Sunday, March 18, 2012

WIP, Easter Egg Dolls

This is a convoluted 'Work-in-Progress' post that demonstrates my adult 'attention deficit' approach to doll making. I get very little doll work accomplished, but it does relax me and makes me happy :-) I have done a lot of business travel this past winter, and thinking about all of this and doing searches on my iPad has been a great way to deal with airport delays!
So my original goal was to finish some unfinished sculpts I had done several years ago. I wanted to experiment with a couple of new techniques since these originals were done in paper clay and in general they are too big for my current taste. At first I was worried that the paperclay was not quite rigid enough, and they would dent when they tip over or fall to the floor (I intend to let grand-children play with them) . After consulting with several doll makers, the general consensus was to do a cloth over type technique. This works best with a bald head, but my creations had sculpted hair. Two of the three heads I was content with the results, but the third (the middle head with the most detail ) I was unhappy, and ripped the fabric off. She is now a bit damage and will need some repair. However while working with her, I know now what type of doll she will be-- she is a mermaid and will not be a doll to play with, so I have abandoned the need to do a cloth over for her. As a fantasy type doll, I realized I wanted to do a different type of painting which lead me to a new digression.. working with pigments. . I typically paint with oils in a painterly type of style that works well with a folk art style. I think this lovely mermaid needs a more delicate application of color, and wanted to try pigments using a chalking technique. Chalking approximates the look you get with a Parian doll in porcelain in that you build up transparent layers of color that is matte. The backup option would be to use watercolors, but I really was motivated to try chalking. This requires a perfectly smooth, matte surface which lead to yet another technique that might enhance the look I am after.... gofun! In traditional Japanese doll making, the wood sculpts are covered with a 'gesso-like' material made from crushed oyster shells and hide glue. This material can be sanded and burnished to give a hard, eggshell like surface to paint. The problem with the gofun idea, is there will be some trial and error experimentation that needs to be done to figure out the correct ratio of glue to oyster shells to get the surface I want. I did lots of internet searches on Gofun, but the recipes are not consistent. So this lead me to the final craziness... I wanted to create a series of heads to test recipes. I had a mold of one of my original sculpts that I thought would be fine, and I could sculpt over them (hair) which would approximate the surface detail in my mermaid. So as I am sculpting these gals, and of course I get attached to them and want them to be real dolls. I pulled out my Hertwig parian dolls, gazing at them and said 'Oh My', these test dolls I could dress in 'Easter Egg' colored dress. So I am currently pouring and sculpting my test heads, and looking at Easter Egg colored batiste. I wonder if I will get any of these dolls done :-)

Saturday, March 03, 2012

My New Collection, A is for Annabelle Update

Early on when I started this blog, I shared one of my many doll obsessions of having my own Annabelle doll , trunk, and accessories as described in the classic book by Tasha Tudor 'A is for Annabelle'. At that time I was painting 10 inch papermache french fashion dolls and making tiny clothes, but somehow that didn't quite satisfy me. I kept looking at antique dolls and wishing I could create a collection of antique dolls and accessories. I looked at antique fashion dolls for years, but never found one that really spoke to me. I found her this spring. I must have haunted the website where she was offered, since I could not get her out of my mind. So eventually I knew I had to purchase her.
She is a German made ( maybe 1870s) bald and wigged china which had the most serene and charming expression. She was my Annabelle, and I knew it right away. To me she looks like a young lady, not quite yet a woman. She captured the excitement and delight of pretty clothes, ribbon, and pretty flowers captured in Tasha's classic book. As I was searching antique online doll listings, I also found a damaged shoulder head, a German Kling china head that was actually a boy. His head is perfect, but unfortunately his body is in poor condition. But the price was right and I thought, fantastic, Annabelle has a little brother. I am still on the hunt for a china baby ( rare and likely costly), but haven't found the right one. You might notice the frozen Charlie doll in the group shot. I purchased him thinking he would do, but I think he is too big to be in scale with the other dolls. He's pretty though, isn't he! My most recent acquisition is an antique trunk big enough to fit them all in, and you can see my dear Annabelle looks wonderful sitting on the lovely tray. So my ambition is to someday have a set of clothing for Annabelle and her brother and a few accessories. My current thinking is that I can make some new clothes (from antique fabrics), but I should try to find a couple of antique gowns and accessories. And lastly, I am slightly re-interpreting the Annabelle story to reflect a big sister and her younger siblings. Somehow that feels right to me!

So here is my questions, what is Annabelle's brother's name ? If you have any great ideas, please leave your suggestion in a comment!

Ta Ta for now my lovelies!