Monday, November 28, 2011

Black Eyed Kids Kickstarter Project

OK not dolls, but I know that there are a lot of Goth and Creepy doll artists out there who would dig the theme and visuals of this young lady filmmaker. I mean seriously - look at the poster right? She wants to make a horror movie with a microbudget. She has three days to go and she needs just over $4000 to get her full funding. Can you help by pledging any small amount and/or spreading the word?

Disclaimer: I don't know Sunshine personally. I just like to encourage enterprise and creativity in kids. Plus in her You Tube profile she talks about all my favorite books as her own!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Embroider Everything Workshop - book review

For the first time, I've been asked to review a book that might be of interest to doll makers. I'm so happy to be able to report that the book is beautiful!

Sewist Diana Rupp, creator of the Sew Everything Workshops, including her prior book of that name, has written "Embroider Everything Workshop", a comprehensive guide for beginner or aspiring embroiderers.

My late mother made counted cross stitch, producing about eight sweet embroidered bibs for my newborn and two crib blankets that were so pretty that I hung them. My daughter is now 12, and considers these to be her family heirlooms.  In a world where machine embroidered articles are available at many stores for very little money, I understand that the true value of embroidering monograms on dishtowels, or making small patches for your kid's jackets, is the love imbued in the process. Diana describes embroidery in part as meditative, and I have to agree that I feel that too when I embroider on my dolls and their costumes.

The work is a comprehensive introduction assuming no prior experience, and includes needlepoint, smocking and counted thread cross stitch as well as freehand linear and chain stitch based embroidery. Personally I would consider myself more than an absolute novice, but certainly not a proficient. So although I had some familiarity with some of the basic stitches, there is a lot more in the book that was new to me, especially the tips and tricks interspersed throughout.

I appreciated the clear diagrams of stitches in the first one third of the book, and the detailed information about different kinds of needles, threads and canvases. I learnt a lot of new stitch names, and enjoyed the historical info about embroidery and textiles that is featured along the way. Diana Rupp's passion for her vocation comes through in personal snippets about her journey and preferences.

The rest of the book is how-to projects designed for beginners to practice their new skills. Most of these are short and accessible for gifts, useful home wares, and a bit of fashion using different embroidery techniques. My favorite project in the book is the embroidered pet portrait, making an absolutely custom piece of textile art based on a photo of your pet, and demonstrating the skills to make custom embroidery designs from any photo. This is the kind of work that no mass-producing factory situation can duplicate.

Finally there is a series of brief Appendices detailing finishing, blocking and display techniques, some fonts for monograms,  and a useful index. The book is bound in one of my favorite crafting formats, the way I want my book to be bound when it is published, with a lay flat hard cover over spiral bound pages.

The special extras are an envelope of 48 pretty iron-on transfers as patterns and a pull out stitch practice card into which you are invited to poke holes. I'm not certain of the utility of this last item, since it is considerably stiffer than fabric and would not really facilitate some of sewing stitches. However it could be used as a template for practice stitches on fabrics, or a portable stitch guide.

So all in all, a useful, informative and pretty addition to a textile artisan's library.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Paper Doll books publisher

I love vintage style paper dolls, because I've been a costume designer. Historical paper doll books are such a fun way to do your research into historical costuming. I also like going back to original sources, like period magazines and other visual media - but paper dolls are just fun.

Here is Paper Studio Press. They have a bunch of very pretty looking paper dolls divided into categories, including movie stars and fashion eras. I'd like to use them in collage work. Read the Artists' bios to learn another secret of their charm - the dolls have been painted by some terrific illustrators and much of the art is vintage. The artists themselves almost all seem to have shared a childhood passion for paper dolls and art.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You Tube Cornucopia

I've only just come to realize what a tremendous resource You Tube can be for doll artists. A search of the phrase "art dolls" produces 19,600 results. Many of these video producers also link to artist's sites and stores.

Tutorials are very popular. Still Moments Nursery, a reborning studio, is one such producer. Nikki Holland has uploaded almost 300 videos on the Still Moments channel including many tutorials and how-to's filled with tips and tricks.

Others are more like news magazines, such as this mini-documentary from Russia Media rounding up art doll making in Russia with interviews and beautiful visuals, or this visit to a doll museum collection in Toronto (above).

Doll artists can make a video slideshow galleries and catalogs of their work, set to enjoyable music, like this adorable one from past featured Cart Before the Horse, or the sublime Anna Zueva.

Collectors show videos of their doll collections or visits to conventions, while stores display their merchandise.

Looking at all these, I suddenly feel like a luddite who has yet to step into the 21st Century. I have a video camera, and editing software.

Do you have favorite You Tube videos about dolls or doll making? Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Beaded Work In Progress

Ralonda Patterson has just contacted me with an invitation to follow the realization of her latest large scale doll project through her blog. She is a beautiful bead artist, and expects the journey of this doll to be of great interest to other doll artists. As she puts it, "I am excited to share this experience with you and  hope you will find inspiration and insight into your own process as you create."

I'm following, as I love seeing WIP's and learning about others' creative processes. See you there!

Paper Doll Book

Illustrator and painter Emily Winfield Martin makes prim-with-an-edge cloth dolls and maintains the Black Apple blog and her Curious Art Etsy store. Recently Random House has published her illustrated crafting book: "The Black Apple's Paper Doll Primer" filled with whimsical paper dolls for you to color cut and play with in many sweet and creative ways.