Halloween must be getting close

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Last year, my doll club and I exhibited at a great Halloween show in St. Joseph, Missouri. We had a lot of fun, but, alas, they don’t seem to be having it again this year. it’s time to start thinking about Halloween anyway, so today I’m going to do something a little different. Instead of giving you some links to dollmaking tutorials, I’m going to give you some links to instructions for Halloween props. One of the great things about dollmaking is how many skills you can employ in one project, so you never know when you’re going to learn something useful.

Ghoul Friday is not a dollmaker, exactly, but more like a Halloween enthusiast. Check out her page of prop-making tutorials. Visit her photo galleries, too, for pictures of her awesome themed parties.

Scaryguys.com offers tutorials and articles about making faux candelabras, mannequins that move with hydraulics, and lightweight “stone” walls. If you’ve ever thought about making something really big or animated, here’s the place to start.

Finally, HauntProject.com has a gazillion links to Halloween projects of every variety. Ever wondered how to make fake flames for your doll project? They have a section for that.

Happy Halloween!

Alarming Antiquities — Melisa Matkin

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Apparently I’m doing a series on paperclay-over-cloth dolls. :) Really, it wasn’t intentional. I’ve been meaning to blog about Melisa Matkin, the artistic power behind Coppermouse Dolls, for a while, and it just happened that she has some work-in-progress photos on her blog that detail her sculpting process.

But first, let’s talk about her dolls. Coppermouse dolls are very distinctive in style, combining primitive with creepy in a way that’s sure to make you grin. With their round faces and popping eyes, they resemble characters in some demented kids’ cartoon, or maybe an Edward Gorey illustration. But, like all really good abstractions, they have a firm basis in historical knowledge and technical expertise.

Coppermouse dolls wear costumes based on actual historical styles, only simplified. You can see the one above with her hairstyle and leg-o-mutton sleeves indicative of the styles of the 1830s, and most of her other pieces wear children’s styles from the age of the Addams Family, including black-and-white stripes, big ribbon bows and lace.

One gets the impression that there’s some kind of mythology behind Matkin’s work, and one wouldn’t be disappointed. The story involves the unlovable children of Mrs. Blatherby’s Orphanage, sometimes known by its acronym, MRSBO. Each piece made for the MRSBO group includes a story about its horrible background.

Visit Matkin’s blog, I Am a Dollmaker, for work-in-progress pictures that spell out her sculpting techniques pretty well. You can see more pictures at her Flickr site, but they’re not as well organized as her blog is.

Happy weekend everyone. Watch this space on Tuesday for a new Needle and Clay project.

Here there be pirate….dolls?

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In honor of Pirates of the Carribbean III (and in an unrepentant attempt to capture search engine traffic), I’ve decided to show you some pirate dolls today.

Pirate 1

This first one is an homage to Johnny Depp as the inimitable Cap’n Jack Sparrow, by Wendy Rinehart. Like all her work, Cap’n Jack is amusing, well-posed and well-costumed. He won an award from Jack Johnston, the creator of ProSculpt polymer clay.

Pirate 3 Spookbot Pirate 2 Spookbot pirate 3

My second offering is from a website called Spookbot. I haven’t found the artist’s name yet, but her adorable vintage-inspired dolls reveal a well-developed sense of style bordering on the modern spooky-primitive dolls I’ve blogged about before, but with a broader color palette. All her work is for sale, and at reasonable prices.

Megan the Buccaneer

Finally, my favorite of today’s offerings comes from a relative newbie to the doll scene. Coming from the world of 2-d fantasy art, Patrick Keith is a real Renaissance artist, producing digital paintings as well as gaming miniatures and larger poymer-clay figures. Megan the Buccaneer is possibly his best work in its genre to date, but check out his gallery on DeviantArt.com to judge for yourself.


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Remember that Halloween show I mentioned earlier? My doll club has decided to exhibit there, so we’re trying to scrape up enough Halloween-themed work to fill up the booth. We have to have pictures by July so we can be juried. I’m thinking that even if the club doesn’t make it, I might rent a booth myself, if I can get enough stuff done. I’ve always wanted to do a Halloween show.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll forgive me for having Halloween on the brain. I’ve always been fascinated by the modern “creepy/primitive” doll style you see now and then, and here are some great examples I found on Flickr. They belong to an artist named Guste, who seems to also be an illustrator, though like many Flickr artists, she is otherwise anonymous. If anybody knows more about her, please leave a comment.