In the last few days of 2022, I'd like to share a new project with you - one that should keep me occupied for the summer.
Some months ago, I was approached by a previous customer with an interesting proposal - she'd been given a beautiful pair of antique baby shoes by her son, who thought they might fit one of her antique dolls. She found, however, that all prospective wearers of the shoes had rather chubby legs and they wouldn't fit..........her proposal: Could I make a doll to fit the shoes? Could I what! I jumped at the chance and with summer here and much less on my plate, I have dived in.
The shoes are beautifully hand-crafted from fine, soft leather with buttons the side. Hand-worked buttonholes to correspond with the button positions are on an exquisitely crafted overlying scalloped flap. They are in excellent condition, with little wear. They would date from the mid to late nineteenth century, I believe.
I have drafted a body pattern and started work making the head for the doll, which will have a finished size of approximately 60 cms (24"). This is quite a bit larger than the dolls I usually make, although I have made them this size in the past. The doll will represent a young child of the mid-late Victorian era, to match the age of the shoes, and yes - I will be able to make the legs and feet to fit the shoes!
The foil armature, which gives a base to work the clay over. It is later removed.
I used a Japanese clay from Padico, called Wood Formo. It is very strong, easy to sculpt with and can be carved, sanded and added to after it is dry.
The basic sculpt, sanded and almost ready for a cloth layer to be added.
The beginning of the clothover process. I'm using a fine cotton knit fabric and gluing it very securely to the underlying form.
Here, the head is cloth-covered and has been sized with a mixture of acrylic modelling paste and matte gel medium. This dries to a hard, but somewhat flexible finish and provides a great base for painting. I haven't yet decided whether to use artist's acrylics or oils to do the painting, but I'm veering towards oils. Whichever medium I choose, I will underpaint the head first.