Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Celebration of Things that go Bump in the Night

So Halloween is only a few days away...mere shrieks of time... and I have something extra special to share with you. One of my favorite poets has agreed to let me post one of her marvelous poems here on the blog and I think you'll find it absolutely perfect for the season..

Strays from Halloween's Dream
by Carolyn Cox

there were three of them;
tall and thin and stuffed with straw,
held together with twigs and twine;
clothed in a patched motley
of midnight black and october orange.
eldritch candlelight flickered from within
hollowed out skulls,
identical jack o lantern grins penetrated the murky twilight.
silently they ghosted down st. andrews in the rain;
on bicycles fashioned from the mottled ivory of ancient bones.
the lonely wind whispered softly through spokes choked
with rotting leaves as crows cawed rustily;
perched upon telephone poles and november bare branches,
heads cocked; watching the eerie procession below.
they disappeared from sight, these strays from halloween's darkest dream;
the moment the harvest moon rose, a sinister orange above the trees.
the crows took wing then, to follow them into the wood;
and in their wake there lingered the haunting perfume of samhain:
hoarfrost and sweet cinnamon, decaying mulch and the acrid tang of woodsmoke.

Isn't that wonderfully evocative of All Hallow's Eve? I love it!
Now add in a couple of Witches with black cats ...

and you have ...

Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Inspirations and Insights

It's kind of funny how inspiration finds it's way to my door. Hiking beautiful wild places always seems to make my mind fill with new ideas and reading is a constant source of inspiration, but every once in awhile I get an idea from one of my customers that is just so right and then that can lead to a completely new insight.

A long time customer recently asked me if I would make her some Gnomelings but give them braids so they would look more ...well girly! So I did...

and I loved how they looked so much that I went and gave braids to my little Pink Gnomeling too. I also did a bit more to her face which made her less Waldorf I guess, but I think she looks awesome!

Interestingly this little process really got me thinking about my art in general, particularly as it involves the toys I make. I love the whole concept of Waldorf dolls, but I've realized that the minimalist faces are just not me. I love them on dolls made by other folks...if you want to see one of the best check out Little Jenny Wren's gorgeous beauties ...but when I put them on my dolls I always feel like I'm doing someone else's art, not mine. So I've decided that I'll continue to make all natural dolls...even my art dolls are made this way...but from now on I'm going to stick with my kind of faces. To do anything else is just not being true to my own art and the older I get the more important that becomes to me. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Turning Tricks

So now that I've caught your attention with that snappy title, I'll have to admit that this post is about how to turn tiny fingers for cloth dolls and not something more salacious. I've had quite a few folks ask how to make such small fingers and as with many projects the trick is to have the right tools. Here are mine..

Sharp scissors
Turning Tubes (available
here scroll almost to the bottom of the page)

Fray check

As you can see my turning tubes have seen some heavy use over the years but even bent and tarnished they still work great. I got the hemostats at one of our many trips to the emergency room...BOYS!...but you can avoid the trauma and find them at a doll supply store. So here's what you do...

You need to make a template for your hand pattern. You'll want to trace the hand onto your fabric and then sew carefully right on the line you've drawn with a very tiny stitch. Make sure you have at least one stitch between your fingers so that when you cut them later you can clip a curve. Woven fabric is much harder to turn then knit but it makes smaller hands because it doesn't stretch so much when stuffed.

Now you will cut out the hand but don't worry about cutting close to the fingers yet. Apply Fray Check on the seams of all your fingers. You can then let it dry naturally or hurry things along and use a hot iron.

Once everything is dry, it's time to cut out the fingers. Cut very close to the seam and make sure to clip a V between the fingers like this...

Now it's time to turn the hand. Place a larger turning tube inside the finger...the largest that will fit.

Then place a smaller tube at the top of the finger and carefully slide the fabric UP the smaller tube...this is the tricky part so give yourself a few times practicing to get the hang of it.

Once you have the fingers turned take the hemostats and grab the inside of the wrist and turn the hand right side out. I then use the wrong end of a small crochet hook to push the fingers the rest of the way through.

So now you have hands with fingers, ready to be stuffed however you'd like! I usually use pipecleaners for the fingers so they can be posed.

I hope this is clear, if you have questions don't hesitate to ask!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eeeek! WIP Wednesday

Okay I really did plan on organizing my work table today But I just kept starting new dolls and trying to get all my commissions begun and the pile just- kept -building. So right now my table looks like this...

I know, pretty scary.