Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful for You

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I want to tell you how thankful I am for all of you who continue to read and follow this blog. I know my recent posts have been few and far between. Most of you are aware my youngest child has special needs and he has been in the midst of a health crisis for the past couple months. Yesterday I took him to one of four appointments he has scheduled over the next three weeks. One will be a painful procedure he has to endure on his birthday because they had no other time open. Another will last all day so he can meet with a team of specialists. Our other children have well checks coming up in the next couple weeks, and our oldest will have surgery next month to correct a congenital defect. So, there will probably not be a huge number of big projects to post about until the new year. I will try as hard as I can to finish some of the many jobs I have underway; I do hope you'll check in now and then to see my new stuff. As a token of gratitude, please use the code GIVETHANKS for 20% off any order from my Etsy shop. My eBay store has buy one, get one 20% off in several categories right now and from Black Friday to Cyber Monday you can take an extra 10% off hundreds of items throughout the store. Knowing you all are there and waiting for a new post keeps me inspired and motivated to write, and you deserve a treat!

Custom matryoshka dolls
I do have some big news on the Etsy front: I have started offering custom sets of matryoshka, or nesting, dolls. I hand paint these to your specifications. So far I've done movie and comic book sets and I've also done a family portrait.

Each set is hand-painted.

The backs are detailed.

This doll features two characters.

The smallest doll is about 1 inch tall.

Each set of dolls is handmade from wood. I buy the blank sets in bulk from Russia. Each set has five dolls, but in one case I added an extra character by painting  one on each side. Besides people in the family portrait you could add pets as well. The portraits aren't photo real; they are a cute, "big eyes" version of each person, but still recognizable.

A family portrait

Each person has something they love on their portrait doll.
For a special order I did a "kawaii", which means "cute" in Japanese, version of comic book heroes as babies. This turned out to be just adorable and I hope the little boy who receives it will be thrilled with it.

I use non-toxic acrylic artist's paints and finish the sets with homemade all-natural wood polish so they're safe for kids. The small pieces present a choking hazard so I wouldn't give them to children under age four or so, but even if they put their hands in their mouth after playing with these it won't hurt them. Each one of these sets takes me a week or so to complete, so if you'd like to order one please go ahead and do so as soon as possible. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cissy's Custom Capelet

With all the visits to doctors and sick days my youngest has had recently, (and he's home again sick today; we just can't get that poor baby well), I totally forgot to write about a custom order I completed a couple weeks ago. You can request custom orders through Etsy and I set up a special coupon code just for blog readers: use the code BLOGGER at checkout and take 10% off your order!

My copy of Cissy's capelet
My customer requested I make a replica of the capelet from outfit #2141 of 1957. She had the dress but couldn't find the capelet alone. The whole outfit can be quite difficult to find, and the capelet, which isn't tagged, is particularly likely to be lost nowadays. Many times people who do have it don't know they have it. I restored a doll with the outfit years ago, so I remembered the capelet fairly well, and luckily I took photos from different angles back then.

Capelet #2141, Original of 1957

I started the design process by reviewing the photos and draping pieces of notebook paper to make a pattern. I folded and cut the paper to get the shape I wanted, then added seam allowance.

I made the pattern by draping with paper.

After I was happy with my pattern I looked in my fabric stash to see if I had any material that could work. It's always best to avoid new fabrics to create  replica, especially for an accessory like this that needs to go with an old piece such as the blue #2141 dress. A vintage curtain seemed to be the perfect thing so I used that.

I used a vintage curtain to make the capelet.

The original capelet is made of organdy, and that's stiffer than my curtain, so I ironed some starch into the fabric to stiffen it up. Please ignore my disreputable ironing board. Obviously I need to replace the cover. After I took this photo I thought about it and decided the current cover, which in my mind I think of as the "new" cover, is at least 15 years old!

I starched the pieces.
The capelet turned out quite well. I was glad I didn't choose thicker or stiffer fabric, because in the areas where I had to sew through several layers I could barely get my professional machine through it and broke one needle! Somehow my version ended up with rounded edges when it ought to have straight; I don't know when that happened. Possibly when Another Thin Man was on... I may have been paying a little too much attention to the movie while I was working! I really don't ever like to make exact copies of anything, however; I really prefer people realize what a piece should be without any possibility of anyone passing my piece off as an original. I never know what will happen to these things after the owners pass on or downsize their collections and I don't want new owners to be confused as to exactly what they are buying and its value.

The replica capelet from several angles
In any case, my client is happy with her custom order and sent me a photo of her doll wearing it. I was pleased to see it really captures the look of the original! I absolutely love when people send me pictures of their new dolls and things. Please keep it up!

The capelet's new owner