Monday, September 29, 2008

END OF SUMMER SALE

Having an "end of summer sale" at my etsy shop, some of the more summery items are marked down so grab yourself a bargain. I am just working on designs for some winter bags so hopefully they will start to appear in the shop from next week... and more ACEOs...I have decided to use photographs of some of my favourite older dolls, I love the images and just because that doll is sold doesn't mean the image won't be loved by someone else.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Etsy Witch Treasury

Great news, one of my Witch dolls has just been included in an Etsy treasury by totallytwisted, really honoured! Take a peek:


http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=11501

There are some wonderful dolls in this treasury, and on Etsy in general. Have just joined the Etsy Doll Artisans Street Team as well as The Dark Side team. Will include a link to the Doll group when I figure it out, the dark Side team can be accessed by clicking on the Poison Bottle to the lower right of the screen. better go, off to watch "In Bruges" on DVD and eat chocolate...come on - It's Saturday night... what else would a hermit be doing?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New shape body

Feeling a bit stressed out today and realised that I am putting an awful lot of pressure on myself to get stuff out for Halloween sales. I have decided to cut myself some slack and maybe delete a few items from the ever present "To Do" list!

I work under great pressure in my freelance work and actually thrive on it in a mad way, but "Freaky Little Things" was meant to be an escape, just something for pleasure. Since opening the Etsy shop I have been going hell-for-leather in every spare moment to get new stuff to list. Because I never know when the next freelance job will come up, I often start an illustration or a doll and then have to stop halfway because an urgent freelance thing comes up. I always mean to go back to the original project but other things pop into my head (aaaarrrggh, I can NEVER use that phrase without hearing the line from Ghostbusters: "WHAT just POPPED in there, Ray?" as the Staypuffed Marshmallow Man comes stomping toward them!) and maybe I get carried away and start a whole new project... then I have all these half-finished things lying around crying out for my attention and I FEEL STRESSED!!!!!!!!!

So, who is stressing me out? Well, ME of course.

Here is one doll that fell by the wayside for a week or so...she has the new body shape that I drew up to try and give a better "corset" look to the clothes. In the past whenever I have put corsets or bustiers on a doll they look a bit lumpy somehow, but now the waist will have a nice curve to it. I have also finally gotten round to drawing up a definitive pattern. Up to now I just cut around the last shapes that I cut and over time the dolls have been getting bigger and bigger without me noticing! When you put tall Witchy hats on them they become a bit of a nightmare to package and the last 4 or 5 have been too tall for the doll stand! She's a more manageable size but I may slim and elongate the legs a little for the next doll.

She is going to have an Edwardian outfit with a bustle at the back and hopefully lots of detailing. She will also have a tall elegant hat with lots of little bats flying round it. I have been looking at Topsy Turvy's hats for inspiration, they are AMAZING!(see link)

When she is finished I will get going on "Little Red", with her velvet cape and hood, who has been on my sketchpad for ages it would seem, screaming to be made...I was going to make her and enter her into The Dark Side September exhibition, but have decided she will just be ready when she's ready. I am going to go back to taking my time and enjoying the process of making dolls!



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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Mighty Boosh

Going a bit ACEO crazy at the moment. Both of the ACEOs I listed last night sold today after less than 24 hours, which is encouraging. I have been dying to get some of my artwork into the shop, hoping it will get me back to drawing again - I REALLY miss drawing - but just haven't had the time until now. Freelance work always brings these projects to a premature halt and sometimes I forget to go back and finish images I start working on for myself. I still back up all my iMac work on discs and sometimes (well, MOST of the time) I'm a bit haphazard about listing what's actually on the discs, so finding old work isn't always that easy.

Routing through my back-ups I found the illustration below of "The Mighty Boosh" from about a year ago. I'd forgotten about it. I was originally approached to do a mag illustration and sent in a quick sketch but they decided to go with a stock photo (the ups and DOWNS of freelancing) but I completed the image anyway, so this isn't commissioned or done with Freaky Little Things in mind either, just spec work for my folio. Fan Art when you get down to it! I love drawing faces and used to do so many portraits and caricatures back in the 80's and early 90's. Illustration became a bit of a waste land by the mid-90's because everyone who was commissioning for ads and mags just wanted computer generated images, I am lucky I had design skills to fall back on.

Anyway, enough of that ramble/grumble! Looking at it after all this time I decided I do like it, but thought it might be too full of detail to squeeze down to an ACEO. Well, just did a test print and it looks fine, Mighty Fine, in fact, that's what it says in the right corner above Howard Moon's head! Gotta Love the Boosh! If you are also a fan, I found some  mad little knitted Vince and Howard dolls in an Etsy shop. The shop is based near me in Prestatyn too, which is quite freaky, n'est pas? Anyhow, have a look, I put the link into the list as Vince & Howard dolls, enjoy!

PS: I drove through Dyserth earlier and there is what appears to be a large crochet Yoda figure peeping over someone's garden hedge... I would have thought I was hallucinating but had my Mother in the car and she saw it too! Anyone care to explain???



Monday, September 22, 2008

ACEO, again!

Ooops, managed to cut off the right edge of the image again! Obviously the full image will be on the 2.5 x 3.4 inch card. It's been a long day.

ACEO cards

Just finished shrinking some of my illustrations to fit onto ACEO cards. I have never done any of these before, even though I have collected a few over the last 2 years. A lot of my illustrations have lots of photoshop layers and textures which are lost when shrunk down, or simply won't fit into the format. I have found 2 images so far that fit and have been doing numerous printouts trying to find the best stock to print them on. My first instinct was to print them on Epson paper then spray mount that onto a backing card... but I wound up loving the subtle textured matt finish of some card stock I have. It's 220gsm and really mellows out the colours, which I like, for these 2 images anyhow.

Obviously there are now some sheets of "Rejects", which are actually perfectly fine but I want continuity if I do a numbered set of prints. I have decided to give the spares away as free gifts in my Etsy shop. There are 12, so the next 12 sales will get a free ACEO of this image below, though obviously without the Copyright splashed across the front. I will sign and date then across the back and number them 1-12 of 12, which will differentiate them from the 1/40 that will be for sale in the shop.

Hhhhmmm, what if someone BUYS that ACEO, they will hardly want a duplicate? Well, I will give them the second image free instead, also signed, etc. Not as complicated as it sounds! :o)


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Vampire finished

Here she is, the Little Vampire. She is the smallest doll I've made so far and that's been tricky. Glue guns are a messy necessary evil but things got particularly tricky as she is so wee. She's cute though, I think. She has become a vampire at the last moment, but was inspired by a different type of creature altogether, from a story I have been working on for a few months now (to be a Comic Book... or Graphic Novel when I am feeling cocky!) writing (THE HARD PART!) and illustrating.

This is a shortened version of her part in that story "The Fable of Weirdly Nightshade":

She has one leg longer than the other, or one shorter, if that is your inclination. She once dreamed of being a glamorous dancer on the Parisian stage, but reluctantly, accepts that it will never be. Her dreams are tattered at the edges, shop worn and neglected. Too ungainly, too stooped... pretty enough but not dazzling, not born to command attention.

She works in a nightclub, taking coats and hats and smiling at patrons whose eyes move over her so swiftly that her image doesn't even register. To them it appears as though the coat rail has arms and looks after their outerwear with no human intervention, she has perfected anonymity. She feels as though she could walk out onto the stage and the spot light would shine right through, she wouldn't even cast a shadow. But she is near what remains of her dream, watching the beautiful performers in their dazzling costumes, all eyes on them, night after night. She will never never join them, and sinks further into the twilight the closer she is to their glow.

Tonight is a blur of familiarity until right now, this second, this tall young man shaking rain droplets from his overcoat, his hand brushing her's as he passes her the garment. The rain sparkles on the black cloth and she looks up to see it in his hair too, tiny stars twinkling. His eyes meet hers and she feels a blush rise to her cheeks, dizzy, a feeling of belonging that she had never known before is sweeping over her. She might swoon (how humiliating) but instead she breaks this contact and scurries away, red faced, embarrassed by her own emotions, embarrassed to be noticed at all!

She gathers her composure in the protective embrace of empty coats, deep in thought amid the comforting steamy aroma of sodden wool. His face is handsome, is this mere attraction? Why does it feel more like the fear, excitement and confusion of recognition? Too much to take in now, she will save her puzzlement for later. She reminds herself firmly that she is just a drab little sparrow amongst the dazzling peacocks. He will be turned away when I return with his ticket, distracted by the dancers along with all the rest. She steps back into the booth and her practiced smile, the smile no-one ever stops to gaze upon, fades. The gentleman is nowhere to be seen, just a calling card left upon the counter.

She is momentarily wrong footed, oddly empty of feeling where seconds before they had jostled for a chance to be felt. She reaches for the card, suddenly guilty, as though for the first time ever, all eyes are upon her. She studies it, baffled, something so small, so slight, so mundane but she feels as though the world is shifting slightly on it's axis as she reads the printed name :  J.W.Nightshade, and a message in a strange inky scrawl..."This place is all rouge and paste, mere fakery, come join us, true magic awaits you"... there isn't even an address. As the familiar nightly hubbub goes on around her, an image begins to appear in her head, like mist swirling and catching the pale glow of moonlight, she can just make out that same young man, now sat in a dark and dusty room surrounded by glass cases in which myriad tiny creatures glitter and move so slowly over darkened landscapes. He leans closer to a large glass dome and now she can see what he sees; at first she thinks of moths, of insects, a dark creature fluttering up toward his face, her face. He lifts the dome and it settles on his hand, a tiny man with great black wings of gossamer.

She drops the card as though it is has just brunt into flames and has the strangest feeling that they are both watching her now, she feels herself lifting, rising up, floating out of the booth, above heads, the sound of voices dimming and now she is up in the darkness looking down upon a strange young man who collects things even stranger than himself."

If you want to learn her fate and how she grew wings, well, you could try asking her, failing that you will have to wait until I finish writing and illustrating The Fable of Weirdly Nightshade. I've a feeling that could be quite some wait!


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Mermaids

The 2 cartoony mermaid doll/ornaments are finally ready to go into the shop. What a long and tortuous process this has been. I've never had so many things go wrong with one batch of polymer dolls before. Out of 5 that went into the oven only 3 have survived intact and one other has lost all her limbs! I am going to try sculpting with Paper Clay in future, see how I get on with that.

Still, they are ready and have been photographed, They both have little tatoos on their arms, one, pictured, has a skull and cross swords, the other has an anchor... I figure that mermaids would probably be Pirate "molls". I also wanted these dolls to look a bit battered and aged like ships figureheads. I just need to finish the little Vampire Showgirl and they will all get listed on Etsy this evening.

Speaking of Etsy, I came across a lovely shop yesterday, called Ravenhill. It's full of lovely little cloth Matryoshka dolls. They are so sweet and reminded me that I have a whole batch of "wicked" Matryoshka dolls that I was working on a while back at the beginning of the summer. They got shoved to the back of the wardrobe (where a lot of my projects go, I used to have 2 wardrobes full of clothes but now FLT has taken over one of them and all my poor clothes are squeezed into 1...which is why I always look so crumpled!) when some freelance work interrupted play (so often the case, but I am not complaining THAT actually pays the bills!). I have dug them out now, and intend to finish them and get them listed by next week if possible. I have soooo many half-started projects to get finished.





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Thursday, September 18, 2008

V&A Wow!!!!

Just got a package from A**z*n, my book has arrived, yay! I ordered "Nineteenth-Century Fashion In detail" by Lucy Johnston, which is sooooooo beautiful it hurt my eyes. It features loads of period costumes from the Victoria & Albert Museum, one of my favourite haunts when I lived in London. The photos are so stunning and there are diagrams of the costumes, and details on how they were made. Hopefully this will all inspire my dolls to dress a bit more sassy!

I'm working on a Vampire at the moment, I know she needs a hat as there will be bats swirling around it, and I kind of saw her in Edwardian fashions. I tried out a new body construction to give her a nipped in waist and a bigger bust so that she would look as though she was wearing corsets. Will post pic soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Website

Here I am taking a quick tea break away from finishing my website graphics... for the umpteenth time. Maybe I should do a section on all the rejected style tryouts that I've come up with over the last 10 months or so! This got me thinking about Amy Allen, a really talented web designer who owns the Amybug's Primitive Attic website. She produced a lovely Ebay Auction Template for me last Christmas and I can't recommend her highly enough.

Her work is what I would call American Gothic and has had a big influence on my (hopefully) final website look as I always knew that I wanted a sort of mad, high camp, whimsical "Victorian British Empire Gothic" look.. as if that makes any sense. Pugin-style High-gothic can look very austere and hard or just TOO MUCH when it comes to any kind of information design, which is what a website basically is.

But I still wanted something rich and textural as well as ornate and before I saw her design everything was a mess, just too busy, an assault on the eyeballs. She is excellent with colour palettes and I realised that I basically had to de-saturate everything I was doing and add more subtle textures. (hhhmmmm subtle... I should get one of those Victorian cross stitch samplers with that word on and hang it over my Mac. Amybug specialises in Ebay stuff and I wish I enjoyed ebay more as I would get more use out of my template. As well as bespoke designs, she also produced of the shelf templates and webgraphics, well worth a look. She is also a really lovely friendly person and great to work with, look for Amybug in my links list. :o)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ooops

Oooops. The photo of the Devilette is way too big. I find these posts almost impossible to edit so she'll just have to stay that way, you get the idea, anyhow!
Yay, up really early (for a change, NOT a morning person) and managing to get loads done. No freelance today so catching up with the Freaky Little Things backlog. Just thought I'd post a pic of the Devilette Polymer doll, the sun was actually out earlier so got a shot of her at last with reglued horns. She is a replacemnet for a doll I made about 18 months ago, she used to sit in the twig frame on my wall with a bunch of other misfits but fell when I was trying to photograph her for my website and smashed to smithereens. I think I like her replacement just as much now, although they never turn out exactly the same no matter how hard I try.

The 2 mermaids and showgirl fairy (although I feel she may in fact be a vampire) are all sitting out to dry after their final coat of varnish, so they just need clothing (or "finning" in the case of the Mermaids) and wigging, then they are ready to photograph too! Trying to think of some props for the fishy girls. When this is all done I have promised myself I will draw, something that I don't do often enough anymore, damn you Apple Mac!


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Disaster averted... or repaired

Hurrah... last night I managed to paint up both the polymer mermaids and the Show-girl Fairy. The other show girl is now sadly limbless as I decided it would be easier to make 2 new PAIRS of legs and arms rather than trying to match the remaining limbs. No point in painting the torso or I'll have to match up the flesh tone paint too, which is always a nightmare as acrylic tends to dry lighter than when it's mixed.

I love these tiny dolls but I'm now thinking that it might be easier to scale them up a bit and then they would be less prone to my clumsiness. Oh well. I don't know why I drop things so much, I'm forever putting things down on tables that don't exist and tripping over cats that do. When jewellery was my Craft-du-jour the kitties were constantly bead encrusted... I was always dropping tiny spacer beads on the floor, and the cats, who love to join in, were always rolling around and picking them up in their fur. Quite handy really. A cat's love of crafting is less handy when you are dealing with thread/wool/yarn or anything similar as you often find that they've chewed through a length or just tangled everything. The person who discovered felting obviously had a cat.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Disaster!

Having the usual disaster-prone time with my last batch of polymer dolls. The little skelly sold after 24 hours in the shop happily, but the other dolls haven't even been finished yet. My friends, many of whom have my polymer dolls as presents, keep asking why I don't sell them in the shop yet, do more of them, etc? Well, because I am a naturally clumsy person and I smash everything. I think for every 3 dolls that go into the oven roughly 2 get smashed or at the very least need new limbs - I might as well re-christen Hellgirl as "superglue girl" as her LEFT horn got smashed off last night. Just as well she wasn't intended for sale, but still annoying.

I dropped the Elf head (pictured below, Ploymer Clay Experiment, 23rd of Aug) and one of her ears got smashed off, so I decided to remove both and sand the head back smooth, hopefully long hair will make that OK. Then, the biggest disaster of all, I broke one arm and one leg belonging to one of the dance-hall fairies. So that means that she has to wait until I bake the NEXT batch to get some replacement limbs. I was in the process of taking off all the layers of varnish and paint at the time. The last tube of black Acrylic paint I bought (Liquitex...avoid using on polymer clay is my advice) has turned out to be a really bad investment. It just will not dry. I have left them for a fortnight but all the black areas were STILL tacky and attracting dust and fluff. I even used the gloss varnish on one doll thinking that it was dry enough but it reacted badly with the varnish. It is really disheartening having to go back to square one with the painting.

Happily, 2 jointed mermaids that I started a week ago, seem to be coming along fine and will hopefully get finished and into the shop before the end of the week. I have resorted to crackle glazing the other dolls as I can't face doing all those layers of paint again. They are really too small for the crackle glaze to look really effective and I will paint over most of it, but a good base layer of spray paint will speed up their rehabilitation.

Someone who uses the crackle effect really well on her truly amazing dolls is Rachael Kinnison of Diamond K Folk Art, I've only just discovered her dolls and I am stunned at how much work goes into them. Take a look at her blog (on the links list) as she details all the incredible period costumes she creates for them, jaw-dropping. I LOVE her tiny witchy-poo dolls in their little straw filled boxes too. Want one! :0)