Well. Here we are again one more time. Mona Lisa is ready, after undergoing a new re-make of parts of her and her clothes. After her return from England, I worked on her and made her a new white dress and new legs with painted boots and put her on e-bay. She did not sell, so I once again started working on her, re-painting part of her eyes, I gave her a new neck line of curls, a new pair of bare feet, shoes and socks, and her white dress was dyed a pink brown. I did receive some email's about her, after the auction and found a lovely lady who does want her, so these pictures are mainly for her and for me to remember her by. I have asked myself this question and I imagine you doll makers out there have asked yourself this question too, How many times is enough times to work on a doll? On this particular doll, three times is enough, because I don't think there is anything else I can do to her, or for her. If I felt I still could do better, then I would probably try, but I am satisfied she is beautiful and has a very pretty dress. The dye was a success as this color of pink brown is nice on her. It would be wonderful if we could get everything right from the beginning, but with Mona Lisa it didn't work that way. She made me labor until she was right. I don't think experience can always save you from having to re work a doll many times, it should, but trying my best, I still made mistakes that I had to correct, that I couldn't see until the end. I am glad I didn't stop trying to fix my old sweet girl and now she can
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Here they are. My first attempt at making these Ella Smith Dolls. The first thing I would say about these dolls is they are nothing like the Izannah walker dolls, either in looks, or design. I think I worked on these in a way more than the Izannah's. They have, in the antique Alabama baby dolls a plaster face mask that is applied to the cloth head, but I deviated from this on these. I did make the plaster face mask, but it was super heavy and thick, because my antique doll I took my mask from is very deep, so I made a cloth face mask for these that has no plaster in it, so they are very light. In the future, I will still use the cloth face mask, but before I smooth the mask to the cloth head, I will pour a little plaster into the mask, as much as I think it needs. Since the dolls do not have a second skin, you have to watch and try not to get paint and stains on the cloth parts of the body, this is harder, as I am ( super messy ). I could go on quite a while on the mistakes I made on these, but I have that under control on the next batch. Make shorter necks, put in plaster, ears shapes need to be made different. Ella was very cleaver about the ears. they have no stuffing and have a big ark in the center and are cut so that the ears will curl and get that famous shape they have, of course I messed up on that the first time around. All in all, I like the dolls a lot. These are super big and fat, I would say about 22 or 23" tall. soft and squeezy. they should be easy to fit for clothes. I will not cover up their feet, as they are really fat and cute. I also am repairing my antique Alabama baby. She was missing an ear, so I scraped off the remains of the ear and made her a new ear which is glued and stapled to the head and then a small bit of paper clay to cover the staples. There is not another way to repair this problem, that I can see, also I re glued down some cracked in her face and filled in the cracks with paper clay, her arms and legs will need some attention too. She will never be worth a fortune, and I have tried to do as little as possible to her to get her back to some semblance of what she was when Ella made her. Lastly, the black doll and picture taking, he is dark, it is very hard to see him in the pictures. This is ( painting the black dolls, like this one ) a tough problem which will require much experimentation on my part, or a timely ( happy accident ), which I am hoping for. HaHa I enjoyed making these dolls. It made me happy to do it and see them sitting on the table after I was done. Hooray
Monday, March 3, 2014
This post is a little different, as I am asking myself the question, why am I not satisfied with the three rag dolls I made? What is it about them that makes me feel they are not good enough, or not what I or other people would want? When I make a doll, I judge it by whether or not I like it enough to keep it myself, because if I don't, then there is no question, but that it isn't good enough, or I need to work on it some more to make it into a doll that I would hate to give up. Along the way, there are dolls we make, that no matter what we do, or how hard we try, the dolls never work out as we thought they would. Now, I say this, these dolls are nice. They are well made, and I have labored long and hard on them, time after time, with painting, antiquing, and repainting to try to get them to the old fine painted rag doll look that I do love. Sadly, I am still not satisfied. I would hate to try to sell, or give away any of these dolls as long as I have these feelings about them. When you get into this situation, seeing the work before you and not wanting to keep going, what do you do? I considered removing the body suit and putting on a new stockinet, because I know the root trouble I am having ) These dolls are made of muslin. Muslin is smooth and cannot take a antiquing so you don't have the ability to make it look old. You must have a stockinet with some ribbing to hold stain. My first mistake was not widening out the head, but even this is not the cause of my dissatisfaction, as pancake head and spoon head dolls have been around for ages. I can live with this. One of these dolls is for my sister, who is not a particular doll lover, so I am holding back on giving it to her until my problem is solved. I can, but would not expect the dolls clothes to turn the tide in their favor and make me see another side of them. Clothes make a big difference, but I don't think they can carry the day and turn my rag dolls into ( magically being what I wanted them to be. ) What to do? What to do? HaHa What to do is to send these girls to the back of the line, until lightning strikes, and I suddenly become enamored with them, or take the hard road and re- do the heads, but what if I do this and realize I was better off in the first place? Maybe the dolls were alright to begin with? I know you think I have gone crazy, but this is a realistic problem. Woe is me not to be able to figure this out.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Here are a few pictures of my alabama baby dolls that I am making. I have painted one coat of oil paint on today. They will have to set up for a week or so, and then be sanded and the repaint begins. Since these are my first ones, I'll have to play it by ear on their distressing. I probably will distress them next after they dry, and then stain and then repaint. I don't know how many times they will need to be worked on. I won't have any trouble with the white doll, as distressing and painting them is much easier, but the black one might pose some problems. Black dolls are hard to adjust, as far as color goes. I will have to go by a photograph, hopefully I can get a bigger one that shows me good details. These dolls are made by making a mold of my antique alabama baby. There are nicer dolls out there with a little better shaped head, so in the future, I might have to free sculpt another one I like better, but for now I will finish these. I did make some bad mistakes in making these, the necks on my dolls are to long, and the bodies are to fat. One of the dolls face is looking up instead of straight ahead, but all these things, I can fix on the next set of dolls. I'm just glad I managed to get this
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I showed on my last Post, a picture of Sissy and Pinky side by side. I have been considering them and today, I have gone back to the paint table to see what could be done to Sissy to soften her up, as she was looking a little ( meanish ). haha, Pinky was o:k, but needed a tweek out as well. I will post yesterdays pictures of them and todays so you can see, ( THE POWER OF PAINT ) I put this in real big letters, because painting has power, to change everyday objects into something beautiful. To amaze us when we see something someone has painted that is so beautiful that it stops us in our tracks. Just a touch of paint put in the right place turns something nice into something timeless. This is why I stress that learning to paint is maybe the most important thing you can to do in making your dolls. There is a argument among painters as to what is more important. perspective ( angles - form ) or is it ( color ). I always thought if something is pretty enough, and the form is not quite correct, a person would probably love it anyway, but if it correctly drawn, but has no color and is not pretty to look at, then it is wasted. Anyway, here are the comparison pictures, which are changed by simply changing how it is painted. Another thing I wanted to show is the beginnings of my Alabama baby dolls. I am showing only one, but I have made two. This is the doll ready to gesso ( or seal with acrylic paint before the actual oil painting begins ). She is based on my antique doll. I think she can fly with those ears, at least she looks like she can right now, but here again,
Monday, February 17, 2014
Here are two about 17 to 18 inch dolls I am making. These smaller daintier dolls will have bare feet that are made separate from the leg and then sewed together. I have made some like this in the past, I think that a one piece leg and foot is stronger, but apparently Izannah made legs this way, so I will too. Paula Walton based her pattern on her antique dolls, so I am following her patterns this time around. They will also have the daintier hands with a slightly different finger pattern, that gives them longer fingers. These smaller dolls are fun to do and a delightful size standing on a table or sitting down. You see a big difference in these two dolls. Pinky has had a mold made of her, so that she can be reproduced, but Sissy has not, and will not be reproduced again. Pinky has a older look, where as Sissy is not a new doll, but does not have the wear and tear and as much age, she is more pristine and fresh. It is hard to choose sometimes, between the older or newer looking dolls, but the ageing and painting process is similar, but different. the newer looking doll has had more base coats of oil paint before a mild distressing, but little Pinky has had little base painting, before distressing and then heavier paint added on in key places on her face and shoulders. Both dolls will be dressed in aged cotton fabric, no bonnets this time, and hopefully , some shoes and socks. these feet are really tiny, so I will have my work cut out for me. In the past I never made shoes for the barefoot dolls, and especially in this size, but it would be nice to have them. I will put Sissy's pictures up here first, then Pinky's. I wanted to add that later on this year, I am going to try to get a video camera, and hopefully be able to demonstrate some of these painting techniques. I can tell you how I painted these dolls, but showing you would be a better learning tool and much easier to understand and follow. I don't get to travel and go places much any more, so I will try to demonstrate a few things I learned for any one who is interested. I have learned a lot from other people's tutorials, so I will try to share as well.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
This note is to Martha from me and Sofronia. I am the really beautiful one on the right. My sister doll is very nice too, but only just pleasing. We are just being made, in our early beginnings really, so it might be good to get a few things out in the open, and establish some ground rules before going to far. Most of the time, us dolls don't get much say in what happens to us, we just have to sit or stand around and wait for Martha's pleasure, and watch as she broods over what to do, what kind of arms and legs we need, how worthy are we to get a dress out of her ( holy ) antique material, not to mention, if we get any shoes and socks or not. I know this letter sounds very critical of Martha, who ( bless her poor old soul ) does try her best, but we don't want to see the usual deciding on what will happen to us, and then, she just starts that old brain up and decides to make a big change right in the middle of things. We also want her to pay attention when making us ( you know ), put our heads on straight, how hard can that be, get the feet the same size, maybe double check a few things before zooming past the basics, maybe ask that Mr. Bobby sometimes if everything is looking good and correct. We want good dresses, and not the usual ones she makes, new ones in a new style, and we also want to have it made out of her precious old fabric that sits in the place of honor over there on the special shelf. I think Martha can make a pair of leather shoes for us, it might tax her brain to the limit, but I don't think it's over the top to make this request. We don't have to have bonnets, in fact, we rather like the idea of having our hair styles be seen. One of us is being made as a gift for Martha's sister, who she loves dearly, so I know when Martha reads this letter from us, she will do her best and try to behave and comply with all our wishes. We feel better now that things are all sorted out and we will be blooming out just as we hoped. Thanks