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Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Hello doll lovers! This blog was created to tell you about dolls I have made and classes I teach on doll making at Attic Window Quilt Shop in Comstock Park, Michigan (a suburb of Grand Rapids). My goal in teaching is to pass on the love of making heirloom quality dolls. Most of the dolls I make (and hold classes for) are designed by Gail Wilson - visit her website at . Page down my blog for some fun doll links including antique doll sites and hard to find doll supplies.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stash building and Fashion doll hat

Hello again, I just have to tell you about the hat I made for the fashion doll. This hat pattern is part of the Paper Mache doll instructions that I received when I participated in the PM fashion doll online class a few years back. The poor doll isn't finished yet, but I sure like making the hat! Here it is with the hat box from the cloth fashion doll instructions.
 The hat was fun to make and of course the color is a little wild, but I figured this was a practice hat and I will search for a color that matches the fashion doll's outfit.  This hat would be easy to turn into a pincushion too.  Thanks to Barb for the nice ribbon roses. I think that ribbon roses will be the next new thing I try to make myself.

Here's the hat box without the hat, so you can see how cute that is.  This skill - making and covering boxes will be something I try for bigger containers like a container to hold my scrap garbage on the sewing table as I work. We call it a thread heaven box.  Then at the end of the day, our workspace isn't a huge mess of threads and scraps all over the floor and table. 

OK, if I am to make some ribbon roses, I need some good ribbons!  Off to my favorite ribbon store - Peacock Alley in Ada, MI.
They have some awesome silk ribbons and are willing to special order for me. They also had some really unique gold thread that I was able to use for a necklace chain for my dolls.
And of course I found a few things that weren't ribbons to "speculate" with - especially after seeing a tutorial on how to make a flower gathering basket tutorial.

Here are some nice links to explore; things that I hope to try my hand at soon:
Thanks to those talented ladies who are willing on post the tutorials for us newbies to try. It's SO MUCH FUN, and such a creative outlet to make dolls.  Have some doll fun today and thanks for visiting!

oh - one more thingie - I finished the outfit - all but the buttons and loops - so here is a picture of the outfit.  I plan on making her a purse and of course a parasol soon. 
The cloth fashion doll outfit.

Somebody likes the sunshine and all the bird activity. It sure is nice to have her over there at the window instead of in my face watching me. I think she must have been a doll maker in one of those other nine lives. She sure enjoys doll making (not as much as birdwatching though!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fashion doll continued

Hi Dollmakers - Happy Spring to you all.  It's a bit too early to start gardening, so to divert the urge to garden, I am working on my Gail Wilson designed fashion doll.  For kit information, please visit Gail's website at    The cloth fashion doll is near the bottom 1/4th of the new items page.  

We were able to stuff the doll in the last class and for homework, the students were to gesso, apply the stencil, and then paint the skin color in oil paints.  Yes, the stencil shows up under the skin paint.  If you try to add the stencil after the skin paint, it won't adhere as well because the stencil needs a matte surface to adhere to.  Don't sand the gesso layer very much or you will loose the tooth to the gesso - just a tiny bit of sanding to smooth off the bumps. Think of panty hose on an unshaven leg - how the nubs of hair catch the panty hose. Then think again of freshly shaven legs, how smooth that would be for the panty hose to flow over when you pull them across the freshly shaven leg.  The goal of sanding gesso is just to take off the nubs, not to take off the layer of gesso. 

In the picture below, you can see the gesso layer is dry and I have trimmed my face stencil so there is not much extra vellum stencil paper around the facial details. This is so I can center it well and not fool my eye into thinking I have the face details centered when I really only have the vellum paper piece centered. It's sort of a built in method to get it right. I need those built in safe guards to help me because I am not a master doll maker!  Leave the extra at the top, so you have something to hold away from where the iron will be. Those clover irons can burn fast - I know this from painful experience!

After the mini clover iron is well warmed up, I verify that I have the side with the ink on the stencil against the face and using the measurements in the instructions, I place the stencil where it needs to be and iron on the face details.  Then I give that a bit of time to dry and maybe even spray a fixative over it. (depends on if it will be days before I get to paint or not).
I like to gather all my paint mixing items while the stencil is drying. I get the colors guide from Gail Wilson's Charlotte doll instructions. If you are new to oil painting doll faces, the Charlotte doll has some excellent guides to help you through your first oil painted doll face.  Gail also has some excellent tips and hints for painting in oils on her website.  Click on the title of this blog post and it will take you to her website. 

The paints I use are Griffin Alkyd oils, and the turp substitute I like best is Turpinoid in the blue and white label. Be sure you get the blue and white one, not the green label as the green label is brush cleaner and will do nasty things like take weeks and weeks to dry. You can find alkyd oils at art supply houses - here is my local one that has them on sale.    As to what colors you need and how to mix the colors - see Gail's hints - oil paint section for this info. 

The paint brushes I like best are 18/0 spotter for tiny lines, 20/0 filbert for an eraser (push paint around, not to apply paint with) and then for hair and other filling in, 10/0 round or liner for hair lines,  and 1/4 or 1/2 inch flat for painting skin color or other filling in like hair area.  I also gather the paint palette dishes (I love the frosting tops to the Pilsbury cinnamon rolls.  They wipe off easy when you are finished and have a tiny lip to hold turoinoid. You can use any brush you can achieve a thin line. I recommend you practice with water on paper, so you can get a tiny line. If you need to, you can thin out your paints with turp and cut down your paint brushes with scissors until you can get that thin line.  Plan b = if you still have trouble with getting the lines to your satisfaction, use the tiny filbert brush with just a tiny amount of turp on it to erase the area you are not happy with, or use the filbert to push the paint into the correct place.  Keep the eraser filbert clean, wiping the paint off the brush each time and cleaning it often.

Now we need to "divert" the kitty's attention, so there are no boo-boos while oil painting (like a tail into the palette).

I also place in a handy spot, my rags for swiping the brushes and my clean and dirty turp jars.  And it worked! The open window drew the kitty like catnip. She is anxiously awaiting spring too.

Green eye colors - looks grey on palette, green on doll eyes.

Now that I have all the necessary items gathered, it's time to start mixing colors!  I use the color mixing guide from the Charlotte doll (same recipes as on her website HINTS) and the colors get mixed on one palette and then the blob of color gets moved to a clean palette so there is no danger into getting the wrong colors on the brush and painted on the doll.  I paint in stages; skin color (let dry a few days), eye whites (let dry a few days) then I finish the face details,  (let dry a few days) and then do the shading.  I also like the wigging clamp for face painting. It holds the doll steady and you can lay it down flat on the table if you desire. Bear in mind that if you have wet hair on the back of the head, you need to be sure this doesn't touch the table surface.

Here's what you need for shading - just follow the instructions in Gail's Charlotte doll pattern.  
                                               This is the face just prior to shading.

After face details go on, I let that paint dry well and then I do the shading.  The reason you want to be sure everything is dry is so that the turpinoid won't take off or smudge your face details.  I usually don't have much time to spend in the doll room each day, so the time inbetween works out for me. If you are in a hurry to keep painting, you can speed up the drying time with cobalt dryer. I don't like to have this stuff because it is highly poisonous and I have small grand children around, so I don't want to risk having it since there is plenty of time between painting sessions for me.  Obviously you can also use non oil paints which dry very fast....but I don't get as good a face with these paints because the drying time is too fast for me. 
Here she is with shading around the face and nose finished. I still need to do around the mouth.  I get a bit better at it with more experience.  Doll making is like learning to make pie crust - it takes some doing it to get good at it. So your first dolls might not be as expertly created as the others are, but keep at it, you'll get there sooner or later. I find that developing those tricks to get it right really helped me over time. And every one has their own bag of tricks. 
 The last step will be to antique her with old village graining liquid in oil base, but this only after the shading is very dry - a couple of days should do it.

While all this dries, I need to pick out fabrics for her dress.  In our next class, our very talented doll maker Barb will show us how to make doll parasols - open and closed versions. She brought some last week and they are so cute!

Some fabrics I like for my fashion doll. I am leaning towards the peachy pink/brown print. The orange one underneath is a bit too orange for the ruffle, but I'll find something good - I have a nice stash of doll making fabrics. Thanks for visiting and have some doll fun today!

Gail Wilson dolls I have made

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