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Archive for September, 2010

Bonus Paper Doll

I feel a bit guilty about not posting last week, even though I was sick in bed with a bug; which is a pretty good excuse actually. But anyway here is a little bonus post for this week: a Crissy paper doll for you to print out and draw outfits for. Be sure to click on the picture to get a larger image.

I had both the actual doll and this paper doll as a child; both of which I have managed to reacquire thru the auspices of ebay.

Here’s a website where you can learn more than you ever wanted to know about the Crissy doll family. Check out the sewing/crocheting page where you can see (and download) the commercial clothing patterns that were available for her.

Have big fun!

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This is a trial run of a little paper dollhouse that is made of ink-jet printouts fused to cracker and cereal box cardboard. The files were sent to me by Esben (a very generous toy theatre fan) from Denmark. The dollhouse was originally published in Illustretet Family Journal in the first part of the 20th century. This was a Danish magazine that included a great many paper models including some fantastic toy theatres. Since this is just a trial I shrank all the parts down to fit on 8-1/2 x 11 paper and didn’t pay strict attention to scale. The house turned out to be around 1/24 scale (1/2″ to the foot). Even at this size I can easily fit my hand into the attic to arrange the furniture and a friends six year old had no trouble at all playing with the house.

The house is designed to come apart into two pieces — voila! the attic comes off. I particularly love the wallpaper  and wainscoting in the attic.

The parquet floor and french doors in the downstairs room are rather elegant, and the little portraits and sconces are lovely.

The attention to detail carries over into the furniture. Notice the woodgraining on the bedroom set (and the mattress ticking on that bed). Downstairs the table cloth does overhang the table legs all the way around (the legs are inset about 1/8″) and the designer included a piano!

The furniture is only partially cut out — those little white spaces in the chair  and table legs should normally have been trimmed but this was only a test. I printed the furniture sheets on plain white cardstock and didn’t fuse any reinforcement. They are surprisingly sturdy.

The actual assembly went smoothly, all the parts were well designed and fit together as they should. The only problem I had was that I should have just used plain card stock for the attic dormers. The cardboard was a bit too thick and made fitting them very fiddley. Also next time I would cut out the window panes; it’s too dark in that attic. It would be great fun to do this project again on a slightly larger scale and make little dolls to live in it.

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Fabric Paper Dolls

These are about a foot tall and have a metal ring sewn to their backs so that they can hang on the wall. Their arms are jointed with little beads in a button-joint arrangement. I made them using a felt fused to fabric technique. Each doll has three layers: a surface/design fabric layer; a central stiffening sandwich layer of muslin fused on both sides of felt; and a backing layer of wool felt. The arms are made from two pieces of fused felt and design fabric which I hand sewed back to back. All design fabric layers are lined so that there are no raw edges. The dolls are embellished with both reverse and regular applique and a variety of beads.

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I been skiving off just lately. In actual fact this post is going out so late today because I decided to go and do just that at the park this afternoon. So I packed up a cold drink and a book and tootled down the road to my favorite “do nothing” spot and read the entire book; start to finish.

Ok, so it’s a childrens’ book but let’s not quibble — some of the finest stuff out there is/was written for children. Also let’s not forget that I tend to channel both Eloise and Little Fuzzy; some part of me will eternally be six years old. Which I believe is a Very Good Thing Indeed.

This is Marvin, he’s a beetle and this book is mostly about him. Well, and a boy named James. Marvin loves art and in the above picture he is dipping his frontmost legs into an ink bottle cap. Marvin finds that he loves to draw.

He also loves looking at drawings; specifically pen and ink drawings and etchings. The story is about Marvin and James and Albrecht Durer. Yes, that Albrecht Durer, the one who did all those Very Famous drawings and etchings.

Masterpiece is smart, funny, with plenty of action and I enjoyed it throughly. And I love this trend of action and mystery stories for children which revolve around great art/artists and/or architecture. Yes, it’s rather sneaky to expose the little beggars to art when they think they’re just reading a fun story but it’s all to the good in the long run.

Side note: the whole time I was reading this book I kept thinking about archie the cockroach who gamely leapt from typewriter key to typewriter key tapping out the poems of his human pal e.e. cummings. Which is why all those poems are in lowercase only; no little roach, however accomplished, could hold down the shift key while simultaneously jumping from letter to letter.

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A couple of years ago Pat Lillich started encouraging me to try making a ball jointed doll. Pat is an utterly magnificent artist — google her! She sent me some great background and technical information. OK, so the website she directed me to was in Japanese but it really was the most in depth tutorial out there. So being particularly persnickety I used Babelfish to copy and paste and thusly translated the text from Japanese to English and slung the whole thing into a Word document so I wouldn’t have to do this process every time I wanted to refer to the tutorial. Which I am now very glad I did because I can’t find that particular site now, it’s seems to have gone away.

So here I was with all this terrific information and no really compelling reason to use it — until the challenge theme for last year’s NIADA was announced “Make a piece using a medium that is new to you”. Well I do use polymer clay to make the face masks of my work but I don’t do whole figures and this one would be jointed and I wanted to try this different clay mixture to see what it’s properties were like. I figured that was “New Medium” enough. So here is my BJD experiment:

His name is Alexander and he’s about 6 inches tall. He and his pal Happy Duck have steadfastly refused to live in the display cupboard and spend their time chasing each other all over the living room. Which I have to say is far better than them playing tricks like “hide the car keys” or “build a fort out of DVDs (in the middle of the night) in the exact center of the living room”.

The technical low down: I made him out of a super sculpey-primo blend; his head and torso are completely hollow (which lowers his center of gravity enabling him to stand better); his upper arms and legs are made like shaped tube beads with a channel for the elastic down the center; I used brass rod at the joint terminuses (lower arms and feet) and strung him with round elastic from the fabric store. His wig is made from some upholstery trim (which I think has been discontinued). He balances on his feet just fine and has a nice range of movement. All in all, I’m satisfied with the experiment and may make several more.

Happy together!

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