Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Newest Witch Doll

I finished this Witch Doll last night and have been waiting for a break in the black clouds all day to get her photographed and listed. I prefer to shoot my dolls outside in the garden or in the woods to add interest but have had NO chance with this abysmal summer. I am now finishing off a Spook Elf and a little Goth Girl who will wear a replica of the Prairie Gothic dress featured on the older plush doll from a few entries back. Will hopefully be able to show you them by the weekend.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Wow, look at all those lovely beads behind the Devilette and the Skeleton in the 3rd photo of the last post. I keep meaning to make it all up into jewellery and list that in the shop too...haven't made any jewellery for years. Something ELSE for the never-ending "To do" list! :o)
Finished painting the new cartoon-like Polymer dolls (see my Old Blog for some more: The Wedding Present). Have made a replacement for a "Devilette" from my personal doll collection, I was photographing the original for my website but dropped it and it smashed. Bit beyond the realms of superglue, so needed a new one (she's pictured below). In my usual clumsy way I managed to drop the new one last night while checking if the 3rd coat of red paint was dry, and guess what, her right horn got smashed off! She's now re-christened Hellgirl. It's been superglued and I think she looks fab, she's just waiting for her wings and a skirt.

Another doll that is just waiting for wings is the Blushing Skelly copy. This is a replica of one of my favourite early clay dolls, which has white feathery angel wings. This one will have to make do with fabric wings but GLOWS IN THE DARK! I have never varnished any of my personal dolls or the ones I've given to friends but decided that as these are for the Etsy shop, maybe I should. Being impatient to have something to list I went to buy some to day but our local hardware shop only had gloss varnish in small cans. I ummed and ahhd, thinking Matt would really be my preference, but bought the gloss anyway. It looks great on the little bowler hat I made for the fairies and I even quite like the effect on the doll herself (second picture down) but it makes her very hard to photograph. I think I will wait until I get the matt varnish before I put the other fairy together.

On the subject of the website, a whole year in the dithering, but I have finally decided on a layout and what the contents will be. I am working on new artwork for the pages (hence photographing the Devilette) and definitely intend to hit the "PUBLISH" button before Halloween. ON Halloween would be nice, who knows?

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Here are the devilette and the blushing Skelly, wired together:

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Polymer clay experiment

Been doing allsorts over the last few days, have half finished 3 new rag dolls and have about 5 others at the start of their journey... that's just a flowery way of saying some are painted, some are cut out some are even sewn and one is partly stuffed! Trying to get a good amount of stock together before Halloween season really starts. From doing craft fairs way back I know that August is always dead sales wise, so need to work really hard in the next week and get lots ready to photograph and list. Would have been working hard on the illustration side too if it wasn't for the eye infection, I still can't spend too long on the computer before my eyes sting!

Also decided to finish off some polymer dolls that I started a few months back, I realised that the limbs for a few of them were a bit dodgy/out of scale, so threw them away. Spent friday afternoon modelling and baking some new ones and then decided to try an experiment. I see lots of semi-realistic looking clay fairies on ebay and thought I'd have a go at modelling one as this newest block of clay is a pale flesh tone. Typically I overpaint loads of layers to eliminate that "realistic" colour, but decided to give something different a try.

The pictures below show the head, hands and feet that I made. They are to a much larger scale than any of my previous clay dolls. They were painted too, although I've left the shoes until I know what fabric I will use for her costume. I am thinking that her body and limbs will be a skinny rag doll, probably with an internal wire armature to hold up the head. I made the head flat thinking that attaching saran hair would be easier with a rag/stuffed scalp to sew to. We went to see Hellboy2 (amazing creatures/special effects in search of a plot as usual, good fun though... I have a big soft spot for ol' Hellboy himself, prossibly because he's Tikka Marsala coloured?) the other night and I think she will be an Elf princess with long white hair. We'll see if it all works out!

Happily it turned out better than these photos suggest! Well enough for me to want to try and sculpt more, and let's face it, BETTER faces and hands. The skin has a lovely translucent quality and the green underpainting is a lot more subtle than these suggest. I'm quite pleased with her for a first go, but I'm not sure if she might also be my last in this kind of clay. Obviously she isn't very "real" at all, just closer than I would normally go (check out those cartoony hands, couldn't resist!). She's an experiment and hopefully if I can perfect attaching a polymer head and limbs to a rag body I might try some more stylised dolls in the next few months. Watch this space. :o)

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Attic

So what else have I been doing with my no reading/drawing/Apple Macing time? Well, rummaging round in a dark, badly lit, creepy, spider filled attic is probably not recommended when you have blurry vision, a dodgy knee and no sense of balance (or direction) but I've always had a sense of adventure... well, as long as it doesn't involve leaving the house. Actually, must 'fess up - we don't have an attic... but I've always wanted one as they seem to be a Gothic requirement (along with a basement, dungeon, or, even better, an oubliette!) but we do have a dark forbidding box room, which is where I found the little lady pictured below.

When I moved back to the old family homestead, after yet another misadventure abroad (England) I had to cram a whole cottage worth of stuff into one large but not exactly Tardis-like bedroom and it just wouldn't fit. So half my life is still boxed up and in a kindly neighbour's garage gathering dust and mould spores. But I have moved in and out of this house several times and there were also some boxes under a few years worth of detritus in the aptly named box room, too. Worth a look when you are bored, I thought.

Hurrah, I found a stash of some of my earliest doll making attempts, I knew they were here somewhere. Basically about 5/6 years ago I was making Bags and selling them at occasional craft fairs to supplement my Design/Illustration business. I saw a Gothic rag doll somewhere, possibly one by Tattered Rags (see links list) and really wanted one. With me, and I suppose most creative people I'm sure, that quickly turned into "I want to make one". So I started messing around and trying stuff out, I was also pretty keen on the whole Primitive look too and I think that shows in the doll I've pictured, well, her clothes anyway. She was definitely one of my first few, I kept her because I loved the dress, sort of Primitive Gothic, if you like. Hmmm, I do like that phrase, has a ring to it. She seems to be the ghost of little Laura Ingalls from Little Haunted House on the Prairie with those bloomers too.

Anyhow, I sold quite a few along with the bags back then but must have packed the rest up when I stopped doing the fairs. I've given them all an airing, a bit of a clean where needed and spruced up a few (Zombie Ingalls got a lovely glow-in-the-dark skull head choker, for instance) and think I will list them on ebay.... YES, EBAY!!!!! Haven't been back to ebay since they introduced their ridiculously unfair new feedback system, but they do get a wider audience than Etsy and hopefully it will bring more people into the shop. Worth a try. Will start listing next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Seriously, is anyone there?

Wow, it seems like months since I last wrote an entry...woke up last Saturday night and felt like I had a pain in my right eye, like an eyelash or something not too dramatic. But it wouldn't go away and I couldn't go back to sleep as I couldn't close the eyelid. Freaky!

Even worse by Monday morning and really painful too, so had to go to the Docs. Turned out I have conjunctivitis and a cyst in my right eye. Yippee. Worse of all, no close work for a week or so. So that's no drawing, sewing or I can still play on the Mac, right? Wrong - no blogging, listing stuff on Etsy, no trawling Etsy looking at all the amazing stuff that other people make, no messing around on the Mac at all. I haven't even been reading my emails!!!

Feeling a lot better now, but returning to work quite gradually as I don't want that pain back. At least I have done some tidying and changed my work space around. A little tip (probably a no-brainer to everyone else, but here goes anyway...) put your drawing desk to the right of a window if you, like me, are right handed. Then, as I've only recently noticed, the light from the window doesn't cast a big shadow of your hand over everything that you draw/sew and you probably won't get conjunctivitis/cysts in your eyes from struggling to see what you are doing in your badly lit cave of a work room.

I also found a stash of old dolls, some of the first ones I made and didn't want to sell at craft fairs (bags were my thing in those days). I think I will list them all on Ebay to try and advertise my Etsy shop and reach a wider audience. I have been both a buyer and a seller on Ebay in the past and as a buyer they treat you with kid-gloves but when you sell these days Ebay immediately treats you as though you are a potential fraud, you get tarred with the same brush as really dodgy sellers. Odd way to treat your customers, as it's the seller that pays Ebay's fees, not the customer. Rant over.

Off to rest my eyes!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Is anyone out there????

Back again, while I am on the subject of graphic flat colour character illustration versus more hand drawn textural stuff, have a look at Tara Fortin's work at Blacklilypie on etsy, she combines both to good effect. lovin' Bat cat!

Have just spent a few minutes re-doing my profile, so it actually has MY interests and hobbies now instead of my cat matilda's. Typical of a cat to create a blog then not bother to write anything. She's sleeping off a very adventurous and VOCAL night on the tiles (or, more accurately, in the shrubbery) squealing at the neighbour's cat. They just seem to sit face to face all glassy eyed and bristly making strangled noises... quite a few people in this locality would cheerfully have strangled both of them around 3am this morning.

I wonder if anyone actually reads this stuff??? I never get any comments!


Been concentrating on my Freaky Little illustrations for the last day or so. Actually nice to get away from the clutter of the sewing desk for a while (would be even nicer if I had actually cleared away said clutter before I started but, hey-ho). My last version of the Goth Girl from before Christmas just looked too grown up and vampish, I wanted something more innocent but still slightly sinister. The doll as a child rather than some of the more sexual looking Goth stuff.

I have been looking for inspiration, I love Mark Ryden's style but don't feel comfortable with images of childlike creatures (even if they are fantasy dolls) in surreal/sexual imagery. His technique is faultless though and very original(see links). Another illustrator whose work I absolutely adore is Louise Robinson (?) of Art & Ghosts, her work is wonderfully dreamlike and so ethereal. There is a lot of doll related imagery. I am quite torn between keeping my natural cartoony flat colour style or going for a mix of more hand-drawn/painted styles.

My problem is always the eyes. I love the oversized spooky owl eyes on the dolls, especially when they are very graphic, flat black and white (or calico) with a glittery glowing iris. The softer eyes I have tried on the mermaids and straightforward fairies don't have the same punch. When I start to mess around with subtler colours and texture with the illustrated versions the eyes either loom out at the viewer or just don't have the impact...Hhhhmmmm. Decisions, decisions.

Below is the old (too sexy!) version of the Goth Girl

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This is the latest, more innocent childlike version that I've been working on, still a work in progress

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008


My cat, Tilda, has just decided to start her own blog, see what all the fuss is about. I've just filled out the profile for her without realising that it now displays as MY profile too. So if anyone wants to know about me, just ask my cat. I don't mind, I like to remain a mystery. :o)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gothic Lolita

Managed to get a few things photographed in a brief burst of sunshine this afternoon, including Drusilla & Hatty the Hex. You may remember Dru from her pre-haired Ronald Mc Donald inspired earlier incarnation... Well, she looks a lot better now. She isn't really Gothic Lolita inspired, but it's a tag that people recognise and search for so hopefully she will get an audience in the Etsy shop, where she now resides. I wrote her a little story too. Glad to be back at my gloomy roots after all those traditional fairies and pink, pink, pink!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

More Daisy photos...

Just found some more photos of my long lost Dasiy Dolls - I so wish I hadn't sold them now, but I was desperately broke at the time - needs must and all that. Just a bit annoying that I don't have any pictures of my rarest doll. She was a beautiful auburn haired doll, not so many of those were made, with a really rare smaller than usual head. Something to do with the original moulds being lost or unavailable and so a batch of dolls were made, just for a very short time, and the new mould was taken from an existing doll head, hence, slightly smaller than normal. She was in perfect condition but I probably thought she was worth too much to take out on this hike.

I think I love these pics so much because we are having such a damp squib of a summer, and it was so hot the year I took these (2003). I went to the beach pictured the other day, went for a walk in the drizzle. It was actually really warm for a change, even the breeze coming in off the Irish Sea, I had the beach to myself, well apart form a few seagulls. Normally, this time of year the beaches are swarming with tourists. Still, as my old Ma always says, what's bad for the sunbather is good for the garden... I think she's regretting that this summer as it's like a jungle out there and growing faster than she can weed!

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Primitive folk art

Hi again. I am finding that I love American Primitive Folk Art stuff more and more. Some of it is really quite sinister (a lot of the ultra primitive Halloween stuff), which I love, but also a lot is just soooooo cute! Check out "Raven's Haven" - I've put the link at the side - they have some of the sweetest patterns, my favourites are the bats (as usual, I LOVE bats), but all of it is great and really funny. I would love to send for some but know I would never get any work done and would be just covering the house with these critters.

I must sit down and think of my own twist on this look - WELSH PRIMITIVE - and do something for Halloween. Keep watching this space!