Sunday, November 25, 2012

Return to Blogging... Maybe...

I've noticed that most of my Facebook posts lately seem to be about my doll costuming, so I'm thinking abut moving back to blogging. I hate to bore people on Facebook. Even the doll artists I know on Facebook don't really talk a lot about their craft over there. I think it's time to move.

Maybe I should return by saying I've given up, for lack of a more sympathetic verb, on making dolls. I've gone back to doll costuming, but this time it doesn't seem like second best. I am finally finding my heart in these details. I love the Kish dolls, and I'm approaching them like a collector instead of a means to a paycheck.

Also, I'm collecting again, and I'm obsessive about it. I get $150 a month from the paycheck, and I'm already spending next month's money in my head. Will it be Wren or Lark or Olivia? I'm leaning towards Wren today because she is rare and I've found her at an online shop where I can do a layaway.

I'm working on an outfit with some heavy embroidery. It is very satisfying, but slow, work. I am ready to stitch the next color, since i am doing all of the work in each color at a time. This is the second in a set of three dresses I've promised for a doll trade. The first dress was lovely and used some lace that I made. I think the third dress will be something simple. The value of what I've produced so more exceeds the value of the doll, but I heart this collector and enjoy doing the work for her.

Anyway, a photo of what I'm currently working on, and some photos of the last dress I finished, which I named Caitlyn, going with the alphabetic naming of the series.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I finished this a couple weeks ago and just forgot to post! I'm sorry! I call it Beatrice with a B, since it is the second one. The next will be Caitlin.

Right now I'm working on Wedgwood blue blue fabric, which, of course, I dyed myself. I'm using some lace that I also dyed, to an ivory, with another piece of fabric. I am working on embroidery in a color that matches the lace. I'm using the hexagonal piece as a collar and the straight piece at the hem. I'll post it when I finish. I think it's going to be awesome.

I'm working on a long piece of lace right now. I want 36" and have about 28" now, so there's not too much to go. I found that all of a sudden, I can work faster and with less effort.

And I've got some new dolls!

The dark haired girl is Raven and the little one is Bethany. Yesterday, there was a half price sale at one of the doll merchants, and Charles bought me a Shea! I'm so excited! She is done up as the older sister of this Bethany I have: her hair and eyes will be the same color. I'll be able to make sister outfits!

I'm also trading some outfits for a doll set, Olivia and Effie. Olivia is the same size as Bethany but with a much prettier face. Effie is a little doll. I'm trading the Wedgwood outfit and a sister set of white dresses smocked in variegated blue.

I feel so much peace lately about what I'm doing. Well, aside from the horrible constant wanting for new dolls. There is one more 14" doll that I really want (Lark) and a 14" doll that I sorta want (Wren). Then I also want another 12" set, Suchin and Sasha--Sasha being Suchin's doll. Then I want to find a doll for Bethany. Since I'm trading the next three outfits, I won't have money to buy those dolls, but I'll be getting a great one in exchange.

So far, Raven is my favorite. I think she is so beautiful!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Here is my Abigail outfit:

So I finally finished something! The shoes and hat are something new to me with this outfit. This was sold before it was finished. My customer saw an in-progress pic and contacted me about it. She offered a good price, too!

I have been knitting obsessively for about a week. I tried out a pattern in a yarn I can't use. I ordered some yarn I could use. I altered the pattern. It took several tries to get it right. I'm still knitting, but the urgency has gone out of it.

I am working on a green outfit now. The cuffs were too small to go over the hands and the bodice didn't look right. I cut off the whole bodice and started over. It's much better this time, but I have all this embroidery to do over. I'm feeling a bit flat about it all.

I'm obsessing about dolls right now, too. I have one on layaway and I've picked out the next 2 dolls I'm going to buy. Well, and the two after that, too. And maybe two more after that. Plus there are these gorgeous porcelain dolls... But I won't get them. Too expensive and no market for the clothes. If I still had a doll cabinet... But no. No to the porcelain dolls.

I've had a day. We'll go out for nachos and margaritas at Taco Cabana. $6.23 for both of us because it's Happy Hour. Can't beat that!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I have finished NOTHING since I last posted here, which is why I haven't posted. I work VERY slowly, which is a little discouraging, but I'm very happy with everything I make. And I sold something before I finished it. If I just finish it, I can buy a doll I really want.

I'm working on two doll outfits, and of course, when I finish, I'll post photos. I need to make two dolls, two head ornaments, and two pair of white stockings. Everything else, including some awesome shoes, is finished. Nice to write it down to realize how close I am.

I'm working on a piece of lace. I have 14" and need 36". I'll post a photo of that when I finish, but maybe before that. It's a pretty pattern.

And I'm working on a knitting project. It's a sweater for a doll. I'm just working the pattern now as practice for the real thing when the real yarn gets here.

I got a new doll, the smaller Chrysalis doll, Bethany. My third outfit will be for the new doll, and it's all I can think about now.

Oh Louise, I'm thinking about skipping the dolls and the hats. I could list them today if I just stopped. But I won't. Maybe I'll finish the dolls today.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lace is Finished!

I finished 22" of lace this morning! I spent 74 hours on it. Also, the smocking I made for the next outfit. I should have smocked in a different color because the light green is too light to show the white contrast. Live and learn. I'm going to make the smocking into a pinafore and use the darker green as the dress. I'm going to make a little hat and shoes out of the darker green, too. I'll do a feather stitch in white on the dress, hat, and shoes (maybe). I have ideas for three more outfits, too, and I'm hoping to get them done next week, but it will probably take at least two weeks. I can't wait to get that money and buy lace books!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I'm dyeing fabric today. I've done two shades of periwinkle and two shades of chartreuse. I get so inspired watching the fabric change in the dye bath. When I start, I don't know what I'll make with them, but then as I watch over them, the inspiration floods in. Each batch takes 50 minutes, and I do two batches at a time. Next is coral pink. Hopefully I can do sky blue today as well. Ill post a photo in this post tonight And I finished my smocking. I need one of those wash out blue pens!

Update: The pink SO did not work out. I stopped for the day. I like these colors. I'll do four batches tomorrow and four batches on Friday. Then I'll have a collection of all my colors. And there are three new dyes I need, too. At least three. Maybe four. First I need money!

Update 2: I was up in the middle of the night and dyed four more batches. Six more batches to do, after I get some more salt. Probably not today. These are sage green and sky blue.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Outfits of Days Gone By...


I finished a piece of smocking on blue mini gingham this weekend. I out white points on the hem and did embroidery on them. Then I put in a whipped running stitch around the cuffs, collar, and the pointed side of the hem. I'm really happy with it. I sized it for my doll, whose arm fell off this morning. I'm not loving her today. I'm working on a new piece of smocking on a piece of lawn which I have dyed a pale green. The actual name is yucca green. I'm going to do the smocking all in white, and then either do a hem stitch (easy) or a hand stitches scalloped edge (probably more trouble than it's worth). Knowing me, I'll probably do the more complicated hem. I'll decide after the smocking is finished. This piece is for a 14" Kish. I need money for lace books!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Far far away from ideal, but I'm happy to have finished. Well, except for the hair and costume--those are easy. I'm starting to like her.

My Struggles

I think it's important to talk about mental illness. There is such a stigma attached to it, and a general feeling (that I pick up on, at least), that's it's not real. My mental illness is a huge factor in my life. It prevents me from leaving the house, from accomplishing simple tasks, from keeping a steady job, from meeting simple obligations. I put some pressure on myself yesterday to work on my doll, and I completely shut down. Today I have residual stress and anxiety that prevents me from going to lace class, and I won't be able to go to lace club tonight. I should just get over it? If only it were that simple. I've tried to get over this since I was eight. Partly, I'm sure, it was worsened by being the wrong sex. Certainly it was aggravated by being raised by an alcoholic. It was at the very worse when I left home for college, when I would have done anything to get away from home. Today is a real struggle. I woke up in the middle of the night and did a little work on my doll. In the light of the day, I found faults, of course. I undid the work, and will try to work it again today. I have so much pain about these dolls, but I'm compelled to make them. Or one. I second guess what sort of doll I should be making. But these things are normal for doll makers. I guess the only thing different for me is my reaction to set backs. A set back can paralyze me for days, so that I am unable to do anything. Right now, the only thing that consistently brings me joy and soothes me is lace making, but without the dolls, there is no application for it. I do have a rescue drug, and I will take it today. I call it The Big Pill. It has terrible side effects, but nothing brings me back to reality like this pill. So I will take it, and hopefully I can get my cooking done today. Two batches of beans, salad fixings, dinner. I'll be in the kitchen all day. I wish I could be at the lace pillow. Maybe I can squeeze some work in.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I had a good day today. Set out to finish the clay portion of my doll and assemble the body. And I did it! If I can beat my fears tomorrow I can attach the head and move on to costuming. The work could take as little as thirty minutes, but I will probably fret about it all day. There are lots of imperfections, and I am ok with that. Really! It's my first one in this style. I've decided that individual fingers are not necessary and detract from the rest of the doll. This first one goes to my best friend, so it's ok for it to be less than perfect. Really! I'm trying to convince myself! The next hands will be mitt style. For the wig, I'm going to mold a wig cap from buckram. I will cover it in satin stitch in embroidery floss and then attach lengths of embroidery floss coils to that. Then I can embroider flowers onto that for decoration. These dolls are in one third scale, but I'm also interested in direct sculpting some dolls in one sixth scale. I finally bought the Katherine Dewey book on sculpting small figures. Maybe I can learn to use super sculpey without covering it in filth. I would sew the clothes onto these dolls if they even happen. I bought two, no three, other books on this paycheck. First, a book on the Danish lace Tonder. I have a really good Danish friend who told me how to say Tonder! Next, I bought a book on Dresden lace, a beautiful white work embroidery style. Last, a book on Nineteenth century embroidery. I can't wait to get all these books! I am a book freak! Lace is going well. I'm working on growing a callus on my pinning finger. It was too sore to work today, and tomorrow, well, I'm stretching that thirty minute project into an all day affair. Still, I should do a little lace to keep up my callus building. I feel good!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good Days

I went to an Austin Stitchery Guild meeting Monday. We basically stitched and chatted, it was really nice. I think I'll become a regular. It's only once a month, though. At least for the distance I'm willing to travel.

Today was lace class, which is EVERY Tuesday. I LOVE lace class. We make lace and chat. I feel so fortunate to be part of this.

I made a new set of head impressions, but with older clay. It dried really fast and shrank too much. I'm trying another with fresh clay in a room without a ceiling fan. If this one shrinks, I'm using it anyway. I think tomorrow is a doll day.

I got a coveted prize today: a book on Tønder lace. It's a point ground, like Bucks Point (the kind I make), but it has different design motifs.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The box comes back out of the closet...

Well, I had a little success this morning with the needle sculpting, and that was very exciting. I went on the tweak my pattern to improve the shoulders and neck. Then it was time to make a head pattern, so I got out the last head I worked on. When I put it away before, I thought it looked awful. But today it looked really nice to me. Now I've messed that one up and I'm making another set of impressions.

The horse previously considered dead now takes a small breath

Last night I was practicing roll-and-whip and hand stitched tucks. Again I started thinking about how much I want to sew for my own dolls. I just can't give up the quest.

But I also had one last idea. A smaller needlesculpted head on the body I've finished already. I've finished a doll with this technique before and really liked it. On that doll, I stitched embroidery floss to the head for hair. It was pretty cool.

So this is what I've got now. I have to experiment with feature placement and the nose size. Right now the eyes are too small and there's another stitching line I like to include, but it's a start.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Oh such high hopes I have today. Working on the embroidery of this little dress has inspired me to give a go at French hand sewing. I'm going to try the Austin Stitchery Guild this month to see if I like it. I would like to get some constructive feedback on my embroidery. I can attend two meetings without paying. It is hella expensive to join. I would like to work up to doing a program at EGA (Embroiderer's Guild of America--including Canada!) on plain and fancy work. The first requirement is shadow work, which I've never done and will have to really think about a design I would like.

I feel so much more relaxed since giving up the doll. I'm not sad about it anymore. I really like what I'm doing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sewing for Kish again

It is decided. I will sew for Kish again. I have tried making these dolls since November, and I find it impossible to combat my anxiety and follow through. I am trying to buy a Bethany-size doll, hopefully, keep our fingers crossed, an Olivia, to go with the 14" girls.

I am breaking out my cotton mousseline finally. The whole bolt needs to be folded in half, and then I will cut some 1/2 yard pieces for dyeing. I have so many lovely colors, and this fabric is totally fabulous. You can see your hand through it.

I feel OK about this. Sewing clothes is much safer. This time I will make OOAK outfits, with matching shoes.

I am full of wonderful ideas for how to make a doll, I just can't do it myself. It's sad, but it's good to be decided finally.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I don't like the way the needle sculpting looks. I could work on it, but I just don't think it will have the look I'm going for. I love the idea of a half scale doll, but if I sculpt from clay, it will be difficult to make the fabric smoothly cover it. The one third scale doll is practically done. The body has been designed, I have three extra heads nearly ready to mold. The dresses in one third scale would require shorter lengths of lace. There are more arguments for one third than for one half. Maybe later on I can do the bigger dolls. I'm so full of frustration, so I will continue my guilt-free vacation and read The History of Lace.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I'm taking an official break from lace and from feeling guilty about not making a doll yet. The lace is harder, as it should be in a progressive book, but I'm not quite feeling the inspiration right now. This has happened once already, and the good feelings did come back, so I'm not worried. This is really a very pretty pattern, just a little complicated. I think I'm about half-way through the book now, but it will take longer on the remaining patterns. I went to the local lace guild meeting on Tuesday night! The meeting place isn't exactly conducive to bobbin lace making, but it is great for a social gathering. I got high praise from someone whose opinion matters to me, and that felt really good, especially when others joined in. Then later I started to suspect that I was having my ego stroked. I'm always worried that my lace isn't good enough, and certain people know that about me. At the time, though, it felt good, and I'll try to just accept that. I was planning to do a lot of cooking today, but I'm having a glass of wine and rethinking those plans. I may just read some lace books.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lace 13

I think this is a really pretty pattern. I worked it all the way around, because I was planning to do the sewing, but I hated the sewing so much that I just cut the threads off. I will never do a sewing.

The next one is ugly, so I've decided to skip it. This is difficult for me because I'm neurotic about doing things in order. ORDER. Order is important. But I realized that life is too short to make ugly lace. Lace 15 is another really pretty pattern.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Zen of Lace Making

Ive been struggling for a week with my lacing, and it's felt like a chore. But today, finally, I sit down at my pillow and feel wonderful again. I love lacemaking, but when I'm making so many mistakes, it gets really discouraging. I don't need to be perfect, well, maybe a little bit, but I certainly need to know what I'm doing and where the threads are going. So I'm back to my happy place. Also, I just want to say that my dad fought in Vietman and lost many friends there. My thoughts are with him today, whether I talk to him or not. He has retired comfortably and lives in a virtual paradise, where he sits by the pool all day and reads books.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Pattern Pieces Are Gone!

Somewhere in my last half-scale doll making adventure, I lost the important pattern pieces to my favorite basic pattern, so no sewing for me today. Plus I'm waiting for the doll pattern before making my own pattern. So this means all lace, all the time. And that's ok. I'm a little behind anyway. Plus I LOVE it, and I'm learning bobbin flippin'!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Project for Tomorrow

I want to make a dress for the doll I probably won't make for another month. Since I know she's half scale, I can decrease my child's pattern by 50%! I'm going to get the pattern ready tomorrow. I also want to do a bunch a lace. I also want to read a book about macrobiotics. And I want to cook some nice macrobiotic food. So much to do for someone without a job. Oh! And I might cut up my bolt of batiste!

Lace Crisis Resolved!

I finally figured out where my lace was going wrong!

Step one for the big doll

You may accuse me of jumping to another project without finishing the first one, and I'm fine with that. I'm starting my big doll and here is the very first step:

I've got sizes for everything from children's sizing charts. I even know the foot size. I'm going to build an armature in wire, fill with batting, cover with a thin layer of apoxie sculpt, and make the final exterior in paper clay. I'm so excited about this doll!

I just ordered the Material Kid from this page:
I want my doll body to look like this, and it's been a long time since I made up this pattern. I'll make it up and pick and choose which parts I want.

We're all happy together!

I pet the cat three times today and heard her quiet purr. Then I pet the dog's belly when she came up to me being sweet. That's enough of an accomplishment for today!

But wait! There's more!

I feel like working on my dolls again, partly because the lace is pissing me off. I may not work on it again until my Tuesday lace class.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lace Disaster

I've taken a Xanax, made some tea, and now I'm sitting down one last time to make this hexagonal corner work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Half Scale Dolls

I've always dreamed of making half scale dolls, and when I started this most recent quest, I was persuaded by two persuasive people, both of whom I really respect, to make smaller dolls. That was a run-on sentence. I like the idea of working in half scale. You can have half scale smocking, half scale stitches, half scale lace. Well, stitches and lace can only be small and not half scale, but I can do small. I want to make a bigger doll. Maybe even needle-sculpt the face. Himstedt made big dolls. Why can't I?

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I registered for my first woodworking class yesterday! I am so excited about learning to work with wood. I want to make lace pillows and bobbins! The class goes from 5:00 to 10:20 once a week for the Fall semester at Austin Community College. I'm already practicing staying up late. I usually pass out around 8:00, lol.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lace 12

I finished this one today:

I didn't put in the ruler for perspective, but I promise it's small. Far from perfect. eh.

I contacted the local lace club and was invited on a field trip to a town about an hour and a half from here. Of course I went. We went to a Czech museum, a quilt museum, a Wendish museum, and a great yarn store. I didn't get home until 6:30! I also found out about a weekly lace class for $3 a class. Doesn't seem like enough money! I went on Tuesday and had a great time. I'm so happy I have a place to go to work on lace.

I'm not happy with my doll right now and I'm still thinking about sewing for Kish dolls. Now I fret over whether I should sew for my favorite Kish, which isn't the popular one, or for the jointed popular doll that everyone loves right now. There could be a market for the older Kish, but there's definitely one for the newer Kish. I need to make some money and it doesn't look like it's coming from my doll making efforts.

Right now I think it's enough to make doll clothes. Before I felt this horrible longing to make my own dolls, and hopefully sell them. I've tried this for six months and I still don't have a finished doll. It's been a very painful process as well. I'm just about ready to pack it up.

Friday, May 11, 2012


OK. Reset. Back to my doll. I put ears on and when they dry, I will continue with covering the head in fabric and coloring the face. I'll make an inner head today.

"Talking" to Rhissanna made me realize that Kish isn't what I really want to sew for. I want to sew for my own dolls. That's the whole point of all this.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

16" Kish

Today I really want to just sew for my old 16" Kishes. I don't know if this is just a reaction to getting close on my own doll. I have my Kishes out and they're so beautiful. The best doll ever made.

Lace Schedule...

...I'm throwing it out. Let the lace finish when it will!

I really like the one I'm working on. Plus, it has an element I need practice on, but not so many that it's discouraging. It's a good pattern.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Practice Coloring

Well, I jumped a little hurdle. I've been so worried about coloring my doll faces, and I finally got out my stuff and practiced a little. The effect I want is a very pale coloring on very pale fabrics, both for the bodies and the clothing. The eyebrows got out of hand, and there is a stray mark on the forehead, but otherwise, this is very close to my vision. I'm afraid of coloring eyebrows. erg.

I still need to make ears.


So many ups and downs with this doll I'm getting dizzy! So often I see how apparently effortlessly artists make their dolls, but I suffer and trudge along through every step. And yet I am compelled to keep going. If it takes a year, I will finish this doll. It's competing right now with lace. Lace is less risky and, I have to admit, a bit more fun. But the whole point of my lace is to make it into clothing for my dolls. This weekend, however, I started comtenplating the idea of sewing for Kish's 16" dolls. I've always thought that doll was the ideal. I don't really like the new articulated 14" dolls, although I did sew for them for several months. I felt this pain because I wasn't sewing for my OWN dolls. But would I feel the same sewing for the 16" girls? My brain is a flurry of emotions lately.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lace 11

Ugh. I'm a day late on this one. I probably could have finished it today--only two more repeats--but I couldn't stand looking at it anymore. I spent more time working on my doll this week, which is a good thing. I just didn't take the time I needed with my lace. Oh well. A new week starts today.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finally a Little Progress

I actually did what I said I would! I stuffed the body and put together the stand. I bled on the lower left arm so it's too wet to sew on right now. I need a new needle that doesn't make me bleed!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Piecy Parts

I've finally finished the sewing for the first doll. It took me forever to get fingers that would turn, and even though these are turned, they look pretty miserable with the tucks in the fabric. Hopefully I can do something with it when I stuff them. I used to be able to make the tiniest fingers. I don't know where my skills went.

Maybe by this evening I'll have the parts stuffed and assembled? I'll try to work on it as intensely as possible.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I'm having to alter the lace pattern for this week. It's going very slowly :-/ I will probably miss my deadline. I started the lace already, and didn't like how it was coming out, so I'm starting over. How frustrating! Someday I want to draft my own patterns, so this is good experience, but it's also a bit painful--my brain hurts!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lace 10

Wow. This pattern was so hard! This is the first one that doesn't tell you how to proceed or where to twist. In other words, the training wheels were OFF. I figured it out after a few repeats, but still made plenty of mistakes. That's OK. I have to start somewhere, and although I prefer it, I don't have to be perfect at everything.

The dolls are trudging along. I have plenty of excuses, but do they really matter? I'm getting close and I'm getting scared. Every day I have a different plan to get closer, and I do get closer, just not close enough. Know that I am still working, and I still want to be finished in time for Alienore's birthday on May 21.

In the meantime, I will continue to work on my lace. It makes me happy. The next one is due next Thursday.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


This lace pattern is SO HARD!

A Little Success

My plan for a back and front head press mold worked! This head came out much better than the first because I really mashed it into the mold. There are still places that need to filled in, though, and I can fix it to look nice. These pictures are awkward because I took them myself.

Now I have 14 pair of bobbins to wind. I've already done 14 this morning. Huge project! Due date Thursday.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Flesh Tones?

I started dyeing this morning to get some more Caucasian skin tone like I made last time. I used too much dye and it came out too dark, so I tossed it. Life is too short to hang on to failed dye attempts. I did, however, try three other colors, wondering if they might make good skin tones. This is what I got:

 I feel like tatting today, not bobbin lace, so I'm not going to force it. I've made so many mistakes on it since I started it so long ago, but I'm trying to just be OK with it. It's a little impossible to undo some tatting situations. Oh well, maybe I'll get my magnifying glasses and try.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lace 9

I finished lesson 9 ahead of schedule! I will spend that extra day reading, tatting, and working on the doll. This is as far as I got in the book when I worked in it before. I think this is a pretty pattern and I worked 35 inches of it before. Now I just want to move through the book, so I'm not doing any extra.

I am slowly learning how to start and end on the square. The instructions for doing this are not very helpful. The next lace pattern has a beginning and an end, but on the next lesson, I will chart out the endings and maybe I'll get it right.

For the sake of completeness, here are lessons 1-8. You can see how it started out very simple and has steadily increased in techniques.

Success! Almost...

The head came out the right size without shrinking! I thought that if I left it in longer, it would have to cling to the mold longer and not be able to shrink. The only problem is that I didn't press into the mold firmly enough and it needs to be done over.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Yes, my energy has waned. I'm not ALWAYS Pollyanna. Yesterday my sewing didn't turn out right, and I didn't have enough dyed fabric to start again. I will have to dye more fabric and then re-draft some pattern pieces. Today I still feel the discouragement and feel like doing nothing, not even my lace. I just want to sit in the comfy chair and tat. Which is probably what I'll do. I deserve a day off, right?

One thing turned out. The body is difficult to stuff because there is an internal shaft for standing that needs to be centered. I got that part right at least. I just hope the newly dyed fabric (which won't be dyed today!) matches what I have already.

This part is personal life, which I try to keep on Facebook. I've recently switched from vegetarianism to veganism. I wanted a muffin from Starbucks this morning and realized I could eat nothing there. I really wanted that blueberry muffin! So I will bake vegan muffins today, and freeze them, so I won't eat all of them at once. I see at least three batches, all different kinds. Blueberry, coffee-chip, and pumpkin-walnut.

So! Tatting and baking today, and that's IT. And maybe I'll make another latte.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Papillon Bleu UK: Birthday Party Invitation and...a GIVEAWAY!

Papillon Bleu UK: Birthday Party Invitation and...a GIVEAWAY!


This is what lacemaking looks like. For this pattern, I have 21 pairs. The next project uses 32! I have no idea how I will manage that!

I usually use a bolster pillow if I'm going to make a length of lace, but for these short pieces, I'm using an inexpensive foam pillow. You're supposed to cover them in a dark, solid color cloth, usually navy blue. But I've had this paisley around for a while, and I like it, so I used that. It hasn't strained my eyes to use it, either, so tell THAT to the purists! I also use square, continental bobbins instead of the English spangled bobbins usually used for this kind of lace. I think they're fussy, too expensive, and take up too much space. Square bobbins take up less space and don't roll. They're perfect. I only wish they had had the slim ones when I bought these.

I want to make fancy square bobbins, a project for when the woodworking classes are over.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pattern Making

I have a couple pics for Rhissanna. The first shows the pattern and technique I use to make feet. Part two would be taking another piece of cardboard the same shape, lacing a piece of fabric over it, and slip stitching it to the foot.

The second shows how I make my body patterns. I sculpt the form I want and then STRETCH my fabric over it to make a pattern. It's not exact, but it's close enough to satisfy me, and it's quicker than just guessing. I do guess with the arms and thighs, though.

I use the techniques found in this pattern:

Here are the pics:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lace Tracing

Yes, another three post day.

I have the Lace Dealer's Pattern Book. It's full of lace samples that were being made in the area at some point. I should read the introduction. Only a very few designs are duplicated, the majority are unique. You could probably trace a sample back to the woman who made it. And in another place, you may find a garment from that time period with a piece of lace on it made by that same woman. It just struck me. How amazing is that?

A Cunning Plan...

I think I just came up with a very good solution to the stops and starts on my lace. I could do half an inch of point ground and then pick up the design at a wide point in the pattern. I think this can work...

Oh, and I've spent an hour and a half preparing my pattern (actually called a pricking), I haven't finished, and I still have to get the bobbins ready. I bet I won't get any stitches put in today.

My Work Space Today

I was up at 2:30 and had every intention to start making a body pattern for my 12-year-old doll. But for some reason, I got distracted by hands. I spent a couple hours trying to turn fingers, and it just wasn't working. Back when I "made" cloth dolls (I say "made" because I probably only finished six), I made the tiniest fingers of everyone. My mistake this morning was not using the right TOOLS. I found the tools and I just did one, with the separate thumb, and it came out fine. The fingers are not the right lengths yet, but I'll fix that when I get to the doll.

I also made made two triple lattes this morning and now I never want to see another coffee for as long as I live. Or at least until tomorrow morning.

And I guess I'll put away my sewing and start the new lace.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lace 8

I met my Thursday deadline! I gave myself just four days to work on this one, since it is pretty simple and I didn't really have other plans this week. This week is mold drying :-/

Anyway, I tried the straight start and end. This ground is called Kat Stitch. Later on, there are some gorgeous advanced lace patterns based on Kat Stitch, but this one is very simple. I don't have a lot of experience with this kind of ground, so the straight start was even more difficult. The instructions were impossible, but I think I know how to do it now. The top one looks like it needs fewer twists, and the bottom one just looks like a disaster, lol. I'll try, try again.

The larger sample is from when I worked this book before in 1996. This is the normal size of the lace patterns. The color difference is between white and optic white.

I've given myself a full week for the next pattern. It's a much more interesting pattern, and it's the last one I worked in 1996--never went further in the book. I made over a yard of it, though, and will probably use it on a doll, even though it is coarser than what I'm doing now. There are about 36 patterns total that I will try to finish this year, and then I'm on my own!

I will pour the second half of the mold today, even though the first half isn't dry yet. Nefer Kane said I could "bake" them in the oven to speed drying time, but I've got to get the clay out first! I made an ear mold but can't get the clay out of it! I may put it in the fridge to harden the clay and try again. Or I may bake it to let the clay melt out. I like the idea of never again sculpting a six-year-old's ear.

Finally got out my good camera to take the photo, instead of my phone.

Oh, and I didn't draft any patterns. I think I'm dreading it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Too Many Variables

Well, I just poured my two molds. sigh. There are so many variables involved in this finished head coming out right. I use oil clay, then plaster, then Premier. Last time I tried this size head, the Premier version was too small, presumably because it shrank too much, so I made a new sculpt in a larger size. That head was too big, but didn't seem to shrink at all. So now I'm back to the first size.

The first time, the plaster was not of a high quality, and I bought the Premier, if it was even Premier that I used, at Hobby Lobby. I begin to think that I may have used La Doll for the first one. Maybe even PaperClay. It's all so frustrating. The size of the head is very important to me. The whole proportion of the doll is important to me. It is important to me that these dolls be precisely one third life size. Please don't make this so difficult!

If this one comes out right, and I won't know for a week, I'll do five heads at once so I don't end up mixing too much plaster, like I've done the last three times. Until then, I suppose I have quite a bit of pattern drafting to do, and the ever present lace projects. This week's lace is not so interesting, but I will keep working on it until Thursday, unless I finish the length before then. I will start the drafting process tomorrow. I have four more body patterns to make. I'll try to do one a day, but it will probably take two days. Sure. I have plenty of time anyway. The only deadline I make for myself is for the lace, because I want to finish the book by the end of the year. But I would really like to finish a doll.

This will be an antsy time for me. But on the bright side, you won't have to hear from me three times a day, because I won't have anything to post about!

Sculpting Aid

Philippe Faraut is an amazing sculptor and has even sculpted dolls before for the home porcelain doll industry. He has some great dvds, books, and sculpting aids. I have this one and it is a huge help. It has children's features in a step-by-step progression. I'm about to use it to make EARS. I am not an ear fan.

Monday, April 9, 2012

First Sculpt?

I'm going to go ahead and make a mold of this head tomorrow. I think it will be easier to clean up and smooth out in Premier. The ball bearing eyes make her look crazy! I'm going to make the ears separate so I only have to make them ONCE!

Lace continues as well. I've given myself until Thursday to finish the current one.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lace Comparison

Three posts in one day?!! I promise I'm signing off soon. No, really. I just had to post this picture. It appears that my lace is actually finer than my extra fancy Vals machine lace! Makes me feel so much better about failing at the sewings.

Lace Square

Well, I gave up on the sewing. The thread is too fine to hook with the tiniest crochet hook in the world. Don't look too close at this--there are mistakes! I think I'm happy with the thread weights. I wish the ground were lighter, and I could accomplish that by making the pattern bigger, but I like the smallness of it.

I will endeavor to finish the lace in a manner that would be appropriate for doll use. One of the reasons I gave up on connecting the two edges was that there isn't really this sort of application for my dolls. If this were going to be a collar, there would be an opening in the back. So in this case, I could have finished the two ends like the footside with the thick line. Next time, next time. I think next time starts tomorrow. Today I will read a book!

Transitioning from Facebook

I've decided that I post way too much on Facebook about dolls and lace, so I'm going to try to move that stuff over here to my blog.

I decided not to follow up on the tatting. It takes a long time to get any length on it, and I would rather read in the evenings. I have a whole stack of brand new "new age" books just waiting to fill me with healing energy and boost my creative mind, lol. I think the tatting is beautiful and would look great on my dolls, but my eyes aren't really good enough for it anymore (and bobbin lace is?), I was only working on it in the evenings, and like I said, it was taking all the time I would have spent on reading. I can't work on work ALL the time.

I finished that mold and made an impression. It was too big for ALL my doll bodies. Turns out Premier doesn't shrink much at all. So I can go back to the first heads I made, work them over, and use those. I have one that looks pretty good, actually, and it fits the body I've made already, which is great! I'll finish her up this week and try to start the mold before next weekend.

I made forms for all the doll ages I'm going to work with: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. I made a base from Apoxie Sculpt, because I have it and I need to use it, plus it saves my Premier. Then I sculpted the features in Premier over that. Basically, I sculpt half of the body and then use the form to drape a body pattern. It's the only way I can get the precision I want in a pattern. Other people can just do this in their heads--I have to do it this way.

Anyway, the body forms are ready and I will work on making the patterns this week when I'm not practicing my bobbin lace. I may be able to do one a day, and I've already done the 6-year-old (and have a head almost finished for her!).

So I'm working from a bobbin lace how-to book, called A Visual Introduction to Bucks Point Lacemaking by Geraldine Stott. I got it when it first came out for a reasonable price. If you want it now, you can get it on Amazon for $179. But it's the best book and I have to recommend it to anyone who wants to learn Bucks Point. I've gone through the manual, decided how much time to devote to each lesson, and mapped it out in my calendar. I can finish the book easily by the end of the year. Then I can make any lace pattern I want for my dolls. What I like is called Floral Bucks. I may only be able to finish one doll a year with hand made lace, but it will be worth it to me to see my vision in a form I can touch and share with people.

I'm using the finest thread now and really like it. Another thing about tatting is that I'm already using the finest thread, so I can't really scale it to the dolls.

I have lots of ideas for lace. I would like to design my own after I learn everything. There is even a lace software package, but I don't know if it works for Bucks Point. I want to learn to make bobbins (special bobbins!) and to make custom lace pillows. And I want to make doll furniture to suit my dolls and maybe even custom furniture to fit other dolls. Did I mention I going to start taking woodworking classes this fall?

I'm filled with ideas right now and it's very exciting! I'll finish a little piece of lace tomorrow and I'll post a photo. It's my first piece with corners and with a sewing (finishing the ends). I'm a little scared of the sewing, but I'll tackle it tomorrow morning. Then hopefully I'll do some sculpting!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Child Proportion Chart

I have a PDF of the child proportion chart that many artists use. I hope it will be helpful. It is from an non copyright source called How to Draw and Paint Children by Viola French. I don't know how to post it here, but if you e-mail me, I will send it to you. I won't keep your e-mail address.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lace Lace Lace

It's all about lace lately. I've been working on my bobbin lace. I'm going to try the finest thread on my next lesson. I hope I like it! I may have to increase the holes-per-inch, but we'll see!

Also, during the move, I found this piece of tatting. I don't think the scale is too large for my doll ideas, so I'll finish it out eventually and use it.

And this also shows the fabric color I finally got right!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dye Experiment

I made my mold this morning and then went right to dyeing. I usually use 1/8 teaspoon of dye because I like just hints of color. But I was using a light color and thought, gee, maybe I need to double it. That was a bad idea. I do not like the way the color came out. So straight away I dyed another piece with 1/8th, like normal. I still don't know if it's as pale as I want it, though.

I use Dharma Trading fiber reactive procion dyes. Here are the quantities I use--instructions on are their website:

2 gallons of water for up to 2 yards of pre-washed fabric
1 lb non-iodized salt
1/8 teaspoon dye dissolved in water
1/2 cup soda ash

Every time I've used 1/4 teaspoon I've been unsatisfied with the result.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Supplies!

I've been working on my lace skills lately. I have a book called A Visual Guide to Bucks Point Lacemaking, and I worked up to number 9 when I first started about eight years ago before I gave it up. It takes patience! I think I'll stick with it this time. I'm planning to spend half my day lacemaking and half my day dollmaking. Yesterday I woke up at 3:30 and wanted to make lace! I worked at it for ten hours. I think it will be perfect for my dolls. I have reduced the pattern 67% and switched to the next to finest thread. I ordered the finest, just so that I can say I use the finest cotton thread available. I can actually see the pattern with my regular glasses, and the fine thread looks so beautiful.

Why haven't I started my dollmaking yet?! I've been unpacked now for two whole days! I needed some PFD Kona Cotton and it came in today from Dharma Trading. They have new dyes in skin tones and I picked them up, too. I have planned from the beginning to dye my own fabric, but I was going to use RIT. RIT has recipes on their websites for hundreds of colors, but they are given for 1 cup measurements. I already know how to use Dharma dyes, so I feel much more comfortable with this method. I'm washing the fabric now and maybe tonight I'll dye it. Tomorrow I'll make my mold.

I'm wishing now that I wasn't taking Spanish, but at the time I really needed a big distraction from dollmaking. Now I want less distraction! I'm totally going to get an A, so I'm not going to drop. I've just lost all interest in the subject. Although it's a good thing to know Spanish in Texas.

Here are my supply links:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Name Change

Well, I decided to change the name of my business, since it hasn't really established itself yet. I'm going to call it Simon Purple instead of Purple Dolls. I might like to make other things, and I think it sounds nicer. I created a logo idea and a friend made it professional looking. I have little labels with it. I did all this before my hiatus.

My hiatus. I suffer from a few mental illnesses. It makes it very difficult to keep a "real" job, but it also makes it difficult for me to follow through with my doll work. I had to take a few months away from it. I did some cross-stitch. I'm taking a Spanish class. I'm just chilling and recharging. I start some cognitive-behavioral therapy this week. I'm really hopeful that it will help me.

My first doll, however, is very close to completion. I've finished sculpting the head and I have it all ready to make a mold. I'll only make one doll from the mold. I've designed the cloth body, too. I'm using an artist age progression chart for children and tried to make the doll in the correct proportions for a six-year-old. My plan is to make dolls in lots of different ages, all in the same scale.

I'd like to make furniture for the dolls, too. I'm going to start a woodworking program in the Fall. Don't know how soon or even if I'd be able to make this furniture. It's just one of those things I really like to dream about, like bobbin lace. Actually, I would like to learn to make bobbins, too! I like the square ones because they don't roll around on the pillow. I have a long piece of lace made that I would like to put on a very special doll sometime, and hopefully make more lace for dolls. Maybe one piece a year. Bobbin lace takes me, at least, a very long time.

Anyway, I moved this weekend from a first floor apartment to a third floor apartment. I have a lot of pain now! I have the muscular pain, but I also have a pain called claudication which comes from poor circulation. I'm hoping the claudication resolves soon because it makes it very difficult to move around my apartment. I'm on Spring Break at school, so I have a whole week to unpack and get settled.

We're in a much larger apartment--300 extra feet!--in a pleasant neighborhood, up on a hill, facing the city. I have a huge window in my workroom (the master room, of course--why sleep in such a beautiful room when you can enjoy it all day?) and I can see downtown in the distance. It will probably be very hot in the summer!

Well, that's enough. I'll change the name of the blog soon to reflect my new dba.