SFM Cloth Dolls with Attitude! NZ

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Doll makeover, restoration - kind of!

Remember this doll I was repairing?  Never having done anything like it before, and only the head to work with, I began.  I sent away for an air brush & compressor kit, which got lost in the post and had to get a new one sent out!  Then had to earn how to use it, how to mix the paint - I used acrylic because that's all I had - and keep it from clogging up the nozzle - used pantihose to strain it!  Utube for some quick lessons!

All over skin colour to develop a base. The original was quite dark, but my paint colour made it look deathly!  Didn't get pics of that!  LOL!  Then sometime after midnight and several additions of most of my tube of white, it came right!  I was matching it to the velour colour.  Still not perfect.  A million coats of spray - if you can't get the right colour!  I used a hair dryer alternately with the airbrush, as each layer needed to be dry to check the colour.

The hair ended up being lighter than the original because I had such a limited pallet.  I mucked up the front, but decided it would just have to do rather than fiddle with it and make it worse - it's not a competition and is the reason I make cloth dolls!  I also mucked up the lip shape - probably used the wrong brush!  I was pleased with the colour though.

The eyes!  Oh the eyes!  Tricky and time consuming and not for the faint-hearted! Undercoat of  white to cover the original, then they got stuck and had to release them!  These eyes looked so stary, and it took a lot of thinking and study to get them right.  (Cloth dolls are so much easier!)  Eventually, I worked out that I needed to darken the eyes and make the pupils larger.  The iris had to cover most of the eye, as it was in the original, to make it look effective.

Then I made the dress, with little knickers, socks to match the dress and shoes.  I had to make a last of clay to make good shoes.  Not perfect, but better than nothing.
I used Kezi Mathews Toddler Doll pattern for the body.  It was just the right size and and a perfect shape!

I am relatively pleased with the way she turned out and I just hope her owner will not mind that she has changed colour, as all she possessed of this doll was the broken head,left over from her childhood nearly 70 years ago!  She wanted to pass something on to her granddaughter.  I hope I have created something she will be happy with.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Inspiration and follow through!

 Inspiration comes from all sorts of funny places.  A friend of mine is collevting these wacky ashtrays and showed me his latest acquisition.   Whe I saw the feet, I just wondered how hard that would be to needlesculpt and if it was possible, so I quickly drew a foot to try it out and made the female one.  Should have done two at once, to work out the left and right feet!  I eventually got it sorted.
As you can see, needlesculpting makes the foot smaller.

 It's interesting making manly features.  What to put in - what to leave out.  He doesn;t have a sculpted top lip for example.  
 And as for baby!  How to make it small enough, but attached to such big feet, and how to make it stable?
 Well, I found a way!
And it worked! 
 What do you think?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nic-Nacs for distraction!

Just some little Nic Nacs today.  I needed distraction from writing, so a challenge by a friend to make a Pin doll! In case you can't guess, this is Ursla, the Octopus!  Of course it is!  I could tell you knew that!  LOL!  Well, it's a version anyway! Definitely OOAK!  It will be off to America shortly, but first I want to show it off at a talk I am giving next week!
 I thought, as it was meant to be a pin doll, it would be best to do the pancake face and just draw the features on.  To do a 3D face would have made it so much bigger and impossible to wear or hang on the wall.  Then I thought I'd try and see if it would needle-sculpt and if so, would it be effective?  Well, you never know before, till after, and I was surprised how well it came out!
 Really odd colouring a body in shades of purple, but it worked surprisingly well! Prismacolour pencils are great!  I rubbed the colour on and then wet a paintbrush to smooth the colour around.  Worked well! I just used quilters muslin for this, as it had a tiny stretch.  I used a slightly stretchy velour for the dress, so was able to stuff extra into the boobs for better effect. I stitched two different fur fabrics together to add the stripes to her hair.  She looks Glam!
This other thing I spent most of the day making is called an assemblage!  Not my original idea, because I am not wired like this.  I saw it elsewhere and thought it would be something I could have a go at and that it would come together quite quickly.  Wrong! I really don't like cutting out. It is so messy!  But I am grateful, because it made me clean up my studio!  Hunting for the bits to go on it, made me think I really could get organised better, so I did!  I did like the theme though and the person who did the original is to be commended!  I am glad I had a go and \i am sure I will find a home for it!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marie Antoinette Bust


I have been wanting to make a bust for some time, but was not sure what I would do, or when I would get time to devote to making it - or even how it would look!
I began anyway as I knew what I would do to make the body.  Easy. Then started on the face and it sat for a day.  I rummaged around and found some likely looking scraps, and some lace that had possibilities - still unsure of what I would do.  
I then started on the face, and when that was done had a little think about how I would be able to make hair that looked the part, so made a toque - I looked it up!  It means cushion for the hair!  It seems ladies with this hairstyle could wear it so for a week and even had special bed hats made to accommodate their hair!
Anyway, in order to put eyelashes on, I had to cover the hair as I had used Wool staples combed out, and needle-felted in place.  Therefore, strands catch on everything and annoyingly tangle in the black thread I was using!
 It was successful!
 So I played with curls and pearls in her hair, feathers and lace
Front view
 Back View
 Side view.
Showing off her Beauty Spot!  Oh La!
I like this view of her, reflecting maybe.............?

I hope you like her.  I am going to make her into a pattern.  She is fun to do!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Somebody thought I needed a diversion, so she gave me a composition head off the childhood doll she had kept all this time. The body was long lost and the head had a broken chest plate. She now has a great Granddaughter and wants to pass it on, so she asked me if I could do something with it! Never one to shy from a challenge, I have sat with it for two weeks, while I did some research on repairing composition dolls.
The Doll head had some won patches on it, so I smoothed them off and put a few dabs of clay on and later sanded it off. I had to make an air dried clay chest plate that I covered with gauze, for extra strength and added more clay, which I have since smoothed off with fine sandpaper.
 I altered a Kezi Mathews toddler body, to fit snugly under the head and on the shoulders, so when I have finished the head, I will glue it on, as that's how the original one was attached.
 My next job has been to buy an airbrush, so guess who has to learn how to do airbrushing in a hurry! That'll be a job for next week! Thank God for Utube!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Needle-sculpting a face Tutorial

This is part three of my tutorial of Needle-sculpting and colouring a face.
 Now we will finish colouring the face




Outline the eye and part of the eyelid in a tan Pigma pen, or copper Gel pen. and go over the eyelid with black Prismacolour Pencil.
With Crimson Red Prismacolour pencil make a vee on the top lip.  Make the bottom lip wider than the top.
Outline the lips with Pigma Pen Tan.  The top lips slope down to the mid-line.  The bottom lip swings up wider than the top lip, but neither top or bottom lip will meet where the thread begins, or the mouth will be too wide!  Generally, the top lip is usually thinner than the bottom lip - on most people.  In this case, both lips are much the same in thickness.
Draw in the lines on the lips and also outline the nostrils.  Not too much here.  Less is more with noses!
Draw in the pupil with black gel pen - or paint, close to the top of the eyelid
Outline the Iris with black gel pen, very lightly.  Outline thickly on the top of the eyelid to indicate eyelashes, but don;t stroke them in yet.  With the bottom eyelash line, just do a half line, so she doesn't look like a Drag Queen!  Keep it subtle.
Colour the cheeks with Red prismacolour pencil or blusher.  I sometimes use chalk pastel and a brush to blend it in.
You will see I have made some more marks under the eyes with pigma pen, to indicate the bottom lashes.  Be careful with lines - practice.  Too many lines could indicate age or weariness.

Draw in the eyebrows - left one first!  Put on a bit of eye shadow colour.  Put some tiny lines on the Iris and shade the top of the iris to look like the eyelashes are creating a shadow.
You may want to practice eyelashes on scrap fabric first.  
Now draw in the lashes, starting on the left side first.  Begin in the middle and curl outwards and upwards.  this gives a less startled look.
Lastly, dab a bamboo skewer or toothpick in some white acrylic and put the dots on the Iris, close to the pupil. I have also put a dab on the top of the eyelid, the tip of the nose, the mid cheek and the bottom lip, to highlight.

I hope you have enjoyed these tutorials and that they will be helpful to you with your dolls.

I would love to hear any feedback comments - especially if I have missed any steps or something you are curious about.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Needlesculpting a Face tutorial

Here is part two of how to needle-sculpt a face.

There are no hard and fast rules about needle-sculpting a face. Here, I am doing one side at a time. 

As you saw previously, I marked out the face with a bit of colour, so I could see how I want it to go and how even I could make the features.  I don't do it this way every time, but I have been doing it this way lately with some success.
Thread your long darning needle with a good length ( approx half a metre - 30 inches) of strong thread.   
 Make a holding stitch at the back of the head, enter and exit at the corner of the eye.
 Take a small stitch beside it, re-enter and scoop stuffing up with the needle to make a bridge for the nose and exit at the corner of the other eye.
 Follow the line of colour down the nose length, making three stitches on each side.  Remember to scoop up stuffing each time you go back and forwards.
 Reinsert the needle, scoop stuffing up with the needle and exit at the opposite nostril. 
 Take a smal stitch beside it and re-enter the needle, exiting back in the original place.  You can do this twice to encourage the nostirl indent upwards.  make the last exit in the same nostril hole. 
Re-enter the needle, scoop up the stuffing to make the nostril flare, and exit at the end of the row of three stitches above the nostril hole.
 Take a stitch to the side, following the curve of the nostril flare as above.  Insert the needle and exit in the opposite nostril.  You can do this twice to create the indent, as with the other nostril.  Exit in the nostril.
  Take a small stitch, scoop up the stuffing and exit at the end of the row of three stitches above the nostril.
 Take a stitch to the side, following the curve of the nostril flare as above. Reinsert the needle and exit in the cheek dot.
 Take a stitchsideways and with the needle, really scoop down into the stuffing, to make a good cheekbone.  Exit at the outer corner of the eye.
 Take a small stitch, re-enter the needle and exit at the cheek dot again.
Gently squeeze and pull on the thread to pull the corner of the eye down and the cheek up!
 Now for the other side of the face!

Take the needle across the mouth and enter at the cheek dot.  Really scoop down into the stuffing, to make a good cheekbone and exit at the outer corner of the eye.
 You can see the tension in my finger there, as I am slowly pulling the thread to indent the mouth and cheek at the same time!  you can use your thumb to squeeze the mouth shape and keep it there while you keep the tension on the thread. Take a small stitch, re-enter the needle and exit at the cheek dot again, same as the other cheek.  
  Take a stitch sideways, to assist the cloth to hold the stuffing up , enter the cheek and exit at the nostril flare.
 Enter at the top of the nostril flare and exit under the lip.  This makes the indent between the lip and the chin.  Take the stitch across to the other side. (Notice how the stitches under the nose and chin stretch the cotton fabric?  I could have eliminated that by making my stitch length smaller - but I didn't.............sigh!  Never mind.  no one will notice it when it's all finished - unless it goes into a competition and my needlework  is JUDGED!
 Enter the needle and exit up at the back of the head.
 Gently tug the thread to create a soft indent and not too much so it creases.  Make a holding stitch or two and cut the thread.
And there you have it! 
I hope this tutorial takes a lot of the mystery of needle sculpting away for you and I hope you will practice it and gain confidence with needlesculpting.

  I would love to see any pictures anyone wants to share with me.

Next week, I will follow this up by showing how I colour the face.