SFM Cloth Dolls with Attitude! NZ

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Covid 19 Lockdown The Lion King - remember who you are!

7 May 2020

Looking at the end of Lockdown and moving into Level 2 - it's important to 'Remember who you are"!
I spent the best part of 2018 designing and making this series of dolls for an exhibition called 'Reflections on the Lion King"!
I drafted all the dolls from the original pattern I had begun with, a head, trunk and limbs., and changed them according to the pose and size I needed. This gave them all a uniformity, except the faces, which shape I changed for each character.
From this, I made both male and female, by widening and expanding, or decreasing chest, hip, arm and leg shapes, lengthening or shortening as needed to fit the character and to keep them to the correct scale. For this, I used images of the performers I found on Pinterest, as a guide.
I was very happy to discover how I could make Scar and Mufusa’s 3 D mask in cloth, and I had great fun making the Hyenas! So much so that I made a pattern of the head, and tutorial video showing how I did it, using a wet-on-wet technique, which I put on my FB page for others to try. I discovered that the more figures I made, the more instinct took over! I was in the zone, and each figure needed no reworking.
Process and problem solving is what excites me about design and creating. Making an expressive face through shape, needle sculpting and coloring, and the look of movement into a cloth figure is something to which I aspire. To make something out of the ordinary, to portray the story gives me a great buzz!
The Lion King is a story of love and redemption, and it was the story as told in the musical, as much as the figures themselves that inspired me to make this series - and to see if I could!
What challenges are you facing with the idea of coming out of Lockdown?

Covid 19 Lockdown Fantasy

6 May 2020

Fantasy in Lockdown. Those who are not engaged in physical activity - or even if they are - sometimes chill out with reading, watching movies, playing games, dressing up - or down - trying not to think about hair care!
I used to struggle with fantasy, living in the world of struggling to get ahead and bringing up kids, so bringing fantasy into doll making was a bit foreign to me for a long time, until I learned to leg go and let it out! I think it's an essential part of creativity because it bucks against the norm - an escape!
Here are a few Fantasy dolls I have made over the years, but never made into patterns.
The first one is small enough to be a christmas tree decoration - or at least to top the tree, or hang on the wall!
The second one is called The Ice Queen Maureen! made for an online challenge. She had a story about ecology.
I loved the third one - which now resides in Japan! I liked the idea of a doll on stilts and this fit the bill in two ways! I had just done an online class on how to make shoes on a clay foot! I used the shoes and put the clay foot on long wire stilts, and it balanced perfectly! So stoked with that!
The fourth pic is a few other dolls i had made that I was not entirely happy with, but they were just prototypes - and someone loved them! The big doll I made into a Dramatic Goth.
The fifth one - Genie of the Jug - because i liked the smoky fabric and the Jug!
The sixth & seventh - both from my Marie Antoinette pattern. I liked the black & white theme, and again, the wool, and the height of it. (I am not tall!) The last I called "the off-white queen" from the Alice in wonderland story.
So over the years I have indulged in fantasy in a creative way that I never did as a young person! Weird how we grow and change?
Lockdown is loosening up a little - hopefully next week we might get a haircut!

Covid 19 Lockdown Dominican Family Group

May 5 2020

Increasing the bubble in Lock down brings many benefits. I saw family today and got all the news and saw some improvements in their well being, just by connecting with them! Having an 'other' in our lives - someone to tell things to face to face - to express the overwhelm and be heard, to reach a place of calm to do what must be done is so important in our lives.
I was asked to make a set of dolls to represent the Dominican family - the family of Saint Dominic, to mark 800 years of Dominicans, in 2015.
This is my version of St Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order of Preachers & Teachers! His two older brothers, Manes and Antonio, were also priests, and Manes later became a Dominican. This set depicts Saint Dominic and his family.
Dominic de Guzm├ín was born in Castile, possibly a year or two later than 1170. Dominic's father Felix De Guzman was a knight. Legend has it that while Joanna d’Aza, his mother, was awaiting his birth, she saw in a dream, a dog that held a torch in its mouth, running around the countryside to bring light to the whole world. The word Dominicana means: Domini = Lord Cana = Dog. Sometimes referred to as Guzman's Dogs, or Dogs for the Lord! With all the qualities of a good dog - of course!
His mother saw to it that Dominic and his brothers were well educated and understood the pastoral care required of the overlord and family for the village. Later on in his ministry Dominic set up a house for women and children, at a time when women had very little status, or were discarded by husbands and family. Much later they became Dominican sisters, and today are still leading lights in their community, preaching and teaching in a myriad of ways! Dominicans are an order of Preachers & Teachers.
Knowing how to care for each other, to show understanding and kindness is very evident in our communities still in Lockdown.

covid 19 Lockdown Stump dolls - retirees

May 4 2020

We're getting ready for winter here in lock down NZ. Even though we are allowed to extend our bubble a little, it's still tough for those waiting to get back to work or to face their uncertain future. Some are anxious about going back to work!
This group is well over 70, so they are not at all worried, and have enjoyed their time at home making new outfits for themselves so they would be warm for the exhibition they went to in 2016!
The Exhibition theme was "Life in Manapouri". I don't live there, but every community has its retirees! I made this series of Stump Dolls and one free standing male to do the trick!
So, the retirees are: Ms Jones - the retired Plunket Nurse, Mr B P the retired farmer - now artist, Joan, the retired librarian -still reads of course! Myrtle, used to be the teacher in her day, but now she knits! Bev was the potter and still enters exhibitions! Mary has always been a gardener. Margaret dabbled in the alternative lifestyle scene most of her life and knows quite a bit about medicine! Sonja - who still smokes, was in fashion retail and owned her own shop! Can you guess who's who?
This lot was very popular, and the success of them was using all the colourful woolen scraps, from a friendly local who makes woolen garments. The wool molds the cloth body and gives them all character. Their arms - apart from Mr B P, are empty, with just the hands wrapped in the curve of the wool! Cones for the bodies and a needle sculpted head to give them individuality! this is when I discovered how to make a character head! I now have a pattern on how to make a character head.
So cheer up! It can't be long now before we can get out of Lockdown - or retire!

Covid 19 Lockdown Three Kind Mice!

What's lurking in your house in lockdown?
I don't know about you, but this season, we seem to have a lot of mice! They are getting quite cheeky - helping themselves to anything left out on my desk - like pineapple lumps!
In 2016, I thought I'd have a go at making mice, and enjoyed them so much, I made the pattern! I call them Three Kind Mice! As opposed to 3 blind mice! Appropriate for this time in Lockdown! We need some Kindness.
These ones are made in velour, but could be made in anything with a little stretch in it! I thought I'd make three sizes and see how they would look in t shirts and slippers!
I find them quite comical and playful with their little quirky attitudes - not like the cheeky mice lurking in my house!
A bit of fun in lockdown


Covid 19 Lockdown Bust Dolls

May 3 2020

Dealing with hair in lock-down is getting problematic and sometimes colour just doesn't make it look any better! We can't wait for the hairdresser to be available to us!
Marie Antoinette is famous for her Big hair and led the way with hair fashion in her day. What a temptation for me when I decided to make a cloth doll Bust - just the head and upper body.
A great opportunity to use lace and wool! I discovered a new way to make a non-smiling mouth, and was able to create lots of different expressions with this series of dolls, and found them to be very useful little works of art! I wrote the pattern and taught classes and they have been quite popular. I certainly enjoyed the experience of making them using a few different techniques I discovered on the way!
My hairdresser is in my doll group and she suggested we make one each and use them for fundraising for Breast Cancer in her salon, because - it's all about the bust!
So we just have to keep our hair on in the meantime and try not to let it get the better of us in Lock-down!

Covid 19 Lockdown Male dolls

May 2 2020

We are champing at the bit to be released from the confines we find ourselves in while navigating lockdown. Even myself, who is really enjoying it, still need the company of others. It's a challenge for many!
Talking of challenging experiences - I discovered that the cloth doll world was dominated by female dolls. I found an occasion to make a male figure for an Exhibition. I was curious to see if I could create one, since I was discovering some new abilities in my needle-sculpting and pattern designing adventures. There was not much to go on in the pattern world, that I could find, so I decided to teach myself from what I knew of drawing and studying male features.
The Steam Punk Male was my first attempt in 2014- also the first Top Hat and boots. It turned out ok for what I wanted, but not good enough for a pattern.
Making character faces and the study of them, taught me so much that I can impart, but Mostly, I learned that it's not just the features that make a male doll, but skull shape, eyes, cheekbones and lips are not the same as female features. Just wearing a beard or shadow is not effective. How to design a head shape differently?
I achieved it, when I designed the mermen, and I will continue to develop this, as I think it is important for people wanting to make male dolls to achieve satisfactory results.

So, a bit of study in lockdown is helpful, but being curious and following it up is even better for developing techniques to do things! Go for it!


Civid 19 lockdown Santos

April 30 2020

Restructuring is a difficult time for people. It means changing of ideas, work-life, finances etc - all big things that bring so much uncertainty to life.
2014 was such a time in my workplace. I made the first Santos Doll as a response to the many people who had a lot on their minds, who were suffering anxiety, or fear of the future - a bit like now actually!
The quote on her dress comes from a 13th Century mystic also known as Dame Julian, Lady Juliana of Norwich) was a Christian mystic and Anchoress best known for her work Revelations of Divine Love Who had some really good quotes. My favorite is: All will be well, and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well!
The Santos Dolls take their name from Spain, meaning Saint, and are early 1700's in origin, generally carved by priests in the early church. They found their way around the world as figureheads on ships.
My version is colourful and sassy, and while she has all the trappings of a medieval saint, her attitude is - 'Actually - everything will be OK! No need to worry so much!
I made the second one into a pattern, and have put a tutorial for needle sculpting and coloring the face is on the bottom menu of my Blog.
I wanted this Santos Doll to be saying something with an attitude of assurance and confidence, as a reminder for us today, like Santos Dolls were reminders, back in the day.
All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.