Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Step 1- prepare your doll for paper-clay

Ok, so I'm doing this in stages as I prepare these 3 dolls. I know many of you reading this will already be familiar with these techniques (and probably more experienced than me!) feel free to share your tips in the comments :o) - but I will write this aimed at the beginner. The dolls I have made up below are my medium sized rag dolls with button joints at the shoulders and hips and simpler gathered joints at the knees and elbows. I created this simpler pattern to make Kim's peasant doll.
The big difference with these and my usual, larger dolls, such as Frosty, is that there is a lot less work as I don't need to shape the torso and double-button joint each knee and elbow. The large dolls look really characterful even before they get their clothes, because they can already hold a pose, but the medium sized dolls look kind of embarrassed by their nudity and floppy limbs!


Back to the 3 I have on the desk right now... I want to prepare my canvas for painting just like any artist and I use the same medium to size the calico - Gesso. Basically I want to paint this thick, chalky white paint, all over the doll where she will not be covered by clothing. Gesso has a "bite" so that paint can adhere to your canvas/calico doll. Incidentally, someone recently told me that in the US, Calico is referred to as Muslin, and vice-versa? I don't know if this is true but the fabric I use for these dolls is called Calico in the UK,  it's a tight weave unbleached cotton which has small slubs and bits of organic materials woven into it. Muslin is very open weave and almost transparent (was used for straining out lumps in cheese production back in the day!). Not something I would make dolls with...Calico has a slightly rough texture and takes paints and dyes very well. If you want to use it for rag dolls, wash it first as this softens the fabric and gives it a slightly furry surface. Washing helps the fabric to take curved seams, with some nipping of course, and it stuffs better in my experience.


On the head, I only paint the gesso up to the hairline as I want to stitch/glue the hair in place. Once it's painted it will be a lot more difficult to get a needle through the head where paper-clay is used, it sets like rock! So I paint all the face with gesso and round the back covering the neck and shoulders up to where the collar will be. I could really leave the hands unpainted but prefer the colour of the skin on hands and face to match, so I gesso over these too. The gesso will also help strengthen any weak seams and repaired frays - tee hee, we all get those :o) These dolls will have laced boots with leather uppers but I still paint up to mid calf as this helps strengthen a potentially weak area, the ankles. Once you have finished with the gesso, set the doll down to dry, this usually only takes an hour or so, then repeat the whole process for a second coat. When this second coat is dry, if you don't want to add paper-clay sculpting, gently sand the gessoed areas to get a nice smooth finish, and now you are ready to paint.

I will leave my girls to dry this evening and will hopefully be ready to start adding paper-clay tomorrow night :o)

Monday, December 28, 2009

paper-clay "how to" coming up...

Got a some doll making step-by-steps coming up tomorrow (or today, Tuesday???). I am at that paper-clay stage with a few dolls so thought I'd record my progress for posterity... that is if I can bear to sit at the Mac long enough to post it... guess what I got for Christmas... SCIATICA!!! Not fair!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Furry moron!

I sleep IN the bed, Matilda sleeps ON the bed, on top of her fluffy cat blanket... I reached out to give her a stroke one night last week and her fur was icy cold - hence the kitty hot water bottle I've been making up for her on very cold nights since then.... Awwww! Last night, I make the hottie, collect my kitty, who had spent the evening shadowing the badgers around the garden in the chilly air, and off to bed we go.

After about 10 minutes of purring away and kneading dough on her bottle warmed blanket, she suddenly leaps off the bed and heads for the door. She has me trained well enough to know that a certain tone of mew means "Let me out now or wanton destruction will rain down on your most prized possessions (and don't think I can't get the door to your doll cabinet open when I'm in this mood)!!!" So out she goes, into the snowy chill for the rest of the night! Bitchlet!!!!!!!!!! That's the last Kitty hot water bottle I make!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christmas Tree tale....

Does anyone else remember a Harry Enfield tubby alien character that used to run round yelling "Treeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!" in a high pitched voice? Thinking back, he seems like a precursor of the Teletubbies!

Anyway, this year, for a change, I have decided to embrace my mother's 1970's throwback interior decorating style and go with an ORANGE and silver tree! I think for most of us, the draw of a real tree at Christmas is the gorgeous pine smell that permeates the room all over the festive season... well, for the last few years we have been getting trees from a local farm and I always forget til we get it into the warm house (hhhmmmm, OK, relatively warm house!) that these trees actually smell of the barnyard! Yesterday it was snowing when we went up there and the trees were all stood against the farm yard walls, we picked one out and brought it home and when I unleashed it from it's little netty straight-jacket there was an awful lot of rustling and the curtains sort of swayed for a few moments.... Do we now have a small disoriented squirrel living in our drapery? I can see it's going to be like Christmas with the Griswalds (no change there then).

Speaking of Squirrels, years ago, I used to rent a room in the servants quarters of a really big old manor house, just outside of Newport in South Wales - sadly, the house was demolished to make way for a housing estate about 6 years ago. There were 4 of us girls, all art students sharing this servant's wing. It was very spooky with sliding panels and access ways into the main house, which we were obviously encouraged not to use! One night, Sian came running out of her room screaming. She claimed there was a tiny black man running around on her bed and that he was squwaking and gibbering! Just HAD to go and check that out!!! Turned out it was a squirrel that had fallen down the chimney, covered in soot, darted out the fireplace in her room and proceeded to dash round her bedroom in a mad panic... poor little thing! The ceiling were so high in that house, even in the servants wing, that a poor 60 watt bulb had no real hope of permeating the gloom. OK, I doubt that I would have mistaken a sooty squirrel for a little man but hey ho. It was pretty hard to see clearly once the sun went down and for the most part that was probably for the best, it was a VERY old house and not in the best repair.

I loved the place but that's where my arthritis really started. Not long after the squirrel incident, I was really icy cold in bed one night and so got up to find something additional to wear. I was already encased in most of my clothing under the duvet and what I wasn't wearing was mainly draped on top of it... but I just thought I might find a forgotten jumper in the bottom of the wardrobe (this being the 80's, think mohair, black and pink horizontal stripes and sleeves that come well over your fingers... I lived in a haunted house and looked like a Tim Burton character!). I opened the wardrobe (a big heavily carved black antique effort with woodworm dots all over the doors) and for a second I thought I saw snowflakes drift elegantly out into the gloom of my badly lit bedroom? Don't be silly, you're hallucinating because of the cold. I struggled into a few more crunchy jumpers (it was that cold where your clothes go all stiff!) and got back under all those layers and stayed put til first light... mainly because I was trapped under the weight.

In the morning I kind of rationalized the whole snowflake incident and forgot about it until later when my boyfriend came round. He had decided I needed rescuing and was there to pack up my things and take me to his parents house where they had sophisticated things like central heating... He yanked open the wardrobe door to get my case, and out came those languid snow flakes again... it turned out the back of the big dark wardrobe had rotted away in a big hole and there was no wall behind it! I was literally sleeping on the brink of Narnia each night!!! We went outside and wandered down the back of the house with a torch and sure enough the wall had collapsed and the contents of my frosty wardrobe were clearly visible.

I never moved back in and developed an occasional limp, but I missed that place - it was just seemed so romantic in a very unhealthy, spooky sort of way.



Friday, December 18, 2009

So, cat's love hot water bottles...

Bbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, it's so sunny but so cold and so white. So, so I'm freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezing! Sat at my desk and have dragon's breath with all the windows closed and the heater on full blast right next to me. This can't be good for the Mac, can it? Felt sorry for Matilda last night so made a weeny hot water bottle for her to sleep on... apart form a 2am centipede bashing expidition, she never left the bed and didn't want to get up this morning either. At least I know how to keep her quiet now :o)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Shop is Closed

OK, I know it might seem a bit early to close the shop up... and maybe the 11th of January may seem a little late to re-open... but I want to have some new stock and maybe even a new look to get the New Year off to a flying start. Of course there may be little peeks of what I get up to appearing on here before then, who knows?

Haute Doll

Just got my grubby paws on my very first Haute Doll magazine, the one from last August that Featured the Bootiful Halloween collection by the amazingly inspirational Val Zeitler. I have to say that the pics are absolutely stunning but I'm kind of glad we don't have anything like this over here. I don't think I would ever get anything done, frankly... and plus: I WANT everything I see!

To be honest, if I lived in the States and was constantly bombarded with images of art dolls and fashion dolls, I don't think I'd ever have started making my own. I think the fact that we are free from all these influences in the UK, well, unless you purposefully go and track them down on the internet, has made me imagine lots of stuff and want to make things I can't get my hands on. Freaky Little Things was born and grew in isolation. It was the same when I was a teenager growing up in rural-ish Wales and having very little access to fashion. It made me learn to sew and make things to wear. My ambition always far outweighed my talent in that department, but I can still run up an outfit when I have the time and the inclination! Now I mainly make outlandish things for my dolls to wear :o)

Speaking of whom, here's Tabitha Plum (PW Skiya) fresh from her accident and looking non the worse for her adventure in the cobweb strewn underbelly of the wash house. I may darken up her eyeshadow at a later date, but right now I love her little resin bones (if she had any). Bless. That dress came with Elfdoll Sooah and is miles too big for her, but looks nice with her colouring so I will have to take it in, and remove the bow and cabochon on the bodice, too much fuss for her slender frame. :o)


Monday, December 14, 2009

Skiya's little accident :o(

Woe is me... recently someone said to me that she'd learnt that BJDs weren't actually as fragile as they seem. I took that with a pinch of salt and now don't know what to make of what just happened to my beloved Peakswoods Skiya.

Let me set the scene, it's dark, it's raining (it's Wales, what do you expect?) and our Kitchen door opens out onto a concrete yard, across which is a "wash-house". It has a washing machine, a dryer, clothes lines and a big sink with a metal drainer. It also houses the vast majority of spiders currently living in Wales and, boy, do they like to make their presence felt. But it's a great place for spraying paints and varnishes so it plays a part in the whole doll making process.

I spent a non-rainy afternoon finally applying the first ever face-up to Skiya, trying to make her look as much like the Val Zeitler/Haute Doll Halloween doll from last summer as possible. That was the very first BJD I fell in love with and there was no way I could afford her back then, so I set about selling my doll collection (Mainly Tonner) and gradualy got the funds together for Skiya, got her a few weeks back in fact. Anyway, ready for the final layer of MSC spray so back out to the Wash-House.

By now it was very dark and pouring down so I ran across the yard and grabbed the light switch with Skiya's head protected under my coat. I kind of slipped slightly coming through the door - Her head has magnets in it to keep the head cap on and as the sink unit is metal the head just flew out of my grasp and clattered onto the side of the sink unit, was too heavy to hang there and fell, ricocheting against metal and stone into a pile of buckets under the sink. Aaaaaaaaaarrrrgggghh!!!!!!!

I now had to reach down into the cobwebby blackness and feel around in the damp nastiness of disguarded gardening equipment, deep in the heart of eight-legged terror-itory, to find my poor doll's head. Found it I did and yanked it back out into the light along with a sticky veil of cobwebs. Bleeeurrrghhh... apart form a big ol' dint in her nose and a small scratch on her forehead, she is fine!

I've cleaned off all the make-up now (ggggrrrr) and apart from those 2 areas she doesn't have a scratch. I've sanded the nose ding and the scratch and they feel really smooth but just don't have that slight sheeny finish that resin usually has on the face area. I'm hoping after a few coats of MSC she will look good as new... then I can start the face over again.


This is the adorable little face I was trying to achieve - Photo borrowed from Resin Angel's Flickr stream

Kitty greetings

Miss Matilda is sending you all Christmas Greeting over on her blog, just thought I'd let you know.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Go on...

Just taken a look in Abi's shop and know it's too late to buy anything for Christmas now because of the postage backlog this time of year... but surely someone else out there wants to have this little lady on their tree? There's only the one left, Quick!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blog Award... with snow on!

Ok, I got an award from the lovely Josie Bagley and completely forgot to post it on here... bad girl!, I'm supposed to pick 8 people to pass this onto, but, you know what? It's Christmas and I know each and everyone of you deserves an award to make you feel all squishy and warm inside because you are probably all running around buying presents, baking cakes, wrapping things, decorating things, etc... Thinking of everyone but yourselves. So take a minute, pour yourself a nice big mug of hot Welsh tea from my teapot (it's always on the stove) and bask in the snowy glory of Josie's White Rabbit painting. If you are of a mind, follow the white rabbit over to Josie's Blog, say hi from me and then post this image on your website too. Merry Christmas everybody in case I forget to say it later :o)

The White Rabbit King
Blingee site


Monday, December 7, 2009

My Ornament from Jacqui

We had an Ornament Swap over at ADO (art dolls only) and I got a lovely surprise from Jacqui of Odddollz... you can just imagine my face when I opened the brightly wrapped box all the way from Canada. I was shrieking with laughter and ran round showing everyone, Rudolph The Rabid Reindeer is definitely going on the tree! I feel really lucky because this is exactly my sense of humour and I all adore his (SHARP!) little teeth. Jacqui has become something of a fang-xpert lately.

Everyone loves Rabid Rudi and we've decided he's going in the box of special ornaments that get carefully unwrapped each year to be handed down the generations... yes, Rudolph will be bringing frothy mouthed cheer and making small children cry for years to come! :o)


Also, you know how I always announce that I'm working on new dolls then disappear under a mountain of design work and never mention them again? Here's some proof of the unfinished dolls on my desk at the moment (and you should see the bag full UNDER the desk!), maybe tomorrow I'll get a chance to work on them...


Saturday, December 5, 2009

LOOK, how cute!

Ok, I know I keep singing her praises and maybe I'm biased because she's a friend... but... HOW CUTE is this Jonah and the Whale pic by the talented Miss Kimberley? I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kim's etsy shop has yet to make a sale and I'm sure that's just because no-one knows she's out there... seriously folks, if you love this print too go take a look at Kim Pope and then blog about her to try and spread the word :o)

As for me, up to my eyes in paperwork and haven't had a minute for dolls all week, sigh. Got to get all this stuff in the post for Monday so I thought I'd get it over with today, then Sunday, I can relax and play dollies.... yep... that's what I do with my Saturday nights.... fill out forms. Gotta get a life... or a man, preferably an accountant!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kim's peasant girl again!

Back from Buckinghamshire. I'm doing freelance all day so no new dollies for you to see :o( Kim has just sent me some pics of the peasant girl in her new home, you can get some idea of her size from the last pic... she's kind of medium size, Belladonna, the Frost Fairy, etc were all quite a bit larger. Fingers crossed I can get some more finished by the end of the week!
PS: another post later as I have just received an award from the lovely Rainey/Josie Bagley, check out her blog... it ticks!



Monday, November 30, 2009

Latest Doll

Here are some pictures of my latest doll. I went away for the weekend to take her to her new owner so hopefully I will be able to show you some pics of her in her new home. I have a few more under construction that are destined for the Etsy shop, so watch this space :o)


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New dolls on the way, eventually!

Just to arrest any thoughts that I rarely make dolls these days (sadly true, life and design work keep taking precedence) here are some pics of my latest effort. She is another Xmas StrAngel, this time a Christmas Tree decoration destined for one of my fellow ADO doll makers as part of the festive Ornament Swap. Sssshhh, not allowed to say who it's for, but she will be wrapped and on her way tomorrow... just hope the recipient likes her! :o)


And, poor Belladonna STILL hasn't made it into the shop, because I decided to make her a "Travel Coffin"... those long fine feathers on her hat need protection so she will be getting an acetate hat tube and loads of bubble wrap before I take her to the Post Office to get some shipping quotes! The coffin is quite sturdy, a couple of paper maché layers over foam board, but, because of the appalling weather we have been having, I haven't been able to give this as many layers of paint and lacquer that I would have liked.... still, surely it's the doll someone will want to buy?


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fab new book

Wow, I treated myself to a new book from dear old Amazon the other day, it's called "Patterns of Fashion Vol 1:1660-1860" by Janet Arnold. I've heard loads about this book as it seems to be a bible for Costume Designers and people who make period clothing for re-enactments. It is absolutely wonderful and has detailed drawings of the construction of various costumes from the V&A and other amazing collections and has patterns for making up the items too.


When I was making The Frost Fairy, I intended her to have a 1780's (ish!) skirt with big paniers over the hips. I naively thought it would be plain sailing once the paniers were made, but draping the skirt was a nightmare and eventually I just removed the paniers altogether and went for the gathered skirt she ended up in! I am actually going to have a few hours for dollmaking this evening (JOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and once I've gotten my head around this book who knows what elaborate costumes will work their way into my Freaky Little Things? :o)


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cried buckets

I just watched "the Duchess" with Keira Knightly (well she was in it, not with me eating maltesers!) and cried buckets... kind of annoying as the film sort of skims the surface of a particularly interesting period of time and a character who was right in the thick of it. It's absolutely beautiful though and Keira Knightley and Raeph Fiennes are both excellent, but you will definitely need a box of hankies!


On the subject of the Fiennes brothers, what on earth has happened to Joseph? He was soooo gorgeous in Shakespeare in Love, etc... but seems to have had a total charisma bypass in the tedious "Flashforward"... I'm beginning to despair of that show, I gave up on any plot logic in week 2 and was just hanging in there for the eye-candy... then my fave guy threw himself off a roof and Joseph is a total wet blanket... thank the lord for Jack Davenport! Shallow, moi? :o)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Missing Halloween already, sigh...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Events continue at Nightshade Hall...

It seems the saga of the Midnight Ball isn't over at all, Weirdly Nightshade has just made another entry in the diary... is there no rest for the Wicked?

CRIMINAL injustice

Please, if you are an artist or crafter and naively think that copyrighting your work will protect you from the Big Bad Wolf, go and check out this : http://www.johntunger.com/legal-defense-fund.html

John T Unger is being SUED by the company that ripped off HIS designs!!!! It beggars belief but something similar happened to me a few years back so I know pretty much how he feels right now. In my case it was theft of my original idea whereas with him it's actually his designs for his entire range of products. In his case, he may have to give up his hard fought for business altogether if this company wins in court. Even if we can't help him financially we should all give him our support as it could happen to any one of us.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Ghostman of Skye. Beautiful, sad, haunting...

I have just posted the Midnight Ball with blurry eyes... I have just watched an amazingly touching film on the Beeb called "The Ghostman of Skye", it reduced me to tears:
The Ghostman of Skye


This is a Celtic Britain I know and love that is fast disappearing and it's so wonderful to hear the old languages spoken, which my Grandparents generation all did (albeit in Welsh)... in between the ghost stories and tall tales we learn about the love of his life and it made me think how seldom we see really old people on TV and how little patience we have to listen to their stories. Give Donald Angus MacLean a hearing if you have the time, and reflect about a time when love often did last a lifetime.

Tonight's the night!!!

Well, it's almost time, final preparations are being made at the Hall as the guests begin to arrive... hope to see you there later, we'll have a BALL!


Nighthsade Hall will be open for guests at around 11.30pm (UK time) tonight and the Ball will begin... at Midnight. Many dolls by the fabulously talented members of the ADO (Art Dolls Only) group are already changing into their finery and getting their hair done for the big night. I hope to see you there :o)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Polanski's Vampires...

OK, just to get you in the mood for Halloween...

You knew I'd be back, a quick blog trawl calms me down :o)

Nip over to Obscure Hollow and take a look at today's postings. Despite Mr Polanski's current dubious situation and his tragic/scandalous past there's no denying that he is a great film maker but many critics have ripped my favourite Polanski film to bits over the years... I saw "Dance of the Vampires" when I was quite a young child and it just seeped into my imagination and just won't leave. I adore this film, despite the dodgy "comedy" that often falls flat, this is one of the creepiest, most atmospheric Vampire films out there bar non. It's beautifully photographed, mainly on location in eastern Europeand has a  wonderfully haunting soundtrack.

It's become a family tradition to watch this film whenever it snows (once every few years), that will make sense if you've seen it! My favourite scene is when all the ancient Vampires rise from their graves under the snow in the castle court yard to come to the midnight ball... yes, a Halloween Midnight Ball! Do yourself a favour and try and find a copy of the version shown on British TV rather than the American version (I think it's called The Fearless Vampire Hunters). I've seen both and presume that the critics were all watching the recut and messed around with US release... and I can see why they slated it!

OK, back to work!!!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Crikey, I shouldn't be on here at all today as I have so much on my plate! I still have a lot of work to do to get ready for the Midnight Ball on Saturday. Haven't been able to do as much as I'd hoped because some freelance came along (yay!!! It pays the bills, never forget that bit :o) ). So with the freelance finished I thought I had the rest of the week clear to finish everything... cue Dick Barton music.

Also I need to finish making the Paper Mache coffin so that I can list Belladonna in my shop (she will ship in it so I need to take the near finished item with her safe inside to the Post Office to get shipping quotes. They are on intermittent strike action, so that should be fun! AND I am making a doll for the ADO Vampire Mini Monthly Challenge which finishes on the 7th of NOV.... so quite a bit to be getting on with!!!

Then, of course, some more Freelance work comes along and, of course, it takes precedence over everything! It's great to be in demand but boy are the next few days going to be hectic! Hope you will all come and join us for the Midnight Ball on Saturday when my website comes back online (around 11.30 pm UK time) Freaky Little Things

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Invitation to The Ball

OK, keep this in your diary folks, my Freaky Little Things website is currently closed but will be back up on Halloween to host the Midnight Ball and you are all invited! All the Freakies will be attending along with my Kitties (it really is party season for cats right now!) and BEST OF ALL, many spooky dolls from the fantastic doll artists at ADO (Art Dolls Only) will also be making guest appearances throughout the night! It's going to be a blast, so join us all at Nightshade Hall for waltzing and hi-jinks at Freaky Little Things


Saturday, October 17, 2009