Sunday, 26 February 2012
After finishing Hyacinth Plum and sending her on her way, I wanted to get started sculpting some new dolls so that I could make my next custom order, The Lady in John Waterhouse's beautiful painting The Shrine, from scratch to make sure I could get the details exactly how I see them in my mind.
I was running low on my largest and large size dolls as I've made all the ones I last sculpted apart from one (I'm waiting to find the perfect flat wire to make another crinoline), and I like to sculpt in batches as I always seem to have a long list of dolls that I want to make, and know who they will be. Sculpting one doll or 10 doesn't seem to take any longer because of the drying times needed on the layers of paperclay. So, after checking my doll making To Do list, I decided to make 9 of each size.
As I had to wait for the wooden balls I needed to make the body armatures for my dolls, and the dowels to make their arms and legs, I started as I usually do and started making up a plan of work so that I could keep on top of what needs to be done each day. I've got a habit of forgetting to varnish things that I need to be ready next day. So have learnt that I need a list to keep me going when I'm making a large amount of dolls.
I have made lovely anatomical hands and feet in the past for my dolls. But they don't seem to fit with my style of dolls.
I like them to have the feel of old, antique, handmade dolls, which is why I make every layer of their costumes as well. And the simple down curved pointed toe feet and mitten style hands seem to fit much nicer.
I hang each piece on the boards with large headed pins so that they touch nothing as they dry. I also find that this makes them easier to handle while I paint them as I can hold onto the pin instead of the wet paint.
Every hand always ends up different, each having it's own unique shape that adds character to the dolls. When they are finally strung together I always find there are dolls that just demand to have something to hold, or others that look like they are wringing thier hands together or waving at me shyly just because of a certain angle or tilt of a hand.
I've spent a week of evenings after work, my hands covered in a sticky mix of paint and varnish getting each piece of arm and leg finished. And they're finally all done, and as you can see in the photo below all strung together at the knee and elbow joints with one of my favorite reels of strong vintage thread.
All they need now is some bodies to attache them too. Which is where I found a problem.
As you can see my arms and legs hang in matched pairs waiting to be attached to bodies that I can't sculpt yet, making me sad. And my bodies all lay there with the armatures built up with foil covered in masking tape waiting to be covered and shaped with layers of paperclay, the tilt of thier blank heads already accusing me of not being organised enough.
It's been over a week since I ordered three new large blocks of clay, and I'm still waiting for it. All Saturday morning I sat listening for the postman to approach my door with my parcel, but by 1pm I had to give it up as lost. I'll be very disappointed if I can't work on the faces this week and get them done by next weekend. My fingers are itching to push and pull and shape that lovely soft smooth clay into the shapes that I want, and add the first little injection of life into my dolls. It's only then that I see who will be sad, and who will be cheeky, who will be shy and who will be demanding.
Soon. Please arrive soon!
Sunday, 5 February 2012
It'd been a while since I made a rag doll, and it's been really nice to work in all cloth and not have to wait while clay and paint dry for a change, although I know I'll always return to paperclay in the end. It's always fun to do things that I'm not used too.
I know she looks like some sort of strange alien now, but I promise she starts to look more normal in the photos below once she has hair. The pattern I use for my rag dolls is one I've worked out and refined myself over a few years. And I've pretty much got it the way I want it to be now. Made from two flat pattern pieces of strong calico with inserts added to the bottom of her feet to fatten them up, I sometimes make the legs separately like I have for Hyacinth to give them a better floppy feel.
Hyacinth has two black vintage button eyes attached to her flat head with a precious piece of the strong vintage linen thread that my Nanna gave me. And her hands have been sewn through to create her fingers. Her socks, shoes, facial features and tinting around her eyes are painted on with thinned acrylic, and I've stained the whole doll with a concocted mix of stuff to give her a more aged mottled look.
Hyacinth is to be a Regency Gothic lady with an empire line gown and pelisse or coat. Neiau Shie has asked me to make her in the image of the wonderful characters written by some of my favourite authors, Austen and Bronte etc., and showing the darker side of the lives these writings portrayed.
The wonderful Miss Elinor Dashwood of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is a perfect example of how her proper behaviour ensured her torment over the man she loved. She had to watch him be claimed by another while being helpless to do anything about it. Her behaviour was considered proper and correct, even though she was considered cold and passionless by her careless younger sister. Elinor had to carry her pain hidden to herself, watching silently as her love seemed to slip further and further away from her.
Making Hyacinth to fit with this image is making me think of wind-swept mores and rocky hillsides, driving rain and feelings poured into journals so the writer can manage to hold them in and carry on without showing them.
So far I've made Hyacinth her nightgown, but haven't trimmed it yet. And tonight I'll be adding a lace collar and ribbon trim to finish it off. Maybe a few buttons at the front too, before I go on to make her overcoat.
I can't wait to see Hyacinth all finished and ready for her quite walk through the dark night contemplating her own thoughts. I'm really enjoying making a doll from ideas that have been given to me to play with in my own way. I'm not too sure yet how I'll finish her off. At the moment I'm thinking of giving her a shawl to keep the night chill away, but we'll see what she decides when the time comes.