Sunday, June 30, 2019

I can breathe. A little bit.

     I have been super concerned about a big batch of dolls I ordered. Since the bunch I got from Jackie was misdelivered, lost or stolen, I have been worried about most packages. So, as I often do, I "stalked" the mail. Informed Delivery is both wonderful and terrible. Since I knew for sure the dolls were coming I went to meet the carrier at the mailboxes to make sure I got the dolls. Once I had the package in my hand I felt better than I have in days. Now I have more than enough dolls to finish my dolling goals. I can even surpass the goals if I find I have time and motivation. 
     While I was waiting for the mail yesterday, I started on a batch of vests for some cross country kits. I figured these were good colors to go with. I think I covered most of the usual colors people like and ask for. I also have a yellow one already made. As long as I can keep on making progress I should have these 8 colors, in completed cross country kits. They come with the vest with attached number pinny, medband and stopwatch. It's an easy way to switch up a casual English doll to make it a bit more versatile. 
     After the dolls arrived I got them all out of their packaging and switched out hands as needed. Then I grabbed 7 ot 8 of them and brought them outside and dremeled what needed dremeling (inner thighs so they sit better and armpits so their arms stay down a bit better). And I made this showmanship lady. She looks sort of boring in the photo to me, but all the dots are Swarovski crystals and she is quite sparkly and pretty in person. I was going to stop after the first two rows of crystals at the top but then decided to just go wild and keep blinging! She is really a lot of fun in person. 
     I am now up to 25 completed dolls, am still fairly motivated (I think) and my hands are doing OK. I have dolls and clothes prepped to finish another cross country doll today and another casual western doll. I am hopeful that I can get them both finished. That would be excellent!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

8 more days

     Yesterday was an interesting day. In the morning my niece called me as I was starting to work on finishing up the bling on the western pleasure doll. We ended up on the phone for 4 hours. I told her she needs to talk to adults more often (she has 2 very little girls and not much adult interaction). In that time I finished up the bling, which was almost done anyway, and put together this casual western doll. The body was already prepped, the clothes were already sewn, the chaps were complete, etc. So it was really just putting her together. I got finished fairly early (I started fairly early) and then decided to take the rest of the day off. 
     It was weird. And wonderful.
      The weather was super gorgeous. It was 92 and very low (for New England) humidity. I was not cold at all. It was nice. Travis and I decided to go to a further-away-than-usual Walmart to get the things we needed. We opened all the windows in the car and the sunroof. That was a fun drive! And it was nice to be not working on dolls for a bit. I could have gotten more done, and maybe I should have, but it was really nice to have that bit of a break. Today I should have a big box of dolls arriving. I really hope they show up like the tracking says they should. Then I will need to get a bunch dremeled and I can get back to dressing dolls. I want to try to finish at least one tomorrow. And then maybe 2 more on tomorrow. It's supposed to rain all weekend so I am not missing out on any nice weather. And I did go out and enjoy the little bit of nice weather we had yesterday. It really was wonderful. 
    So I am down to having 7 working days and then I absolutely need to ship everything on the 8th day. And my post office closes at noon so unless I get up really early and jump into something I won't have any time to work that day. I have 24 dolls finished, 6 to go and I still need to work on chaps and cross country kits. I think I can do this. I just need to keep working at it.

Friday, June 28, 2019

9 more days

     I had some trouble sleeping the other night. Not because I wasn't tired, I was, but because I have goals and I didn't feel I had gotten enough done. As much as I like the pink western pleasure doll, and as much as I got done on the cowboy, he wasn't actually done. And I only have 9 days now. And actually, it is only 8 days of work unless I do some work early in the morning on the 6th. So anyway, I had trouble sleeping and kept waking up, thinking about dolls and telling myself I could not get up at dark o'clock to work. So I got up at 6:00. I could have finished the last couple of details on the cowboy but I got started on this pair. 
    I actually really love this look with the contrasting piping. I did rip one of hunt coats I made so I will have to make a new one before the end of this adventure. At least if I want to stick to my to-do list. So far it's going pretty well.      
    Since I will have English dolls in both the Artisans Gallery and in room 620, I figured I should have a bunch. And I don't want them all to be exactly the same. That's boring. 
     So yesterday I managed to finish the last few details on this cowboy doll (the chinks were already made), get these two English dolls together (which should be suitable for jumper classes and lower level dressage at the very least) and...
...I got a lot done on this western pleasure doll. I basically worked ALL day, starting in the early morning and working until supper. And that is sometimes when I quit for the day, but yesterday I was feeling twitchy that I hadn't finished this western doll. So I did some more work on her. I got her boots put on (the pieces were already cut out from days ago) and I got her head haired and popped that on. The face was already painted and the hat was as well. So with those details done on her I could, and still might, call her done. But I am thinking a bit more bling. This top is closely based on a real top that looks absolutely nothing like this one. The real top is black and has charcoal details and large turquoise stones. And being a full-sized top there are more details on it. For this one I liked the look of the ribbon detailing, which also looks better on the doll in person. The large stones are in scale for what has been seen on a lot of real outfits lately. I wanted to do something in turquoise/aqua since I know it is a favorite of many people. I think this lady ended up with brown hair. We'll find out later when I add a bit more bling and get a finished photo of her. 
    So yesterday was dolling madness day. I don't think I have ever gotten that many finished (or close to finished) in one day. I also had one already mostly done, everything prepped for several steps of the dolls, so that helped. And working an insane amount of the day. I did remember to eat, sort of. Today can't possibly have that same level of madness. I only have one lady doll body left until my big order arrives tomorrow. And I think I am going to be stressed about it until it is in my hand. I had a package that was supposed to be delivered yesterday (might have been my Rio Rondo order. Might have been something else) and they didn't bother to deliver it. But at least it isn't marked as delivered. Anyway, today I can finish one doll, and add some more bling to the turquoise western pleasure doll. After that I think I will work on chaps and cross country kits. After all, I have nothing else I can do until tomorrow when the next batch of dolls arrives. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

10 more days

     Breyerfest is 15 days away, but not for me. Since I can't attend myself I need to be finished and have everything shipped before that so it gets to who it needs to get to in time. Which means I have 10 days. Only 9 of those days are working days. I have set myself some pretty lofty goals for that time. After the 6th I am going to take a week off. But for now, it's all about work. A lot of it. 
     I started out the morning working on dressing a western pleasure doll. Some of the progress pics got posted to Instagram throughout the day. And because I learned how to link my Instagram and studio page on Facebook, the same pictures got shared there as well. Anyway, I started on the western pleasure doll but put her down to stalk the mail. I had an incredibly frustrating conversation with someone from the postal service, basically doing everything but flat out calling me a liar. I would MUCH rather have the dolls that Jackie sent me than file an insurance claim. But the way USPS works, it is likely that I don't get either of those things. The substitute carrier saw a picture of my trailer and said that was where he left my packages on Saturday. That isn't even remotely possible, since as soon as I heard the truck go by I went out to check for my very needed packages. But of course that just turns into my word against his. So basically at this point my only recourse is to file a suit against the carrier, accusing him of wrongful doing. I'm sure that would go as well as my phone call with the postal service. 
      So when I heard the truck go by I went down to the mailboxes so my packages could not go astray. I had some more dolls coming that Roberto sent me and I NEEDED them. Badly. So I went down to get them myself and the "very professional" carrier was on the phone through his earbuds. The entire time. When he pulled up, while he was sorting the mail into the boxes and still, when I asked him for my packages. He also asked me if the packages usually get left "here" (at the mailbox bank) and I said no, they usually get put on peoples porches, but I'll save you the trouble and take mine. I was not a happy camper, but at least there was no opportunity for that batch of dolls to be misdelivered, stolen or even thrown away. I have no idea what happened to the stuff that was not delivered to me on Saturday. 
    OK, I am moving on from that. So now I had a new batch of dolls and I got out the dremel for another round of batch prepping. And now I have 6 more dolls ready to work on. I should have more on the way. I really hope they come soon. 
     I also worked on painting some hats and a bunch of heads. Eyebrows are hard. 
      At the end of the day I got the pink and tan western pleasure doll finished and a good amount of a cowboy doll. He needs a belt, belt loops, buttons and his boot bottoms. But he is very close to done. I should be able to finish him and one or two more by tomorrow. 
     I really love how this lady came out! She was one that was not based on anything that I saw, just something I made up. And it came together nicely. I started with the idea of the off-center darker pink patterned overlay and the different colored sleeves. I was really pleased with how the two sides of the overlay lined up. It almost never works out that well. 
     From the start I was planning on the pink ribbon between the two colors of fabric but after I got that first bit on I decided a couple more cascading layers would be nice. 
     And some trailing ribbons on the sleeve seemed like a nice idea too. I can't seem to not put crystals on pleasure dolls  (I love bling!) so there is a row of crystals and a cluster on the shoulder as well. I really love this doll!
      I also thought I should share my Christmas cactus. I have had this for over a year and have not managed to kill it yet. Though I was not taking care of it properly at the beginning (shocking, I know) so it had a rough time for awhile. I finally looked up how you are supposed to take care of them, applied the knowledge, and have managed to not only bring it back from near death but it is growing! It hasn't bloomed since I first got it (it was in bloom then) but it's not dead. I count that as a win. 
     So I have been dealing with a lot of stress and frustration. I need things to arrive for me to actually be able to work on dolls and sometimes there is a delay in shipping, sometimes things go astray and I got sort of a later start than I planned because I always forget how tiring track season is. But today I said to myself (and my sister) that I need to remember the good points. Jennifer and Jackie said they would sell dolls for me at Breyerfest. That is HUGE. Roberto has known me for only a very short time and he gave me a handful of dolls. I am surrounded by really amazing people and I need to remember how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life. My cactus is also a reminder of that. It was a gift last year for paraprofessional appreciation day from one of the teachers I worked with. I need to remember to appreciate things. And I definitely appreciate my wonderful friends. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sometimes you have to sew all day long

     Yesterday I spent the day sewing. I feel like I got nothing done at all, but cutting out doll clothes and sewing them IS getting something done. I started with this stack of material early in the morning...
     and got to this point a good while later. These are all tiny articles of clothing cut out with the pieces pinned together.  From here I knew it would be at least 2 or 3 more hours before I could get up from the table. 
     I did not do all of this sewing all at once. I worked for probably 2 hours and then I got up to stretch and do some stuff around the house. I sat down and pushed myself to do a little bit more and finally I was down to just 3 hunt coats to sew. So I went out to do the laundry. I kind of hate sewing hunt coats, they are easy to mess up and I didn't want to come at them while all I wanted was to be done and away from the sewing machine. 
     At the laundromat I worked on chaps and when I got home I sat back down to finish the sewing. I still didn't want to do it, I just wanted to be done. But I would not allow myself to be done until I finished those coats. I was careful with them, super careful, and they all came out really well! I guess it paid off to wait a bit to finish them. The end result is 10 complete doll outfits sewn and ready to put on dolls. Though right this minute I only have one Gracie doll and a couple of male dolls to work on. I should have some more today, they are out for delivery. Fingers crossed they actually get here. 
     Because the cutting out and sewing took a lot of time and I had to go out and do the laundry, I did not have time to even come close to finishing a doll yesterday. But I did find I had a little bit more time after supper and I haired these 3 heads. So yesterday was really all about prep work. I am hoping today can be about getting at least one doll finished. Maybe one finished and one worked on. Or more if I am super efficient. All these long hours and sore body parts (mine) should at least result in a lot of finished dolls. I think I am up to 19 finished. I am not positive on that though and will need to count again. I am aiming for 30. It seems like a good goal. I have no idea if I can do it or not. But I think I can. 
     Because I did not finish anything new yesterday that I can share, here is a group of English ladies that were already finished. The saddleseat rider has a removable coat, so she can do in-hand showing as well. The casual lady has a removable vest. So she is great for all season casual riding or if you add a safety vest she can even do cross country. Hmm, I wonder if I have time to make more cross country kits to send. I may run out of time for all the ideas!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The ugly stage and the importance of overcoming it

      In the creation of most pieces of art there is an ugly phase. Sometimes the ugly phase can be long and it might seem like the thing you are trying to make is just not going to work out. Sometimes it may be true. But often if you work through the ugly phase good things happen. 
      Last night I posted a photo on my Instagram of a couple of doll heads and some chaps. 
     And then I started posting progress pictures of some very ugly stages of doll making. Not every doll is made the same way. I just happened to think the tucks I took in this one were too bulky. So I cut them off and glued the pieces over. It was not pretty, but it was also not going to show. 
     Even just a couple of steps later this was not as ugly. Still ugly and far from finished, but it was looking better.
     I have definitely had dolls with much longer ugly phases.
    I guess I could have even left this like this, but the edges of the overlaid fabric were a bit ragged, which happens almost instantly after you cut most fabric. 
I think it looks a lot better with the trim. I thought about using a royal blue metallic trim, but I really like how the black looks. 
     I only got one ugly in progress picture of the other western doll I was working on. This one actually looked pretty bad for awhile. 
      In the end though, I worked through the ugly phases and finished up a couple more dolls for my Breyerfest sales batch. These ladies will be joining many others in room 620 at the Clarion. 
     I'm now out of sewn doll clothes so need to start cutting out a bunch more outfits and get to sewing. I have only one doll left at the moment because the USPS either delivered the dolls I got from my friend to one of my lovely neighbors, or scanned it as delivered but left it in the truck. Which has happened. But tracking said they arrived on Saturday, and they did not. And they are also not here today. So I reported it to USPS and now I get to wait and see if they figure out what happened to them. Grr. I don't have time for this! So I am down to 3 doll bodies. I have more that should be on the way, but I don't know if they have even shipped yet. 
      So I guess for now I will try not to freak out too much, I will work on cutting out and sewing clothes and chaps and so on. And I will let this cool photo from Joan Yount amuse me. She was asked to make a couple of ATF agents and I really loved this action shot! Maybe they can find my missing dolls...

Monday, June 24, 2019

Something western

     As is usual with my photographs, the colors are a bit off on these two ladies. But I added a couple more Western pleasure ladies to my Breyerfest doll line-up. The lime green will definitely draw the attention of any judge and the blue is a nice switch from so much black. Though I do have a couple of dolls in the works that will have black chaps. I just can't abandon the color for long. 
     So a bit more progress has been made and I am working on other bits and pieces of things for the Breyerfest dolls. I am a bit tired and my hands are tired and a bit sore. But I only have 11 more days and then I need to ship everything off. I can probably keep this up for 11 more days. Sleep is for quitters. (just kidding, I LOVE sleeping!)

Sunday, June 23, 2019

More BreyerFest previews and progress

     I have a group of cowboys headed for Breyerfest. Two of them will be the "dirty" cowboys. Guys that have been out working on the trail or on the ranch. All of them will have chaps or chinks before I am done. I don't know if I will have time to make any more cowboys, but it is a possibility. 
     Because I just don't have enough to do at the moment, I have been thinking about how to deal with this Tony Stark head. This is an expensive head and I don't want to mess it up. But there is no obvious way to get it on the bodies I have access to. So of course I started ripping pieces off and cutting it. Makes perfect sense to me. No fear doll making. I will add a neck peg out of a different doll and then will be able to add this head to the Type S bodies that I have. And I can dress Tony Stark. That is going to be one of my first projects after Breyerfest. I need to make this guy for the trade for my for the Premier Club pony set. After all, Lilith has been here awhile and I have gotten to show and enjoy her. Time to get my end of the trade worked out. I feel like a slacker!
    Yesterday morning I got this really cool photo from Anna Blackburn. She apparently has a pretty good collection of dolls that I have made. Several of them are the new, and sometimes challenging dolls, that she has ordered recently. The knight may still be one of the more challenging dolls I have made. Though Dani's hair feathers were a bit tricky. Thanks for keeping things interesting for me Anna! And thanks for letting me share your photo. 
    Yesterday I also happened to see my flower garden. I use that term very loosely, because I am a terrible gardener.  And really, I kill plants. So anything that grows for me has to do well on neglect. My day lilies and weeds are looking quite excellent. Though everything seems so late this year. I remember when the kids were small the day lilies would be up around Elecktra's birthday (early May) and the gladiolas would be up for Travis's birthday (early June). Now there is no sign of the gladiolas. I might get them by August. But I may not notice them until they are grown and falling over. I really am very neglectful of my garden. I think I weed maybe once a year. Or every other year. I should attack the weeds in the hostas under the pine trees. I really should make sure the strangler vines are not coming back up. Ethan and I spent an entire day last fall waging war on the vines. They were doing a pretty good job of killing the trees. We may have won the war. Hard to tell though, there are so many other weeds. 
     So Breyerfest stuff is progressing. I am still working incredibly long days and trying to fit in as much as I can. I am really glad that school got out as early as it did this year, or I just would not have enough time to get to everything. But I will keep on working at things, and working extremely long days, until I am out of time. Or motivation. I am hoping my motivation holds out. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Bits and pieces plus more English dolls

     Breyerfest is just 3 weeks away, but I don't have that much time to finish getting dolls ready. I've got 2 weeks to hurry up and finish as much as I can so I can get everything packed up and shipped off. This week I managed to get a good amount finished. I worked ridiculously long hours and my hands are tired. But I can hopefully keep up this pace for another couple of weeks. Anyway, yesterday I finished up a couple more English dolls. They were nearly identical, other than one being a youth doll and one wasn't. I may end up making one or two more English dolls before I am done. We'll see.
     I also managed to get a bunch of doll bodies dremeled and prepped. It's good to have a nice stash of ready-to-use dolls. I wish I had more. I am looking for more. 
     And finally I got some clothes cut out for a batch of western dolls. Maybe tomorrow I might get the sewing done on these. Maybe not. It all depends on how I feel about it. But my goal is to have as much done as I can in the next two weeks. It's a good goal I think.
     Over the next two weeks I will likely keep sharing what I am working on and any progress, or lack of progress, I make. I do also have photos to share of dolls I previously finished and put away for Breyerfest. So much more to come! Remember, some of the dolls will be available with Jennifer Buxton in the Artisan's Gallery. And some will be with Jackie Rossi in room 620 at the CHIN. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

English dolls

      Yesterday I finally got to finish some dolls. I have been working on bits and pieces for days, but not managing to actually get anything done. Sometimes working in batches is great and I can work on a whole bunch of the same thing all at the same time, but then it feels like I am not getting anything finished. And that can be super frustrating. But today feels like I got 3 dolls made. Really, I just finally got 3 dolls finished. All of these ladies will be for sale at Breyerfest. 
       Besides finishing putting together the 3 English dolls, I also got a bunch of helmets that I baked the other night painted and some youth doll gloves and a bunch of doll faces. They are around somewhere. I worked an insanely long day, but I got a lot of things worked on and some things finished. And that is really excellent. 
     I also had a nice mail day. I got this whip from Ekaterina Polygalena. She is one of the very talented Russian tackmakers. I wish this whip was pink, but she didn't have a pink available and she doesn't currently take custom orders. So I have a purple whip. I am willing to trade if someone ever snags (sees?) a pink one by her! Or even black, either would look nice with my vaulting set-up. The purple one is cool though and I am happy to have a piece from her.
     So my hope is to finish up another couple of English dolls today. I have so many bits and pieces of them done that I think I can finish them. I hope I can finish them. And then I might actually take the weekend off. Or not, it's hard to say. It is getting so close to Breyerfest! And I still have so much to do!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Breyerfest is coming

     I think someone asked me Monday afternoon how my vacation was going. I said, Saturday we went to Brooklyn Comic Con, Sunday we ate Pho for Father's Day and Monday I worked all day because Breyerfest is coming. Most people have no idea what that means. But most likely reader of this blog know. 
     Now Breyerfest means different things to different people. To most people, who know what it is, it is a gathering of model horse people to see real horses, model horses, to see friends you rarely or never get to see and to shop. To me it usually means a weekend of stalking posts on Facebook and wishing I was there. Don't get me wrong, this year I will still be stalking posts on Facebook and wishing I was there. But there is a difference for me this year. While I will still not be attending (it's on my someday list), I have dolls going. This lady was an order from Anna Blackburn for Breyerfest. She was the last commission doll that is happening for the next 3 weeks. I still have some really interesting dolls to get to, but I was told they just need to be done some time in the next year. And that works for me.
     So even though I am a bit sad that again I won't be able to join in the madness that is Breyerfest, I do always enjoy preparing for things. Whether it is a horse show, a trip to Brooklyn for Comic Con or a big sale, I like having a focus.  And right now my focus is all dolls, all the time. Or just about. Yesterday I was working on mens cutting chaps at the laundromat again. This morning I was working on some ladies cutting chaps, I did a ton of sewing and I have a couple of sales dolls nearing completion. I also already have an OK stash of dolls ready to go. But there needs to be more. There always needs to be more. So I will work as much as I can for the next 3 weeks and then the dolls will head out. 
    Some of the dolls will be heading to Jennifer Buxton, who will have them with some tack sets in the Artisan's Gallery. The rest will be with Jackie Rossi in the Clarion, room 620, for room sales. Jackie will be there from Thursday through Sunday. If there is a particular type of doll you are hoping to find let me know. I might have time to make it happen. I only have vague plans at the moment of what I am making.
     Thank you so much to Jennifer and Jackie for bringing my dolls to Breyerfest. It starts with dolls and some day,  I will follow. For now though, I will work until I just can't anymore.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Brooklyn Comic Con part 3. All about miniatures

     I'm not even sure what to say about the amazing Batman dioramas that Roberto Williams created. Other than I know his struggles. And I think all model horse performance showers know his struggles. Finding things in 1:9 scale is a challenge. Sometimes you get lucky. And sometimes you have to hope the 1:12 scale items are larger than they should be (so proper scale) or that the 1:6 scale is smaller than it should be. But even with some of the details and figures being unfinished, these dioramas were truly amazing. And I am sure they will continue to become more and more amazing as Roberto gets them finished. 
      I went to Comic Con for these displays and kept on coming back to them, as they were being set up for a portion of the day. I found new details every time and I am sure I could have taken many many more photos. I may actually have more than I posted here. But enjoy these amazing 1:9 scale displays. I certainly enjoyed seeing them and sharing miniature making ideas with a fellow crafter.
       This is my 100th blog post of 2019! I think it is very fitting that it is about 1:9 scale miniatures and dolls. I'm hoping I can stay motivated, and interesting, enough to get another 100 posts done this year. But now, enjoy the miniatures!