Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy St David's Day

Yay, it's St David's Day, he's the patron Saint of today is the day we all go out and drink ourselves silly and have a good time just like the Irish on St Paddy's, right?

Eeeerrrr, no we're more low key, we wear daffodils and leeks in our lapels and eat our National Dish: Welsh Rarebit (or Cheese on Toast as it's also known, with a bit of mustard!)... then go out on St Paddy's and drink with the Irish!

Here's a song that tells you nothing about Wales but does feature badgers, and just for today the Jukebox has been silenced - Cymru am Byth and all, enjoy...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Danika's cat... finally

Way back in November (I think) I posted about a new print for the shop called "Danika's Cat". That was because I thought I had almost finished it... but I just wasn't happy with the moggies little face, he didn't look demonic enough.

So I left him for a while and then lots of freelance work and Christmas came along, but now he finally looks how I imagined him and the print just needs background! More freelance tomorrow I think, but the new image will be available as an ACEO in the shop by Monday. The third girl in this series should be ready in a week or so too, then I will offer them as full size prints too. Watch this space :o)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a work of beauty

OK, you've probably seen it before somewhere, but I can just watch it over and over, it's just sooo beautiful. Moulin Rouge presumably inspired it, those scenes of Montmartre at the beginning of the film are my favourite bit. I find the knife throwing dude pretty sexy too...reminds me of Vincent Gallo... although I have to say knife throwing just reminds me of Holywell High School! All this fuss for a hairdryer though? Enjoy...

Frost Fairy 2

Ok, so mistakes! I decided I wanted to try and raise up the features a little, very subtle. I got the new batch of PAPYDUR, which I mixed with less water this time and found that it was a lot less easy to control. It has a lot of pulpy material in it and is very... wilful. (that's a good word for it!)

I decided just to let it set all bulky as I thought I would be able to carve into it once it was dry. Errrr, NO - it's like concrete once it's dry... it broke the blade on my craft knife! I kid you not. Took ages to sand it back down, I was almost in tears thinking I would have to remake the whole head/torso again.

Once I'd calmed down and it was sanded smooth again I decided to have one more go and wait until it was semi-dry to manipulate it and thankfully I am a lot happier with the result this time. I like the way she is developing, what do you think?


The Obscure Hollow and I spy with my evil eye...

Obscure Hollow is a fantastic blog where people post stills from old horror movies (you know, when they used to be all spooky and beautifully lit, not the modern yawn inducing torture-porn!) but there's other good stuff too, like this great little music video inspired by a cartoons from the 30's. The Ghost of Stephen Forster has a wonderfully manic Bohemian fiddle solo at the beginning which crops up again several times throughout the song... makes my Romany blood race... my imaginary Romany blood that is!

That reminds me, I was accosted at the cash point by a Traveller the other day, she leaned over my shoulder, ignoring all that personal space malarkey and whispered something about Lucky Heather right into my ear... not something I would advise to do to someone with PTSD. I was understandably freaked out and swung round, obviously frightening the living daylights out of her and she scuttled off down Holywell High Street shouting something about me putting the Evil Eye on her. Well, it amused the people sat on the benches outside the chip shop I suppose... shouldn't she have been trying to pull the whole evil eye Crock of Sh*t on me, not the other way round? Baffling!

Go take a peek at Obscure Hollow anyway, the tunes really catchy too, may be appearing on this jukebox if I can track it down!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Frost Fairy 1

Here's the first pic of Frosty, she will be about 70cm tall when she's finished. I really liked the way that Bleeding Heart turned out but am glad to get back to my slightly spindlier pattern. Her head had to be made smaller as it seemed a bit OTT, even though I usually draw my girls with oversized heads and owl eyes. She looks better this way and has a slightly tilted head to show off her big top hat.

I offer these instalments as an encouragement to others really. I am no doll making expert and have never taken any classes, I'm just bumbling along because I learn by doing rather than being shown. I am bound to make mistakes but, so what, they can be rectified and you learn more that way. I have been freelance on and off for most of my career (since the mid 80's... I'm practically Antique!) and always do something more personally creative when I am not working for a client. I really want to draw, write stories and paint but that just isn't working for me right now, so I am learning to make dolls instead.

On the subject of mistakes: using paperclay for the first time, finally managed to track some down, but sadly (it's called PAPYDUR) the instructions are only available in various Scandinavian looking languages, so it's all guesswork. That's one of the biggest hurdles that I've found being in the UK, well away from London. You see people in Japan and the States making amazing creations and glibly referencing materials that you just can't get your hands on over here... even in Hobbycraft!!!!

Oh well, back to the MISTAKE... the PAPYDUR has been left to dry for nearly 3 days and is like rock wherever it was thinly spread, but, I wanted to smooth the join between head and neck, so filled it in and smoothed over. I picked it up to do the photographs and found that it was only dry on the surface and have now made a huge crack into the wet stuff underneath! Ooops... PAPY-DOH. I think I might need to add less water next time.

Off to the Art shop in a moment (over the hills and far away) to pick up some silver acrylic paint, She's having silver boots with real leather laced uppers, better get on with it :o)



Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dyspeptic Dollies

Bless! Somewhere out in the far East there is a translator getting rich on their misunderstanding of the English language. Even with heartburn she is a beautiful doll though!


My antique chair acrobatics (the Lloyd loom is fine by the way, survived the adventure a lot better than I did... I found it in a skip in North London way back when you were actually allowed to nick things from skips... it was just off Kilburn High Road and I've thought of Ian Dury every time I sit in it, ever since... He used to be in a band called Kilburn & The High Roads, in case you are wondering... Reasons to be Cheerful!) caused me to really stiffen up later and I have spent the last few days resting a bad back, so no dolly progress here I'm afraid, dyspeptic or otherwise. Still tomorrow I WILL take pictures of The Frost Fairy, even if it's really cloudy, because I'm itching to get on with her. She's going to be quite an entertaining doll when she's finished and much larger than any previous that I've made. I'm pleased with her so far :o)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Look - Brooches... almost killed me!

Last winter when my leg was still really bad I just sat around like a big moany lump crocheting flowery things, ENDLESS flowery things. I didn't know what they were but they were kind of fun and went nicely with a bar of chocolate and a cup of tea...

I found a bag of them all forgotten in the bottom of the wardrobe (it's a mixture of creative Narnia and a craft wasteland where things go to die...only the strong survive) and last night made about 10 brooches with beads and trims. They are starting to appear in the shop right now, take a peek.

So, the photos aren't great are they? Well, there's a reason beside the usual overcast spring weather. I have to take pics under the big skylight window on the landing if I can't go outside, as this house is always quite dark and surrounded by tall old trees (and haunted by a little white dog according to my mother - there's a story - you see a little white dog in your garden and most people think "oooh, it's a little white dog" but not my mother who swears it's THE GHOST of a little white dog)...

Anyway, I digress: I was on the landing balancing on an old Lloyd Loom chair WITH my tripod/camera over the chest of drawers where I'd set up the brooches. All of a sudden the sun came out (instant panic being Welsh, one of those "race memory" freak-outs welling up from my DNA "What the hell is that big fiery globe?") and I must have shifted my weight and - boom - the wooden seat part of the chair just flipped and the whole thing fell over - pitching me, camera and tripod toward the top of the stairs. My instinct to save the camera meant I hit the floor (with one leg trapped down inside the chair seat) on the small of my back really quite hard and at an odd angle. Still - I didn't fall down the stairs = Result!!!

At the time I was a bit shaky, not really hurt though, happily, but decided that it was time to call it quits on the photography front which meant I have to use the photos from BEFORE the sun briefly broke through the clouds. As the day has worn on I've started to walk like one of Dr Frankenstien's lab assistants and have been playing hunt the bruise. The biggest one, accompanied by mega sized lump, is right where my knee injury was.. yep, literally 24 hours after I got signed off from the Physio!

I'm now dosed up with painkillers and feel a spot of chocolate therapy coming on, now where did I put that crochet hook?


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

lambs tails!

Busy morning - just got signed off by the Physiotherapist so no excuse not to get rid of the fat suit I seem to have created for myself since the knee injury! As you can see from the pathetic little summary at the top of the right column, I've only managed to make a 5lb dent in that wobbly mass but, hey ho, better than none, I can get back into some of my favourite clothes at last. Feeling really motivated today though and all because of lamb tails. It was horribly foggy on the way to the hospital early this morning (and that never helps with your mood, does it?) but on the way back the fog had cleared and I saw little lamb tails hanging from the Hazel trees as I drove along (...I know, SOME people look at other traffic!!!).

That's always a sure sign of spring as far as I'm concerned, so I'm starting that 2 bowls of cereal a day diet from today, let's see how that goes. I should have some pics of The Frost Fairy later or tomorrow, I've decided she will have legs now, as the cone base just looked a bit odd :o)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

And The Winner is...

Wow, thanks to everyone who entered the competition to win the doll Bleeding Heart, it's been fun re-reading all your comments this morning while I was writing everyone's names on little bits of (pink!) paper to go into the hat. My nephew Jamie was supposed to choose the winner but is nowhere to be seen today, probably off delivering a wheelbarrow load of cards to his would-be sweethearts...

cut to the chase, I hear you say!

The lucky winner is MARJORIE DAWSON, who I think is in New Zealand, randomly drawn from the hat just minutes ago, I'll be contacting you for an address to send the doll to in just a moment.

So thanks again to all those who entered and as most of you seem to be blissfully loved-up, have a happy Valentines Day wherever you are and however you choose to show your affection... for those grumpy singles (or even the optimistic ones) like me, just look forward to tomorrow when we can go out and buy up all those cheap chocs, roses and bubbly and come home and binge with the Kitties...well, that's MY weekend sorted! :o)


Friday, February 13, 2009

Its tomorrow!!!

Just one more day til I announce the winner of the Bleeding Heart competition, I'm getting quite excited like it's going to be Christmas morning or something, and I'm not even getting anything!

Get in there quick if you still want to enter, just post a Valentine related comment on the post for 12th January: "Valentine's Sweet or Sour". I will also round up and include those befuddled bloggers who put entries on the wrong posts, don't worry. Good Luck :o)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Starting new doll

I will go "missing in action" again for a few days as more freelance design work has come in...however, here is a sketch (yes, a SKETCH, such a rarity these days, sadly!) of the new full-size doll I have started on: The Frost Fairy, what else with all the snow we've been seeing lately?

I have no idea what the cone base is all about yet...I initially had this idea that she would have a kind of Snow Globe in her base/skirt... but had no idea HOW I was going to make that. That's the big difference between Freaky Little Things and my freelance designs, I need to be capable of making all my dolls myself, whereas in the day job I just leave all the technical hands on stuff to some poor soul in China! Obviously as a product designer I do need to know that what I come up with CAN be manufactured and come in for a price, but I don't have to do the fiddly stuff myself. Every prototype is made in China now whereas years ago when I came up with a toy idea I would make the prototype myself and got pretty good at pattern cutting and being hands on. I miss it, so making dolls has been a good way to keep myself connected.

Despite the freelance work I have promised myself to get the 3 Boudoir dolls finished and listed by Monday, and get somewhere with little Frosty before the middle of next week, wish me luck! :o)


nocturnal cuties!

Just thought I'd share a few pics of our nocturnal garden visitors. They wake us up with their hilarious squeaks while they chase each other round the garden in the wee small hours. They seem quite loved up which is pretty appropriate for the time of year (Valentine's for Badgers!) and make noises like a dog's squeaky toy, it's hard not to laugh. We also have a fox that comes often, last summer she'd leave her cub's here to play most nights while she went off on a bin raid on the neighbourhood!

One of the perks of being an insomniac with a rambly old garden that borders woodland, you get all these little visitors.



Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mature Beauties

I've been feeling under the weather for the last week so haven't finished the new "Boudoir" dolls yet. While stuffing the 3rd one I got a bit carried away and she has turned out a little "fuller figured" than usual... bit like my good self! What happened to the diet?

Anyway, that got me thinking, why do my dolls always have to be skinny and young? Surely it's time to celebrate the more mature woman's beauty? So these first 3 Boudoir dolls are a little different to my usual output, a little more realistic certainly but also a celebration of faces that have lived a little. They will still be all gussied up in finery with funky corsets on, of course! Here's a sneak peak at 2 of them - What do you think?