Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The forest is alive with activity...

Well I stepped out to check if new buds have been forming on the hydrangeas and yes, oh yes, they have a whole new lot for this coming season. Everything looks healthy and has survived this very cold winter we've just had. I heard a ruscling in the viburnum and thought that it was the cat who lives next door when I noticed a flash of reddish brown. When I looked up fully, I saw a tree nymph walking by accompanied by her companion animal, a red fox. She had on the most interesting headdress I have seen in a long time. She smiled as she passed by but didn't say anything. They are probably going to a celebration of the new moon which takes place, or so I've heard, deep in the forest. I am going to do some sewing today. Talk to you soon, Norma.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Audrey is ready to kick up her heels!

Now to complete Audrey all we need do is to paint a pair of boots on her legs, and when the paint is dry, paint glue on where you want the sparkle to be. While the glue is still wet, sprinkle on a generous amount of glitter over top of the wet glue. Let dry and shake off the excess glitter. I like to use 'mod podge' glue for this step as it dries slower than other glues that I've tried. Experiment. If the glue dries before you get the glitter sprinkled on then apply the glue to smaller areas and do a section at a time. You can always apply more glue right over top of the dried glue, and sprinkle the glitter on again. If you wind up with a big mess, just abandon those legs and cut a whole new pair and start over. Glitter is readily available at the dollar store. You don't have to have mod podge to complete this step. Use ordinary household white glue (wood glue) and work smaller areas at a time. A little practice goes a long way.

So now we come to the point where in my opinion you simply must purchase brads. Nothing I think, compensates for a brad. Buy them when they go on sale. I purchase mine at 40% when the go on sale for the item, or use a 50% sale certificate from the flyer when it comes around to my home. From Michaels. They are available at independent scrapbooking supply stores as well. Even if they are not on sale they are roughly five dollars for 100 pieces so that is not going to put you into the poor house. Buy brads.

Here is how I put Audrey together: I attached the arms to the neck area of the head piece, by punching a small hole into the top of the arm (use an awl or thick darning type needle) first, and then laying the arm in place. I accurately marked the headpiece by making a pencil mark onto the headpiece by going in through the hole at the top of the arm piece. Then make a small hole where marked on the headpiece. Do this for both arms. I pushed the brad through by going in through the back so that the head of the brad would be at the back of the doll. Usually the head of the brad goes through the front and can be seen. This time however, I wanted to avoid bulk at the front of this particular section of the doll. Now you have a headpiece with arms attached. You want to put the headpiece together with the heart bodice. Apply a small bead of glue at the very bottom of the headpiece on the right side of the headpiece. On top of that area, lay the bodice piece where you want it. Hold the two pieces together firmly with your fingertips until they are bonded. Avoid getting glue near the brad areas as you want the arms to move freely.

Now you want to attach the bodice to the skirt piece. Punch a hole at the bottom area of the heart point at the bottom. Don't go too too close to the edge. Leave a 3/8" margin for safety. Position the skirt piece behind the heart piece and mark the skirt piece with a pencil by going in through the hole in the heart piece. Punch a hole in the skirt and push the brad through from the front this time.

Attach the legs by measuring for placement, poking a hole in the top of each leg, marking the skirt where they attach with the brad, poking holes in the skirt where you've marked them, and attaching the legs by going from the front to the back so that the head of the brad shows at the front. Audrey is done!

You might want to glue on a fancy hair decoration to her head piece.

If you want the embellishment on the bodice. Just glue on words you like. I used love.love.love. from the original color photocopy sheet. Then over the words glue on a pebble. (I used one from a fish tank and found that it is pretty heavy looking. Next time I will use a real 'page pebble' which is available at the scrapbooking store. These lie flat and look much much nicer and more finished.)

That's our paper doll. I hope that you have had a blast if you've been making your own doll along with me. I have had fun doing this. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.

See the photograph above? She is made from the same plastic templates that we've made for Audrey. Her name is 'butterfly love' and she'll be swapped out to my partner is a swap that I am in.

Time to design a new shape skirt, or bodice. I think one with flaring 3/4" sleeves is next on my idea list...talk to you soon, hugs, Norma.

Monday, February 9, 2009


All Audrey needs now is limbs and she is completed!

You have a finished head piece, a skirt piece, and a heart bodice piece. Fit these together in front of you and measure about how long you think the arm should be from fingertips on one end, and to where the arm meets the bodice and beyond on the other end. The beyond part is where the brad will attach so you want this say 3/8" at least. My doll (Audrey) measures 2 5/8" with a slight bend. I drew my arm shape freehand but you can search through fashion magazines, or even celebrity gossip type magazines and hold a ruler up to arms that you like the silhouette of.

When you find one that " fits" make a tracing of the outline of the arm shape. I have used the bit of see-through paper that's commonly found on the envelopes of bills with windows through which can be seen the address. The size of this window paper is perfect for Audrey's limbs. Perfect for making a tracing that is. From the tracing I made a plastic template. One arm outline, and one leg outline. So for this doll both the arms are the same, as well as both legs. Using a template, I traced one side of the template (limb) and then flipped the template to trace the limb in reverse. I did that both for the arm and the leg. Audrey is very symmetrical. My next doll, shown in the photograph above, has differing arms and legs. The asymmetrical quality lends a whimsical air I feel.

Make a leg shape. Measure about the length you think would look good from the point that the foot touches ground on one end, to where the leg meets the skirt and beyond at the other end. My measurement for Audrey was 2 3/4". I found a boot shape I liked which was in a Victorian vintage fashion catalogue. I traced the boot outline, exaggerating the heel area (I made mine higher and wider) and drew freehand from the boot outline, the shape of the leg as it fit into the boot, making it to the length I needed. I made a plastic template.

For the finished limb, I used heavy watercolor paper which I already had on hand around here, and applied a thin watercolor wash overall, trying to match as best I could, the ink tone on Audrey's face. It is a bit on the yellow side. I mixed up (quite watered down) red with a kiss of yellow ochre (very diluted) and applied an even wash over top of the arms and legs that had been traced onto the heavy watercolor paper using the plastic templates, and then cut out. When dry, I applied the boots. I'll talk about that next post.

We will talk about brads and construction details next time too. Until then, hugs, Norma.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Joy of Scrapbooking Paper

Were you making your own doll, in front of you you'd be holding a plastic template for a skirt, and a head piece that has been made sturdy, is trimmed and ready to work with. You'll need the head piece and skirt to figure out what size and shape you want for the bodice piece, as it joins together the two pieces that you already have.

I laid my two pieces (head/skirt) on the table in front of me, to see the relation each to the other has. What looks good in other words. Then I roughly measured the length of the heart shape (this was from the centre of the top of the heart-I will be attaching the head to this area of the heart bodice) to (the bottom point of the heart which will be attached to the skirt. The point needs to merge into the skirt area quite deeply here as it has a fairly narrow point). It looked to be about 2" plus something so I got an envelope, measured 2 and 1/2" along a folded edge, and cut out half of a heart shape along the edge. When opened the heart piece turned out to be too long and too wide. So I kept re-drawing and re-cutting heart shapes until I got one that I liked. It turned out to be 2 and 1/4" from top to bottom along the centre, and 1 and 1/2" across the widest part at the top when opened. I made a plastic template.

Now I can make a zillion outfits as I have a plastic template for a flippy skirt, and a heart shaped bodice. I can make paper dolls to give away as gifts and tokens of affection to family and friends...but I am ahead of myself.

Once I had Audrey's head ready to use, I didn't like the look of the tomatoe skirt. It was too red. I really liked the pink roses from the color photocopy sheet and so I made another skirt piece using the pink roses, AND a heart shape bodice. As I had the two plastic templates to trace the exact shapes, this was an easy step. I glued the roses color photocopy paper to cardboard to stiffen it and when dried, traced the outlines I needed and cut them out. Presto! A new outfit. I make plastic templates so that when layed down onto the paper, they can be easily positioned because you can see through them.

Next, is to make a plastic template for a head piece, using Audrey for the preliminary outline.


Before I had a light table, I taped the original to a window during daylight hours. On top of that I lay tracing paper and copied to my hearts' content. You just want to draw the outline of the head you are using (I am using Audrey's) and extend the outline at the bottom so that there is enough area to overlap with the top of the heart piece bodice. Arch it down and up again in a pleasing line. See the photograph? It shows a traced shape of the head piece I use. This should give you an idea of what it looks like. Also pictured is the cut out shapes of a skirt and a bodice, using wonderful brand new scrapbooking paper. Oh joy! This is the beginning of a new doll. I see orange sparkly high heels in my future...See you next time! Hugs, Norma.

p.s. you don't have to rush out to the store to purchase tracing paper. Often, the paper used for commercial enterprise is flimsy enough to easily see through. Have a look around your home. You'd be amazed at the papers you can find--for free!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Audrey Loves Pink!

Greetings friends!

A few days ago, Audrey was in the process of being made. Today she is finished! What were the next few steps in her completion? Well I cut the head from the color photocopy sheet.

The most important thing is to leave a margin of paper around the image and ESPECIALLY to leave enough paper at the bottom (in approximation to the upper chest area where the collarbone lies). The bottom of the head piece will be glued to the top of the heart piece (bodice), so you can visualize about how much paper to leave. If you cut too much off, don't worry, it can be repaired later.

As the photocopy paper needs to be stiffened, I glued the head piece to a scrap of cereal box cardboard. I used ordinary all-purpose white glue (wood glue). Apply glue to the wrong side (plain, non-printed side) of the cereal box cardboard in an area a bit larger than the head piece. Set the head into position, smooth down carefully to remove air bubbles, and place between heavy books to dry for a while. To prevent glue from wrecking your books, sandwich the glued papers between waxed paper or plastic from a bag.

After a half of an hour or so (you will likely want to peek), check the head piece. You can just leave it alone over night if you want. In any event, the glue should be dried enough so that the bond is made. The papers may still be damp and that is okay. You just want to be sure that the bond is made and that the papers are dry enough so that they won't buckle with handling and that when you cut the margins away, the paper won't tear. Wet paper tears if your cutting blade or scissors are not as sharp as can be. Avoid having the paper tear. The paper head section will want to curl. Gently coax the shape flat by using your fingers and gently flexing the paper in the opposite direction of the curl. Just be gentle. Take your time. There is no rush. In sewing, this step would be called 'finger pressing.'

Usually, I let the papers dry before I start cutting. Or, if I want the piece cut out before it's as dry as a bone, I check to make sure that it is not really, really moist. Make a trial cut along the waste area. When all is ready for cutting, sharpen your scissors (I use a whet stone) or replace your X-acto blade with a brand new one. Carefully cut around the head image LEAVING a hairline margin outside of the image. Try not to cut into the image area. I cut away larger and/or straighter sections with scissors, and then go in with an X-acto knife to get the sharp corners and angles cut away. Now you have a head piece!

We will continue next time. See you soon! Hugs, Norma.

p.s. the 'mother' in me has to jump in here and remind you to be sure to have a sturdy cutting surface to cut on if you're using an X-acto knife. Use cardboard if you don't have a mat. There are mats available at the dollar store. Work slowly, steadily and cut SMALL sections at a time. Breathe. The X-acto blades are sharp!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A word about ink

Not having the "dirt" about printing inks, I can't make an intelligent statement about their properties. I can say from experience that if you use an image cut directly from a glossy magazine (such as the fahion types so commonly available these days) you will likely encounter a frustrating snag in the creation of your artdoll. If the paper tears (which is easily does) during cutting, then the image tears away easily and seems to sort of flake off in spots, leaving white sections with no image.

And, when you glue the magazine paper to a stiffer piece of paper to act as a support, it wrinkles and buckles like crazy. Not a lot of fun. So! I use color photocopies.

I make a 'master' sheet of images, and get them color photocopied. I look for the best quality photocopy business that I can find, and gladly pay extra for the quality images that are created; the color photocopy paper is very very strong and a heavier weight than normal paper, and cuts beautifully. It holds up to handling, gluing, distressing, etc.

I'd chosen Audrey Hepburn's head for this doll, and knew I wanted to get a color photocopy to work with. So I decided to make a new 'master' sheet of images. This way, I am not wasting money paying for a whole sheet of blank paper save the one small image (Audrey's head.) I went to my clipping file and found a couple of heads and some pink roses (wrapping paper) that I'd liked. Then I took a couple of fashion magazines from the stack and clipped shoes, a purse, and two sets of legs that are graphically strong. I'm planning to use only Audrey's head from this sheet, but now have all kinds of images to use for other dolls. These images will go into the file. See that clown face? It makes me happy. He has some sort of bug on his nose. It was clipped from a National Geographic magazine.

Tomorrow I am going to the photocopy store. Talk to you soon! Creative hugs, Norma.


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