Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Doll Army

       I have made a lot of dolls. There is no getting around that. I have some pretty cool dolls that I have kept in my collection, though not as many as I could (or should?) have considering that I make them. Over the years a lot of people have voiced  concerns about storage or the potential to break the dolls. I usually tell them the same thing; they are plastic and not usually that easy to break (though they CAN be broken sometimes). 
      The storage issue was solved, at least for me, years ago by Nikki Hertzog. She found these snap together containers at Target and they are perfect for doll storage. 
     Nikki is also the one that came up with the term "doll army". I thought it was funny. These containers make it extremely easy to sort and store your dolls. No need for special wrapping of any kind. 
      I actually ordered some replacement container this past week because I managed to break one of my containers (dropped the stack on the floor and the edge of one of them shattered). The new sets had a clear insert for the top piece. I liked it better than the opaque sage green that I originally had. Anyway, in the top part of the container I keep random small doll accessories. I have a lot of show numbers, doll stands, extra bits of clothing and a few other odds and ends. They are very easy to find and since they are stored with the dolls I never have to wonder where I put them. 
     In the next box I have my male dolls. My judge, super bendy cowboy, my Christian Bale doll that is so pale he looks kind of like he could be in Twilight, and my Travis doll. Clearly, I need to make myself a new Travis doll since he has not been this small in an extremely long time. 
     Next I have the casual dolls. Or really, some of them. I have an ancient Breyer doll that I made that almost never gets used anymore. My casual western doll which spends a lot of her time in gaming setups, and my new hoodie doll, Crystal. Little Elecktra would go in this box too, but she is out traveling the world at the moment. 
     Next up is the super embarrassing English dolls box. The helmet fell off my hunt seat youth doll and I have not bothered to put it back on yet. Both of my grown up hunt seat dolls are waiting for new helmets (since I broke the old ones taking them off to get sample photos of the new helmets for KC's Galloping Gals) and one of those hunt seat dolls had a leg out of the socket. I need to see if I can fix her. 
      This next group is the western group. The royal blue doll has been around the longest I think. She was done on the original pale skinned Yvonne doll. The pink one was done on the later tan version of Yvonne and the newest, the turquoise doll, was done on a customized Quinn doll (I think. One of the KC's dolls anyway). I believe the showmanship doll was also an Yvonne and the youth doll was one I built to fit a saddle for Halestorm. I think she also has a broken shoulder. *sigh* I should fix that. 
      This next box of dolls is a group that is much easier for me to have because I am a doll maker. This is a variety of specialty dolls that are only good for one class for the most part. I have my vaulting rider, my jester that I made for one prompt style class, my horse ball rider and my endurance rider. Technically I can take the number pinny off the endurance rider and she is just a casual rider. But I have another casual rider so I don't necessarily have to do that. 
     Since I was already sorting I decided that adding the new fairy wings to the box of specialty dolls would work out nicely. I still want to make a fairy princess doll and get a unicorn bridle. Goals. 
      Over the years I have made myself a lot of different dolls. I have also sold many of my personal dolls when I made myself newer dolls. These days I am thinking of making myself more dolls, maybe more casual dolls so I can just play and take photos. I want my fairy princess doll and I need a new parade rider, since I sold mine years ago. Finding time to make myself a doll is as hard as finding time to do anything else just for me. It's hard. But maybe 2021 will be the year of expanding my doll collection. And fixing the broken dolls...

*please note* I have so many broken dolls in my collection because I will often use the defective dolls from the factory for my personal collection because I am able to pop a leg back in the socket if it pops out, or a should (on an Yvonne-type doll) back in. Even on dressed dolls. Youth dolls are more delicate and I am not nice to dolls...


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Field of Dolls Studio Year in Review

      I am sort of feeling like a blog slacker. Not because I am not posting, I have officially posted at least once a day for all of 2020. But my blog sisters are doing year in review posts, and I have not done any of that. I guess this will have to be the wrap up for the year. 
     2020 was the year of cancellations. The global pandemic caused things to change. It was not safe to get together in large groups and many parts of the country (and world) experienced shut downs where we were asked to shelter in place. 2020 was the year Breyerfest went virtual, which allowed a lot of people who had never been able to attend Breyerfest to participate. I am included in that group of first-time Breyerfest people. I had a lot I needed to do that weekend so I did not get to participate fully (or even much at all) but I enjoyed my first Breyerfest. Technical glitches and all. 
     The Breyerfest virtual show inspired me to buy my first new performance horse in years. I bought Purdy Zippin Chick and then found out I could not show her in the Breyerfest show because she already won big at a Breyerfest live show. I have no regrets. She has been a really fun horse to play with. 

     2020 was the first year in a long time that I have bought new tack. I think I added 3 new saddles to my collection. One I bought undecorated from Mandy Claussen and finished myself. I also bought another braided bridle from Danielle Hart, bringing my collection of braided bridles from her up to 3. I bought a very nice (super bargain) saddle from an etsy store, which I plan to use on a prop horse, and I bought a saddle from the friend of a friend who I met up with in a parking lot to do the socially-distant handoff. I also casually sang that it looked like a drug deal. It was funny. 
     2020 was the year of a renewed interest in photo showing. We could not gather for live shows so many live shows went online. I entered Card Shark, Lemmonade Live (but now virtual), and Reindeer Games. Reindeer Games is a region X show but last year it filled up so quickly I didn't manage to enter. The other 2 are too far away for me to enter, so it was a real treat being able to show "in" different parts of the country. 
     2020 was the year of brand new online shows. These shows are technically photo shows, but don't have all that much in common with old school photo shows, other than the horses are all judged from photos. Many of them included an element of the live showing experience. Shows that were held on Facebook you could see the results as they came in. Since any photo you would get a notification if a comment was put on it (and comments were most often a placing). Several of the shows had a livestream for some of the results. It was fantastic!
     I really enjoyed entering Jennifer Buxton's Pandemic Performance Panorama. It had a specialty class list with all of the classes being a prompt open to interpretation. 
Beauty Queen in Bad Perfornance

      I also entered the Mares in Black Spooktacular photo show, which was also a prompt based class list. I judged halter in that show. I am still recovering. 
     Some of the prompts allowed me to get some really excellent photos. I took this photo for the "stock market" class. See, there is a stock horse in it. And it is clearly a market. I got to pull out a large portion of my 3D printed items collection. I had a few more things at the time I took this photo and have added a bunch more since. I love 3D printed stuff!
    Some of the photo shows had prizes and some of them did not. They were definitely fun and a nice way to take part in hobby events while still being socially responsible. I also was inspired to hold an online show, which I of course went overboard on. I had fun, I people who entered had fun, and everyone who entered got at least a little something as a prize. Or they will when the mail is no longer backed up. I am already planning for version 2 of the Field of Dolls online show. That will be held in April of next year. I have a 3rd version in the works as well. I very likely will continue to hold the online shows even after we are past the pandemic. As long as people continue to enjoy them and enter, I will likely hold them. 
      I got to meet one of my neighbor's chickens while I was doing photo show pictures this summer. She came to visit me a couple of different times. She made sure to get my attention so I knew she was there.
     Before Connecticut decided they no longer wanted people from Massachusetts in their state (again) I got to go visit my friend Marisa for a pony mental health day. 
     Clearly, this was good for both my and Bronte's mental health! I need another pony mental health day. Maybe things will be safer again by the Spring. The barn is an excellent place for a socially distant visit. 
           2020 was the year I bought myself a beautiful arena from a lady in Russia. Maybe 2021 will be the year it actually arrives. It has been processed through a facility... but then nothing new has happened since November 26th. I may eventually get it. Or it may be lost in Russia. I have no idea. 

     2020 was the year my friend, Susan, gifted me this amazing Bold Endeavor. She had him painted to look like my old Bold Endeavor, Cloud Dancing. He is named Partly Cloudy. I love him so much!
      2020 was also the year I bought myself the first new traditional scale artist resin I have bought in years. I fell in love with this Matriarch and had to have her. 
      I think I finished more models that I have in any other year. I painted Beauty Queen, my Ballycor resin that was a gift from Marisa, during NaMoPaiMo. I also finished a micro for my minis painting minis challenge model. I think there was another random horse or two after NaMoPaiMo and then nothing for a while. But the end of December I finished 3 horses in a week. One of them was done in earth pigments with the points done in eyeshadow and the other 2 were exclusively done in eyeshadow. That was fun. 
     2020 was the year of distance learning. It had a lot of challenges, including everyone having way too much screen time. But I saw so many people come up with so many clever ways to make it work. I won't miss it when it is gone but I am glad that we are finding ways to keep things going while the pandemic is still such a big issue. 
     There was a lot of weird, bad, or sad and lonely parts of 2020, but I had a lot of really great things. I held 3 regular live sales and a miniatures live sale. I decided the miniatures sale was a one time thing, but I will be offering miniatures as add-ons for future live sales. I also have miniatures available at any time on my studio page on Facebook. I think I will likely have 3 live sales a year now; one around my birthday, one around Breyerfest, and one on Black Friday. I will likely randomly list other things for sale and my order books are always open. 2020 was also the year that Travis started communicating quite a bit more with us and telling us he loves us. Nothing can top that.

      So to wrap things up lets have a list. In 2020 (as of Tuesday 12/29) I have finished 138 dolls. That brings my all-time total up to 1459 dolls. I usually finish about 100 dolls (roughly) a year. I worked really hard. I may finish a few more before this post goes live, but I am not going to edit. So here we go:
western pleasure dolls- 19
Hunt seat dolls (including youth)- 21
Casual Western ladies- 17
Casual English ladies- 16
male dolls (a few got put in other categories)- 19
Other English dolls- 9
Other western dolls- 2
driving dolls- 6
other dolls- 3
specialty dolls- 13
hoodie dolls- 17 

Which that actually totals 142... so I don't know if my original count was off or if I added a few dolls on my broken out list. Either way, I have made a lot of dolls. I still have 2 more hoodie dolls and 2 western pleasure dolls in the works (that may be done now... but we just don't know!) I made a lot of dolls in 2020. Photo showing became a thing that people are really excited about. Social distancing restrictions made people have to get creative about a lot of things. There was definitely a lot to dislike about 2020, but I have found plenty of things that make me happy. Hopefully 2021 will be an amazing, semi-normal year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Mares in Black Spooktacular Prizes

     The other day my prizes arrived from the Mares in Black Spooctacular Photo show. Totally worth the wait! I got a foal blanket, a Studiomaire saddle pad, buttons, stickers, a horse head medallion (I once knew the name of this one), my tiny rosettes and...
      A horse hat! A pink horse hat. I put it on Little Man mango to get a photo because he was the most handy. It was tricky to get on him because his ears are way out to the sides. But this hat is adorable and now I need more horse hats!
      I also got this gorgeous bosal made by Dreamflite Design. I love it. I am not into mini scale performance but this set is amazing. Now I want a saddle to go with it. Clearly this is something I need. Since I have a horse that fits this so perfectly. Clearly it was meant to be???
       So now the Mares in Black Spooktacular show is all wrapped up for me. It was super fun and I really enjoyed it. I want to enter some more photo shows as well. I just need to find time and good lighting to take some photos. And maybe order a tiny saddle and get this horse painted...

Monday, December 28, 2020

Little Things

     I have really been enjoying my break. I have done a ton of reading and a variety of other things that were just for fun, just for me. It's been nice. One of the things I did was to put together the little wooden horses that came with my teeny tiny barn. And I cut a whole bunch of "straw" out of thread. I like how the straw came out. The wooden horses are cute, but I wish I could get nicer models that fit in this barn. Micro horses are too big. The N scale horses I got are too small. I wish I could just walk into a store and look at some railroad horses. 
     I also decided I wanted to revisit the doll backpacks I started working on about 100 years ago. At that time I made 3 of them and I liked them, but I thought they were just a little bit too large. So I resized the patterns I created, just a little bit, and I made a new bag. I really like how this one came out! I need to tweak the drawstring a little bit, but I do like how these work. Because they DO work. The buckle holds the flap down and inside is a working drawstring. I will likely be making more of these. Eventually. 
     I finished up another hoodie doll. This lady was a custom order. It's a bit hard to tell but she has some navy streaks in her hair. I am still getting a big kick out of the hoodie dolls. I might make one more random sales doll (a hoodie doll of course) before the end of the year. I know, time is running out!
      So things are going pretty well. Ethan and I have been doing a bunch of cleaning out and sorting of things. A lot of stuff is either getting put away properly, sold or tossed if it is just unusable trash. I do love a good purge. I am sure we can likely get a bit more of that done before I have to go back to work. And I can get some more dolls and other things finished. But, in general, things are good. 


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Gray is Scary!

     Well I did it. I worked on a dappled gray. I wanted to work on it on Christmas, but it was super rainy and windy, so there was no way I was going to be able to go out and do the finish in between the layers. So I waited until Saturday. I was planning on using the earth pigments but when I looked in the box I saw that I didn't have gray. Alright, eyeshadow it is!
     A while back, probably months ago, I put several horses in base coats. Micro Duke told me he wanted to be dappled gray. I was not sure if I believed that but I put him in a white base coat anyway. I got out my JSC Cremated palette, which is shades of gray and black, and got to work. 
       I made sure I had a reference photo handy and I worked on making my dapples with an eraser. I could not get them to be as tiny as I wanted them, no matter how hard I tried. It was a bit frustrating. I liked how he looked though, even with the out-of-scale dapples. 
      I added finish and I worked on darkening the parts that were darker in the reference. 

      I don't hate this. It bugs me that the dapples are out of scale, but so far I can't seem to get them to be smaller. I might need a bigger subject. I am actually considering doing a gray for NaMoPaiMo. It is a scary thought. 
      These picture is horrible, the real horse actually looks pretty good I think. But the photos did not come out well at all. Dappled gray is still really scary, especially in micro scale. But I really like how the horses have been coming out with pigments. This is now 3 horses that I have managed to paint for myself, and finish, in about a week. I also want to work on some others. I still don't consider my work anywhere near LSQ, but I am not embarrassed by the horses I have been doing. So that's something. 

     It's almost January, which means it is getting closer to the time where we think about, and focus on, NaMoPaiMo. I was going to try to get my Andalusian ready so I could work on her, but that is very unlikely to happen. I have so far only taken off her mane and forelock. I have a lot of sanding to do and I need to make her a new mane. She needs to be prepped... yeah she is almost definitely not going to be ready. But I do still have a bunch of prepped horses waiting for me. I think I might paint my Barnaby to a dappled gray. Maybe. I still have over a month to decide. But definitely if I do a gray, it will get "painted" in eyeshadow!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Maybe Next Year

     There is no denying that 2020 has been an incredibly strange year. So much got canceled and we had to find so many ways to make things work in new ways. For the most part I think we have done a really great job of things. Nothing is like it was, at least currently, but people are basically creative and have found ways. I do like that.
     I got to have a short socially distant visit with my friend Angelique on Christmas Eve (day). We exchanged gifts and one of the things she gave me was this beautiful little tree. I think they are called water trees, or water dancer trees. I don't remember. But it has glitter in it and there is a fan or something that makes a little vortex. Different colored lights bounce of the glitter and the speed of the swirling water is not always the same. It is super pretty and really fun to watch. It is also hard to photograph.

     For many years I have been thinking that I really wanted to have a 1:9 scale Christmas tree and fireplace. I thought it would be fun to do some Christmas photos with my dolls. I still have not gotten around to making or buying a fireplace, but I did buy a tree this year. And I bought a set of decorations for the tiny tree... and they took forever to get here because USPS is super backed up. I also still don't have a good setup for taking photos indoors. But I got the ornaments, got my little tree decorated and maybe next year I can get some nice photos. I can also undecorate the tree and do a nicer job with it. This is sort of messy. 
     My arena is still in Russia and the package of show prizes I mailed to Germany is stuck in customs. I don't know if that is because of something I did wrong on the label or because they are also backed up on things. I just don't know. But maybe next year the mail will all get figured out, my arena will arrive and I will figure out my indoor lighting so I can do some nice photos. That would be fantastic. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Just Keep Swimming

     I am still a bit tired and sort of burnt out from all of the work I did leading up to my Black Friday sale and the Field of Dolls online show. There was also a ton of work after the show. All of the sales items went out weeks ago, and all of the show prizes as well. But the mail is super backed up and things are in limbo in a lot of places. I have seen more and more posts with people saying their prizes have arrived. That makes me happy. Maybe USPS can dig out sooner or later. That is my hope. 
     I have not stopped working on dolls completely. Everything is just at a much slower pace. I had to order some more doll bodies because I am nearly out. I pieced together several dolls the other day from Quinns, Gracies, Olivias and probably some Yvonne parts thrown in as well. I have a variety of spare parts. Anyway, I ordered some more Olivia dolls and when the Ellie dolls are available I have a bunch of those coming. For now I will work at a slower pace and piece together dolls. 
    I also got a bit of sewing done. I have some more hoodie dolls ready for dressing and a few other things. But I am not in a super rush. They will all get done in a reasonable amount of time. 
     I did finish up a couple of dolls recently. The Arab rider needs a few things tweaked on him but that won't take long. The showmanship doll is all set. I can almost call this order done. Which is nice. Finishing an order is like being able to cross something off a to-do list. Moving an order to the finished section is a simple thing, takes very little time, but seems as big as crossing something off a list. For anyone who doesn't know how amazing it is to cross something off a to-do list... use one, you'll see. 
 So it is not an exciting time over here at the moment. But it's pretty nice. I am making a bit more time for myself to do things that are just for me. I have been reading a lot and working on finishing some horses. I likely will do more of both. Dappled gray still scares me, but if I mess up I can always just redo the horse. Soon I will need to start working on things for my next live sale. I think that one will be around my birthday again. I am definitely enjoying the slower pace. I hope I can continue this way. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Distance Learning

        Travis is in school, in person, 5 days a week. Except on half days. Then he has remote days. He has a schedule to follow which includes online worksheets, different educational sites and a couple of sessions with different staff members. He needs a good amount of assistance to get into all of the different things he needs to do. So I get him into whatever part of his day he is into, keep my ears open, and get into whatever class I am into. 2020 is weird and we have all gotten pretty good at figuring these things out. 
     Wednesday Travis had a half day so I brought him to school with me in the morning. I figured it would be so much more convenient for him and I to do school from my classroom than from our kitchen table. 
      And it worked out quite well. Travis did his work, I did my work and when Travis's school day ended I brought him home to hang out with Ethan. I had a full day. It is really excellent that my principal lets us bring our kids to school if we need to. I have only had to do it once, but it worked out very nicely. A lot easier than working at the table. I still don't love distance learning for anyone, but I do love that we are all making it work the best we can. \
     In other news, my sister, Cathy, sent me these beautiful roses for Christmas. She said they reminded her a bit of my wedding flowers. I agree. They smell amazing. Most roses I have had over the years don't have much scent to them at all. But these are wonderful. And every time I look at them I think of Cathy. This year is sad because I don't get to see her. Maybe we can have a Zoom party. 
      I am looking forward to our nice long winter break. I have close to 2 weeks off and it is going to be amazing. Not getting up early, not having to be on the computer all the time. It sounds really wonderful. I am ready for a slower pace. 


Wednesday, December 23, 2020


      I have been a bit concerned about packages for the past month. USPS is incredibly backed up, understaffed and overwhelmed with mail. I added to that a bit by shipping over 100 packages within the first 2 weeks of December. Oops. Some things are delayed, sitting in distribution centers. And some things get through with surprising speed. My new horse got to me in record time. But the fairy doll seems to be sitting in New Jersey last I checked.
     I got a package in the mail from Heather Moss. I was not expecting anything from Heather so I was definitely curious. It turns out Heather was my Santa for a hobby gift exchange I am a part of. She completely spoiled me and came up with some great gift ideas! This was definitely a fun mail day. 

    I also have been tagged in several posts lately from people receiving their Field of Dolls Online show prizes. I forgot to take note of who the pics belong to (bad Anne!)
     It made me happy to see happy posts of people getting their prize packs. 
     And it definitely made me happy to see that the mail arriving at it's destinations. At least some of the time. I have some things that are wandering the country or just sitting. It is definitely nice to see some things are making it home. 
      I was especially happy to see that the head I haired for Allison Pareis arrived safely. She is going to be making herself an Action Allison doll, to go with her Action Stan doll, but she was not sure how to hair the head. Lucky for Allison I can do rooted hair, her undercut didn't intimidate me, and I have found hot pink viscose. I think they look great together!
     There are still some packages I have mailed that have not arrived at their destinations. There are still some things I have purchased that seem to be just sitting in different places. But I think slowly the mail can start to catch up again. I will keep my fingers crossed that nothing gets lost while we wait for that. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Makeup on a Horse

     Saturday I decided I was going to pastel my Maple Stirrup while I was at the Mares in Black Zoom party. It was fun and I actually finished him up on Sunday morning. I like how he came out. I was using my earth pigments, which were a NaMoPaiMo prize (and AWESOME) and I didn't love how the black was coming out. So I grabbed one of my JSC eyeshadow palettes because they are incredibly pigmented. And that worked really nicely. I had so much fun working on a horse that on Sunday I decided to work on another one. I already have my Jewel micro in a base coat and she was the one I chose. 
     The difference this time around was I jumped right in with an eyeshadow palette. It was another JSC palette, and is basically perfect horse colors. 
      I have a lot of experience playing with eyeshadow, layering and blending, and I really loved how easily the color was coming together on this horse. 
      Something happened during NaMoPaiMo a few years back. I went from being a really bad painter to being an OK painter. Which doesn't mean I can't screw up a horse at a moments notice, but it means that sometimes things come together in a pleasing way. I am not all of a sudden going to run out and take commissions, but I have been making horses that I am proud of. I like that. And I like eyeshadow. 
     I made super thinned down white paint to get the socks and blaze on Jewel. I made a joke about working on my 8,000 layers of white. 
      By Monday I think I was talking about 8,000,000 layers of white. It took forever. Though finally I got to a point where I felt it was enough. I should check her out again and see if I was wrong. It's possible. I am glad her legs are so small. 
       Monday night I got to her mane and tail. I have no idea if that bit of mane on the right side of her neck is actually mane or if it is a line of glue. She was one of the micros that fell off my shelf this summer during some home repairs. Her head popped right off. But it also lined up really nicely to go back on. I think maybe that is mane. It is now anyway. 
      Yesterday I brought Jewel out to get some matte finish on her (again, so much finish happened during the eyeshadow portion of the show) so I could call her done. I am pretty proud of this little horse. She is not LSQ and I don't care at all. I painted a little horse because I wanted to. Not because I wanted to sell her or to win something with her at a show, but just for fun. This is 2 horses I have managed to finish for myself in a 3 day time period. I am pretty proud. 
     I have a couple more models in base coats and a few that are at least prepped, or partially prepped. Sometime this week I might find some time to work on someone else. I have a micro Duke that wants to be a dappled gray. That sort of terrifies me.