Tuesday, April 25, 2023

New Stuff

Here are some things I've been working on in recent weeks - some of these are available in my Etsy  store (link in side bar)..........some special little "Sukeshi" dolls and a couple of needle-felted critters. Always busy!



Well, this "Baby's Boots" project is finally finished! I'm particularly pleased with how she turned out and I love how her clothes suit her to a T.  The wig (made from Lincoln sheep locks, which are more hair-like than woolly) worked well, too, styled using rags to curl it in the old-fashioned way. I used cotton batiste for the underwear and worked a crochet edging on the petticoat. The dress is smocked white-on-white with a crochet edging around the collar. 

The coat is made from some lovely boiled-wool fabric in dark teal with black feather-stitched details, with the collar and yoke lined with champagne silk. I knitted her hat in a shade to match the coat (lucky find - last ball in the shop!) and lightly felted it. The stockings are cotton knit. The bear in some of the photos is from my collection and was made by my sister. Linda. Her new owner has given "Baby's Boots" the name "Clara", which suits her very well!

 Here is the finished photo-shoot:

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Putting It All Together...........and other things

 I finally got this big girl put together - this is the biggest doll I've made in a long time, but of course, she had to be sized to fit those beautiful antique boots. She's around 23.5 inches tall (60 cms) The permanent wig will probably add a little to her final height.

I've dressed her temporarily in a vintage baby dress I had and plunked the wigging material on her head for this photoshoot while I think about her clothing. 

The next job will be hand-knotting the wig and styling it appropriately. I'm using this blonde lincoln wool, because it is the only thing I can find that's long enough to make a wig for this big girl. It's not as lustrous as mohair, but it should make a lovely wig. As you can see, the antique baby boots fit her perfectly! I also need to add more painted detail to her hands and feet. Very happy with progress.

I've had a couple of other projects on the go that I've recently completed. Firstly, in late 2022, I bought a vintage "Sasha" doll that I spotted on a stall at a fair. She dates from about 1974, which is about when I noticed these lovely dolls and really wanted one. At the time, with a young family, money was pretty tight and I couldn't really justify the expense of one of these dolls. 
They were quite pricey. Only had to wait fifty years to get one!
I got this one naked and with a bit of an amateur haircut (which was salvageable) for a reasonable price. She's sat around naked for quite a while, but a few weeks ago, I got the urge to give her some clothes. Which I did - tried to make them appropriate to her era - smocked gingham dress, knitted cardi and hat in kid mohair, knitted socks and red leather buckled shoes. I've named her "Lucienne".

Then I thought Lucienne needed a playmate, so I designed a doll based loosely on the proportions of the original "Sasha" dolls. I didn't want to make a replica, but I made a more simply sculpted head than I usually do, with a neck joint. This doll is also jointed at the shoulders and hips. The wig is hand-knotted suri alpaca hair. I dressed her in a similar way to my Sasha doll, with a smocked dress, angora knitted hat and cardigan and knitted socks with leather sandals. She was fun to make!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023


I've been working away at my special project, apart from a couple of trips to Hobart and a week away at music camp (which was awesome.......and I started learning the viola) Progress has been slow but steady because with the good weather we've been having, I'm spending more time in the garden, which is producing wonderfully at the moment. I'm also dealing with gluts as they occur.

Oh yes - I now also have a puppy - a beautiful kelpie girl called Maisie. She's a treasure, but what a time-waster!

So, back to the project: I've drafted a body pattern and made up the parts and tried everything together for size. So far so good. Of course, I had to make the legs and feet the right size to fit those beautiful little boots, while allowing a bit of room for the stockings I'm planning to knit. 

I underpainted the head with burnt umber acrylic paint, prior to the first layers of oil paint. Oil painting takes time and the way I do it, I like to work in multiple thin layers, with drying time in between. I'm reasonable happy with the head as it is, but I will probably add more to it as I look at it and think about what needs doing. Next step will be to assemble the doll and finish the lower limbs with size and paint. I will then be ready to give some serious thought to the clothing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

A New Project For A New Year

 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.

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