Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January countdown

January is more than halfway done and I am happy to say I don't think I am behind on orders. That's pretty good seeing as I spent the last couple of months of 2009 freaking out about how late things were. The truth is I don't like to be late at all. If I say I will get your doll done in mid-November and it isn't done until late November I feel bad. For 2010 I started something new. I have just been saying the month the doll will be done and that seems to have helped me relax and get more done. So now if life gets in the way a little more than normal or I get bit by the lazy bug (more and more when the weather is dark and gloomy) then I don't have to feel horrible while I am working.


I ran a holiday sale in December which was well received. That gave me plenty to do this month without overburdening me with custom orders. I do want to sneak in some dolls here and there of my own choosing. But that will probably have to be if I have time at the end of the month. I did enjoy the sale, which was $50 off a new order plus a lower required deposit, and everyone that wrote to me with an order seemed happy with the sale as well.

At the moment I am also running another sale. I was putting photos in my doll book and realized I had reached my 150th doll! So of coarse it was time for another sale. So that will give me plenty to do in February. I also found that the orders seem to come in groups. Last week I did a bunch of English dolls (casual and hunt seat both) and this week seems to be ruled by western pleasure dolls. Next week is also going to be western pleasure dolls but I believe I have two dolls in turquoise/black/silver and 2 dolls in light and dark green. I am thinking of some designs that are very different from each other so that will make working with the same colors more fun.

Some of you know that besides making dolls I am also a Mary Kay consultant. My national area is putting on a fundraiser with a local hockey team to raise money for the Mary Kay Ash foundation which supports research into cancers that affect women as well as domestic violence programs. The event is called "Pink at the Rink" so I thought it would be fun to make a doll in pink. So far I am thinking a western pleasure doll but I am not positive what I want to do just yet. I have some design ideas running through my head and I think this will be fun. Once the doll is complete I will put her on MH$P and take offers for a week. All of the money from her sale will go to the Mary Kay Ash foundation.

I'm not sure what else the year will have in store for me. I don't think I will hold another sale next month so this could be the last chance for awhile. But I do enjoy making people happy and I know times are tough. Everybody needs dolls so if I can make it a little easier for people to get them then I am glad to help.

I am also still not sure about holding my live show this year. I still don't have a car so even going to book the hall is not something I can easily do. Though I could probably call them, book over the phone and mail them a check. Hmm, something to consider I guess. Then there is the judge issue. I need 10 judges total. I only need 9 other people if I do a section myself but that is still quite a few judges needed. Then there is all of the fund raising. So many hobby artists are stretched so thin that they can't afford to do donations. And without donations the show may not squeak by. I will keep thinking on it and see. I overfilled my plate last year with the wedding, my show and all the shows I judged at and attended. This year I may need to take things easier.

So that is the latest from the Field Of Dolls Studio. I hate the winter and the weather makes me miserable. I am thinking of moving to Hawaii. Even the unseasonably warm weather we have been having hasn't helped much. I live on a dirt road so the temps in the high 30's and low 40's make for a lot of mud. But winter doesn't last forever and it will get warm again. I can't wait until I can open the windows. Is it Spring yet?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fitted English boots

Ah, the long awaited boot blog. I meant to do this post awhile ago but kept forgetting to take the photos while I was making the boots. So today is the day. Let's just jump right in.
This first photo is of the basic supplies I use to make the boots. I have my cutting board, scissors, super thin leather, tooking leather, a pen (this one happens to be from the International tattoo supply company, lol) pattern pieces and a prismacolor marker in black.


The first step is to trace the patterns onto the backside of the leather.

Next you cut out the pieces.
The boot shaft should go all the way around the leg...

...and meet so there are no gaps. It is best to dry fit the piece with no glue to make sure it will fit properly.
The next step would be to cover the toes with the toe piece. Of coarse I forgot to take photos of that step so you will just have to imagine it. That step was a bit more challenging for this doll because the customer wanted slightly extended toes. So I added a bit to the toes with some medical tape, trimmed and voila! Longer toes. There are a million ways I could have done the toes but this was the one I picked today.
After the toe leather is on, glued, trimmed and properly in place put some glue on the heel piece. Roughly center the heel with a bit of leather hanging down.
Next all you have to do is smooth the leather up both sides of the foot, wait a few seconds so nothing slides and fold up the leftover bit you have. Trim the sides so nothing is sticking out in funny places and you are ready for the soles.

Again, as with any project or piece of a project there are probably a million ways to do the soles of the boots. This just happens to be the way I do it. Cut the basic shape from tooling leather and then check it on the bottom of the boot. You don't want it too long, too wide or too small. This one I started with an extra large piece because I needed to allow enough matieral for the longer toes. I have already done the side trimming and now just need to trim the toes.
I use prismacolor markers to make the boot soles black. I could use leather dye, paint or even just start with somewhat thick black leather, but this is the way I do it. The only part that is esential is the marker needs to be prismacolor. If you grab a sharpie you will end up with an irridescent sheen on the soles. Prismacolor has a much more pure color to it and it will actually come out black with no rainbow effect. Like most things you get what you pay for and the markers are about $4 each.
Once you are done coloring the sole glue it on. Check to make sure all the pieces that should be under the foot have not popped out to make a mess of your finished piece.
The last step is the heel. It's just another piece of tooling leather in a heel shape. I try to make sure they match up the the back of the heel and the sides so it doesn't look silly. Then I color it and glue it on. Make sure the heel doesn't shift before the glue dries.
And that's it. That's all there is to making fitted boots. The doll should stand as well as be able to go heels down for riding. This particular doll will now be a fairly versatile casual English doll.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any other blog ideas or are interested in any other parts of doll making please feel free to let me know. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Branching out; Native American costume

Many years ago I made a few Native American horse costumes. They were not accurate for any tribe or time period but they were fun. But for awhile now I have wanted a nice, accurate Native American costume for live showing. But I don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for one. So the research has begun. And the collecting. I bought a book of Native American bead weaving patterns, a bead loom, tiny beads in a bunch of colors, super thin beading needles (because I break them all the time and will probably need back-ups) and most recently I bought a book on Native American horse trappings. The problem with this last book is it is a book of paper dolls where the doll just happens to be a horse. So there are no good reference pictures in there though there is some history at least and it should be at least a bit useful. So I am still on the hunt for reference pictures. Every search I have tried has given me pictures of model horse costumes. Not necessarily accurate.
I really should be using bead trays but I would have to remember where I put them and I really wanted to get into the weaving. So my work area is covered with tiny beads.
The pattern book is very good and very easy to follow. To make things even easier on myself I mark the rows in pencil when I finish them. That way I don't have to think about where I am in the pattern and the work goes a bit faster.
Here I have finished the first part of the pattern. I think it is about an inch and a half long. I probably need 8-10 inches. This little piece took me about 2 hours. But that time also included stringing the loom which is a pain and takes a long time. I need to get back to my weaving soon.
Hopefully I will get more work done soon and I can post some updates. Or perhaps I will get super motivated and finish a whole section of a costume. I still need to get out to Tandy one of these days and get some deerskin. Then of coarse when the costume is done I will need to make a doll to go with it. After all, everybody needs dolls.