Hello there everyone!
Again, it has been a long long time since I’ve uploaded anything here and I feel terrible for it! This blog was once somewhere I came to vent and share my artistic views and try to show some of my work, but while having to work to pay the bills, it seems that I forgot how to enjoy the process of my work, making and designing. I hardly designed any characters any more, and almost never drew anything! Work and home life has been all consuming this past year and like most creative people I found that this was a very depressing prospect, and missed the precious time spent building my little ”children”. My orphanage was becoming sparsely populated indeed!
Still, despite not creating all to often I managed to come up with some small designs and ideas that I loved enough to keep with me, and snippets that I did not abandon to the wasteland of forgotten ideas of the mind!
Also in new events, I found a lovely pen-pal who shares my interests, in both art, literature and film, but most importantly- we both collect dolls. It has been a long while since I actually bought a doll, and I no longer really saw my collection as something I would continue, and maybe this contributed to the fact that I had not built a complete doll in around a year.. She has been very supportive of my making, and inspired me to dust off my purse and start my doll collection again- it could be said that I owe her quite the debt!
I decided that the best way to motivate myself again was to make a little something for her- nothing was ever so good at making me do things than the prospect of making someone happy, or doing something for someone else, so my eyes wandered to the three spare heads I had discarded in my last rare sculpting spree.
At the time I had disliked them all and gone on to other orphans, leaving them huddled in a box on my shelf, staring out, waiting to be finished..
Usually, as quite a lazy artist, I have countless pieces that I started and at the time probably loved and fully intended to finish but.. never did. *sigh*
I fished out the unwanted few, and looked at them all- choosing one to continue is something quite important to me, and I have to see potential in their eyes- a need to live, and something in them that I can expand on. Sometimes it takes a little bit of lying there for a doll to develop that. My friend loves morbid things as much as I do, so I chose one with odd features, a pointed nose, full lips and clever, wide spaced, yellow eyes.
Here the images I have of the making are lost to time, and it will save plenty of space where I talk about how I built her.
”Lucille”- named after Guillermo Del Toro’s character from the romantic horror out this year ‘Crimson Peak’, was one of the first dolls that I have completed in a long long while, there were initially no designs for her at all, so making her was a lot of ”however I feel”- always the best way to do things! (For me)
The Christmas doll that I made last year for Hannah was used as a template for her, and a new kind of flexible wire and needle felted armature that would save money and time, and the difficulty of sculpting ball jointed arms and legs, something I have yet to perfect! Note to self-
I need to make some good ones and then cast them…
I made her a needle felted wig initially- I have no shortage of white wool, but it ended up robbing her of some of her detail, and looking horribly unrealistic. In a way, the hair was a shame, and my partner said she looked lovely without hair too- It stole some of the pleasure of seeing her little pointed purple ears. He also went on to say that she ended up looking like Nosferatu after I’d painted her, but the initial plan was for her to be a ghost!
A few days earlier I’d been wandering the wide web and come across ”Madame Talbot’s Victorian Lowbrow mourning dolls-
Beautiful little skulls aside- look at their shoes! I fell in love with their tiny little feet, and knowing that even if I sculpted bare feet underneath my little Lucille, the complicated process of making little lace-up dolly shoes for her would cover them anyway, so I sculpted her some little shoes right away!
My interest in things all Victorian came back with a vengeance recently too, and I had been looking at the fascinating art of Trousseau’s- a dress up box for dollies.
The word Trousseau comes from the French word referring to the clothes and belongings of a bride, a hope box or the contents therein. Some seamstresses were employed in the late 1800’s who’s sole job was to sew the tiny intricate garments of dolls for the daughters of the wealthy. A doll that included a ”Trousseau” or other items of clothing could triple the value, adding up to more than the yearly wage of a domestic servant (or seamstress!) of the time. It was a general consensus that giving a little girl one of these gifts would greatly increase her knowledge of the ”toilette” of the age, as many dolls came with a night dress, a walking gown, a day dress and evening wear- some even with their own letters, writing stands, hats, glasses, perfumes, bags, parasols, umbrellas, gloves, fans and photographs! (The list is endless!)
As a little girl, I dread to think the hysteria and excitement that would have ensued from being given one of these! I never liked Barbies or other commercial dolls and grimaced when they were so often given to me, but loved my uncle’s vintage Action man with full camp site and weapon arsenal, and adored my Nanny’s Steiff bears and antique porcelain doll. I often feel that the accessories that come with a doll, even today, can define the character and feel like they give them more of a life of her own-
If you give a doll glasses, books and a cat, she’s more likely to seem solitary and shy, keeping to herself, if you give her a CD player, a big hat and sunglasses, it probably gives the opposite impression. As they say ”The devil is in the detail”, and I adore detail! I even went to far as to make Lucille some stockings and bloomers, even though you may never see them underneath her skirts!
I also took full advantage of the Halloween season and bought a witchy white wig, to make a tinier one for my little doll- her ghost design did mean that I wanted to keep everything white, and washed out, but in the end, bits of colour did creep in, and ironically I did make her surprisingly flowery bloomers. In my defence, they would have been hidden under her long white skirts!
This photo probably shows her wig cap and ‘paint job’ best- I varnished her lips and painted her little teeth- all a mixture of acrylic and watercolour pencil- I chose yellow eyes (made of cloudy quartz stone and hand painted) to enhance her ‘ghostly’ feel, and stuck to muted colours for most of the garments that I made for her.
In the end, Lucille ended up with three separate dresses, three underskirts, a bustle, stockings and bloomers, two belts, a removable wig cap, (for the opportunity to have different wigs and hair) Two suitcases and a laundry bag to carry her clothes, a golden ‘death mask’, two coins to pay the ferryman, a small tea set, miniature candles, a sculpted book, two custom made necklaces, assorted hair ribbon, a silver belt chain, a jar of spare shell buttons, an emergency pinafore, an ornate ‘housekeeper’s’ key, a set of five custom made brooches and a thick embroidered ivory shawl/ blanket and pillow.
I’m sure there’s more with her that I forgot to mention, but I tried hard to build her a little life of her own!
All that was left was the problem of posting her, and how I was to do it..
Fortune was kind when I wandered past a tiny little antique shop that has popped up in town recently and I spotted a little vintage suitcase in a box outside that said 50p!!
All that was wrong with it was that the strap was broken, so I snatched it up and ran home with it! (I paid for it, of course!)
One glue session later and I had a perfectly pretty, functioning suitcase that would provide the perfect home for Lucille on her journey to her new owner. I will miss her when she goes!
I know I will miss Lucille when she goes, but It is nice to know she’s going to a place where she will be cherished and looked after, probably better than she would be in staying with me- but she has paved the way to a new year of doll making, and given me the confidence I need to continue- I hope you all like her, but more importantly, Emilie, I hope you love her! xxx