Saturday, June 11, 2011

Aunt Brenda's Doll

This is the completed doll that was posing  all saucy and nekkid on my deck a month ago. Hubby came and asked me if I had one finished so I could give it to his aunt who was here a-visiting. So I fudged the issue and  said, 'Yes, of course, Dear.' which meant I now had a deadline.

I only work if there's a deadline. Sad, but true. Now I've accepted that about myself, I find it's easier to get stuff done. 
Here she is, all posing and coy.

One reason I hadn't finished her is because I didn't know who she was. Now, if this sounds all New Age-y and weird to you, I'm sorry.  It's not meant to. Usually a doll's inspiration comes from a piece of fabric I like, or from the doll herself. Her face gives her an identity and I try and make that identity manifest to others. It's not as arty as it sounds, honest. 

This doll I'd originally intended to be a child, but she didn't have a child's face and there was something knowing and amused about her expression. I didn't know how to dress her to reflect that. Hence her unfinished state.

The discipline of the deadline meant I had to get around her identity crisis. So, first I poked about my fabric collection.  Nothing. Then, I meandered through a pile of clothes I'd set aside for re-purposing. Or is it 'upcycling'? How about 'clothes I don't wear but can't bring myself to throw away'? Amongst them was a huge, frumpy maxi sundress with oversized sunflowers. Not good for me, but perfect for her.  I also found a small scrap of cloth with undergrowth and toadstools  and that seemed to want to be included, too. Bright gypsy colours, an environmental woodsy theme, long hair and an amused smile. So that was what the doll was; a nymph-y, dryad-y gypsy.

Doll on the cake stand See those gripping fingers? I think she's scared of heights...
Now I had the fabric everything fell into place. 

What I usually do is wonder around in a fugue state (like a fudge state but without the calories) holding the cloth up to the doll and trying different ways of draping it and tucking it and adding other fabrics to it for contrast. This can go on for some time. Weeks, even. But...I had a deadline! So her outfit was decided pretty swiftly; fitted bodice, long, long skirt, pagoda sleeves and an ivy coronet.

My Glass Worktable

I freehanded the pattern to fit her. I hate paper patterns; all those bossy instructions and terse commands. Baste this! Interface that! Clip curves! Of course, if I hated clipping curves, I probably shouldn't have started to make dolls, but every craft has its tedious aspect.
Tryout of bodice and sleeves.

The bodice was lined in bright yellow cotton, but the sleeves were left to be floaty and light. I decided against an underskirt for the same reason. I always give dolls wide and voluminous skirts. It helps with the posing, I think and makes them more interesting to handle. That, and the first thing everyone does with a rag doll is to turn them upside down and look at their knickers. Everyone. Just try it. Hand some unsuspecting soul a cloth doll and watch what they do. 

Here, I've done it for you.
Yellow bloomers amid yellow blooms
And then she was (mostly) done. I wove a wreath  of some fake ivy I just happened to have hanging about. I was going to add flowers, but that seemed to make the whole thing a little overdone, so I left her with a  simple green garland. I sewed ribbon streamers to the waistline, and pinned the bodice back, to show the yellow lining . The fabric with the dark leaves and toadstools I inserted in the neckline, to look like a shirt underneath. Three bead buttons, a band of red silk dupion for a change of texture and she was all done.
Dress. On backwards...
And, if I'd planned this better, I'd have a photo of the finished doll! As it was, the deadline tweaked my tail and I just had time to box her up. She did look pretty though.

1 comment:

  1. I'm still in awe of the nostrils! Her bloomers are very nice too. I'm glad you've observed the check for undies phenomenon as well. I started putting sparkly panties on some of mine.

    And no, I don't think waiting for dolls to speak out about their personality is 'New Agey.' I know mine never quite come out as planned. So I have to see how their faces turn out before I know how they'll want to be dressed. I had a doll I'd fully intended to give wings but she had such a look that I didn't dare ;)


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