Sunday, January 31, 2010

TDP Blog Profile

Take a look at, today's team profile is of lil' ol' ME! Thanks to the lovely Cindy Sowers for her kind description :o) I think I'm the last profile before the team dolls all start to be featured, can't wait to see what everyone's been up to!

On a less enthusiastic note, I'm now in week 6 of my Sciatica/ankle fiasco and not really improving that much after a big set back last weekend. Because all of my etsy shop inventory is packed away in a whicker hamper on top of my wardrobe it would be impossible for me to locate anything if I re-open the shop and something does sell. My poor old mother is run ragged trying to help me cope day to day as it is, so I can't expect her to sort out shop sales too. The shop will sadly have to remain closed, even though I doubt I would be doing great business at the time of year, I don't want to take the risk! It's weird worrying that you might make a sale instead of worrying that you won't :o*

Saturday, January 30, 2010

TDP Doll ready to go

Here she is, my revised entry doll for the ADO Travelling doll project. She's called Miss Rosie Pimlico and you can read more about her at when the rest of the team have filled in their entries. I am on team 7 "Puppe", go and check out the profiles of my fellow members :o) She is now packed up and ready to send to Angela Rosseau on Monday. I am still laid up in bed for the most part so "Challenge" just doesn't cover it! Oh, and yes, well spotted, she IS one of the 3 dolls from the Paper Clay How To... I remembered the name of the paper clay: Papydur... perhaps not the best on the market but there is so little choice in the UK. Thanks to the advice of Kaerie Faerie, I have tracked down some LaDoll Premix in Holland, and that should be here soon, hopefully it will make modeling easier!



Thursday, January 28, 2010

and what of Vernon McQuilty?

You may well be asking yourself after that last post, but what of Vernon McQuilty?

Fear not! As soon as I regain my footpeddle powers (damned Kryptonite!) he will be croaking your way with all his accompanying art work, and i will publish his story on my website for you all to read. I'm sure you will love Vernon, he's just having a difficult birth!

Travelling Doll Project

Things have not been going to well for me in 2010 so far... as you may have gathered. Had a big relapse on Sunday and now I'm back to total bed rest and can do nothing about it. I can barely move, even typing is causing little spasms in my back.

So how does that affect my part in the Travelling Doll Project? Well, I was all gun's blazing to make a totally NEW doll and had started work on a new pattern prototype, he was to be a Victorian Magician, a dapper little frog named Vernon McQuilty. I've written a short story about McQuilty's Travelling Toad Show, produced that as a booklet and even sketched out an "olde worlde" music hall style poster to advertise his act (with reviews!).

All I had left to do was cut out the real pattern with the minor adjustments from the prototype, sew him together, stuff him and do a bit of needle sculpting. He was going to be made entirely of unbleached calico so that whoever got him next could dye or paint him into full froggy life... (mainly because I have no green fabric or dye and can't physically go anywhere to get any!)... oh, and I needed to make his journal.

Why am I saying it all in the past tense? Well, last week when my leg/back was a lot better than it is now, I discovered that I was incapable of using the sewing machine... blasted foot peddle is beyond me. I stuff my dolls too robustly for hand stitching to be a realistic option! A friend volunteered to do that bit but by the weekend it was obvious that it was all just too much. Sadly, I am finding that while the distraction would be welcome, the mix of constant pain, restrictive movement and a foggy brain mushed out on heavy duty pain medication are making this a no go... :o( I don't think Vernon McQuilty will be performing any amphibian magic for some time to come.

So, have I backed out of the long-anticipated TDP? NO, not a bit of it! I'm just working on a less challenging doll that I constructed before Christmas and this infernal injury descended upon me :o) She should be finished tomorrow so hopefully I can show you pics of her and her Journal before I ask someone to post her off to Angela Rosseau for me. So check back then and I'll also give you the lowdown on all the members of my team and where you can follow the TDP as a whole :o)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paper Clay Part 2... finally!!!!!!!!!!

OK, so my return was a bit shortlived! Here, finally is Part 2 of my delayed Step-by-Step. You can find part 1 as the entry for Tuesday December 29th (Lordy, it seems even longer ago to me).

So I had my 3 calico girls all sewn up and painted with gesso in all the areas that I want to paint with acrylics, or sculpt with paper clay: the faces (leaving the scalp un-gessoed to sew on the hair) the hands and the boots. Without gesso the paper clay will just fall right off your doll, it cannot adhere to the cloth. Some people use PVA glue as a bonding layer but I prefer Gesso as it takes paint better in areas that get left exposed. I only paint to just above the ankles on the boots as I make the upper parts from leather with a tongue, so I just paint the lower part of the foot to match. Simples! Here they are drying out after they have been finished, I tend to cover the paper clay with another coat of gesso, when the doll is all white it's easier to see if you need to fill any craters or adjust features you don't like...


Somebody dust that mirror and don't even get me started on that ghastly light fitting! You will have to forgive the truly awful photos but I can barely walk at all plus it's still very cold so don't tend to venture far from the fire and it's also very dark most of the time. The second pic shows where I apply the paper clay to my dolls faces. I am basically smoothing out the fabric puckering on the jawline and creating a chin. With these dolls, I will leave the face completely flat, on the larger dolls I create shallow sculpted features. I usually make a dome for the eyes, let that dry then sand the surface to make it nice and smooth. The eyes are just little bulges on the surface and then I add eyelids on top of the dried eye bulge. It gives that buggy eye effect that I'm so fond of!



This pic shows 2 dolls drying out by the fire. I use the paper clay (called papydur, a powder you mix with water which sets absolutely stone-like) very dry, mixing in hardly any water, but it still takes ages to dry. I just apply it to the gessoed areas with a small craft tool and then smooth it into the shape I want with a wet finger. My first attempts were to use a wetter mix and I got great results but as it dried out, the sculpted features would just evaporate with the moisture, sinking into the gesso somehow. There is a lot of shrinkage, so now, the drier the better. I have also found by trial and error that with Papydur, you need to smooth out the surface as much as possible before leaving it to dry, as once it's set it is difficult/impossible to sand. The reason I am using Papydur as opposed to LaDoll or one of the finer ready mixed Paperclays that sculpts well over an armature, is the simple fact that I am working over a 'soft sculpt', it needs to be rigid in certain areas if you want to paint or sculpt on top or you will get cracking.


As well as the jaw/chin, I also fill in around where I have sewn the head onto the neck. If you decide to do this you need to apply the clay quite heavily or it will just crack and detatch itself from the neck the first few time the head moves. I like the head and neck to look all one even though I create them separately. Lastly, I model a flat platform under the boots and heels and fill it in, smoothing it up to the stuffed calico foot. This will need sanding later but try to create a smooth level surface and then your doll may be able to stand unaided if you are using tight button knee joints. It's quite cool when they do that!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The second ADO Travelling Doll Project Begins!

Yay! Finally got the laptop up and running so thought I'd tell you about my next 2 ADO Challenges. First up is the fact that I am now a proud member of team 7 of this years Travelling Doll Project. Can't wait! Luckily, I started making my doll just before Christmas or I would be panicking right now. I think we each post our started doll off to the next participating artist at the end of the month. There are 5 of us in this team, myself, Angela Rosseau, Deena Maurus, Helen Fern and Kaci Lorance. You can read about these fabulous doll makers and the other teams and even catch up with last years project at:

The other project, which I am sure will be fun is the "Burlesque" Challenge! No, don't worry, I won't be performing, just making a saucy doll! Fingers crossed that I get more movement and less pain as the days go by. I have a lot more suppleness in my left arm now and can lift both to ear height, which is an improvement. At least I can hand sew those seam gaps ;o)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Back soon, promise!

Thanks for all your sweet comments, they really made me feel a little brighter :o) Still in a bad way right now though and the worst winter Wales has seen in 30 years isn't helping my injury/condition any. Temperatures are dropping to below -20c (is that cold? I get c and f mixed up!!!) at night and not much better during the day. My work room just has a tiny ineffectual electric heater so I am just not brave/daft enough to be in here for more than a few minutes while there's a roaring open log fire downstairs!

The good news is I'm getting a laptop to work from early this week so will be able to blog again and as I get a little stronger each day I'm sure I can start to relocate my doll making activities downstairs too. The big excitement is that this years ADO Travelling Doll Project is about to begin and I will be joining some superb Doll Artists in group 7, so check back for updates soon... oh, and try and stay warm :o)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sorry for delay, not in a good way right now...

Unplanned delay to the second part of the Paper-clay "slep-by-step", as I have been laid up in bed on heavy medication for sciatica (or whatever this is). I had quite a bad fall in early December, and really hurt my back and ankle, thought I had broken it at first. I fell over a big heavy metal heater and got my foot/ankle trapped in a bar as it tipped and fell over, so couldn't actually fall to the floor and remained suspended by my left arm and right ankle in a very awkward position for a few minutes until someone came and helped me back up. My ankle and back have felt very odd ever since, but it just seemed to be swollen and badly bruised and I was able to walk on it for the intervening weeks. Every now and then my ankle would suddenly give way and I'd fall and the swelling would get worse, but it didn't seem worthy of a trip to the doctors. I've spent too much time in waiting rooms over the last few years. Another hour wasted with sneezing people for a few hallowed minutes of disinterest with a GP who is too busy planning their holidays to even look me in the eye. What is the point? I did ring the surgery to ask for painkillers and got rang back to tell me to use the ones I take for my arthritis.

On Christmas morning I woke with a terrible headache and back pain and my ankle swollen again, couldn't put my weight on it at all (I know you have this image of an old lady in your head but I'm just in my 40's, honest!). It has continued to get worse over the Christmas break until now I find it very hard to move my right lower body and my left arm. I can't lift either arm above shoulder height. Getting dressed/undressed is just too difficult! Once I am stood and have something to take my weight I am not too bad, just in pain, but getting from a lying or sitting position to standing and back again, well that's incredibly painful and something I really need help with and to psyche myself up for. I think this is all from that fall, but my doctor, who no longer does house calls unless it's an emergency (the house is not on fire, someone checked for me!) has decreed yet more arthritic joint deterioration and who am I to argue... someone who never went to medical school, obviously! I do wonder at the medical profession and my doctor in particular though, shouldn't diagnosis by performed face to face?

Will do second part of my tutorial as soon as I am able. If the learned one is right then I should get some movement back sporadically and will just have to stare at the ceiling until then. Thank heavens my Mac is on a wheely table and the keyboard is wireless!