Monday, January 26, 2009

new dolls

Wow look at this new craziness, a blog post about dolls from the doll maker! not something you see around here every day :)

Honestly though, I don't have things to say about dolls every day. And maybe not even every week. Everybody needs dolls and that is a constant of coarse, but I think if I said it all the time people would get annoyed (I wonder how many people I annoyed at region X regionals last November since I said it all weekend, lol). Moving on....

Sometimes I get requests for some really interesting dolls. Like this Aussie guy. He's wearing what any good Aussie cowboy would, jeans, a button down shirt and a duster. He was pretty fun to make but also a bit of a challenge. He was not a super hard concept or design (not like "Death" I should find some pictures of him) but I did have to work up a new pattern for his duster. Actually there is a lot of that in my work. I follow reference photos if I can because the more of the real details you can put in the doll the better it will be. At least that is my opinion. I added a couple of extra things to the duster because Ethan noticed then in the reference photo and said they should be there. Like the armpit straps. It's just a couple of straps that go from the back of the cape under the armpit to the front of the coat to keep the cape from flying up. Not a detail that had to be there, but it did add a bit more realism.

I like to make new things and I like to make old things better if I can. I didn't make hunt seat dolls for awhile because I hate the plastic Breyer boots and I didn't want some giant leather boots. And if I could not make nice boots I was not going to make boots at all. After awhile I worked up a nice tight fitting tall boot pattern and now I happen to like making hunt seat dolls. The old style Breyer cowboy boots were nice enough for western dolls if they were painted to match the outfit (and cut down so the doll could ride heels down) but Breyer changed the boot style when they came out with the newer dolls. The new boots are more like clown shoes and are enourmous! They don't make for a refined look on the dolls. So then I had to make boots for the western dolls as well. It's similar to making the English boots of coarse. I trade patterns with my doll maker friend Joan Yount. it's nice to have 2 heads working on problems that come up when trying to dress a doll.

This next lady was not a tough doll to make but her shirt was another altered pattern. I am not even sure which of my patterns it started as any more. But now it is a short sleeved polo style shirt. This doll was pretty cool because casual dolls are just fun to make. She also has a removable safety vest so she can do cross country. I need to have one of those....and a cross country jump. Some day. This was the most recent doll. The lady that ordered him wanted a farmer. Not like a old TV show farmer but a real working farmer. At first she asked for an old experienced famer but I can't do sculpting. ("Death" was the exception of coarse) so I told her I could dress a Breyer guy and maybe give him gray hair but that was it. But she said she didn't care how old he was just as long as he looked like a real farmer. She sent me a picture of a group of real farmers as well for inspiration. Well this guy stayed young, no gray hair for him and I dressed him like a real farmer. Just jeans, a workshirt, a nice carhartt coat and some big rain-boot type boots. Now he's ready for even the messiest job. And look at all that snow! good thing he has a coat on. This guy really was a lot of fun to make. I thought he wanted a baseball hat but I have no idea how to make a nice one. That will be a project for later I guess.
Now I have mentioned my "Death" doll several times in this post. He was a very interesting order. The customer wanted "Death" from the 4 horsemen of the apocolypse. She sent me a photo of the Durer woodcut as a reference. She didn't want the typical skeleton "Death" that so many people have. She liked the way Durer portrayed him. She said she wanted him to be a really emaciated man with ripped and stained clothing. The first pictures I sent of him she said he looked too healthy, lol. I guess it was true. She said she wanted him to look like he had just crawled out of his own grave. And this is what I came up with. He scared Elecktra so I figured he was about right.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Western Showmanship

I love live showing. There is no way around that. I love preparing for a show when I make sure I have all the things I need to do the classes I want, the tack is in good order, and the horses have not developed any problems (or jumped of the shelf and broken). One of my favorite classes is Western Showmanship. I first tried my hand at the class a couple of years ago. I had no clue what I was doing but got a ton of help and the loan of some props from a showing friend of mine. Well I won the class and was so excited I had to do more. Here's a picture.
Now I can look at this photo and pick apart the entry. Maybe it was the best thing on the table, maybe not. I don't have photos of everything from that day. But off the top of my head, there should be no arena wall, the handler should be looking at the judge and her right hand needs to be higher on the lead. Oh well, that is why we take show photos. Besides the option of reliving the day and looking at other people's lovely entries :)
The next show I had almost completely forgotten how to set up the entry. And since I had not laid out the rules of real showmanship in my head, I could not duplicate them on the show table. So it was time to learn more. I had a different friend show me how to set up that day and both friends were super knowledgable but the more you ask questions, the more you learn. I don't have any photos from that show, I think I was too freaked out to take photos. Live showing in performance classes can be really stressful at times.
So then I was at a show without anyone to help me. But I really wanted to put up a showmanship entry. So I had to do it myself and try to remember everything I had learned. Here's my entry.
It only got 4th but there were many other types of Western classes it had to compete against. Too bad really since the set-up is pretty close to perfect. The doll in in the right place, she's looking at the judge, pretty much holding the lead correctly (I need to shorten the halter chain) and now all I need to do is get her to stand with her legs more together. But all in all I don't see anything wrong with this entry. But showmanship is not very interesting to all judges. Right now I am so excited about showmanship that I think it is going to be super fun to judge.
Here is one more live show picture. My entry did really well this day too. First I got 1st in the class and then I got overall champion. And that was under 2 different judges. So this was a proud moment for me. Though I see flaws in this entry too. I can remember a bit that was on the table besides my entry and I also recall telling another entrant that her doll was standing in the wrong place. She said it wasn't so I let it go. I am not an expert, I just feel if you help the showers around you do the best they can, then you have competition. Real competition. And beating the best is the best kind of win :)

Recently I talked a friend into hosting a show. I happen to really love hosting even though it does take a lot of work. You need to be organized and keep to a schedule and then things flow well and you don't lose your mind. Something I love doing is trying to get more shows in the region. We all want more so that means someone has to put them together. I host one a year right now but after my wedding I plan on having 2. I only have a halter show at the moment and I really NEED a performance show. I just love performance. So anyway, I talked the friend into hosting a show and we have been bouncing around ideas on things. She asked me if I would judge a couple of sections. *gulp* me, judge? I have only ever judged 3 halter classes to help finish out a show. And she wants me to judge in performance. So I figured I would study. I would study whatever it was she wanted me to judge. And I would not agree to judge anything I was clueless about. So one of the sections I am supposed to judge is the Other Performance section. Which includes showmanship. That means that I won't be able to show in showmanship that day, but judging holds some fascination for me. But I needed to learn more. So today while I was working at a friend's studio I asked if we could play with her real horses and she could teach me showmanship. She is known for her showmanship knowledge so she was the best teacher I could think of. So we went to play with her western horse. The horse was a little rusty but I was amazed at what I saw. I have never seen much live showmanship. So I paid attention, asked questions, had her slow things down when I didn't get what was going on. Then I asked some more questions and watched some more. It was amazing and precise. So now I am really excited about judging and I am pretty confident that I can do a good job. Now I just need to work on saddle seat....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Well I said I would probably post a blog about Travis so here we go. I am sure Elecktra will get a blog eventually as well, she is as horse crazy as I am. But first Travis. Travis is a special challenge in my life. No one wants to hear that their child is different and has problems but that is what I got.

When Elecktra was little she talked fairly early. We had words before she was a year old and sentences by the time she was 1. So when Travis was not talking or really saying words by the time he was a year and a half I started to wonder. So I talked to the doctor about it. I got nothing and nowhere for a long time. Finally when he was over 2 and a half years old and I had seen every specialist under the sun and found out his hearing was fine and anything else that might cause a speach delay, I got the diagnosis. Autism. So I did what any normal parent would do and I instantly went into denile. I couldn't have an autistic son, it couldn't be true. Anything else, ADHD was more likely in my mind. But even through my denile I was getting him as much help as I could. We have speach therapists and groups come to the house to work with him. We joined play groups with peer kids. But I didn't want to believe it. Who wants to belive their child is different and might not fit it?

Eventually denile fades with learning. I studied and realized that Travis does have autism. There is no way around that. I can't change it by saying it is not true or trying to pretend it isn't true. But it doesn't define him and I won't let it. What I learned was there are many many differnt types of autism. Some are more severe than others of course as with any other disability. I still have trouble seeing it as a disability though. If you know Travis you understand why. I'm sure a lot of people would give anything to be like Travis. He has limitations but he doesn't seem to notice. And it isn't because he isn't smart, he is. But he is almost always happy. He gets sad like any other person but he is happy more often than not. He plays like other kids and has a good time getting into group play. And everyone likes Travis. Some people don't know how to act with him or around him, but they still like him. Now how many people wouldn't love to have everyone like them? It sure would make life easier.

I of course have had trouble because of Travis's autism. Or more rightly because of ignorant people. I had to go get an x-ray after Ethan and I got in a motorcycle accident. I told the nurse that someone would have to sit with Travis to make sure he stayed out of the way and she was very rude when she asked why a 3 year old couldn't sit where I told him too for 5 minutes. So I looked at her and very calmly told her he was autistic. She said sorry but I was not sure if she was sorry that he was autistic or because she was being a bitch. Who can tell. I have a lot of people give me weird looks because Travis will sometimes make weird sounds, loudly, in public. He does talk now, but he still likes to make noise. And some people take that as a sign that I am a bad parent. So let them think what they want, just because they think it doesn't make it true.

So life goes on. Travis improves all the time. Sometimes it isn't really noticable, but sometimes it is. Either way he is a great kid and life is never boring with him. Life is never boring with either of my kids.

For his birthday last year Travis's grandparents gave him therapeutic riding lessons. Now Elecktra is a bit jealous because she has wanted to take riding for a long time. But she takes piano and she doesn't want to give it up and she can't do everything. So maybe some day. But Travis has a very good time at riding. Can't you tell?
His horse friend is P.R (Pacific Redeemer) and he is almost as old as I am. But he is a good boy. I volunteer at the riding school (for the adult riders while the kids are at school) and I have worked with P.R a lot. He is easy to lead, easy to groom and saddle, even easy to catch. You just walk up to him, he stands there, put the halter on and go. He's a good boy. And Travis loves him as you can seeIn general I think I am a very lucky parent. I have good kids. They are not perfect, they do bad things, lie a little, are messy and sometimes annoying, but they are good kids with good hearts. Elecktra is sweet and really doesn't want to make anyone upset and Travis is cute and cuddly. Not many people have a cuddly 8 year old boy. So I will deal with the bad and enjoy the good. That is all anyone can do really.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Web site!

Oh I Love new things. I just bought my domain name and started work on my new website. The fun of "new" should last a little while at least so I can keep things updated. Sooner or later though I will forget and there won't be anything new for awhile. And then I will remember to add some new pictures and maybe a new page. I am thinking of putting in a gallery of winners with pictures from live shows where a set-up with one of my dolls placed well. That should be fun. I guess I could always start with my own. This first photo was actually a couple of firsts for me. It was the first time I showed in harness and I got my first NAN card in harness and then my first top five in harness as well. The dashing young man holding the reins also works as a judge for me and sometimes an Arabian handler. It was his first time driving but he looks so confident you can't tell :)

This next doll is really special as well. Not only is he a doll that I dressed he also has a sculpted head made by the talented Liesl Dalpe. This was the first time I had tried any cow classes and "Bill" brought me a first in cutting and then also a top 5. It was a good day for showing. I think he needs a lady friend. And more cows!
So perhaps I will add a page for the gallery of winners. I think it would be a fun idea and I would get to see more of my dolls in action. I do get to see some of them if they are at the same shows where I am, but it would be nice to see more.
For right now the site has a new homepage, the prices and policies page, a guestbook and a doll gallery page. There are separate albums for Western, English and Other dolls. Not every doll I have ever made is in them, but I tracked down several photos that show a wide variety of my work. I will most likey add more in the future. The English album might stay on the small side. There is not a lot of point in putting in all the hunt seat dolls as most of them look the same. Though the saddle seat dolls are usually (but not always) a bit different from one another, and there are other types of English dolls. The Western album will probably grown and grow. All the cowgirls are pretty different from one another, though cowboys are all similar to each other since there is not a lot of variety in what they wear. But fashions change and maybe the clothes the cowboys wear will change as well.
So if anyone is interested you can go to and check out the new site. So many changes coming to the Field of Dolls Studio. I got a new phone number, a new studio name, now a new website. This fall I will also be changing my name since I am getting married. I thought it would be a good idea to make the changes a little at a time. And it's something to keep me busy in all my "down time". Lol, I have 2 kids, I don't get down time. But I can dream :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Beginning of the year, beginning to dig out...

Most people at the start of the new year make resolutions. They want to finish more projects around the house, lose weight, be a better person and so on. My very first feeling at the beginning of this year was relief. I am glad that 2008 is over. It was not a horrible year, but not a great year. Though some great things did happen. Ethan proposed which I rank right up there with one of the best days of my life (along with the birth of my kids and several other cool occassions). Some people would not think a proposal was so cool as to rank that high but then they don't know Ethan. Ethan has understated class. If you look at him you would think he was just a guy. Sort of scruffy and kind of cranky. But secretly he is very classy. He is old school traditonal about a lot of things. Hard to tell from the piercings and tattoos. He actually had my engagement ring for over a month before he proposed. He shopped for weeks to find not only one we could afford, but one that would look good with any wedding band I chose and that I would love. And then he kept it a secret from everyone except one friend and planned it out well. But not ostentatiously, that is not his style and I would have freaked out. We went to dinner (it was our 9 year anniversary) and he proposed in the parking lot. Now that doesn't sound very classy but the restaurant was in a historical train station and we were standing next to the old fashioned steam engine. And of coarse there was not a giant audience watching me cry (I am a girl, I cry easily). So it was a good day.
But a lot of really annoying things happened in 2008. There were horse show issues, though none of them really awful, money issues on top of money issues, but everyone is dealing with them these days. Christmas left me in a near panic. I pared my shopping list down to the bare minimum and didn't buy tons for anyone and it was still expensive. I didn't think we were going to be able to swing it. It all turned out well in the end and Christmas was great all around. No drama anywhere which is rare. I guess when you look at it that way the year was really quite good.
Then the beginning of the year with the bitter cold, the kids home from vacation and inside because it is too cold to play outside and it's not fun to play with ice (and we had so much ice). Then they went back to school and I got a nasty cold that felt like the flu. After not getting much work done during school vacation to be knocked out for another week was really making me crazy. So now I was behind on dolls, prepping, housework...and the piles got bigger every day. I was finally starting to catch up and I would get emails from friends (not always polite) about why was I not responding (wait more than a day before you freak out at me please...) and phone calls from friends that needed to talk because they were having a bad day. I understand, bad days happen, I'll help....
But finally, finally I am getting back on track. The weight of the stress is lifting and I can breathe more easily. The fact that my cold is almost gone is helping with that too I am sure. But things are getting back on track and back to a balance. I think I am caught up on dolls again, though if I slack off I will get behind, the prepping is happening though I am sure it would be better if I could do it faster. There must be some tricks that I don't know yet, must practice some more... and the house looks better. The holiday mess is put away, the rooms are back in as much order as they can be put in. The kitchen doesn't scare me. I can breathe. So I figured it was time to blog.
So my thoughts for the new year. I don't make resolutions because they are too easily broken. Though I do have some nice hopes for the year. I hope that I can continue to do well making dolls and that people will enjoy playing with them. Everyone needs dolls after all. I hope that the year is filled with horse shows and not marred by the problems that kept cropping up last year. I hope that I have a beautiful wedding and Travis doesn't run away (or at least not too far) it would also be nice if it didn't rain that day. I hope the economy gets back to an even keel and that gas prices don't get higher again. That is a hope for everyone really. I also hope our new president is up to the challenges we have right now in the world and that he listens to advice from the knowledgable people around him.
A big hope that is always ongoing for me is that my son Travis will progress further. He is autistic and though not severe, he is behind in things. He is 8 and not potty trained (he is doing better though). He doesn't talk much or at least not much with purpose. I want to ask him how his day at school was and have him give me a real answer. That would make my year. I think soon Travis might get him own blog. But not today. I know this is coming late seeing as we are halfway through January but I do hope everyone has a wonderful year. For my part I will try to get as many dolls made as I can so everyone can play with dolls. And I will do as much as I can to support the model horse shows. Times are tough but everyone needs to play. Have a great year!