SFM Cloth Dolls with Attitude! NZ

Friday, December 30, 2016

Shady Lady 2016

My last doll for the year!  Made from my Marie Antoinette Bust pattern, I enjoyed making this one for our new Gallery in town, called CRAFTED: Waitaki Artisans Gallery!

I love the green  with the midnight blue and the int of black velvet, which lends itself to frame this moody face.

I particularly liked making her little broomstick brooch on her hat! I have made this doll a few times now and marvel at how different each one looks!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dame Whina Cooper

 This is my very poor attempt to capture this amazing woman, called the mother of the nation, in doll form! 
Dame Whina Cooper ONZ DBE was a respected kuia, who worked for many years for the rights of her people, and particularly to improve the lot of Māori women.

I made this face in deer suede, as the colour was good, but found it hard to define the features well in this fabric, although It needle-sculpted not too badly. I might try it in something different. There are a lot of things I would do differently, but 
not too bad for a first attempt at something completely different!

Dame Whina Cooper ONZ DBE was a respected kuia, who worked for many years for the rights of her people, and particularly to improve the lot of Māori women in Aoteroa, New Zealand.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Steam Punk Pincushion!

In 2002 I made this Mixed media doll pincushion for the first Steampunk Exhibition I entered.  The idea of Steampunk is: Tomorrow as it used to be!  It's all about gender, belief, sexuality, roles, and  industrialism, including metal, leather cloth, mechanical, as well as time travel, fashion, contemporary and futuristic!  All symbolic!

This doll now belongs to my eldest daughter, who uses it as a pincushion, as well as a work of art.   Recently I visited, to find the head lopsided, and very dusty, so  I thought I would tidy it up, only to discover most of it was just pinned together!  I had not finished it!

Off came the head, out came all the pins, brushed off all the dust and shook all the fur, cleaned it all up and stitched (where it had never been stitched before!)  Here she is, all fresh and ready for the next 14 years!  Haha!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Merman v Mere man!

Hmm! Mereman - or Merman? Someone challenged me to make a merman to go with my mermaid. I was not thinking of the mermaid, (which is rather conventional), when I made himself!

My first thought was to make this doll with coloured dreadlocks, and that was my inspiration.  When I had made sufficient, I began with the trunk of the body of course - to see if I could make some muscles, because mermen can be half naked and no-one thinks anything of it!

Now the next obstacle - how to display him, with only a fin, and he can’t lean on anything.  Deciding it would be very manly to insert a wire hanger into his back muscles, (to show his strength and courage of course), high enough to be hidden beneath his cropped, shoulder cover thingy! That worked! 
I tucked his body into a tail - armatured with my favourite skinny coat hangers, so I could shape it later and to give it some 'body'!

Next, suitable arms, and I had to think what he might be doing, so one straight and one half bent. Ideal for tattoos, and to hold something.

Then the head. Had to be manly, so this head has a bit of shape. (I never know how they will turn out when I start.) Thinking of a good jawline when drawing it out, I feel I am slowly getting there with that one. I am pleased with the mouth shape, which is incorporated in the initial pattern drawing.

The next part of the process is how to present him. I thought of Steampunk, and went with that idea for a while, as I have seen a few trendy looking steam punkers, and so I added a few such embellishments, but in the end, I settled on something that reveals his alternative, feminine, creative, and caring side.  With the sea themed tattoos, (done by his local swordfish), the Paua Shell embellishments and neck bling, and his artistically arranged dreadlocks (styled by his local octopus, who is renowned for her creative agility to twist things around – tentacle-y speaking!)

With a critical eye, I noticed there was an imbalance between the body and the tail, so I connected them with the strap of a man bag, anchored to his belt!  I made the trident, but did not want him to be holding it – unwieldy for packing and sending anywhere – so made a strap that could sling it across his shoulders and be a prop.

The dreadlocks draw the eye down and connect the head with the tail, and I addressed the imbalance of the length of tail with the pet fish, hanging from his hand on a harness, to bring the eye right down.

 I could do more with the tail if I wanted to, but I liked the simplicity of his message:  Here is a mereman, not afraid to show himself as he is, usually found in deep water, vulnerable to predatory fish and the elements, but with the strength and resilience to deal with whatever life brings him. Happy with who he is, willing to intelligently stand for right, and with a care for the wellbeing of his fellow creatures!  Yes, there are Mermen like this!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mermaid Style

I have been trialling a mermaid.  I am not entirely happy with this design, although it does sit well.

I noticed the eyes are not correct, but overall I am happy with the headpiece.

I wanted to show some fairly natural movement  with a mermaid, and I have nearly, but not quite achieved it.  I later changed the position of the head.

Embellished with shells .  I like the hands on this one.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

DWRFBRED a play on words!

 I am launching this new PDF pattern called Dwrfbred today!

Dwrfbred is a 'play on words' design - my favourite!
The pattern has 44 pages of step-by-step instructions on how to make this 16 inch mixed media cloth doll! A marathon effort to do to write the pattern, but the doll didn't take long at all!

Dwrfbred is a mixed media cloth doll who really looks the part!  You can tell he is really a softie at heart by his chosen weaponry – mind you, have you ever been clouted by rock hard bun!

This is an interesting character doll to make.  Of course, he could double as Santa, or any old character doll with a beard!

A few different techniques in this doll!
You can get it at your favourite online pattern store, or on my Etsy shop

Monday, October 10, 2016

Advice from a Pumpkin!

What can I say?  I saw something like this on Pinterest in clay and just wondered if it was possible to do something like it in cloth.  One thing led to another and before you know it - I am needle-sculpting a pumpkin!  
I learned how to make a crinkled stalk and I enjoyed making his leaf collar - also needle-sculpted!
I made his clothes grubby and his boots are scuffed!

It was looking rather creepy, so I decided to turn it into a wise old pumpkin and found a quote that says:

Advice from a Pumpkin!

 Be well rounded.
Get plenty of sunshine.
 Give thanks for life's bounty.
Have a thick skin.
Keep growing.
Be outstanding in your field.
Think BIG!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Southern Royal Albatross 2016

I needed the symbol of an Albatross to take up to a group in Auckland, and rather than a picture - to represent our Southern Group - I thought a needle-sculpted Albatross might be interesting to try. (It will be interesting travelling with a 28 inch wide x 18 inch long bird!) Do you wrap it, or put it in a suitcase?

I had no idea if it would work. I just drew a shape - copying off google images, but there are no really good closeups, so made a good guess. It's not perfect and who knows if the dimensions are right? I know the tail is not right - too wide, but it looks like an albatross, so that's near enough for me!

Needle-sculpting the wings was a mission and hard on my fingers, but I am pleased with the results. Once I drew in the features and painted the wings it looked more like it!

For an armature, I used a thin wire coat hanger with the hook straightened and wrapped in masking tape. The end part of the wings has a bamboo skewer wrapped in batting. Stuffed, the wings were quite round, and I didn't know if needle-sculpting them would produce the results I was looking for, but it worked well enough!
 I am pleased and glad I have made it! You never know what you can do till you try!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Exhibition 2016

Here are some dolls I have been making for an exhibition In Manapouri. 
The exhibition theme is "Living in Manapouri!" A small town community of retirees, artists, readers, knitters gardeners and trampers! A little bit of eccentricity helps!
 These dolls are conversationalists!

  Someone gave me some knitted fabric that lends itself so well to dolls and makes them touchable!
 The doll faces are made from quilters muslin with a bit of 'give'! I make them stump dolls because the fabric will speak for them and make them 'colourful characters'! I can vary the sizes and shapes accordingly. They go together quite easily.

This man is inspired by a good friend of mine - an artist who is a bit of a character!  I didn't get the head shape right, but the facial features went quite well and certainly the 'stance'!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Free Pattern Biscuit, the Pet Dog for a doll!

I made up  my free pattern  of Biscuit, the dog I made to go with my pattern Miss Kate!

 The first one was difficult because I made it with the stretch going long ways and it was hard to turn, but gave the dog longer legs.
The second doe was much quicker and easier with the stretch going across, so turning more easily!

The dog is finished with either prismacolour pencil or Inktense pencils dipped in water to make the dark smudges around the neck tail and back!  
You can find this patterns here on my blog, under free patterns, or from this link to my Website.  Enjoy! 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

St Catherine of Siena

I have just finished making this figure of St Catherine of Siena, a Tertiary Sister of the Dominican Order of Preachers & Teachers. She was the 24th of 25 children, a twin born to a well off couple in Siena, in the 14th Century. Known as a Mystic, she became a force for good, working tirelessly for the poor and sick. Although illiterate, she wrote a book that is still studied today by Dominicans all over the world, called The Dialogue. She died at age 33.

I had fun draping this figure in medieval costume and figuring out how it all goes. I didn't want to make her look too holy, but to look like someone to relate to. Her arms move, so she is easily posed!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Just finished this doorstop doll for someone and am quite pleased with how it has turned out!

One of the longest parts of doll making for me is finding the right fabric in my stash! Luckily this time I found an umbrella skirt! Thought it would come in handy some day! Already circular and stitched, so trimmed off the pointed ends and decided to use them as is to make ruffles further up the skirt! So easy! I didn't have to hem it either! the bodice took a bit of doing, because it is a little fiddly being shaped, but I have to say it is a very effective style!

And the hat! A straw hat. Topped with polyester stretch velvet, then a tube with the hem (It was previously a top!), and gathered at the other end. This is inserted in the hat with the hem rolling out over it all! Hand stitched on, add some plumage and a big bow - two hat pins and - all done!

The brief was for a Victorian Lady in a black dress, but I added a hint of red overlayed with a lace panel, to keep it subtle. I really should have given her a burgundy choker, for better colour balance, but only found that after I had done this. Accented with burgundy roses. I wondered if she needed something around her shoulder- neckline? She is rather exposed for one in a hat I thought?

This doll was made from my pattern Hello Dolly, and you can find it on my Etsy page, Designer Doll Patterns, Dollmakers Journey, Fabric Addictions or Craftsy! She is a Door Stop Doll and not that difficult to make - once you decide on your fabric! hah! She has a plastic milk container for her lower body, so no legs to deal with!
Both of these dolls are going to live in the same house!