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Archive for August, 2011

More fashion inspiration for Blythe fans and people who just like paper dolls. Missy Go Along is a fun, funky paper doll from 1970. There seem to be several variations on this set, with different hair styles/colors and a variety of different costumes but all with dolls in the same poses. I actually had a similar set of these dolls as a child — having this set in my collection is a real nostalgia trip.

Love that green coat worn with bright pink tights and grey boots. Quite Fab!

The dress pattern I used for the Blythe Birthday outfit would be perfect for the (white-pink-yellow) pseudo mondrian check dress. The fabric could be made fairly easily with applique or paint with ribbon or ric-rac borders. Now I just have to keep my eyes open for some jewelry components for use for the belt.

Even if you don’t have a Blythe (or other doll) who demands new clothes on a regular basis, it’s fun to look at the funky possibilities and know that once upon a time, not so very long ago, actual people were wearing clothes that looked like this.

This is why I love paper dolls. They can be a quite accurate record of what people were wearing. Fashion and costume history books are great for historic (long, long ago) clothes but for the twentieth century — not so much. I’m also very much into the whole packaging, graphic design element of the look of them. Which shouldn’t be a huge surprise as I’m an ex-graphic designer myself.

Plus they’re intensely fun, fun, fun and they don’t take up a whole lot of room which means they qualify as practical too (well . . sort of).

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Blythe Doll Birthday Outfit

Back in July I set out to make a special birthday surprise for my friend Arlene. I know that she likes Blythe so I searched on the web to see if I could find some clothes patterns. Jackpot! Turns out that Blythe people love to share both photos and patterns. So despite the fact that I don’t own a Blythe doll I was able to print out actual size patterns and make a fun outfit. I ran late finishing it up so Arlene got it a day or two after her birthday but she phoned and made it clear that she loved it (surprises are so great).

(Extremely Simplified) Background: Blythe was a very unusual doll made in 1971, some people loved her and a lot of people were pretty much freaked out by her really quite large head and that she had multiple sets of eyes which revolved in her head to change colors and direction of glance. So she went away for a long time until ebay. Then she came out of the attics, garages and other assorted places she’d been living and started going for massive prices at auction. People who love Blythe really, really love her. So eventually a couple of companies licensed the rights to manufacture new Blythe dolls. Which led to all the new Blythe fans and their websites, flickr groups and lots and lots of wardrobe fun.

Arlene's Blythe

Arlene kindly sent me a photo of her doll wearing the outfit (and additions). This is what I made: the black sparkly felt mouse hat, the multi-color print mod sleeveless dress, and the lime and blue shoulder bag. I’m told that Arlene’s Blythes are quite the fashionistas so she added the black daisy pin, the tights and those fantastic purple Frankenstein boots (serious shoe lust happening here). I used my favorite mod fabric from my stash hoping that it would look good on a redhead — success!

So I said that surprises are great, well they really are because this little beauty showed up in my mailbox a little while ago. Arlene decided to surprise me back; what a sweetie-pie. There was even a tiny itty greeting card in the box with a note. Completely itty; I had to use tweezers to open the flap.

Isn’t she just adorable? She’s the same size as the little green haired doll in the outfit photo. Which is about 4-1/4″ tall. The little clothes come on and off; she’s wearing a red vinyl sleeveless dress under the white coat. Her red boots are painted on. Her hat has a fabric flower. Incredibly cute and she came to live with me so that Arlene and I would both have one. I totally love having such imaginative, creative friends — they give me excuses to play. Oh Fun . . . Oh Joy!

Stay tuned . . . next week: mod inspiration.

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First off; Milton Glaser is adorable. Really cuddley, love to have dinner with adorable. For those of you unfamiliar, Milton Glaser is a (absolutely famous) graphic designer. There are those who say he’s The Essential American Graphic Designer. He’s just plain brilliant. Do a Google image search — go ahead, I’ll wait. . .  See what I mean? But here’s the real deal: everything he does, he does thoughtfully. He doesn’t just “phone it in”, he thinks hard about what he wants to happen as a result of the imagery he designs, and he purposefully chooses to make designs that will affect a positive change.

Wha?? Yes, that’s right Virginia — simplicity done right is really, really bloody difficult.

The other day, I was in the puddle-dom zone so I turned on the TV and wow! Sundance channel was showing Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight. So I watched it. And loved it. Now lest you, dear reader, think I’m new to the Glaser fan club; when I went to graphic arts school (an undisclosed number of decades ago) Glaser was mandatory subject material. Then in the 90’s I saw a show about him and some book project he was working on (massive brain food fix), and now this new (made last year) documentary comes along. Happy, happy little brain cells are dancing in my head, they’re having a party and I do believe that there is even cake and ice cream.

Now by this time, you are probably saying to yourself “OK, so she adores Milton Glaser, but what the heck is a Chatterling and what’s it got to do with graphic design????”.

Here’s what: Words have Power. Images likewise. Knowledge of what words mean and how to use them correctly has massive power over the ability to communicate. Which brings me to the Chatterlings.

The Chatterlings in Wordland, by Michael Lipman is a fascinating and delightful vocabulary/grammar textbook (disguised as a storybook) from the early twentieth-century. It teaches the necessity of using the most precise word possible in order to communicate what you really mean. Yes, instead of making people guess (“well, you know what I meant”), actually just saying what you mean in the first place. Wow, what a novel idea! Which requires that you learn the sometimes not so subtle difference between the meaning of different words — oh drats; that’s vocabulary — arrggh! Well, this beautiful little book does it in an entertaining, indeed enjoyable, way. Here’s the beginning of the story:

See what I mean, it’s a fun story. Oh, and a spade is a shovel with a flat, rectangular blade (not pointy). It falls into the category of all poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles. It’s all about precision.

The illustrations are great, I just love the way they help to demonstrate the distinction between words that mean similar but not identical things (which is really the entire plotline of the story).

Here’s another example:

Which by the way clarifies why “Tell the Captain I am disinclined to acquiesce to his request” is such a great line. Yeah, I’m a Pirate, no surprise there.

Even the Suggested Helps section at the end is full of great stuff. Suggested Helps, what a wonderful name for what would now be a Study Guide or Teachers Guide section (how drab and off-putting). Suggested implies that a child could and perhaps should read the pages and maybe even take something away from the experience.

The world admires the man or woman who writes and speaks English correctly. Oh, how I wish that this were still widely true in America. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the fact that learning can be both fun and functional. That the big picture most definitely depends on the tiny details being accurate. I very much wish that someone, somewhere would bring this very useful book back into print. There are a great many children (and no small number of adults) who could greatly benefit from reading it.

Because after all, there is great power in words and their attendant images.

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as in, my word but it’s been rather too hot for quite a lot too many days in a row!

Today it was considerably cooler and I took advantage by popping over to the library and changing my books. Then I ran out of steam so I went to the park with a cool drink and read cookbooks. By the time I left the parking lot was full of other people doing exactly the same thing (well . . . probably not cookbooks).

bug and wog dog outside

Guess I’m not the only one who was experiencing a bit of “gracious, it is nice enough to actually enjoy the outdoors”. Wishing everyone a cool breeze ’til next time.

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