Friday, August 27, 2010

Rebuilt dolls in action

I have written several posts on rebuilding dolls with wire and gauze. Out-of-the-box Breyers are often hard to make sit or much of anything else. But with plenty of surgery they can become productive members of doll society.
The first doll I want to talk about today is the youth doll. Right from the box the youth doll can't hold her arms close to her body, sit down in a saddle or do much besides make you want to rip your hair out. This little gal has had her thighs and upper arms removed and rebuild with wire, gauze and medical tape. An explanation of that process can be found here. Once this little gal came out of surgery she was ready to be dressed and detailed. Now she is ready for the show ring. I did a couple of new things with this doll. The first is she has a repainted face (hard to see in these photos). The youth dolls come with some scary faces. I have never been particularly confident in my painting skills but I think she came out pretty well. She is even wearing real eye shadow and blush! I got a big kick out of that. Another new detail is her jeans. I never made youth doll jeans and wanted to try it. Then I thought about the gold stitching that is on 99% of jeans I have ever seen and added that detail. I think the finished result is a really cool little doll who is ready to work. She is currently for sale on MH$P.
The next doll we will be talking about today is this guy, Rob. Rob is a rebuilt Breyer cowboy. His arms were reasonable so I left them along but he has had his thighs replaced with wire, gauze and medical tape. He also has some extra wire bracing so he can not only bend, but really hold the poses.

It's important not to have your body parts flailing around when bulldogging...

...or calf tying.

You may have noticed there is something not quite right about the cow Rob is working with. Well, it was early when we did the photo shoot and the "real" cows were nowhere to be found (they are in a box in my closet, don't tell Rob). So he made do with this foil cow shaped object. What does this "cow" and these dolls have in common? They are all partially put together with wire. The cow however hasn't been dressed yet.

Monday, August 23, 2010

More dolls

No hunt seat dolls and no western dolls for me this weekend. Saturday morning I finished up this stern judge doll. He takes his job very seriously, though he is fair as well ☺
The little judges kit included with his is simple but it works. I took cardstock and glued on a shrunken down real judges sheets and drew a line across the top with a silver paint pen. A toothpick cut down with the flat end colored pink and the pointed end painted black makes a very serviceable pencil. Jake is all ready to work and is for sale on MH$P.Then yesterday I decided to make someone a little more fancy. This is Deena. She is a lovely saddle seat rider and is ready to win. Often I will just do the gloves in either black or white (and the same for the hat) but this time I thought matching would be more fun. I think the paint I mixed came out pretty close in color. The vest and lining of the coat are sparkly pink. Sort of hard to see in the photos but pretty cool in person. Deena is also for sale on MH$P.Those are the doll updates for today. I need some ideas of what kind of doll to make next. I am open to suggestion.

Friday, August 20, 2010

retro western week continues

My retro western doll making continues. This outfit has more of a 1970s look to it, but retro is in right now. The 80s are coming back full force (which scares me) but 70s can work I think. This is Peggy. Peggy is part of my not-so-secret plan. Plan? What plan? Last year, on our honeymoon (which was really short) Ethan and I went to Newport, RI. It was wonderful being in a place that is full of friendly people. And being surrounded by art and artists was OK as well. Since we had a super short honeymoon and didn't get to see everything there was to see in Newport (not by a long-shot) we talked about going back for our anniversary weekend. And then every year for at least a few years. By then we may have seen all there was to see and we could pick somewhere else to go. Well you know how a lot of times you make plans on a whim and they sound great but then nothing comes of them?
Most things end up like that for me. This time I decided it wasn't going to happen. I love Newport, want to go back and I am going to make it happen. We already have a friend offering to watch the kids if we ever want to go away for a few days. There are 6 weeks (almost down to 5 now) until my anniversary weekend. I have everything broken down to weekly goals. And Peggy is part of that plan.

I am going to work like crazy and make as many dolls as I possibly can. By sheer quantity I am hoping that someone will see something they like and want to buy it. I am offering time payments if they are needed and working away. I also have been managing to take some better photos of the finished dolls. That makes for a better doll book, better sales photos and more blog posts. And I know I like reading new posts. Now that I have babbled away I will go and work some more. I have some judges planned for today. And then maybe I will take a couple of days off, lol.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

200th doll!

I got the idea that since this was the 200th doll I should document part of the process. Unfortunately I got the idea when I was already partially done with the doll. There were some interesting parts before this stage such as the gluing of the pink leopard print pieces to the black fabric so nothing would shift around while I was sewing. I have never done that before but I don't do a lot of 2 toned tops. This is right after it is sewn into a top and I am checking the fit on the doll. There are much uglier stages of doll making and maybe one of these days I will document them. But today is not that day. The next stage I got a picture of was the mostly-finished-clothing stage. I had her top hemmed, the front closed, cuffs and collar put and and of course, crystals. Crystals are very important to a lot of western outfits. I think this one is coming along very well. I little bit of an extra push to get her done last night and she was ready for her photo shoot this morning...
...and even has a head now. And a name as well. This is Jenny. Partly because the last doll's name is Penny and it amuses me. Jenny is the second in my 1980s inspired western doll line. She may also be the last, it's hard to tell. But I had some extra pink leopard print fabric and I didn't want it to go to waste. Jenny has an interesting 2-tone design to her top. Some of that was because I didn't have enough fabric left to do the full top in pink leopard print. Some of it was because I goofed when I cut one of the front panels. And some of it was because I wanted it to look different. There are a lot of pieces to the design process.

The crystals that are lined up between the pink leopard and the black fabric has 2 purposes. The first is because it looks nice and I like it. The second is because there was an unfinished edge to the leopard print and silk will fray if left alone. Then the crystals outlining the collar and cuffs is just for decoration. Ultra suede is a wonderful fabric that won't fray. If only all fabric was so well behaved.
So Jenny is done, signed, dated, numbered and photographed. She is also for sale on MH$P . I was trying to think up a sale to celebrate my 200th doll but so far I haven't come up with anything I really like. I am willing to take suggestions in the comments section.

So now that this doll is done and I have made 200 dolls I will just keep going. I have another doll in the works for today and more plans for tomorrow. One of these days I will take a day off but right now I am in a dolling mood. So there could be more details of my crazy doll work in the days to come.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pink and White Dolls

This week seems to be pink and white doll week. If I had gotten more done maybe I wouldn't have a theme but since I have only gotten through these 2 dolls, I have a theme. Not that I mind, they were fun dolls to make. Especially after the large quantity of English dolls I have been making recently (and more to come in the next order). This first doll was actually mostly designed by my husband. Ethan is firmly rooted in the 1980s and will probably stay there as long as he can. He has joined us in this decade a little bit but not completely. About a month ago he did a tattoo that was a star (very popular tattoo design right now) filled in with pink leopard print.
He told me I should make a doll with the same print and white leather (not suede) chaps. So I did. I think he thought it was a challenge and I wouldn't be able to get tiny pink leopard print. So I made some. This is penny. Ethan named her (I made him do it) and she is at the moment listed for sale on MH$P. If she doesn't sell I will keep her and happily show her. She entertains me.

Ethan had input into the hairstyle as well and OKed the matching pink leopard print hatband. That amuses me as well, though that isn't saying much, I am easily amused.

The other doll I managed to get done this week is this lovely pink and white showmanship doll. Showmanship dolls don't make for very interesting photos without horses and leads to hold (which I didn't want to dig out) so there is only just this one photo of her. She is VERY sparkly in the right kind of light but has a fairly simple design which is desirable in the show ring right now. I have plans to make a very fancy western pleasure doll soon (probably not in pink and white) which isn't the "in" thing in the show ring at the moment but is always fun to make and look at. At least if you like things that sparkle.
I actually got these dolls done in a pretty short amount of time but have been so busy this week I couldn't get the time in to work. My sister is home from North Carolina for the week so I wanted to spend some time with her and of course the kids are still home from school. I should probably see if I can find out when school starts again. We should at least have a few more weeks to hang out and play all day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fun with dolls

When I first took this photo for my website and other advertising needs I was pretty impressed with it. Having 11 dolls in the house, all at once, to take a group photo was pretty cool. Only 5 of them are dolls I use for my own show set-ups and the rest of them were either customer orders or random sales dolls. Being new to photographing so many dolls at once it took awhile to get a nice photo where the dolls didn't look like...dolls. It did finally work out though.

Recently I decided it was time to try to get some new photos. While I still like the old photo I don't want to use the same one over and over forever. So I called up my friend Joan Fauteux and asked if she could come over to play dolls and bring all of her " Field of Dolls" dolls. Joan has the largest number of my dolls in her personal collection. We thought she had 11 but when we counted again we found that she has 12 of them. That is amazing! So Joan brought her group, I took out my 7 (I have added a couple to my personal collection recently) and I had a few sales dolls here to play with as well. I think the new photo is very impressive! Not only is the larger group of dolls very impressive (to me anyway) but the "Travis" doll in front with his leader and side walker is really cute. Also having a bit more experience photographing dolls it didn't take nearly as long to set them up so they looked good. Joan and I are already working on planning another photo shoot with another friend that has several dolls that I made. It should be fun seeing what we come up with.

Recently there have been a couple of interesting dolls in the studio. There was this bendy cowboy and he was fun to make. Just like my group photo, this bendy guy wasn't the first bendy, bulldogger cowboy I have made. But he is new so needed some photos. Since I had the shoot set up I got a few quick ones to demonstrate some of his skills. He can ride...
He can also kneel for calf tying. He has another special skill which I will show you at the end of the post.
Another new doll is this showmanship gal. OK, what is so special about a showmanship doll? She is a new design and only her head is from a Breyer doll. I wanted to try something different recently so I offered a discount on a custom doll (or several...) if you had doll bodies to trade. I got some interesting new dolls in one of the deals. They are Obitsu dolls and I believe they are from Japan. The heads are totally unsuitable for the work I do (very large and out of scale) but the bodies are wonderful! They have good, tight joints and hold the position you put them in.
They have removable hands (which you can change to different hands if you really want to) so they are much easier to dress.
And they will hold any position you put them in. Including this very realistic run. I feel this really will be a great showmanship doll and she was fun to make. Fitting the Breyer head on the Obitsu neck stem was a bit of a challenge so she took longer than expected to make. But I get such a kick out of posing this doll that it was worth the extra work. I am working on a way to make all my future showmanship dolls able to "run" with a foot off the ground. I think it would be more realistic for set-ups with a moving horse. I will see what I can come up with and probably will post more here. For now this will be a truly one of a kind doll with amazing show ring potential.
And finally, I said I would share bendy cowboys other special skill at the end. When he was ordered I was asked to do a bulldogger but his "mom" didn't want him to be limited to that one event. He can of course ride a horse, kneel for the calf roping and of course, he can do bulldogging. Again, I didn't feel like digging out the cows to take an accurate photo. Showmanship gal is good at running but she wasn't quite fast enough ☺