Sunday, 20 May 2012

Charlotte At The Asylum, And New Ideas

It's been a lovely week this week.
The only fault I can find with it is that I wish there had been more time for doll making and friends.

Like all of us I get caught up in all the day to day rubbish of life, and days, sometimes weeks, pass between me thinking of getting in touch with someone and me actually doing it.
It's a bad habit, and one I really hope I can break soon. Or I might just find myself with none of my lovely friends around and slowly becoming the recluse I know is hidden in my head.

I've been busy with my dolls - Ruby is all finished, and Charlotte here just needs her straight jacket and the layers of years of dirt and wear she would have accumulated at the Asylum. I've also been working on a new idea (more about that later).

So far Charlotte is looking quite sweet and tidy. Just as a young woman from 1862 should.

But I can see in her eyes that something is a little wrong with Charlotte.
She's not told me yet what it is that troubles her, or why she's been committed to the Asylum. But a part of her is missing. An important part of her heart is gone and she's very reserved about dragging the pain to the surface to share with me.

I've given her her underwear and petticoats designed to build up the shape in her skirts. At this time skirts shape was changing, and Charlotte would have last been fashionable between the time of the huge wide crinoline skirts and the narrow bustled behind fashions.

Her skirt is narrower than the really full over the top ones, even more so as she's wearing a neat day dress. But it's started to have the fullness at the back making her rear look high and full.

The weight of the fabric is gathered at the back with ruffles of lace for her second supporting petticoat. And her top fancy petticoat and dress skirts have been gathered and pleated to add to the fullness.

All Charlotte needs now is a little trimming to finish off her gown before I start on her straight jacket or restraint.

Here you can see the natural unbleached and pre-shrunk calico that I'll be using to make this with, and some of the straps for her arms and the back of the jacket that I've already sewn.

You can just see her small lace cuff and black crochet mittens just above the straps. And although I know that once she's wearing her restraint you won't actually be able to see this detail, I'll know that it's there. And if at all possible for my sewing skill I'd really love to make the jacket removable.

I finished off my Vampire custom order, and I've fallen in love with Ruby and her flame red hair.
I'm just waiting now to make sure she's as Anita wanted her before I send her off to her new home. But in the mean time she's sitting prettily on my mantle shelf in between all my photos so that I can see her as much as I can while she's here.

I really need to remember to make more Vampires. They are so much fun to make, and you can really do anything you like with thier costume - make them in any style, from any period.
Ruby has a 50's look with a little 80's mixed in. I love how her hair falls over her face, and her sharp teeth and dark lips :)

And now to tell you about my new idea, so if you think its rubbish just keep it to yourself or my feelings will be hurt :)  Like many of the doll makers I know I have a problem. Basically, I'm an addict - Fabric, buttons, lace and trims, I do my best to keep my spending to a minimum and only buy what I know I'll use reasonably soon (unless it's stunning of course). And if I think that the little off-cuts and scraps I get from making clothes for other dolls or clothes for myself could ever possible be used they go in The Box. I just can't bear to throw away these pretty little bits of fabric, lace and ribbon, and my bits box is overflowing with tiny treasures. It's also another reason why my long suffering Husband thinks I'm nuts!

So... I wanted to find a way to use up these bits and pieces. And I also wanted to find a way to make sweet inexpensive little dolls that I can sell to my lovely customers but that wouldn't cost as much as my larger dolls. I knew I had a price gap in my shop that needed to be filled, and have wanted to make a little doll that can be used as a decoration for ages - Just how to do it.

I thought of making busts, but would lose out on the sewing part which I really enjoy. Or a frozen charlotte type doll with half painted and half fabric and trim clothing. And I still might try these ideas too. But one of the things that came to my mind were the cute little peg dolls I used to make as a kid.

I loved those dolls, and spent ages carefully drawing on their little faces and scrounging scraps of fabric, ribbon and buttons, making princesses and fairytale characters, playmates for my Barbie and Cindy dolls, and just making them so I could have the fun of making a new outfit. So that's what I'm making. I've gone back to my childhood and am making my own tiny series of Peggy Dolls :)
So far I've sculpted some faces with tiny round eyes on a number of pegs as a trial because I still want these little cuties to look like my dolls, in my style. Once they are dry, smoothed, painted and wigged I'll be diving into that scraps box of mine to find them some suitable fabulous outfits :)


  1. The peg dolls are a brilliant idea! Yes, do them. Isn't the peg doll one of the first dolls we make? They always have a special place for doll makers and collectors.

    I understand about the Hoard. I do. And I resolve not to buy any more, too, but I never keep the resolution long. I have a room full of snips and bits. My defense is that they are inspiration. You can't actually buy inspiration, but a scrap of Edwardian needlework comes close.

  2. Ooo Edwardian needlework...
    Your right of course. Where else can we get those little ideas that turn into wonderful things from :-)
    The peg dolls are so much fun. I wish I'd thought of it sooner. It's great to have the chance to use up all those little treasures I've been keeping just in case.

  3. I love Charlotte already, poor sweet dear, and can't wait to see her done! The peg dolls are an awesome idea! They would also make wonderful pin dolls...because who wouldn't want to wear a doll all day...right?

    I too have the stash. I think doll artists are all hoarders and fiber-aholics, we just can disguise it by saying we're going to use it all for dolls...eventually.

  4. Shhh! Don't let Cris know that!!??!
    The only reason he puts up with my scrap boxes is that I'm always adamant it'll be used.
    I've seen the most stunning sterling silver doll necklace / pendant made from the cast of an old frozen charlotte doll I'm saving up for. Can't wait to have a doll I can wear every day, but unless it's silver my skin flares up. One pinned to a jacket would be awsome though :-)