doll experiments from the workshop and tiny rag doll : print-edition

cedric randolf moth

tiny rag doll print pattern

Briefly – as there is much to cover today – the very first print pattern is in the shop. I’ve turned the tiny rag doll sewing pattern into a 16 page hand illustrated booklet accompanied by three pattern sheets. To celebrate this (for me) huge milestone – the first 25 purchasers will get some bonus items with their pattern.

mr. socks on vacation

It’s the first day of fall – it doesn’t feel like it but it will by Sunday and I’m looking forward to it – it’s been an airless summer in NY.  I got an excellent dose of forest, air and space at The Squam Art Retreat and so did mr. socks.  I also came back with lots of creative energy –  I love watching people move through their process and  getting glimpses into their imaginations. I taught two experimenting with dolls workshops and was impressed by the willingness to truly experiment and try things – to pick up a thread and follow it. It certainly isn’t easy but can take you to interesting and unexpected places. I’m deeply grateful to everyone who participated for their willingness to be open and vulnerable – I loved being part of it.  I’ve shared many dolls below and some were still being worked on – I hope to show you those soon- good things were happening…..

enchanted fish

Sondra’s enchanted fish

cedric randolf moth

Tif’s (dottie angel) gentleman moth –
“my name is Cedric Randolf. i am a moth, I fought in the Boar War. i am quite wise and quite old. in one eye i have a cataract, with my other eye i see only goodness”

rabbit girl

Rabbit Girl (in process) by  Tricia

moon

The moon – and all her phases…. by Jaime (fancy tiger crafts)

edwardian_lady

Vanessa’s Edwardian lady

(lots more photos after the jump)

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handmade postcards and a sneak peek: the first print pattern

handmade postcards

handmade postcards

For a brief moment – a while back – I was making hand drawn postcards to include in packages. Lovely to do and they made packing and shipping more fun but not a super rational or realistic time management decision.  A good exercise though – it woke up a drawing muscle I don’t use often – simple line drawings. They are quick and definite and it’s a kind of drawing that is peaceful for me and I can get deeply focused pretty quickly.

handmade postcards

handmade postcards

It started wheels turning in my head about making illustrations for my patterns and getting them in print. The wheels started turning and that was pretty much it – one of those things that felt too big and scary to start – I sat on the idea for a few more weeks. I could and maybe should out- source the illustrations but I wanted to do at least one pattern myself.  I have illustrated in an official capacity before – it is a little known fact that I illustrated a cook book – Jasper White’s Summer Shack Cook Book – A Complete Guide To Shore Food.   All Jasper’s cookbooks are great and this one is my favorite –  it has a gazillion illustrations – all pen and ink – I did the “how to” technical  stuff as well as the fun stuff. I ate so much lobster I couldn’t be near it for two years.vegetable parade

Since there is nothing like a credible threat for productivity I decided to take tiny rag doll kits – with full printed instructions – to my doll workshop at Squam last week as an extra for my students (more on that soon). It is amazing how quickly you can figure things out when it has got to get done. I decided very late the Friday before my Wednesday departure and started drawing like a madman – all day – everyday and usually into the night. I formatted the pages in photoshop and figured out how to turn it into a booklet – quickly. The deadline was magic – I brought it to the retreat (so glad I did – it’s a fun travel project) and had a chance to tidy it up and make some adjustments when I got home.  It is done. And I am happy with it.  tiny rag doll wardrobeThere may be a fancier iteration in the future but I kind of love this hand drawn version – hoping to have it available in the shop tomorrow. I don’t have a clear idea what the appetite for printed patterns is – if it’s significant I’ll do them all – probably starting with the mushroom pattern. What do you think – do you prefer PDF or printed patterns?

an immodest doll in her scandalous entirety

an immodest doll

an immodest doll

Except for her jewelry and 18th century silk slippers – she is unabashedly and completely nude.    And just when you think she couldn’t be any more scandalous she even drops her diaphanous wrap.

an immodest doll

an immodest doll

Please meet Esmé – my first naked lady – a recent doll experiment.

I put the sketchbook practice on vacation for a couple weeks to free up time to experiment with dolls – in preparation for my Squam class next week.  I have had a blast.  I wanted to practice some things I’d like to demonstrate, come up with some templates and practice pattern making on the fly – quick and messy.  I also wanted to try to get a sense of what this class will feel like to participants and  look for ways to help people feel free and playful.

B.B. Wolf

I’ve made a bunch of things I’ll show you in a couple weeks – spontaneous things.  I sit down with a little pile of material and try stuff.  The bad wolf above was an exercise in quick pattern making – making a super rough sketch and turning it into pattern pieces in about 30 minutes.  I sewed up the parts and it had all sorts of problems but I accidentally landed on some things I like too. Now I’m sculpting from the outside and adding details.

B.B. Wolf

The quick experimenting has been good for me –  given me a million ideas.  If you are attending the workshop you are getting a doll maker on fire.  And some of the things I’ve been working on will eventually become sewing patterns (the mr. socks – one of my other quick experiments- pattern is in the works).  So looking forward to the class and  the whole retreat next week –  I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

P. S. I’ve been collecting lots of inspiring doll images on pinterest you check out here if you like.

 

a sweet 19th century ghost and tiny dolls in the shop

19th century ghost

19th century ghost

It has such a spirit about it.  And it even smells and feels like it was just unpinned from the clothesline.  A lot of the Edwardian garments I get are formal, often black or brown – somber or special occasion things.  The everydayness of this ensemble paints such a picture – the generous side pockets in the polka dot skirt, the wear on the front of the pinafore apron where hands were dried a thousand times or a laundry basket rested.

antique pinafore

And that little straw hat – it’s tiny – pure style – not a sunshade – it would have been pinned to her head at an angle for walks in town.

19th century ghost

There is another pinafore apron that came with the group that was very stained and is already soaking –  I start with just hot water – sometimes that does the trick – then ivory laundry soap and  if necessary a mild dose of oxiclean.  All the buttons and fasteners are gone and lots of seams have let go but the quality of the fabric is extraordinary and much of it is sewable – the skirt has a bustle and that fabric is quite good.  I love it.  After pinning it together I did put it all on and swooshed around for a while.

I’ve had a string of good luck lately with garments after a long drought – I’m expecting more soon. The black skirt below turned up about a week ago – it’s ideal in every way. It has a big bustle and the fabric is good. The fades and patina are glorious and the brown lining is excellent – I’m already making dolls and owls.

black edwardian skirt

black edwardian skirt

And tiny doll news – I just added 6 new tiny dolls to the shop : miss rose, miss parsley, miss iris, miss carnation, miss pearl and miss birch. And thanks to everybody who made the tiny rag doll sewing pattern launch a success – I’ll share some customer dolls soon – if you’d like to be included you can email photos to info at ann wood  handmade dot com.

tiny rag dolls

 

the tiny rag doll pattern is here!

tiny rag doll sewing pattern

Find the pattern here.  And she has a tiny wardrobe : dress, reversible pinafore apron, bloomers and a camisole – there are full instructions for all. It’s a huge pattern with more than 80 color photos and tips to make small sewing easy and beautiful – like turning tiny pieces and hiding your knots.

tiny rag doll sewing pattern

tiny rag doll sewing pattern

How about those little clothespins? You can get your own here. They might be the best thing in the world.

tiny rag doll sewing pattern

And she has perfect tiny hair – the pattern shows you step by step how to create  it  easily – and the technique would work for other dolls too.  The sample page below ( page 17 in the pattern) is the end of the hair section and beginning of the feature section.doll pattern pageI hope you make tiny rag dolls and lots of outfits for them ( a winter wardrobe will be available later this year).   If you do I’d love to see – send photos to info at ann wood handmade dot com.

If you’re not inclined to make your own I’ll have some  more tiny rag dolls in the shop next week – sign up here to be notified when new things are available – there all all sorts of new things coming up in the next few weeks,

tiny rag doll pattern

 

tiny rag doll sewing pattern

mosquitos on my work table and a pattern sneak peek : turning tiny doll parts

mosquito work : proboscis

The tiny rag doll sewing pattern is pretty much ready to go but I’m waiting until next week to release it – just to make extra sure it is all I want it to be.  I’ve looked at it so long and so hard I can’t see it any more – you know? I’ll review it with fresh eyes in a day or two. The big challenge of the pattern was the littleness and looking for the easiest and most effective ways to deal with tiny sewing – like turning the little arms and legs right side out after sewing.  I included the simple method  below in the pattern.  Maybe everybody already knows this trick but I didn’t until a couple years ago and it works fabulously well – so just in case you haven’t tried it:

turning tiny doll parts

Besides pattern and workshop making work I have some mosquitos on my worktable. Mosquitos are slow, detailed work that involves lots of pins and stabbing myself repeatedly with various instruments – the five  below have been in progress forever and are finally in the homestretch.

mosquito work

mosquito work

mosquito work : proboscis

They suffer such indignities – this poor girl is having her proboscis hammered.  I hammer the wire parts on a tiny anvil to stiffen them after shaping and make them a little textured and sparkly. Three of these Edwardian pests will end up in the shop sometime in the near future and the other two are going on special missions. If you’d like to be notified when I have new pieces available you can sign up here.

experimenting with dolls : meet mr. socks

mr. socks

Sometimes it’s hard to shift out of production work and into true experimenting – really letting go  of outcome.  Production work is predictable – there is a definite beginning and end and the repetition and familiarity can be kind of comforting.  I love to play and experiment, I love the adventure of something new but it takes effort, patience and practice to be able to get my head in that place when I need to.  Part of it is the anxiety of all that isn’t done – it interferes with the meandering quality of experimenting.  The anxious part of my mind protest the gentle open ended nature of the experimenting.

My sketchbook practice helps – I try to spend my sketchbook time in that place – sometimes I get there and sometimes I don’t but it is always good practice to try – especially in a very unideal moment.  I gain more skill all the time at quieting the call of pressing tasks and worries that will absolutely always be there – the perfect moment for experimenting will not ever appear.

A lot of my experimenting lately is around dolls and figures – preparing for my workshop at Squam this September.  I want to bring a few things that demonstrate different techniques – like building from the inside out.  I began without much of a plan – I had a vague idea of maybe trying to make something similar to an odd figure I like that appeared in last week’s sketchbook.

sketchbook 8/3

I started playing and trying things, building a little shape by winding batting over a simple wire form and then stitching fabric on top.  I love the spontaneity of this method – one thought builds on another and interesting things happen.

doll armature

By the time the shape was halfway covered I had shifted direction – the little shape had it’s own idea what it wanted to be and mr. socks began to appear.  He is not what I planned on at all – I think my tiny rag doll brain crept in – but I was happy to meet him.

mr_socks

mr. socks

Hello Mr. Socks!

mr. socks

And his posterior.  I’ve also been making lots of tiny rag dolls and seedpods while working on sewing patterns for each ( at least one of those patterns will be out next week) and I put a couple  tiny rag dolls and seedpods in the shop today.

hand stitched seedpods

miss petunia

miss lavender

 

stripes make a sailor and the easy way to make sails

gentleman sailor owl

stitching sails

When I first started making ships I was doing little handkerchief rolled hems on the sails. They were pretty but drove me crazy and took forever.  When I put together the paper mache ship pattern I wanted something easier and I found it.  It’s super simple and has other benefits too.

sail

I  cut two pieces of fabric for each sail (not usually the same fabric – I like the front and back  to be different  – even just subtly),  pin them right sides together and stitch around – leaving one little section open. Trim the excess off the corners,  turn it right side out,  press and stitch closed.  I add a whip or blanket stitch around the edge and  layers of patches and lace.  You can click here to download the sail pattern below if you’d like to give it a try.

sail_pattern_annwood_2

This method is much quicker than the tiny hems and makes a very tidy sail.  Also the double fabric helps the sails hold their shape when you fill them with wind.

paper mache ship

I’m making an owl to captain the ship I’m working on  and used my favorite piece of antique ticking for his front.  Putting a horizontal stripe on an owl transforms him instantly into a gentleman sailor.  The owl below is the medium size from the little owl pattern.

gentleman sailor owl

And ticking stripes are nice for sailing mice too.

sailor mouse

a caption contest – win your very own fortuny seed pod

fortuny rat

fortuny rat

Update 8/4 : Thanks so much for all the great captions for last weeks contest! The winner is:

“Left, right, cha, cha, cha! One, two, cha, cha, cha!”

I love the idea of  him practicing his dance steps with the mirror – nice work Lourdes!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I’m working on mostly top secret things right now – holiday stuff,  2 brand new workshops for next year and the tedious parts – formatting, editing etc. – of creating the rag doll and seed pod patterns.  Since I can’t show you what’s on my work table it’s the perfect time for a caption contest.

I try to make creatures whose expression and body language imply a history – a definite point of view,  a world of their own.  And I like to photograph them in a way that invites you to wonder what’s going on outside the frame.  This is one of my most favorite photos – taken last year in the Adirondacks.  What do you think this dapper rat is up to? What’s on his rat mind?

Make up a caption and leave it in the comments to this post – an esteemed panel of judges will choose a winner to be announced next Thursday.  Everybody is welcome to enter – please leave your caption comment before Wednesday 8/3.

And the prize – a Fortuny seed pod! Such a tragic flower – gone to seed – collapsed in a pretty heap.

fortuny seed pod

fortuny seed pod

miss petunia’s lazy day and summer reading

miss petunia's lazy day

I don’t need much of an excuse to pull out my old box of doll house treasures and I was curious if my tiny rag dolls are in the same doll house scale as my furniture. They are, they accidentally or maybe by a subconscious direction, are a perfect fit.  And just like that Miss Petunia is fully outfitted. She has everything a tiny doll needs.

dollhouse furniture

The box of doll house things – the doll house that was the center of my creative life for much of my little-ness is full of wonders. It only resurfaced a few years ago and this was the first time I fully explored all the little treasures.

miniature book

Including one of Miss Petunia’s earliest ancestors – this funny girl I made to live in my house. And a tiny book for her to read. Holding and examining these things I made 40 plus years ago has a very strange sensation about it that I can’t quite put my finger on.

miss petunia's lazy day

Miss Petunia is surrendering to the thick hot city day and lying around in her underwear reading.
It sounds like a good idea.  Are you reading something great? I recently re-read In Cold Blood – Truman Capote is such a master and currently I have two going – A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway and A Path With A Heart – Jack Kornfield.  Also, one of my most favorite books, and I think a fabulous summer read, is Main St. – Sinclair Lewis.  If you feel like sharing your favorites please do – just leave it in the comments to this post.