I just adore her. From the get go she didn’t have much of a back story or pages of plans or sketches. On the advice of a fellow doll maker, I simply followed my gut on her and didn’t agonize over specific color and style decisions. I made her and for her just what pleased me at the moment.
She is easy; she has the braids I coveted as a child. She has the complexion I covet now and the colors that make me feel happy.
Fancy? nah. but who needs fancy all the time? I hope images of Nina bring you pleasure like she did me.
Here’s a little shot of her body in all its glory. ha. As you can see, she has one of the rounder bellies I’ve made. She doesn’t seem to be mind being naked any more than a toddler. I’m still working on bringing in some ability to hold poses in my dolls. I just really like how they can bend and hold their legs and arms in bent positions. I think the thing I like about the armature testing the most is that the dolls still look and feel like my dolls. I haven’t had to alter my pattern and they are still mostly wool.
The last piece I made for Nina is this whimsical flouncy jacket. I had it in my head the whole time I was working on her but wasn’t able to finish designing it till just now right before I send her off. I think it adds a bit of romance as well as practicality for the cooler seasons
Nina was sold at Dollectable on Hyena Cart on June 1, 2015.
Another thing I’ve been working on is writing down my current thoughts on doll making and the doll making journey. Doll making affords a lot of solitude and time to listen to my inner thoughts. In the past I haven’t bothered to document any of them but lately they seem to want to come out.
Well you’re up early Angeni (ahn-jeh-NEE). How come you look so well rested? I didn’t sleep a wink!
We are going to have to take your hat off today. You know that.
We’ll make it ok. ok?
I see your eyes you know!!
You’re hair is so pretty you know that? And so you and so natural. Actually, it kind of looks like mine.
Well, we’ll see what we can do.
It will be ok. I promise Angeni.
Angeni has angora mohair goat hair. Hair from a goat. A goat raised by a small farmer in the US who has a good life. This goat gets sheared twice a year and has beautiful golden brown and blonde hair. I bought the locks and combed each one and wefted them together and washed them and combed them again and crocheted them into a wig. And they are soft and strong and beautiful…. but yesterday I was getting ready for a last photo shoot and I noticed they were matting. And locks I had just combed seemed to need combing again. Sigh.
Here is the thing about Doll Hair. Doll hair is difficult. Especially when you want and need to use the most natural materials possible. People don’t make as many allowances for doll hair as they do for people hair. Doll hair is never supposed to be unruly, or unmanageable, or indescribable, or fuzzy or too thin or too thick. But…. lots of doll hair that looks pretty and perfect has gone through many many steps of processessing to achieve its glean and shine. Processessing that not all dolls appreciate. For some dolls – they demand organic, earthy, natures gift. The gift of the goat. I absolutely love working with raw, unprocessed goat hair. It is soft and real. It is clean. But, it is highly variable. Its one thing and then – it has changed. It is difficult. It takes me hours of hand work to turn the locks into a wig. I go thru it lock by lock with just my comb and my sewing machine and my kitchen sink. It all seems worth it – and then…. crash – I’m combing it lock by lock and getting it ready for some last minute photos – and I notice, the nice separate locks have clumped and are clinging. I notice the locks I just combed need combing again. All my insecurities come falling down front and center.
And I realize, the truth is? it is difficult to achieve manageable, comb-able, gorgeous, perfect doll hair with natural locks. Maybe so difficult I can’t and shouldn’t try it. And another thing… even if they do work (and I have made some dolls with lock hair that I love) – the next set of locks will behave differently. Because all animals, even in the same breed, have different hair – just like humans. I often hear people talking about which kind of locks they love the most. They may say Alpaca. Well, alpaca fiber also varies intensely from animal to animal. Some of it is so slippery and fine I haven’t been able to weft it at all; no weft can contain it. Some is almost coarse. Some you really can’t comb out without breaking ends. Mohair is amazing stuff – people have been making dolls with mohair locks for generations and centuries – but it is extremely variant from animal to animal even from shearing to shearing. In the US, most goats are sheared twice a year so they can have manageable coats and they can give birth and nurse babies without hair getting in the way – and so the hair is mostly between 6-8″ at the maximum. The mohair locks that are much much longer have been growing for longer than half a year and they tend to be much harder to comb out since they’ve been growing on an animal for so long. The softest locks tend to mat and clump. So there are tradeoffs in length and many other aspects.
I thought about pulling Angeni’s listing and keeping her here with me longer. changing her hair or coming to terms with it – but in the end I will keep her listing as is. I will always rehair my dolls if their hair becomes too unmanageable for the people who love them. Thank you for your support in this journey.
you will have to reach out sometimes – be the one to offer your hand first
Its ok to sit alone don’t let people tell you it isn’t
I watch you struggle to process something for which there are not words and I think: “JennyB, you are enigmatic.”
I started working on JennyB many weeks ago. At first I was working under the assumption that she would be one thing. Something, an idea, that was stuck in my head, running thru my idyl thoughts, a memory from school days and I couldn’t get the name or the person out of my head. Well, and then the weeks pass and the stitches mount and it turns out the hair you thought would be perfect is all wrong. And SO, she is who she is and nothing more and always hard to define. And JennyB is she. Enigmatic.
With JennyB, I am once again experimenting with some mild pose-ability. Buried deep in her muscular skeleton structure she has armature that allows her arms, legs, and neck to bend and hold their position. The armature does not extend through her shoulders and hips so she can not hold her arms up or out but she can bend them around something. The armature is not a 100% natural material. However, by weight, JennyB is still mostly made of wool and cotton, and she feels just like my other dolls to the touch. JennyB can stand against a wall and sit on her own. and she is large (23″ tall) and hug-able.
It is no secret that blue and grey are the colors I gravitate toward and always want to use for my dolls. So JennyB has comfortable cotton jeans and a blue cotton t-shirt and a snuggly warm wool vest in really yummy Madelinetosh yarn that I crocheted with a raised diamond stitch. (Its red wooden buttons made JennyB very happy! ) Of course she has cotton undies and socks. Her dress is an organic Japanese linen that I just love and her boots are leather, lined with linen, and fastened with etched metal buttons.
I have been working on some custom dolls and a large ready to go doll for a long time. I’m not sure why, but I’m really taking my time on these dolls. My guess is, I’m working slowly because I want to get them right and I’m afraid I won’t. Fear and self confidence is a daily battle for me. Anyway, I was hoping to have all the customs done and JennyB for Dollectable on February 1st, 2015. But I knew I couldn’t make it and didn’t want to rush. I was sad to miss Dollectable and wishing I could snap my fingers and have a doll to offer. In the past, when I’ve tried to make a little doll quickly – it ends up being a miniature big doll – that is, I end up making a tiny fully dressable doll that takes almost as long as big dressable doll. I was stewing about this, when out of the blue – I had this very clear vision: IP FIX!
i happened to be driving my children to piano lessons at the time. I couldn’t get there fast enough. Piano lessons is a very calming experience for me – my children are busy learning notes and rhythms and I’m busy, in my own world, in a sunny window crocheting or… madly getting the IP Fix down on paper before the vision of it dematerializes and is vanquished.
IP Fix is a small doll that doesn’t need clothes. It has a real wool head with a real wig full of luscious curls. Its body is soft and flexible and is double walled with the outer wall being loose and the inner wall containing glass weighting media and wool. Its curved legs and arms are made of the usual doll skin stuffed firmly with wool and attached securely. I choose a soft organic fabric for the body and a beautiful color mohair lock for its hair. IP Fix!
My plan is to make more – to make many – whenever I need to have a doll on my table – but I don’t always follow through on my plans; sometimes they get replaced by new compulsions. It is the nature of doll making.
It is funny. Doll making doesn’t really need to have a seasonality, doesn’t need to be marked in years, but I strongly feel a yearly pattern to my doll making. Every January feels like a fresh start, a time to look forward, set goals, like an empty slate ready to mark exciting new beginnings. But this post is a look back upon last year’s seasons. Spring always brings optimism and new breezy fabrics,
Summer feels like a time to get things done and finish orders, but it rarely is, as its too tied up in variable kids’ activities and schedules of snacks and sunshine.
oh and I can’t forget summer doll Francis!
By fall, the pressure is really on! It marks the start of the busy season. Fall is crazy for me as the leader of a family packed with fall birthdays, the start of schools, and as a doll maker, the start of the busy season and the holiday rush.
Also, fall brings this craving for some of the yummiest textures of doll making, the layered wools, and knits and hats.
And then, the holidays are soon happening, and with them a lot of anxiety for the doll maker, the pressure to successfully close out another year of dolls, the pressure to try to get to as many custom order requests as possible, the pressure to list additional extra ready-to-go dolls as this is the time when demand really hits a frenzy. And this year?
well, I chose not to succumb to the pressure too much. I only made about 26 dolls in 2014. Just over 2 per month. I didn’t do inhuman amounts of doll work in December. And that is probably a good thing.
And now it is time to say goodbye to the very last doll of 2014. This is Juliette of the Cold Moon – the wolf moon – made in the dark quiet of late December, bridging into January.
She turned out to be one of my favorite dolls of 2014. She is very tiny; a very slender 12″. But, I’m very proud of her proportions.
To me, her proportions are perfect for her long face and narrow head. Often, when I’m critiquing my own work, it is the proportions of which I find myself most critical. Another thing I love about Juliette is her innocent childlike approach to the world. She is not too self aware. She is just a child. A child in a cold, dark house, but one full of wool socks, and burning fires, and glistening snow outside. She doesn’t know true cold because she is lucky to have her family providing her the warmth. The other seasons will come for her but right now she is living in the magic in the moment of the cold and dark.
As I look back at 2014 there are a few other dolls that standout as turning points. Merry was a huge accomplishment for me. And I almost didn’t make her! I felt pressure at the time to work on some wishlist custom projects and future ready-to-go dolls, and it really took a big push from two of my colleagues who encouraged me and believed in me to join the collaboration of which Merry was part and really let her shine.
She was the first doll of a new very large size and I felt proud of each part of her. Usually, there is some piece of each doll that I feel unsure about. Is her hair too thin? Is she stuffed too firm? Will people understand her expression?, Are her clothes singular and special enough? But Merry seemed to make herself. I’m not sure if it was her story and fate that helped her along or if it was just the coincidence of being the right doll, at the right time – but There was Merry.
Another doll I’ll always think of as being very special was a custom doll I made named Eowyn. She had two very different roles, that of fearless warier, and that of fine medieval lady. Her silk fighting costume and elegant silk dress were both memorable and very different from my past designs.
I love them all and I can’t wait to start meeting the class of 2015. There really should be another post about 2015 Inviting Play plans. We shall see. Thank you for supporting me, loving my work, and pushing me to get better, and allowing me to be me.
It felt so good to run away from Lady Davenport. I kind of wanted to just keep running and running and running. I would just keep imagining that I was back home in the grasses.
Running and running with no cares. However, we were getting hungry and our hunger brought us back to reality. We needed food and we needed to find our parents – or at least figure out how to contact them. We had a little money so we decided to find the train depot.
Right outside the station, as I was scanning headlines on newspapers. I saw something I really can not speak about. All I had to do was point it out to Thekla and Noortje. My world came crashing down. It was something unspeakably awful that the newspapers were showing. And it seemed we were right in the center of it. Our train ride idea vanished and we were running again.
running running running. later the running was walking. Sometimes we’d walk alone and sometimes in pairs and sometimes all together. we had to be very careful as the authorities had been alerted and were on the watch for us. We needed to hide in plain sight.
Noortje and Thekla were very worried about me – it seems I stopped talking. I let them make all the plans. I withdrew to my imagination.
We ate what we could.
It was beginning to be cold.
Eventually, we realized our goal was to find permanent homes and families. We all took turns questing alone. I enjoyed my time alone. I really did ok for myself. I know I’m too trusting, too naive. But, people like me and they want to help me. Thekla and Noortje were much more proactive about their wanderings. They looked at maps. They planned. They adventured in an organized way. They had fun together. They found temporary homes in Europe with dollmakers and … I found one too – back home. I managed to fall under the gaze of the right wealthy family at a playground, and they helped me find my doll maker.
Once in my home I began to open up a bit about the tragic death of my parents. I wrote and received lots of postcards to and from Thekla and Noortje. It seems they share my strong desire to find a new permanent home.
In just 1 day, tomorrow, on Friday. September 26, 2014. At 8:30pm EASTERN and 7:30pm Central time – I will begin looking for my new home. Here is the link to my auction: http://hyenacart.com/amitegirls/st/7694/91693/Merry-Amit-22-Inviting-Play-doll- I have so many questions about what will happen and who will love me. I know for certain that wherever I go, I will keep a very strong connection with my friends Thekla and Noortje. We were born as soul sisters in separate lands but lived some significant days together.