What I’ve been up to lately

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I firmly believe that it’s a good for me to do things that I’m not very good at. It builds character. Which must be why I’m persevering with the things on my desk right now.

First, I’ve been making wigs. (And, apparently, taking very bad, late-night photos of them.)

The good news: I used pantyhose for the wig caps for the first time, and it worked wonderfully! The caps weigh practically nothing and they fit perfectly. They’re so flexible you can turn them inside out but they pop back into shape afterwards. I’m definitely using pantyhose from now on.

The bad news: neither wig is coming out the way I had hoped.

Trixie’s wig is made from this really cool hand-dyed pink fiber I bought at a knitting show a while back. I’ve always wanted a pink wig for her. Unfortunately, the fiber is nylon and it doesn’t really behave like real hair. You comb it out and it stays where you put it, rather than falling back into locks like natural hair does. Also, it’s a little frizzy but has absolutely no wave to it at all. I think I’m going to style it in braids or something, since then it won’t matter how it moves or falls.

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The other problem I’m having is operator error. I cut the wig open to make a part by gluing hair to the underside of the wig, pulling it through the slit and combing it down on top. The problem is, I kind of liked the wig better before I did that. Also, now it doesn’t fit as well. You can see in the picture how high her bangs are– they were supposed to reach her eyebrows, but the wig slips back now so she looks like she got a bad haircut. Also, I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to close the slit.

The other wig is for Sebastian. His wig cap came out just as well as Trixie’s, but his wig isn’t coming out any better. I was trying to make something short, light, and slightly curly to suit a baby boy like Sebastian, who is supposed to be four years old. But this wig is coming out the same way as the last short wig I made, which is to say bulky and awkward.

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(Trust me, it’s not going to be bald on top when I’m done; but I stopped adding hair when I realized it wasn’t looking the way I wanted it to, in case I had to rip the hair off and try again.)

The hair is suri alpaca, which is fantastic. I wish my own hair was this soft! The bad news is, it’s kind of wavy and the waves are so big compared to Sebastian’s head that it’s working against me. I was trying to select locks with good waves and place them in a way that looks natural, but it’s not working out. I wanted it to be wavy on the top and front and curly in the back, like baby hair, but it’s just wavy all over. I don’t know if I should have straightened/curled the hair before I applied it to the wig or try to do so afterwards. Also, it’s not a short as I wanted it because I can’t imagine trying to place locks that short. I guess there’s a reason it’s so hard to find short wigs. Maybe I need more practice.

I had such grand ideas. Sigh. I’m going to ask around for advice and then finish these up. Maybe I can get them to look nice enough for photos.

While I was thinking about the wigs, I started a dress I’ve been wanting to sew for my SD girl, Leah. It’s also not working out as well as it did in my mind, but then what does? It’s going pretty well, considering this is my first attempt at evening wear. I’ll spare you an ugly in-progress photo, since I can’t do the back seam until the very end and it just looks like strangely sewn drapes until then.

 


Kokeshi by Amarylis

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Kokeshi are a traditional style of peg doll from Japan. No one seems to know exactly when or why they were first made, (although one theory is that they were souvenirs sold to Edo-era hot springs patrons). The definition of a kokeshi is, apparently, a peg-shaped doll with a large head and no arms or legs. Traditional kokeshi are made from aged wood and painted with facial features and designs that vary according to region, but modern “creative kokeshi” seem to include dolls of many materials and levels of detail. The only thing connecting them is that they are generally small, have no arms and legs, and usually little or only shallow sculpting of the face.

Kokeshi exhibit in Seattle. Photo via Joe Mabel.

Kokeshi exhibit in Seattle. Photo via Joe Mabel.

Today, lots of artists from around the world embrace the kokeshi style as an art form. For example, the French illustrator Amarylis, who makes these adorable kokeshis from polymer clay.

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Check out the rest of her work on her website (scroll down to find the kokeshi in her gallery). For a wider variety of kokeshi, search for them on Flickr.



Doreen Kassel: Pigs and other extraordinary creatures

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Happy New Year!

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This was too cute not to share. I love Kassel’s quirky subjects and the old-fashioned illustration sort of vibe they give off. They seem to be made of polymer clay and then painted, but the paint scheme is interesting; it’s over-highlighted, giving the effect of a washed-out vintage photograph, or an illustration in pastel watercolors and sepia ink. Her “about” page says she considers classic illustrators to be her influences, and I think it really comes out in her piggies and her “League of Extraordinary Creatures” series. I hope to see more of her work as time goes on.

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Status update: or, big ideas in a little brain

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So busy this month… I had surgery the last week of November, then my grandmother had her hip replaced last week, and I’ve been taking care of her, and all this on top of the usual holiday stuff, plus real paying jobs.

But! Everyone’s surgeries went well, I’m back to almost 100%, and I wanted to share pictures of my first ever commission this month. I made a dollie head wreath for a bjd owner in Australia recently (and she hasn’t received it yet so I’m getting nervous that I messed up the address because I’m an international shipping noob). It was supposed to be a miniature version of a larger one I made some time ago, so I had to substitute some materials to make things even out.

Here’s the original:

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And here’s the commission:

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I love how the photo at the top of this post came out. My poor Customhouse Yuriel, Sebastian, is in the middle of getting a face-up, hence the eyelessness (and eyebrowlessness). Some people on the BJD forum, Den of Angels, wanted me to make a tutorial for the bark texture on that tree stump, so I plan to do that after Christmas.  I also have a great idea for a photostory that will test the limits of my lousy photography skills.

I have a couple of dollmakers to show you too, but I’m wiped out tonight and I have to go take care of my grandma again tomorrow. So stay tuned, gentle reader, for more adventures in dollmaking.


Fun with tiny skeletons

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So, a couple of years ago, I noticed they had these creepy little plastic skeletons on a garland for sale as Halloween decorations. I didn’t buy any, because they were too expensive at the time, but I kept thinking about it. Then the next year I didn’t see them again, but I still wanted some, so I kicked myself for having missed out.

I should have trusted the holiday novelty market, however, because sure enough, they’re back, and today I actually found some at the dollar store. They’re really detailed and dollhouse-scale, so naturally I’m not the only one who thought you could do something really awesome — or maybe gruesome would be a better word — with them.

So, here are some links to what other people are doing with these little skeletons. Enjoy!

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• Trust Ulla to make a wonderful multimedia project with them like these Day of the Dead glass coffins.

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• It takes a special kind of twistedness, I think, to come up with this horrible/awesome mummified fairy, but apparently Art of Darkness is just the place for especially twisted ideas. Seriously, is that not the cleverest and creepiest thing ever?

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• Finally, since the skeletons are roughly dollhouse scale, check out this 1:12 skeleton bride , skeleton pirates and skeleton cowboys from the About.com dollhouse community.

Have fun! I think I’m going to make a creepy wreath for my front door with mine…


Danita Art

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Danita seems to be a painter who makes dolls to complement her paintings, instead of the other way around. I love her style, which is folk-artsy and modern at the same time. The design is simple but the colors are strong and texture is paramount.

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Her subjects range from angels and mermaids to Alice and Frida Kahlo. Check out her velvety paintings and delightfully stylized dolls at her etsy shop, her Flickr, and her blog.

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Adam Beane, hyperrealist

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I found this artist in an article about hyperrealism, but his work stood out for a number of reasons. Adam Beane’s skills in portrait sculpting are amazing, and unlike other hyperrealist artists, who tend to work life-sized or larger, he works mainly in 1/6 scale or smaller. He works for high-end collectible toy companies and has developed his own sculpting material, CX5, a heat-sensitive plastic medium.

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Check out his work on his own site, and in this gallery at Sculptors’ Corner.