Monday, 25 March 2013

Mina - A Dracula Inspired Art Doll

Finally I've finished my doll of Mina Murray (later Harker), and now that her stand has arrived she's standing pretty on my table with her dress looking just as I wanted it too :)
The great Vampire Dracula is the best known and loved of all, and I love Bram Stoker’s book has always been a great favourite. And Miss Mina Murray, portrayed by Winona Ryder in the 1992 film alongside Gary Oldman, is a character that always appeals to me. I always think of her in That Red Dress with her hair hanging loose down her back and have made my Mina in my own version of this stunning gown.

Was she hypnotised by the Count to believe herself in love? Or did she truly understand and love him?
It sometimes seems that both are true, and it might seem odd that in the end it’s the blood-thirsty Vampire that you feel sorry for. This tale holds so much and grips our imagination with its deep layers of details and interesting characters.

Mina has pretty pink silk drawers and a soft cream shift under her corset, with one soft cream cotton petticoat trimmed with lace and ribbon, and one of fine ivory silk with a deep flounce around the hem, double at the back, trimmed with lace. She has a stiff bustle made of buckram in place of traditional horse hair to hold her dress in the right shape. Her gown is made from a stunning dark red silk that was gifted to me by my Godmother. It has a tight bodice and fitted sleeves with deep hanging points behind her elbows, trimmed in front to create a bow shape. Her trained skirts have a deep hem of small pleats finished with ribbon, with a gathered and pleated flounces front and highly puffed and ruched back panel that hangs to the hem in a point. Her whole gown is trimmed with rows of tightly gathered frills that wrap around the bodice to finish hanging in rows down the left side of her skirts. Mina also has sterling silver jewelry with a wrapped bracelet and necklace with an aurora borealis glass bead

I also finished up my little peg doll of Ada from The Piano that a very good customer ordered from me. And am just waiting for a little book shaped locket to arrive for her notebook.
She looks so sweet in her huge skirt and black and white bonnet I think she'll have to be added to the list for me to make a bigger version of her sometime.

I have started on the underwear for two new dolls as well - One will be Lizzie Borden, the women accused of murdering her Father and Step-Mother who also inspired the little rhyme Lizzie Borden took and axe, And gave her mother 40 whacks, When she saw what she had done, She gave her Father 41.
The other little doll is a characters that's been stuck in my mind for quite a while. A little girl all sweet and sugary with a doll hanging from one hand held by it's leg and in her other hand hidden behind her back will be the bloody knife she uses to kill her sleeping victims.

I'm almost there with Hubby's birthday gift of a Joker doll and have just to add his jacket coat and hair. I also want to make him something to sit on so am hunting down some vintage joker playing cards to decorate a block with for him. This little guy is one of the only dolls I've made that even creeps me out :S

Monday, 18 March 2013

Custom Peggies and Mina Almost Done

What a weekend!!!
It whizzed on past and my To Do list is still huge. What happens to all my lovely doll making time I do not know.

I finally managed to finish off the details for my first three calendar dolls. And now my Jan snow queen has her lace crown and a few sparkly jewels, Feb Cupid has his heart arrow and a little wooden bow, and March is all wrapped up in her Welsh wool shawl and her tall hat :)

I also finished off a custom ordered peg doll of Anne Boleyn for a lovely lady in Texas, and she's all wrapped up and on her way to her :)
This was a really fun doll to make, and I really must make a bigger version of Anne soon in the future. Her gown is layered and trimmed with gold lace, and her black satin head piece has a black veil and pearl beads. I had a bit of trouble making her her B necklace to get it small enough so it would hang nicely but big enough to take the little pearls, and in the end I think she looks  really cute :)

I had planned to get Mina all finished and listed in my shop too, but the ruffles took much longer than I thought, and at the last minute I decided she needed a fuller larger bustle too.
I made the bustle from white linen buckram in the place of traditional horsehair, and it works really well to hold her skirts in a better position. Because of the slight change in shape her skirts wouldn't hang right were I'd tacked them into place so I've let down all the back again to re-fit it better.

All her ruffles are done now and in place, her sleeves have had their final detail, and there isn't a lot left to do apart from some awkward bits. I'm planning to add some tiny bow details in places that look a little bare where I can't see from the film or pictures what detail there is. And of course she needs the glittery necklace.
I really hope I can get her ready for the world by the end of this week :)

Monday, 11 March 2013

Lots Of Custom Peg Dolls

I didn't post last week as it was quite difficult to get myself off the sofa and out from under my blanket. I've been so full of a nasty cold that last weekend I could hardly lift my tea cup, so I'm afraid that not a lot of doll making got done. I get so frustrated when things build up but there was nothing I could do. And last week was very much the same - getting home worn out and just managing to get little bits done to stop me going mad :)

This weekend I made up for it.
Nothing can be better for me in cold weather than to cwtch up with my cat and sew. And that's just what I've been doing. I've had a few orders to make for peg dolls, which is always so much fun. Working so small can be a challenge, but they just come out so cute it's worth it.

First I was asked for a little Victorian asylum peg doll in a tiny straight jacket with pink hair. And the nice lady Sarah that asked for her mentioned too that she'd like an Elizabeth I at some point too. These little ladies come together so fast I thought I'd make them both at the same time while also working on the Jan and Feb calender dolls ordered by my Bestie for her Christmas tree next year. So in front of me I also had a snow queen in white lace and a very Gothic cupid underway :)

I was then asked by the very lovely Neiau Shie to make her an Anne Boleyn peg doll. So of course I could hardly resist making Beth's Mam after making Beth herself so small. And Anne is now sitting pretty in her satin gown trimmed with gold and lace collar and cuffs. All she needs now is her hair and the head piece that you always picture her wearing. I'm looking forward to working that one out :)
Next to her in this pic is my friends March doll, a little Welsh lady wrapped in a shawl who's going to need some extra figuring out on her hat too. I think next month is a Greek Goddess...

Mina is coming along, but I'm afraid I've not been able to get a lot done to her lately. I had a bit of a fuss around trying to work out the over-pieces for her skirts and finally worked out the drape and gather needed for it. Here you can see how the front piece hangs off to one side and drapes across her tummy to sit on the opposite hip, although I still need to set in the creases properly.

The back piece joins from here on her hip in the same pleats and then falls and tucks in soft ruffles and puffs down the back of her skirts. She looks really pretty from the back angle as there's so much detail in the bustle of her gown. It still needs a bit of fussing and fiddling to get it perfect, but I'm so happy with how she's coming out. Due to the weight of the back and all the extra trimming still to be added Mina is going to need some extra support so I'm planning to use buckram as a Crinoline fabric substitute to hang a gathered bustle from her waist at the back to help hold things in the right place.

I've had a little trouble trying to figure out the best way of adding the ruffles to Miss Murray's (Mrs Harker's) dress as they need to be of the same dress fabric in a very tight gather. In this photo I have my two best options - On the right is a sewn and turned tube that has then be gathered and pinned in place, and on the left is a pinked and gathered strip. Although the turned tube has a lovely neat finish I think I'll be going with the more dramatic pinked and gathered version. It seems to look closer to the original dress which is after all what I'm trying to make. But the original has a trimming of small sewn leaves creating the ruffle, which at this scale won't be possible for me to do. But it has a fuller more irregular look that is recreated nicely by the pinked edge of the gather I've made. I'm still thinking on it...
I may change my mind yet :)