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


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wilde Imagination, helpful souls!

My anguished plea for Evangeline Ghastly's vital statistics have born fruit! I say "Vital" statistics but Evangeline is clearly dead, hey ho :o) The nice, helpful souls at Wilde Imagination sent me the following:
Bust - 7 5/8"
Waist - 4 1/2"
Hip at widest point - 7 3/8"
Girth 13 3/4 around shoulders and crotch as for a jumpsuit
Waist to floor - 11 3/4" waist is slightly below articulation
Pants crotch - 6 1/2"
Eyes are 10/12 cm
Wigs 6/7

This is for the 19" resin version Evangeline

And the 17" is slight smaller in size but the clothes will fit either one, Joe designed all the separates to fit both...

So this means, by my reckoning at least, that A Domuya Flexi-fashion doll will fit into Evangeline's lovely outfits but might need a slight amount of padding round the hips and bust... teeny doll socks down the bra perhaps? It's encouraging enough to get my "buy" finger hovering over the button of this outfit, Afterlife Elegance


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...


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Anyone got an Evangeline Ghastly?

OK, I know I've been pretty mean about poor old enormous-handed Evangeline Ghastly in the past but does anyone out there have one and can let me know her bust/waist/hip dimensions please? I really NEED a Vampire doll in my dolly cabinet and have decided on a white skinned Domuya Flexi Fashion doll as they are so anorexic looking, and Vanessa has such fantastically sucked in cheeks. I can just see her repainted and looking all deathly and vamped out.

I just can't take to Evangeline but love some of her insane wardrobe and wonder if her outfits might fit the vanessa doll? Obviously it won't be for a while yet as I have to save up, but it gives me something to day-dream about... when I'm not day-dreaming about ALL the other things that waft through my echoey brain.

BIG TREAT instore for you tomorrow (errrrr, I mean today, later today after I wake up) so remember to check back on Monday to see what I got in the ADO Ornament Swap - Jacqui from Odddollz really excelled herself!

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!