I realized that I'd not yet taken a photo of my group of adventurers after Aeran's Celtic outfit was done. So here they are....Maya, Aeran and Kyle...all set to head off on some big adventure.
Weekends are never the most productive, so things have not progressed very far with my native-inspired outfits. Asa's dress is almost done - I still need to sew it closed in the back. I drew an eagle design on her bodice, and she has a Sisutyl around her skirt - a different one than Byuri's. I did make Asa a wig yesterday. It's from the exact same, very dark brown as Byuri's wig. I didn't want to bother with making a proper center part, so sewed the rows of wefting close enough together that the hair could be parted in front without the cap showing underneath. I haven't done the final styling yet, but I am very happy with it so far - it's a lot better than any of the wigs I purchased for this character. I guess that should teach me - if I want it to look right, I should just make it myself. I also decided Byuri's bangs were too rigid across her brows, so made them sweep to one side.
Next job is Asa's moccasins and leggings, and then the cloaks and hats. We rushed over to Curry's yesterday with some leather samples and tried all kinds of permanent light blue and yellow art markers on it. Most of the art markers went right through the leather, and I'm afraid it could bleed onto the doll's resin if it comes in contact with it, so those markers were ruled out. The Sharpies didn't go through as far, but the yellow and light blues were too bright a colour. Which means I'll have to use diluted paint for the blue and yellow parts of the designs after all. Sigh. And here I thought I'd be able to do it the easier way.
Chris' family brought some special birthday gifts this morning when they came to drop off the girls (I was too sick on my actual birthday earlier this week to have company) The girls had decorated a cake for me, and Chris had made some special custom gift-wrap for my gift. He had printed out one of my doll photos on a huge sheet of paper and everyone had done some colouring on it. Teagan was proud to tell me she had coloured one of the wings.
After everyone left, I put the paper back together agin - like a giant jigsaw puzzle - and took a photo for posterity. And what was inside this cool wrapping paper you ask? A USB 3.0 RAID 4-Bay Enclosure with two new hard drives. Huh? For all those non-computer-literate types (like me) it's a cool black box with four hard-drive docks. Or in even simpler laymen's terms - I never need to worry about running out of space for my photos again as long as I live!!
I'm working on Asas's native-style outfit. Her dress is very similar to Byuri's, but bigger, so has much more space to fill. I've drawn an Eagle on the bodice, and am working on a Sisutyl, or three-faced, feathered, magical serpent, which is long and wide so fits nicely around the skirt above the rows of fringe. Even though I have a bad cold/sinus infection, and can't really smell the marker fumes, they are starting to get to me, so I need to take plenty of breaks. Drawing on the native-style designs is very tedious and time-consuming. I can't pre-draw on the leather with a pencil - it doesn't show up - so I have to do it directly with the permanent markers, and there's no room for error. The most challenging part is doing the mirror images. Thankfully these native designs had a lot of leeway as to how they were stretched or compressed to fill a space.
I also started gluing the tiny shells onto the fringe - every other piece of fringe gets a shell. I'm thinking of using the darker shells on the bottom row, and lighter ones on the top row.
Just a quick progress shot of Byuri's native costume. The entire outfit is nowhere near done, but her dress is finished, and I just had to take a photo. I drew a stylized Beaver on her bodice, and a Sisutyl around her skirt above the rows of fringe. The bottom fringe is made of raffia to represent shredded cedar bark, and both rows of leather fringe have tiny shells attached.
The outfit will not be authentic, but will be based on and inspired by, traditional Northwest Coast Native art and dance regalia. Byuri still needs moccasins, leggings, a painted fringed blanket/shawl, and a hat. But first I'm making Asa her native dress, which will be a similar style.
Thankfully we didn't get any snow after all, although everywhere else around and to the north, it's a winter wonderland. A friend suggests it's because "Toronto is too full of hot air", and that's why we never get it. But it's a good thing. The crabapples are about to burst into bloom, and I'd hate if they met the same fate as the magnolias this year, and all the buds froze. Only a handful of saucer magnolia buds survived and managed to open, and the flowers were quite damaged.
Anyway, I've finally started working on my two native outfits. It's going very slow because I also came down with a cold/flu/ear infection AGAIN for the umpteenth time this winter. But better slow than not at all. The leather fringe is even finer than last time. I've stained all the leather pieces so they don't look so glaringly new, and once the stain dries I'll draw Northwest Coast native designs all over all the main costume pieces. The leather fringe will get shells glued onto the ends. I've already sewn raffia fringe to simulate cedar bark fringe.
Well, I unintentionally ended up restringing my first doll today! I wanted to switch Elin and Byuri's heads and bodies so Byuri could have the mobility joint. I first thought I could just switch their face-plates, but they didn't fit properly on the other's head base and just fell off. So, the next step was to switch the entire head, which is simple enough on most ball-jointed dolls. So I took the pliers and pulled on the S-hook, lifting and turning it to fit through the neck hole - then let go. Suddenly the whole doll lay in pieces on the floor! That was a surprise since most S-hooks don't fit down into the body, but stay up on top of the neck, and the whole body stays together even with the head removed. Now, if this had happened to me a year ago, I would have panicked, but I've watched Charie take apart enough of my dolls recently to understand how my BIDs are held together. So, after a bit of trial and error, and tying ribbon loops onto the S-hooks to get a better grip, I managed to put both dolls back together again - on each other's bodies.
I went out to take some more photos of Hope today, this time dressed in the 'Apple Blossom Fairy' ensemble which is still waiting to be mailed. We ended up at the lake again, where we found some lovely blooming trees and forsythia bushes. For now Hope is just trying on all kinds of different wigs and spare outfits. Eventually she'll get something of her own, including a remade heirloom baby dress. I've made a Favourite Photos page with the best of Hope's first photos. I love this new photo! Just click on it to go to Hope's photo page.
Winter is supposed to be making it's 'last hurrah' tomorrow, and we are expecting snow (!?!?) Lake Ontario always seems to have a moderating effect, so hopefully we won't get too much. If we do, then I'll just have to take my "3 amigos" out for some snow photos.
I haven't done much today doll-wise. Saturday mornings my little granddaughters always come over, so on Friday nights everything I'm working on needs to be cleaned up and put away. I don't have a "working studio". My whole main floor is my "studio". I cut out and paint on the kitchen table, and sew and glue in the living room either at the sewing machine on my desk tucked into a corner, or sitting in my big easy chair. Maybe not very "professional", but that's how I've always made dolls. So, Friday evenings all the scissors, pins, needles, and dolls which stand out on the end table beside my chair all week, need to be put away out of reach of small inquisitive hands. Saturday afternoons I can take it all back out. It's like starting over from scratch every weekend!
Last night we went to Canadian Tire (car cleaning department) for another chamois for the native costumes for JID Asa and little Byuri, who are going to become two Northwest Coast native girls - either sisters, or mother and daughter. Now I need to look through all my Northwest Coast art and design books to find appropriate figures to embellish their outfits with. I've already purchased new red and black Sharpies markers to draw the designs onto the leather. I've already made both girls plain beige tights to wear under their regalia and protect them from being scratched by the doll stands. Maybe while I'm looking for native designs for the costumes, I should start making some leather footwear - some kind of native-inspired, tall moccasin-like boots. The outfits are going to be "native-inspired" and not necessarily authentic, so I do have some leeway.
I made two sample sundresses for my tiny Iplehouse girls. These little dresses are so super easy, and take almost no time at all to make. I especially love Byuri's aqua and pink on black - it's made from a leftover pillow border I've been saving for years.
Aeran's Celtic ensemble is all back together too, and I like the dyed tartan a lot better as the lighter threads are not fighting for attention anymore. After going back and forth trying to decide if I should or not, I decided to make a scabbard for her sword. In real life those sharp blades would not have been dangling out in the open - they'd always be protected inside a sheath.
Martha Boers is an award-winning Canadian doll maker and costumer specializing in fantasy and historical-style costumes.