going to carry on collecting it and find as many uses of it as possible.
Do you keep your sandings?
What do you use yours for?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Catherine Walters

Nicknamed ‘Skittles’, and called Katie, Kitty or Skittsie by her lovers, Catherine Walters was a familiar site riding along the fashionable Rotton Row in London’s Hyde Park. Riding a chestnut mare, the simplicity of her Princess riding habit was cut so perfectly it looked as if it may have been glued to her. So perfect was the fit, and so tight, it was even rumoured that she wore nothing beneath.
            Catherine was original, inventive and flamboyant. She loved the outdoors, and was physically daring. She was classically lovely, sweet, yielding and as delicate as a flower – she also inspired romantic hopeless passion. Dark blonde with blue eyes, clear skin and a pure complexion, photographs of her show her to be a ravishing natural beauty. Catherine had an aristocratic air and was an expert horsewoman. Her perfect figure shown off to its best advantage when riding side saddle in her famous outfit and pork pie hat.

Born in Liverpool to a sea captain and his Irish wife, Catherine was far from the aristocrat that she appeared to be. She was raised a Catholic and was sent to a convent school at the age of 4 when her mother died. From which she ran away after a fight with the mother superior. She found employment at a livery stable displaying the animals on the hunting field. And her nickname Skittles is said to have come from this time because of her skill at the skittles alley.
At the age of 16 she became the mistress of Lord Fitzwilliam, and when they separated a few years later she received a very generous settlement of £300 a year with a further £2000 lump sum. She then transferred her affections to Spencer Compton Cavendish, Marquis of Huntington and heir to the Duke of Devonshire, he was known to friends as Harty-Tarty. This relationship was deeply affectionate on both sides. And letters survive to show that they wrote to each other up to 3 times a week over a four year period. Catherine was just 19 when she met Hartington, and he 26. He wrote bluntly but with real feeling, often very husbandly.

Both were passionate about hunting and the site of Skittles riding so daringly and expertly was a powerful aphrodisiac to the men around her. Her skills found her acceptance in a part of society that denied her everywhere else. And when she moved to London for the season when Hartington did, she filled her time taking lessons from a governess, and learned quickly to portray the image that she wanted to portray. Hartington was always very generous – providing her with horses, hunters and a house in Mayfair. Rather than he be jealous of her, it was her that showed jealousy when they were apart. But sadly their relationship became harder and harder to maintain.
By 1861 Catherine was a famous site riding through Hyde Park, attracting a lot of attention. The fashionable ladies did their best to imitate her style and dress, but none where as beautiful as her. Although the women of society couldn’t acknowledge her existence, even The Times and Daily Telegraph featured articles about her. It was too late for marriage now even though it was said that marriage was what Hartington had intended.

Her fame ended her relationship with Hartington without the consent of either of them. Although it was he that ended it he still showed her great care, and Catherine’s determination showed when she followed him to New York to persuade him to take her back. Their relationship floundered on for a further year, on and off again, but she knew it was over. She was genuinely unhappy and moved to Paris, selling her house, horses and carriages. Generous until the end, Hartington and his relieved family settled £500 a year on her, which was continued after his death by the Devonshire estate until her own death.
Immediately after this difficult break Catherine met Wilfred Scawen Blunt. She purposely seduced him, and their whirlwind romance lasted approx. 4 weeks – a summer romance. His most famous poem Esther was written about Catherine later in his life. He was naive and believed her as devotedly in love with him as he was with her, and was totally devastated when she broke it off. Pleading with her she allowed him to go with her back to Paris from Biarritz, but it would not work. In Paris he found her a very different woman.

After shunning all other society at Biarritz for him alone, Catherine now actively encouraged her admirers. Blunt convinced himself this was not her true character, and while she tried to protect him at first from the jokes and comments made by others, she too joined in the fun. The split, and to Blunt it was a shattering experience. Years later, in Paris again, Catherine wrote to him calling him back to her. And he found her in very different circumstances. She was still beautiful, but very ill looking and almost ill-dressed. No-one knows what her misfortunes were, but she convinced Blunt that she wanted to set up a life with him and live in a poor quiet way. And that he should find an apartment for them while she finished some business in London. Catherine took a long time to come back to Paris, and when she finally appeared she was exactly her old self and living in a stunning apartment of her own at 123 Avenue des Champs Elysees that had somehow been set up for her and her sister Caroline. She told him that he would see her as much as he liked, but it wasn’t to be. Instead he found that he could only get to see her very early in the morning for breakfast and a short ride.

By the afternoon Catherine was no longer the women he loved. She was at the height of her career and was one of the most celebrated courtesans in all of London and Paris. She still sometimes disguised herself to spend an evening with Blunt as she had once claimed she wanted to live, but it was impossible for her to live the life she really wanted. Blunt couldn’t bare to ask her how she spent her time away from him, and their final break came when he arrived at her apartment to find a man there with her; her protector, the man that paid for her extravagance. She tried to comfort him but of course it ended.
 It isn’t really known if Catherine had been leading Blunt on. She’d always been generous and given to him rather than took. Later in life she began a correspondence with Blunt again that lasted for nearly 40 years. In this latter part of her life she threw elegant Sunday afternoon tea parties that were attended by her friends. Old lovers such as Hartington, Blunt and even the Prince of Wales attended her, and she always took particular pride in bringing friends together.

She had the rare skill to turn former lovers into committed friends. She was often very ill in her last years, and on the advice of doctors she spent more and more time abroad, and ended at 81, her gift for friendship never leaving her. During her last illness both Blunt and The Prince of Wales (now King Edward) continued to visit and write to her. Her death marked the end of the golden age of British courtesanry. She was the last Great Courtesan.

I hand sew all of my dolls clothes from a mix of brand new and recycled fabrics; designing each piece individually to ensure a unique period outfit. I make each layer of clothing that would have been worn by real women to make a truly unique doll. And even though many of these layers can’t be seen they really help to create the right shape and feel to the outfits, as well as giving support to the finished layers. I research not only the lives of the women for my portrait dolls, but also the styles and fashions they would have worn, making each doll truly special.

Catherine’s clothing is full of details, and she was dressed in each layer to create an authentic outfit. To fit in with her flamboyant lifestyle I made both her bloomers and shift from pure silk in cream trimmed with a deep red ribbon, with a closely fitted cotton under-layer to her corset to protect her skin from the ridged support.

As a riding habit is a practical working outfit it doesn’t have the layers of petticoats, bustles or hoops that a usual outfit of this time would have. Instead Catherine wears a pair of wool felt riding breeches beneath her riding apron that have been tailored to enhance her perfect figure, being flat across the stomach and gently gathered at the sides and back with an extra layer to protect the riders delicate behind.

She has a practical black blouse with tightly cuffed balloon sleeves and a high ruffle under her chin, layered with black lace that has a teal flower pattern. Her riding habit itself has a very fitted jacket with a double collar and wide pointed cuffs detailed with hand embroidered frogging. It also has period square tails and a pointed front that shows off her tiny waist.

Catherine’s double layered riding apron or skirts has the traditional odd shape with a shaped, longer section to one side which creates room for the rider to raise her legs elegantly over the side saddle riding horns. As well as ensuring that her skirts will lie evenly and not flash her ankles when riding, this extra length drapes very prettily to create a train on one side which can be hooked up to allow her to walk without tripping. Both jacket and skirt are made in a soft grey with a plum lining to her skirts.

I made Catherine’s black pork pie shaped hat from wool felt, shaping the brim to create an elegant curve. It has a dusky pink and silver ribbon band trim with a large bow and trailing ribbon at the back that has been decorated with tiny blue and cream flowers.

This doll stands at 49cm tall, weighs approx. 230g

Friday, 15 July 2011

Bits & Pieces - How My Girls Start

All of us that make dolls start them differently, with our own methods and materials. And for me starting new dolls is always a time of sawdust and sandpaper. Which to tell truth - I Hate!

I've been cutting all of the bits that I need to sculpt a whole load of new dolls. I have a little time off from the day job, and thought it would be a good idea to get all of this messy work done now so that I can concentrate more on the fun stuff when I have less time again. I've sawn, shaped, drilled and sanded tones of birch wood dowel into enough arms and legs for 26 doll! And mounted wooden beads onto dowels for around half of their bodies until my order of smaller beads arrive, when I'll be able to finish them.
I know I've been a bit ambitious, but I'm really not intending to get all of these dolls sculpted and painted before I return to work next week. I'm only planning to get all of the arms and legs sculpted, and a few of the bodies and heads. That way I'll have arms and legs ready any time I want to make a new doll, and won't have to get caught up sculpting the limbs as I'll have them all ready. Left is all of the lower arm pieces I've cut, and below all of the lower leg pieces. If you look close you'll be able to see that some of the pieces shown in the top photo are shaped on one end as I round them to fit better against the bodies.

Sometimes I still get asked where I get the parts for my dolls from. And now and again where I get the dolls themselves from. And it feels odd to have to explain that I make them all from scratch - from start to end. It's not something I ever thought I'd be doing. To think that I've found what it is that I love to make after trying so many different things. And that thing turned out to be the one thing  that I always loved as a child - Dolls! Even though I hate the sawing and sanding. Even though I still hate waiting for clay to dry. I do truly love making dolls. They just make me happy :)
I'm still planning out who these dolls will be and have a number of characters that I'd like to make. The more I read the more I fall in love with the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras, so there will be a few more period styled dolls. As well as a few characters from favorite films and books, and one inspired by a favorite song.
I'm also just finishing off the great Victorian Courtesan Catherine Walters in her famously tight riding habit, and only have her hat left to make. Just another thing I'm planning to get done during this holiday. I'm going to be really busy, just the way I like it.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Catherine Walters - Work In Progress

Catherine Walters, better known as Skittles, was the last of the great Victorian Courtesan.
She was famous for her beauty, style and riding skills. And remembered by many riding one of her magnificent horses along Rotten Row in Hyde Park in a perfectly tailored riding habit that fitted her so well, and was so tight, that it was rumoured she wore nothing beneath it, and had to be sewn into it.

Skittles set high fashion trends, was rumoured to have had intellectuals, leaders of political parties, aristocrats and a member of the British Royal Family amongst her benefactors.

During her life as a courtesan, her discretion and loyalty to her benefactors became the focal point of her career. There were many rumours about her being involved with certain wealthy men of the time, but she never confirmed or denied these. This gave her great weight in the courtesan lifestyle, and made her a sought after commodity. This also gave long life to her career, and helped her to retire a wealthy woman of society around 1890.

There's something about Skittles' life that has really interested me. She inspired so much loyalty in the men that were her benefactors: many of them becoming her life-long friends.
She was also one of the very few great Courtesans that was truly successful to the very end of her life. So many of them ended in sad circumstances, with no money and very few friends. Ending their days living a life that was totally devoid of the riches they had once been used to, or dying alone and sometimes tragically. But Skittles was different. She retired with a great fortune, and owned homes in London and the country. She still had her loyal friends and the society she had always been used to, and lived in the style that she always had.
I don't know what made her different from many of the others. Maybe she was just much better with her money. Or maybe she was just lucky. But there is no doubt that her life was interesting.

I wanted to make Catherine in her perfectly fitting riding habit, and started with her underwear.
The pair of legs on the Victorian bloomers, joined only at the waist with ties or sewn to one waistband (and why we always say a Pair of knickers) are starting to get a bit easier now that I've made a few pairs of them. It's quite hard to get the baggy legs and the baggy sack like bum sections that mean that the gap between stays closed on its own. And I've tried a few different designs to get them the shape that I want on my skinny dolls and finally found a design that seems to work. Making each leg horizontally to the body section rather than vertically makes them look quite daft, but does provide the bags and folds, as well as meaning you can tailor the legs to how wide you want them to be.
Catherine would have had the best of everything - clothes, jewellery, horses and homes. So although Victorian underwear would have most certainly been made of white cotton with very little trimming so that it could be scrubbed clean I thought that as one of the richest women of her time, with fabulously rich patrons who may have bought her very expensive gifts, I made all of Catherine's underwear from pure silk, and trimmed it with a rich dark red satin ribbon.

I made a bit of a mistake when I made Skittles' chemise as I made it quite long before realising there was no way that I'd be able to tuck all that fabric into her riding trousers. I'm so used to making girls in dresses that I forgot that underneath the specially shaped and tailored riding habit skirts a woman riding side saddle would have worn wool or chamois bloomers so she would be better able to grip the saddle horns with her legs.
I shortened her chemise and made a soft cotton lawn lace-up body to go under her corset and protect the fine silk underneath against her skin. I know these were worn under corsets, but I'm not too sure what they were called as they seem to have a number of names. Corsets were expensive and needed protection from sweat and dirt from the body, as well as the wearer needing protection from the ridged boning and metal fittings. Although a lot of corsets were well padded with quilted interiors for this.
Next came wide elastic to simulate the corset itself, and fawn coloured wool felt riding bloomers.

Catherine was said to have the perfect figure, with a tiny waist and perfect curves, so I had to decide how I could give her this shape without using pads or bustles.
I'm sure that some women would have used a little extra help in the shape of the usual bum pads. But I wanted to try and give my Catherine her shape just using the shaping I could provide by structuring her clothing.
I rounded out her hips by pulling the gathers in the wool felt of her riding bloomers over so that the stomach of them was flat before attaching them to the waistband. The felt is thick enough to provide enough structure to keep their shape even under the layers of skirts. It would have been nice to make them from chamois leather, but I was worried that the leather might pick up moisture and become hard and brittle which would stop Catherine's legs from moving freely and spoil the bend at her knee.
My next problem was to somehow round out my dolls flat bottom. Some of the riding bloomers I looked at on the internet seemed to have an extra layer of fabric sewn to the bottom - something like the leather patches you see on tweed jackets. Which were probably meant to give a little extra protection for the rider. So I added a second layer of felt to the back of Catherine's riding bloomers, and stuffed it a little to create a more rounded bum and give her her proper silhouette.

I made Catherine's riding blouse from a smooth black fabric with tightly cuffed balloon sleeves and a high neckline. To try and make it look a little more interesting I layered over black lace that has teal coloured flowers. Fitting it around her bust to gather in a tight ruffle under her chin to give her that tightly buttoned up High Victorian look.
I'm almost finished dressing Catherine now. And only need to add the final embroidered details to her jacket and skirt. Hopefully I'll have finished photos of her soon. It was difficult to create the specially shaped skirt that has an odd construction to allow a rider to have extra room to draw up their knee over the saddle horns and still allow the skirt hem to lay even and protect the riders modesty, hooking up on one side so that the trailing side this strange shape makes doesn't drag on the ground when walking. For once I actually took the time to make a few draft versions to make sure I could get it right.
Her habit skirt is made of a soft grey suiting fabric, and has a dark purple lining. And I made her single breasted jacket to match, purposely sewing her into it as the rumours of the time suggested. It has wide pointed cuffs and a double collar, and when I'm done it'll have an embroidered frogging closure down the front to give it a slight military look.
As I've said before, I know that no-one can see all of these layers when my doll is finished, but I know I'm right to make them the way that I do as it just feels that way. When I hold a finished doll in my hands I can feel the layers of clothing beneath. And it somehow always makes me feel that it's somehow more finished. A more complete doll And more like the wonderful old antique dolls that I love dearly. It makes them sturdy, and less delicate than the thin limbed, strung together doll that I start with. But I don't want to change my dolls construction either as I love the floppy loose movement that they have - Oh well! I guess I'll carry on making and dressing my dolls the way that I do. It's all the better for me as I just love making and learning about the clothes these women I like to make wore at a time that isn't that long ago, but that still no-one can remember anymore.

I've always dressed my smaller dolls in a much simpler way with fewer layers and less exact period construction. But after the practice I've had on these last 6 extra-large dolls in sewing small details like tiny cuffs, necklines, lace details, embroidery and so much more I think the next smaller dolls I make will be made in much the same way. I've learnt so much by studying Victorian clothes, and have improved my sewing skills in so many ways. I've got quite a few new dolls planned once Catherine is finished; some fantasy and some real women. Including Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy (Colin Firth version - Obviously), an insane asylum nurse and one of her patient’s, and twin girls. It's been a while since i last had a proper sculpting day and I'm really looking forward to it :)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Harvey - A Two Faced Altered Doll Portrait

Named by my Husband after the Two Faced vintage DC Comic Book character Mr Dent, I was inspired to make Harvey by a challenge I was asked to take part in on behalf of my friend Louise for Alter It Monthly -

It's no secret to a lot of people that know Louise (known to some affectionately as Zuzu) that she finds dolls Creepy!
So when the July challenge for Alter It Monthly turned out to be Dolls Heads she very kindly thought of me, and asked me to create something on her behalf.

It took me a while to develop a solid idea for Harvey.
I wanted to stay true to my own style. But at the same time knew I needed something a little different. Something that combined one of the lovely, but sadly unwanted, little plastic baby dolls you can find in every charity shop across the UK, with my own abstract version of an art doll.

I started with the head of one of these poor plastic dolls that I'd already started to alter with paint and paper mache for a small assemblage project. I had removed the dolls eyes, cut her hair and covered her crown with layers of paper to get a more even moulded look, and painted it in layers of scrubbed on acrylic paint so that it looked a little old and worn out.

To get the space to sculpt one of my own dolls heads over half of the head I had to cut away a big chunk of the plastic head to open up the hollow inside which I stuffed with foil to give me a firm base to sculpt on, after gluing an old button from my big tin behind the plastic sides empty eye socket.

I wanted to try and show the differences between a mass produced plastic toy baby doll and an individual, one of a kind Art Doll.

I made the sculpted side as I would one of my original dolls. Painting it a very pale pinky peach colour, and adding a big button eye. Sculpting in the narrow cheeks, small but full lips, an almost blank expression, and proportions that I know are totally unrealistic. It's just the way I like to make them. What I see in my imagination, and my own way of letting those that see them decide for themselves the character that they see.
A lot of people think only I could love the dolls I make. But I'm lucky that a lot of people have shown me that they love them too. I'm very fortunate, as we all are, that with today's social media complete strangers can get in touch through Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and more and let you know what they think. And I'm always so grateful to all those that contact me to express an interest in my dolls. What could be a better ego boost to help you push through artistic block than a simple kind message from someone you've never met who only wants to tell you that they've seen something you've made, and that they like it :)

I'm sure I'm not the only doll artists that has to explain to people that I don't make playthings, that my dolls are not meant for children, and that what I make isn't something cute and fluffy (apart from the hair of course). And I often find myself having to describe my own work in a way that I don't really like. The way that those that don't appreciate them do.
After trying to explain that art dolls are sculptural, individual, imaginative figures that come in every size, shape, medium and style that is possible. That use techniques that artists have developed over years of study. That we make them to express ourselves and a very personal aesthetic vision, trying to express our own views of the world we live in (Can you guess I was an art student :) ). I end up resorting to words like Creepy and Different to describe work that I love and have put a lot into. Bland words that don't mean a lot.

Yes, I do know my dolls are creepy. And yes, I hope that they are different. But I know that this isn't what I want to say. Anyway, I'm determined not to do it anymore. And that's final!

I came across a lot of challenges making Harvey. The line between the two halves was a nightmare to get straight and sharp, and still isn't as good as I'd like it to be. And I found that I can use normal hairspray on marabou feathers if done with a very light touch to keep it where I want it, as at first it kept flopping over and spoiling the half / half effect.

Once Harvey was finished, with her hair all done on one side and tiny watch cogs for jewellery and hair decoration on the other, I used an awl to push a hole into the foil through the bottom neck opening and pushed a stand cut from a found jewellery display into the bottom, gluing it in place.

She still needed something more to join the two halves together, so I gathered a piece of lace into a stiff collar and tied it tightly under her chin, along with a narrow dark red ribbon . I really like the effect, and how it somehow makes Harvey look like an old vintage clown or a sad jester.

For once I have no idea who Harvey is. She's a complete mystery, even to me. Who she is and where she's been is a secret only she knows, and she's certainly not telling.
I normally know who my dolls are, if that makes any sense. As I'm making them they normally tell me things and impose their own ideas into what they will and will not wear, the colours they want, and the fabrics they prefer. And there have been a few times when I've had to re-start a whole outfit as the doll just refuses to accept what I want. But Harvey just... Happened!

I have Harvey sat just in front of me as I'm typing, and I can truly say I'm happy with how she came out, even if I have no idea who she is. And I really hope you like her too :)

I've not added many new posts lately as life has just seemed to get in the way, and I've been finding it hard to get back on track with a lot of things. but there has been one thing I've wanted to share, but haven't been able to - The Neath Bathroom Baby Doll!

I've tried loads of times to get a photo of this doll, but have failed miserably. It's a normal, old plastic baby doll in a shabby dress that stands in the bathroom window of a house I pass every day on my way home. This house stands right next to the fly-over bridge into town, and as you drive past your level with this frosted old leaf pattern window.
I know it doesn't sound too amazing, but the owner of this house has given me so much pleasure. And every time I pass I have to look at this wonderfully distorted old doll just to see - To see if she's Moved!

I've no idea who you are, the owner of this house with the Bathroom Baby Doll. But Thank you! Thank you for all the smiles and happiness you've given to me. No matter what kind of day I've had, just by repositioning this doll in your window every few days, you've made me happy. And after the past few months that have had such sadness in them for me this simple pleasure has meant a lot to me. Daft as that must sound.

I'm determined to get a photo of this doll to share here on my blog and on my Facebook page. Sometimes she's sitting looking out at the cars passing. And other times she's dancing with one leg in the air waving her arms. I've seen her do hand-stands, pose with her arms raised like a ballerina, lay on her back with her legs in the air, do press-ups, and simply stand waving at us as we pass. Along with countless other poses. If she's still there when Halloween comes around I'm going to make her a pumpkin of her very own and leave it on the doorstep of the house for the owners to find. Just to let them know they've made me smile. I hope they don't think I'm nuts!