Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dollmakers on Thursday: Marina Bychkova

Yes, yes. I know. There's no alliteration in Dollmakers on Thursday. I'm sorry.

Some artists make pretty dolls. Some make challenging dolls. And some make technically demanding dolls. This week's dollmaker is an artist whose work I'm in awe of and who accomplishes all three criteria.  She makes exquisitely beautiful fired porcelain BJDs  

Artificial Intelligence

 She casts their baroque accessories in silver and gold; tiny shoes, princess' crowns, divers' helmets. The dolls are sometimes clothed in beaded gowns, sometimes elaborately tattooed, sometimes simply naked. They are, however, still dolls, not merely cold porcelain sculptures, and can be moved and positioned, have their wigs changed and their silver crowns and shoes doffed and donned.

Marina Bychkova  at The Enchanted Doll 

Beauty and the Beast
Marina makes dolls that shatter preconceptions about what a doll is and what it's for. She does this with masterful technique, with vision and with with stunning results. The darkness of the fairy tale, the glitter of a royal court  and the heroines of literature are her subjects, transformed by her craft.  If you need an antidote to the pink-cheeked baby doll and are tired of dolls that are pretty just for pretty's sake, take a trip over to her blog.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Lovely Bones...

No, I haven't read the book. Yes, I know I should.

So, I was wandering through Blogland, as you do, and I found this blog, Pinkbuttercreme.  from this linky party  and it had the best use I've seen of those dinky little skeletons that you get on a twine garland  in every dollar store, every  Autumn.

She's made them into beauty queens, all decked out with ribbons and lace and roses and a sash..

 So clever and witty and sweet.
The sash reads Waiting for the Perfect Man  !!! I know, right?

 I know I have a pile of skeletons, for some long running project, but I don't think I can resist making a pair of skelly fairies for my Hallow'een Tree.

Thank you, thank you, Pinkbuttercreme . Please, go and see her stuff.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let's make this a Proper Blog.. Doll Makers on Donnerstag

I know,  I know, but Doll Makers on Thursday lacks alliteration. So we're going bilingual and it's Doll Makers on Donnerstag!

I'm going to celebrate doll makers that I like and those who have inspired me to make my own dolls. I'm doing this to express my gratitude to all those men (yes, men make dolls!) and woman whose artistic  endeavours have guided me on my path to...

Wait, this is sounding a little pompous.

 Let me try again.

Ok, so, every week, on a Thursday,  I will blog about a doll maker I like.  I like them because their dolls are just amazing, or because their dolls are amazing and they share how they made them, or because they change the concept of what a doll is and what it's for.  Most of these entries will be about an individual, although sometimes I will  be mentioning companies or workshops. Some times it will be a well known doll maker and sometimes it will be an artist I feel deserves wider recognition.  There will always be pictures and links and I hope fellow bloggers will suggest other doll makers I might have overlooked. I'm always greedy for more and happy to share.

The first doll maker I'm showcasing here is a Japanese artist called Runo..

I came across Runo about seven years ago, I guess, while looking at Lord of the Rings images. I found this amazing Legolas doll. . What amazed me (apart from the painstaking accuracy of his outfit) was that this was a cloth doll, with a nose and a chin. He had real  hands, that really held his bow  and he didn't look like a pancake.

To put this into context, I have made dolls, on and off, all my life. I remember making them out of hair curlers and hair pins when I was really small. When I was big enough to read and allowed to use the sewing machine, I got this book out of the library that was all about dolls, and the history of dolls and how to make them.(I'm absolutely thrilled to find a free on-line copy of the book. It's still worth a read) I loved the book, (still do), but no matter how many times I tried to sew the book's simple rag doll  pattern , and no matter how careful I was, it always turned out as a flat and disappointing pancake. So I stopped sewing dolls, at about  nine or ten years old, as I clearly wasn't any good at it.

It took two decades before I understood that it wasn't me, it was the pattern. Nothing wrong with the pattern, it just wasn't going to make the kind of doll I wanted to make.

Uh..enough about me.

Anyway, I found Runo's website and, besides being charmed by her careful English and her considerable skill, I was delighted by the patterns and advice. Every doll had a free pattern, you could download and sew , right off the printer. There were shoe patterns and clothes patterns, there were photos and  diagrams. She had the biggest gallery of boy rag dolls  I've ever seen, and she made dolls in a variety of styles, from the cute and simple, to the detailed and complex. There are patterns for dolls' boots and coats and kimonos and undies

Runo's open and friendly  approach makes it clear she thinks anyone can make cloth dolls and they should just go ahead and try. She's inspiring and supportive and all kinds of good things,  and she makes you feel this just from the text and images on the screen. If I hadn't stumbled across her page, I'd never have made my own dolls, from my own design, or feel so happy doing it.

She has a blog here Nuno Life which has occasional updates and a really cute bunny pattern and you can find her archived patterns here.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Freebie Rabbit Pattern

Ok, so, this is my first pattern available on-line and it's free (like anyone would actually pay for it) and it's easy.   Why a rabbit?  Hubby calls me Rabbit. I wanted a gusset-free simple rabbit pattern, that I could sew and stuff and embellish without any fuss or bother.   Free and easy, instead of fuss and bother, see?

The beginnings  are found in this doodle I did. Silly little doodle sketch done while playing D&D.

And from that, I made these..

 Cute, huh?

The pattern for this is pretty simple. Like I said, no gussets. Just sew around the line, turn, stuff and close. It takes a tiny scrap of leftover fabric. In fact, that is probably the most charming thing about the pattern, although I say it myself. You could, of course, enlarge it, make a rabbit-sized rabbit. Or a toddler-sized rabbit. Or whatever.
Download Me for Rabbit Fun! Yeah!

This is the pattern. If you're new to doll making, it's important to stress that there is NO SEAM ALLOWANCE. You sew around the pattern and cut the sewn piece out afterwards. You can leave a gap for turning the rabbit in the base or the back where you will add the tail. Up to you.

Draw around the rabbit body on fabric which is doubled and right sides together.  Do the same for the ears. You can sew the ears from two different fabrics,  the rabbit body fabric right sides together with a contrasting/complimentary fabric. Then, where you attach the ears, they will have an interesting lining. And you can use up all those tiny scraps you feel guilty about hoarding. As my MIL says, whoever dies with the most fabric wins, right?

Sew, here we have it. (Don't you love puns?)  Draw around the pattern, sew around the pencil line, leaving a gap to turn, cut out  a small seam allowance, clip curves, being careful to clip deep under the chin,  and turns right side out. You did leave a gap to turn right sides out?

Then, stuff it. No, really. Stuff it.  Sew around the ears, leaving the base open to turn, and  iron flat. If you don't iron them, they will be kinda fluffy and puffy.  Up to you, really. Fold the ears in half, with the body fabric on the outside and the contrast print on the inside. If the ears are of plain fabric, you can dust the inside of the fold with blush/rouge, for a realistic pink bunny-ear effect. Then pin and sew then to the sides of the rabbit's head, wherever you feel looks best. Add a tail, either a glued on pre-made pom pom or whatever. I made little stuffed balls of cloth, first  but the dollar store pom-poms are quicker and bigger and brighter. and look more like bunnies

Once sewn, you can embellish these however you want. Add buttons and flowers and ribbons and bells. Write on them and draw on them. You can stamp the fabric before sewing , or  even print out your own. Have fun with them and maybe, if you have fun, let me know?

Uh, the pattern is free for your own use and you can give them out as gifts and thank you's and use them as gift tags and Easter basket fillers. Or for Christmas, because, obviously, bunnies are for Christmas.

No? Just me?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rabbit Stamp

And yes, as we know rabbits do, indeed, stamp.

Now, a while ago, I found   this post  from  the lovely poppy. (which is a really cool blog.) where she showed where she'd bought a stamp with a custom design on it.



And it was priced at, like. the cost of a tin of supermarket coffee. I'd been considering buying a stamp of my bunnyfly for a while, but everywhere I'd looked had been pricey, or slow or suspect....

But  the Rubber Stamp Champ. ( this is not a joke. This is the company's name)  was none of those bad things. The offer was so good, I bought two stamps, and scored FREE Shipping. (my favourite kind of free) Here is the Linky to the specific custom offer. and thanks again to Nicole at the lovely poppy  for showing the way.

Here is my lovely bunnyfly stamp, on a tag and on a canvas (calico) bunny.

Cool, huh? Thanks to Nicole at the lovely poppy and to  the Rubber Stamp Champ,