Saturday, October 29, 2022

Salem Night Faire

      Friday afternoon, right after I got out of school, I went and picked Elecktra up. Almost as soon as Travis got home we headed out. It was finally time to go to the Salem Night Faire! Now it didn't start until 5:00, but Salem isn't next door. Normally, it takes a little under 2 hours to get there. But not when your drive takes you through Boston right around the time that rush hour is starting. But it wasn't a bad drive, we didn't have to deal with too much traffic, the GPS took us along the coast so Elecktra got to see the ocean, which apparently she has only seen maybe twice (now I feel like a slacker!). So it was nice. We got to the Salem Pioneer Village a couple of minutes after 6:00 and started circling the parking lot, trying to see if a spot would open up. Eventually I gave up and drove to Salem University, which is where the overflow parking was. But could not figure out where we were supposed to park. So we went back to the Pioneer Village... circled some more, and eventually asked Waze to tell us where parking was. It sent us back to Salem University and I finally saw the parking garage (yup, I totally missed it the first time in). So we parked, walked the half mile back to the Pioneer Village and finally got to Night Faire. We ended up arriving right around 7:00.

     It was awesome!

     There were tons of vendors, including my friend AJ who is the entire reason I knew about the Salem Night Faire and decided we needed to go. There were also many characters, who were also basically living art pieces and fortune tellers. I had some vague concerns before we went that Travis might be a bit nervous because of all the "spooky" characters (some of them are quite spooky) but he thought they were excellent. I think they all have names, but I don't know what they are. 

    One of the spookiest (and most popular) characters, was this guy. Travis and I called him "tall spooky" for obvious reasons. We did not get a fortune, but we did go back to see this guy many times. He was Travis's favorite!
     We stayed at the faire until about 9:00 and then decided that even with our layers we were pretty cold. I also had a long drive ahead of me. If you have never been to The Salem Night Faire, and are anywhere within a reasonable distance of Salem, MA, or will be there near the end of October sometime, I definitely recommend going. It was a fantastic experience!

    I haven't been to Salem in over 20 years, and I have never been to the Pioneer Village. I think I will need to plan another trip in the Spring. There is a lot to see in Salem, lots of history, and Elecktra has never been to the Pirate Museum! We definitely need to fix that.

Friday, October 21, 2022

This week in dolls…

      Guess how many dolls I made this week??? Did you answer zero? Then you would be correct. Guess how many times I took out the doll stuff to work on it? Did you say zero again? It's like you know me! So yeah, this week I didn't work on dolls at all. Not even one time. On Monday I picked Elecktra up and brought her to do her laundry, while I was out doing my laundry. We had laundry races to see who could get theirs in the fastest. I won with my incredibly unfair advantage of having done thousands of loads of laundry. But it was silly and fun. We did some other errands, I pointed out the cost of meat and Elecktra almost passed out in the grocery store (not really, but food shopping is scary and sickening), and that was most of Monday. Tuesday I am sure I did something after school. I know it wasn't doll work. 

     Oh wait, back up. Monday night I finished the online portion of my restraint training. It was somewhere around 3 hours of videos and quizzes (stuff about Massachusetts restraint laws, some stuff that should be common sense but apparently isn't, and so on) and then Tuesday I had day one of my training. Wow, was that ever physical stuff! 6 hours, most of it getting down on the floor, up from to floor, going step by step through the restraints, then switching with our partners so they could do the same to us. So yeah, weird stuff. But I know how to safely restrain someone if it is absolutely necessary. I can do it without hurting them or myself. I know what it feels like (it's actually secure and pretty comfortable, at least when you are not already really calm). We asked tons of questions about different scenarios. So now we also have a much better idea on when physical restraint might be necessary. And what to do if we have to do it. 
    I don't ever want to have to do it. The second day was only 3 hours, but at least half of it, or maybe more like 2/3 of it, was physical stuff again. More practice with our partners so we could have a refresher, and we were tested on all the holds. And actually, that was happening during the practice, so it was not super scary, super formal testing. Just the instructor walking around making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing. I can't say that I wanted to go to the training, but it was informative, and now I know more of what to do if a student gets very upset and is dangerous to themselves or others. Having the knowledge is good. 

    The very next day there was a kid in the cafeteria who was incredibly mad at one of the cafeteria workers and came in screaming and swearing at them. All I did was step in front of my student and watch the upset kid. I was not the only one in there, not even the only one in there who had just been to training, but it was good to know that I knew what to do if things escalated. Though really, I didn't need an almost real-life test the very next day! Other than that Thursday was uneventful. It was an unusual day and all the adults in the room got to talk a bit more than usual (one of the students was out and we are all very efficient, so it worked). Today started with only one student in the class, one very very late bus, and I volunteered to go work in focus. I worked with one of the students I knew peripherally from the summer program and then the student I worked with in the summer. Hands down, I prefer IAP. Though I was really happy to be of help and lighten the load a bit in that class. They have a lot of students and not enough staff. Which is a fairly common theme. 

     So that was pretty much my week. I think it was Thursday when I came home that I really did seriously consider working on dolls. And then I watched Encanto instead. I am pretty sure I must have done something at some point other than just that (the movie isn't THAT long) but I have no idea what it was. Today, of course, Travis and I went out for coffee and to visit our friend in her shop. We also have a whole lot of Halloween stuff coming up and I am pretty excited. 

    While I did not get any doll work done this week, partially because I just did not feel like it, I did get in my latest batch of custom stickers from Moo. I was running sort of low on the last bunch and decided I needed some new designs. I still don't really know if people even like the stickers, but it is super common these days for artists and businesses to send stickers with an order. And it makes me happy to do it. Plus I get to share some of my performance photos that way, which is also fun for me. Oh! I remember what else I did yesterday. I got all the packages for the miniatures club all packed up, weighed, and one step closer to ready to ship. I usually end up waiting until the last minute and then I don't ship them until super late in the month. Well, I haven't shipped them yet, likely will wait until sometime next week, but I got a nice head start on that job. And I am pretty pleased about it. Next week I will likely be able to talk myself into work on dolls again. And I will have a bit more to report on them then. Not a lot of it will be interesting, I am working on a batch of hunt seat dolls, but some dolls are better than no dolls. 

Sunday, October 16, 2022


    It's time for another installment of Anne-is-not-getting-much-done. That statement is both true and not true. This past week I had an extra day, since we did not have school on Monday, but I don't remember getting any doll work done. I did the laundry earlier, which left me with a much more relaxed feeling instead of that semi-frantic super rushed feeling. I really hate that super rushed feeling. So I got the laundry and the errands done earlier in the day, and because Travis was still at Sunshine Village, I went and spent some time shopping. Which turns into looking at clothes and wondering why they are all so ugly. I am a weird person. I love a wide variety of clothing, but I mostly end up wearing jeans and T-shirts. They are comfortable, I don't have to think deeply about what to wear, they are comfortable. Pockets are a big plus. And with the kids I am working with, fancy outfits, or footwear that isn't sneakers, is kind of right out anyway. So is most jewelry. 
     I had heard, from a woman I work with, that there was a particular store locally that I thought was gone. I remember going there often when my kids were small. Some of that was it was in walking distance. Some of that was because the clothes were incredibly inexpensive. They always had a lot of things I did not like, but I could usually find some things that were interesting. When I got there I discovered that the store looked almost identical to the way it used to. Meaning, there was a wide array of 90's "fashion". Since that is currently the decade we are bringing back (in part). When I saw this outfit I snapped a photo for my friend from high school (and forgot to send it to her). This dress and shirt combo is exactly the sort of thing that was available back in the mid-90's. Kind of cute, I guess, though I have no interest in this sort of thing now. Too short, too tight, and no pockets. That is also a really terrible photo, and I was wondering what was up with my phone camera. It took me almost a week to figure that out. Oh, the rest of the store was either super ugly stuff or super short stuff. I get that half shirts are back in style, but they are pretty much the only style of shirt you can buy (outside of the men's department) these days. And they are against every school dress code so that leaves very few options.
    I did actually get some doll work finished this week. Some of it was just bits and pieces of a bunch of hunt seat dolls I have in the works, which I got zero photos of, but I also finished Odin. And took some terrible pictures of him. Really, what is going on with my camera? This guy was a custom order and was very interesting to make. I had the important details given to me (old man with a grey beard, an eye patch, and a grey cloak) and was told to make the rest of his clothing sort of medieval. 
    Can do. 
   Really though, I went Viking with his clothing, since that would be entirely appropriate. I really like how he came out, the customer liked how he came out, and I managed to get something done. These are all good things. 
    I still have relatively little time to do much of anything. While I was working on Odin I had some issues. I was working on him on Tuesday, but everything was going wrong. His tunic wouldn't fit, no matter what I did to it. I broke the hand off the doll, so I had to get another body and start over. Really, sometimes the dolls seem very flimsy. I can be frustrating. I think the second body I grabbed had one of the screws (which you have to open, to get the torso open, to put the head on) was stripped. So it took 3 bodies and a totally remade outfit to get this doll finished. Oh yeah, I lost the pants I originally made and had to make new ones. So many things went wrong. But I kept going (on Wednesday) and worked late on Wednesday, sort of to catch up and sort of because it really should not be too taxing to work 40 hours a week. I used to work about 60 hours a week, blog every single day, and still somehow managed to take care of my family. 
     Anyway, I finished this cool doll and I have a good start on 4 hunt seat dolls, which I can hopefully get done this week. I figured out what is wrong with my phone camera, it has nothing at all to do with the camera itself. The little screen protector for the camera was cracked, parts of it were peeling off, and the rest of it was sort of cloudy. Which is why all of my photos looked sort of cloudy. So I took that off last night and now I have nice photos again. I still only seem to have time to read blogs or write a post about once a week, but I am managing it. I am starting to think about getting the October packages together for the miniatures club, and sort of working on things for my Black Friday sale, which is just about for sure happening. Things are happening! Along with some really interesting car work that I will likely talk about soon. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

Old School

     I always try very hard to give my customers what they want. So when a customer recently wanted a western pleasure doll done on a Breyer doll, that is exactly what I made. It has been years since I have done a western pleasure doll, or most any type of doll, on a Breyer body, but I still have my patterns and I still know how. One trick is to fit the clothes properly. It's always a good idea to have a doll body handy while sewing. Even if it is a type of doll I work on all the time, I will usually fit on the clothing pieces as I sew, just to make sure everything is going to come together with no unpleasant surprises. It's easy to sew a tiny seam just a little bit too tight and have a piece of clothing that is totally unusable. 

    Another thing that happens with Breyer dolls is bits of body work. To be fair, even Yvonne dolls get some body work, but the Breyer dolls need several things to make them more human shaped and better at riding. For this lady I added some medical tape to her waist, to help it stay in whatever way it is positioned, and I did the same with her legs at the hip joints. Breyer dolls are a bit (or a lot) floppy and need some help functioning. I also add some padding at the waist so they don't end up looking like they are wearing corsets. Not that I have anything against corsets, but they would be really uncomfortable to ride in. 
     Since it has been such a long time since I worked on a Breyer, I had forgotten just how large their heads are! Which also means they end up with BIG hair, even if you just give them the minimum amount of hair. But it also means with that much hair you can definitely see the style. 
          It's also nice not having to alter a hat and have it fit properly. There are a couple of small perks to working on a Breyer doll. My preference is still for the Yvonne-type dolls, though those are also not perfect, but I like that they are more realistic than the Breyer dolls. Maybe some day we will have an amazing, totally realistic rider doll, that is shaped like a person, doesn't have an angry face, is easy to position on a horse, and is amazing in all ways. Until that time (I can't make one, I dress dolls, I have no idea how to create a doll) I will work with what I have and what is wanted. Sometimes people want old school, and there is nothing wrong with that. 
    I have not been getting a ton of doll work done lately, so I don't have a whole lot of doll related things to talk about very often, but I am still working, just at sort of a snails pace. I should have some other fun doll news coming very soon. Also, I am mostly planning on having a Black Friday live sale. Or semi-live at the very least. No matter how they are done they all take a lot of work so I am not fully committed to anything just yet. But I do have a bunch of miniatures saved at this point, so a sale will need to happen sooner or later. Likely Black Friday. It also may be the last time I offer miniature items other than things I may randomly decide to make. They just take too much time, and that is something that is in short supply for me. So if there was a cat or dog set, lunch set, saddlebag set, or something something (I don't remember what I have) that you were hoping to see, make sure to keep an eye on the blog for updates on the sale date/time. And if there was some particular item you were wanting let me know. If I haven't made it yet maybe I can talk myself into it. 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Purdy Awesome

       Have you ever gotten something incredibly awesome in the mail, something that you had been waiting for for a while with excitement, and you were so busy you didn't really have any time to enjoy it? That happened to me. I have been waiting for a custom horse from Tiffany Purdy, with interchangeable manes and tails, and when he arrived I barely had time to open the box. But you better believe I was going to open this box!
      I love getting packages from Tiffany. How could I not? They are pink, and full of pink peanuts. Most people who have received packages from me understand my love of pink packaging. Though lately I have been using some really cool marbled tissue paper for dolls. With pink ribbon of course. 
     When you open up the box there is more pink to be found. I still vividly remember reading a discussion about the extras in packaging. I was surprised at the amount of people who were irate that artists add these extra touches, personalized for their studio. They felt that it just adds to the cost of the piece. For my part, when I put custom touches that make me happy, I don't add anything to the cost of my dolls or miniatures. The touches make ME happy. And the idea that someone opening a package feels like they are getting a gift is fun. Though I am sure those same people would argue that it's not a gift if you purchased it. I disagree with that too. Buying yourself a gift is completely acceptable. I think I saw that argument on MA on Facebook, so it doesn't really mean anything. And if you have never been to modolholics anonymous on Facebook... just don't. It's better for your mental health. 

         Continuing on into the Purdy packaging for my horse I found some more pink, touches that are exclusively Tiffany. I do love her logo. I have never really gotten serious about a Field of Dolls logo. Most people seem to use letters from the name and FOD sounds, and looks, sort of weird. Though I do love Tiffany's logo. Anyway, more pink, more feeling of opening a present, and more fun to come!

     Once into the package I unwrapped multiple manes and tails. This was really exciting to see! I did not get a photo of the horse without any hair, but he is really nicely done. I could even almost get away with showing him maneless, but not quite. 
     I had time to get one mane and tail on him and get a quick and awful kitchen table photo. And then that was it for about 2 weeks. I have been really busy, and I have been feeling really behind on so many things. 
    Then, finally, this past Tuesday I decided I was making time to play with my new horse! It was the rescheduled day of our anniversary (being that our anniversary was on Monday and Ethan has Tuesdays off it made sense to spend time together on Tuesday when I got home from school). I had fun playing dress up with my new, nameless horse, on the picnic table. It was a little bit chilly so Ethan made a fire. Almost all of my dolls are currently in storage so I only managed to get a tacked photo of this guy in western gear. 
     I think he looks pretty spectacular! Even without a doll. This turquoise color looks pretty nice on him as well. 
     I had asked Tiffany for a slower, western pleasure type mane, and a "fast" mane. This mane doesn't fit well with a saddle, at least not when I tried it (I may need to revisit that) but it looks excellent for halter (wait... I don't do that) and for display. I really love this horse!
     I had a tricky time getting him into English gear. The saddles fit, I could have used the smaller youth saddle most likely, especially if I switched out the girth, but getting a bridle to fit on him was so hard! And I know I have shown a horse of this mold before. I don't remember selling any tack, but maybe I did. Anyway, I finally found a bridle that fit him, adjusted it properly, got him all dressed, and pulled out my small Yvonne doll (the 6" one) because she is what is in my tack room at the moment. She also fits nicely on this horse. Not so nicely on the saddle, but one thing at a time. I fiddled and played around a bit more and got the doll seated fairly well, holding the reins fairly well. I still don't think I am mentally ready for live showing, but I did have fun playing dress up with this new horse!
I also had to make sure to get some headshots. Just look at his face!
    This horse has an amazingly beautiful face and I love him so much! Definitely worth the wait! I likely need to find some time to play around with tack some more and see if I can get a somewhat better fit in English. I may even have to get him some tack of his own. Though I do have a lot of tack and I really should have something that fits. 
     When I first opened up this Purdy horse I had him displayed with his western tail and the short mane. But the tail rests on his hock for support and I completely forgot that a painted piece touching... anything, long term can cause paint issues. So he now has a small boo-boo, which I should be able to easily touch up, but I am annoyed with myself for forgetting that. He is now displayed with his fast (long) mane and no tail. 
      I love my new Purdy horse and I had a lot of fun playing dress up with him. He is beautiful to look at and should be very versatile for the show ring. But my friend came up with a really good question. I know that horses with changeable manes and tails are totally acceptable in live shows, but what about photo shows (mail in or online)? Do you need to include some sort of documentation proving that the horse has different hair-do options and is in fact the same horse? I would hate to take a bunch of show photos and have them disqualified because someone felt I was breaking the rules. I know that these horses are not completely uncommon these days and I am curious if anyone has run into this before.
      Thank you Tiffany for making me this beautiful horse. He was definitely worth the wait!