Tuesday Tutorial

August 26, 2008 at 10:00 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi guys! You’re reading my old blog — come on over and check out what’s been going on lately at my new site, www.needleandclay.com.

I’ve been posting links to new tutorials every Tuesday, in addition to my weekly doll art review. Plus the layout is a lot prettier! I’ve been working really hard on it, so please come and see and don’t forget to update your links.

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Elsita Mora’s Flower Girls

August 1, 2008 at 10:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Check out my new self-hosted blog for this week’s artist review, as well as my new Tuesday Tutorial feature and a bonus news article.

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Alarming Antiquities — Melisa Matkin

July 26, 2008 at 9:32 pm (Uncategorized)

Check out www.needleandclay.com for this week’s post about Melisa Matkin of Coppermouse Dolls!

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Paper dolls in Kansas City and doll events

July 23, 2008 at 9:26 pm (doll events) (, , )

According to today’s Kansas City Star, the Kansas City Museum will carry in its gift shop a book of paper dolls based on the turn-of-the-last-century equestrienne Loula Long Combs. The dolls are designed by illustrator and doll historian Johana Gast Anderton (I know, I was thinking, “Doll historian?” but remember Kansas City is home to the UFDC headquarters and museum).

I can’t find anywhere to buy the book online, and the museum doesn’t seem to have a web page for its gift shop, but maybe the next time you’re in or near Kansas City you can swing by and take a look.

It’s interesting that the newspaper article also says the author donated a “real” doll to the museum for display. Paper dolls aren’t “real?” Who decided that?

Also, I’d like to announce that I’m going to start collecting information about doll events and posting it on a page on this blog. Someday, I’d like to turn that into a fully searchable calendar widget thingy, but for now it’ll have to be a list of links on a page. If you have an event you’d like to promote, please go to the Doll Events page and post your information in a comment. I’m sure everyone would like to hear about it.

The list will begin with a link to Jones Publications’ calendar page.


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Alabama Babies by Deanna Hogan

July 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm (Tutorials and how-tos) (, , )

Something about ODACA artist Deanna Hogan’s work reminds me of the nostalgic South. She lives in the northwest, so maybe it’s just the power of suggestion, since she has made several dolls based on the antique Alabama Baby, but to me her chubby play dolls and nostalgic adult figures are reminiscent of folk music and rural life.

Although her dolls are technically cloth dolls, many of them have fabric faces glued over polymer clay masks. Pictured above on the left is one of her Alabama Baby-inspired dolls, Viola Ruth. Viola Ruth has a polymer clay mask and cranium joined by paperclay over a cloth stump. Then Hogan glues cloth over the whole unit, gessos and sands it and paints it with oil paints. She has a tutorial for her process on her Picturetrail account.

Although she isn’t preoccupied by fairies and wizards like so many of us, Hogan’s work is fantastical in its own way, reminding one of childhood toys and fairytales. The seated doll above is from a pattern she sells called Averill, and includes bead-joined knees and elbows and button-jointed limbs. I wonder how many of her patterns are purchased by grandmas to make for their lucky little granddaughters.

Some of Hogan’s adult dolls are just a little bit bluesy, as exemplified by her Bob Dylan portrait above, and Delta Dawn, who was inspired by a song about a woman who was left at the altar. As you can see, they’re full to the brim of character, and I just love her choice of fabrics for Dawn’s dress. Check out Hogan’s blog and her website for more pictures of her work.

Have a great weekend. I spent all week trying to move this blog over. Yikes, what a chore!

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Editorial Note–the future of Needle and Clay

July 15, 2008 at 9:09 pm (Uncategorized)

Dear Readers,

In the coming weeks, some things are going to change around here. I’m going to move this blog to its own domain, with a new theme, and I’m going to start using ads and affiliate programs to earn some money. I realize that some people get annoyed by monetized blogs, but I feel that I can do this without causing too much distraction, and if I can earn some money at this, I can afford to give you better content and service.

I want to assure you that my number one priority is maintaining the quality of your reading experience. Your attention is extremely valuable to me, not just in terms of money but also in my personal feelings of success with this venture. To that end, I want to offer you these promises:

  • I will never, ever, charge money to read this blog. If you wish to contribute by clicking ads or offering donations, that will be up to you, but the content is free, and it’s going to stay free.
  • I will do my best to make sure the ads that you see here are relevant to your interests and do not inconvenience you in any way. I may not have much control over their relevance at first, but that will be my goal as I move forward. And I hate pop-ups as much as you do.
  • My editorial space is not for sale. If I have a personal or financial relationship with any product, service, publication or artist mentioned in this space, I will be up front about it, and I don’t endorse anybody for money. Any opinion I express here is my actual opinion, and worth no more or less than that.

Before I can start earning anything, I have to move this blog to my own domain. WordPress.com is a great blogging site, but they don’t allow ads. Besides, I need better metrics than I can get here. Moving to my own domain means a new theme because as far as I can tell, the ones for the free site aren’t the same as the ones for self-hosted blogs. I was getting tired of this one anyway, and I want a third column to place ads in. I hope to customize the new theme so that it can be both pretty and functional.

I already own http://www.needleandclay.com, and I spent most of this past Saturday trying to get this blog moved over to it. (You can see my efforts at www.needleandclay.com/needle.) So far I’ve managed to migrate all my posts and pages, but not your comments, which is very frustrating, because I love everything you guys have posted. After I get everything running over there, I might post my reviews in both places for a while, until people get their bookmarks updated.

Once that’s settled, I’d like to start bringing you some new content. I’ve been thinking about offering product reviews and comparisons, and compiling a list of links to dollmaking tutorials. I’d also like to offer dollmaking news and possibly interviews with dollmakers. I might also put up a calendar for doll events.

Sounds ambitious, I know, but I’d rather plan for excellence and fail than plan for mediocrity and succeed. Here’s where you guys can help: Are there other doll-related features you’d like to see here? What kind of questions should I ask dollmakers I interview? What products would you like me to review? Leave me a comment or drop me a line to let me know.

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The graceful proportions of Angela Jarecki

July 11, 2008 at 8:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Today’s featured artist is Angela Jarecki. According to her blog, she seems to be living in Texas these days, but she used to work at Hallmark and live here in the Kansas City area, so I am fairly sure that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at some point, during my early days of fangirling all the doll artists in town. I’m sure she doesn’t remember me at all, though.

In any case, what I remember about her was that she made the most beautiful cloth mermaid I’d ever seen. There’s just something about the tail proportions that she gets right and hardly anybody else does, or at least did at that time. All of her cloth dolls are characterized by an unerring sense of proportion and fantastic fabric choices. I love the color choices and the textures of her Abundance, shown below in the orange coat.

Her sense of proportion spills over into her hard medium sculpts too, which have the most delightful faces. The fairy pictured above is such an unusual scale. I love how she fits right in the palm of your hand.

I must confess, though, that her bears and bunnies are my favorite pieces. They don’t have the same kind of faces as traditional teddies; instead they seem to be patterned after modern plushies. Again, we see her fabulous grasp of proportion in the size and placement of the eyes and other facial features. It amazes me that many of these bears are crocheted. I neither knit nor crochet, but if I’d known you could do this kind of thing with it, I might have learned. Even her bears have gorgeous little costumes, and most of them come with an even tinier friend. If you go to her website, you can read their little biographies, which often include their best friends’ names and favorite snacks.

Jarecki teaches online classes at DollStreetDreamers, so go and check them out. I love to see an artist with such varied interests — it gives me hope for myself!

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Update — Butterfly wings, ball joints

July 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm (my work, Sewing and costuming) (, , , )

Hi, just a couple of things for you to check out.

I have a confession to make. I found out about Adele Sciortino’s doll costume newsletter way back when it first started up last summer, but I never really got around to reading it until this week. Boy, was I missing out! Each issue takes a specific topic in dollmaking costume, whether it’s a genre like fairies or clowns or a historical period, and gives you specific instructions for making such a costume, illustrated with the work of other professional artists, like Marianne Reitsma and Martha Boers or Charie Wilson.

The first issue, Summer 2007, included general instructions and patterns for no fewer than eleven types of doll wings, including flower-petal angel wings like the ones seen in my report on Sleetwealth Studios. So, for those of you who are following my search for fairy wing tutorials, go and sign up for the newsletter.

The newsletter is free; you just have to sign up. Go take a look, it’s worth the trouble of signing up just for the fabulous pictures of Reitsma and Boer’s work. There are also book reviews, articles about organizing a studio, using silk flower petals in doll costumes, and more.

Finally, while surfing today, looking for the next doll artist to feature, I discovered a pattern on CD for what seems to be a ball-jointed cloth doll. The artist is Allison Marano and the link is here — scroll down to Henley the House Gnome. The description says his hips and shoulders are button joints but his elbows, knees, wrists and ankles are “bead joints.” I’m not sure if bead joints are the same as the ball joints I’ve been working on, but it sure looks like it. If anyone has made this pattern, can you leave us a comment about how the joints work?

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Happy Fourth!

July 4, 2008 at 6:01 pm (Uncategorized)

Hello and Happy Fourth of July to all of my American readers, even if you’re not actually in America today. In fact, even if you’re not an American and you’ve never heard of the Fourth of July, I hope you’re having a great day anyway.

In honor of our country’s birthday, today I’m going to post some patriotic dolls from Etsy:

A hilarious pair of red, white and blue sock monkeys from Hoffeeandanuffin, who seems to specialize in hosiery primates.

These wonderful Americana sculpts were done by Middleburg Folk Art Studio. These aren’t even my favorite pieces out of this shop (check out their bluebird wedding cake toppers and flying pigs) but I love the patterned paper in Betsy Ross’s skirt and the windswept look of Uncle Sam’s beard.

PolkaDotToadstool has a shop full of dollhouse minis and very creative sculpted dolls, including a toadstool art doll, a little old lady surrounded by her carniverous plants ( Is that a piece of bacon she’s feeding them???) and this Punch-and-Judylike Uncle Sam.

Parkerart offers a bunch of these joyful, poseable Uncle Sams. I love the way they dance and hop around on their skinny legs.

I hope you enjoyed all of theses pieces, and I hope you’ll have a great weekend!

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Update — wonder if he’ll do my back yard?

July 2, 2008 at 1:02 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Check out this terra cotta art by Aussie Bruno Torfs. It’s got me trying to think of statues to make for my own garden… hmmm….

See more art at his website, and this Flickr set.

Oh, and for the record, polymer clay really can’t stand up to being outside, but there’s a new product that’s supposed to seal it so it can. It’s called Paverpol, and you can get it at ClayAlley.com. I’m very interested in trying it, but haven’t scraped up the money or time yet.

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