Thursday, December 31, 2009

Project Terry...Done!

Yesterday was a LONG day ~ I worked on CEO Terry for about 14 hours (and about 10 hours before that, and 3 hours today). I actually gave my shift away yesterday, because I knew there was no way I could've completed him in the few hours I had left. New designs always take a considerable amount of time, but I had no pattern in my collection that would have worked.

Terry stands about 18 inches tall. Due to the short time I had to work on him, every supply I used had to be what I had on hand. I even sacrificed an old wool ski sweater for his vest. His clothing is not removable.

His hair took the longest, and I'm still not all that pleased with it. I'd hoped that I had some faux fur in a light blond color. That would have made his hair much easier to accomplish. I would have simply made a wig with darts in it and sewn it to his head. Unfortunately, it was a dark blond, and Terry has light blond hair. The only thing I had that was the right color was the mohair. You're not supposed to cut mohair, but I had to do something to resemble his hairstyle.

Terry's Ice Cream Social was really well attended, which attests to how he has been thought of over the 20 years he's worked at the hospital (I've been there 23). He's a kind and gentle soul.
He received many special and thoughtful gifts, and I think his doll was a hit. Terry's wife attended as well, and it turns out she collects dolls. How cool is that?!

BTW, Terry's wearing a Walmart greeters badge, a joke gift from the new CEO.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Challenging Project

It's always a challenge for me to make a doll that's supposed to look like a specific person. So I surprised myself by volunteering to make a doll for our hospital's retiring CEO. I told him I was working on a "project" and lured him to the ER so I could photograph him, with the intention of making a photo-face doll (and with just a couple days in which to complete him).

This is how far I am. The doll's due tomorrow, to be presented along with his other gifts. I'm finding his hair to be particularly difficult. First, he has straight, short, light blond hair. Limited to what I had on hand, I found some wefted mohair. So far, I think I've spent about 4 hours on the hair alone. I glued row after row of mohair to the head, after cutting off the weft. When the glue dries, I'll give him a haircut. Doncha think he looks a bit like "Flock of Seagulls" lead singer right now?

I want to darken his facial features a bit, too, but don't want him to look like a drag queen when I'm done.

I have yet to design/sew his arms and legs, but that should go fairly quickly. Then I'll dress him in slacks, collared shirt, sweater vest, tie, and will give him a name badge on a lanyard like we all wear.

I really hope he's not too freaked out by this doll. After all, it's all in fun.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Day After

It's been a whirlwind week, what with band rehearsal, baking, babysitting, meetings, and sewing. It's Sunday, and last night was the big Emergency Department Christmas Party. This year's entertainment was the ER band. We played about a dozen songs, and had our co-workers hooting and dancing. We also had our annual fundraiser auction. This is a well-established tradition - auctioning wrapped (sight unseen) gifts to the highest bidder. Then we donate the money to some of our local charities and resources.

Every year (for nearly 20 years now), my auction gift has been a handmade Santa. This year's Santa doll was finished about 3:00 a.m. Saturday. I used a pattern by Soft in the Head, called "Quality Time (Nick & Morty)." The supply list called for Briwax (Golden Oak), and of course I couldn't find ANY locally. So I adapted, and painted his face and hands instead.

Of course, I couldn't find any rusty bells, either (and didn't have time to rust them quickly). Morty's legs and antlers were easy, though I may have looked a little silly in the back yard with a flashlight in the rain, searching for sticks from the cherry tree. Thankfully we've had a bit of wind, so there were plenty to be found.

I may add band photos later, but feel a nap coming on...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yikes! December 10th already?

It's December 10. I haven't done any shopping. I haven't put up the tree. I haven't bought (or sent) any Christmas cards. I haven't even started on my annual Santa doll for our ER Christmas Party/Auction. I feel remiss in my duties, but honestly don't know where the days go - just that the days are full.

We have "band practice" later today. Our little ER band has been getting together at least weekly to rehearse. The Big Party is on the 19th, so there's only about 1-1/2 week left. So much to do, so little time.
I dredged up this old Christmas photo of my sis and I. I'm on the right, Deb's on the left. I took a closer look, and see I got a Nurse Nancy that year. Had I known then that nurses don't get holidays off, I may have reconsidered my career path. This year we are working both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which means any family get-togethers will be done after the holidays. I guess that gives me a little more time to get my act together

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. I have so much for which to be thankful.

Here's a turkey pin doll I designed a few years ago. It's going to be in the pin doll book I'm writing in my *free time* ~ yeah, right.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mystery Doll's Head Attached

After a brief loss of electricity this morning (we've been having some stormy weather lately), I gave my mystery/challenge doll her head. She's a mystery, because I have NO idea where I'm going with her.

After joining the head to the neck, I painted it with white tacky glue. This will make a nice surface on which to add paperclay. I considered doing some needle sculpting before applying the glue, but decided against it. I put a little tape around her neck to avoid getting any glue or clay on the paint. Let's hope I can get it off again.

If I make any progress today, I'll update this post.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

(Taking) the Long Way Home

Ok, I've been listening to Supertramp lately. But what I'm really trying to say is that I always seem to make things more difficult than they need to be.

I'm working on a doll for doll club, using one of the two patterns chosen for this challenge. Someone said the designer of the pattern I'm using creates patterns that don't quite go together. So I thought I'd just make one in plain muslin to check out that theory, without wasting my good skin fabric. As it turns out the body pattern did NOT go together well, and I had to do quite a bit of modifying.

But after all the modifying, sewing and stuffing, I really didn't want to start over with the good fabric. Now I've got a really white doll (and I don't mean Caucasian). So I decided to paint it. Of course, I'd already attached the arms, making this a bit trickier. I also painted on layers of Messy Mix and gesso before the paint. Her arms are sticking up in the air for ease in painting and drying, with one coat of acrylic skin color in place.

She's headless, because I'm not particularly happy with the head shape, either. I thought I could just augment it with a little paperclay. Easy peasy. Except I thought I really ought to paint the neck/body first, before sticking the head on. If I do this right, I'll have a fabric/paperclay head that can turn side to side. Of course, I'll need to paint that, too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Video Camera

I've finally taken the plunge and decided to purchase a digital video camera. So far, any videos I've taken have been on my little digital camera ~ and therefore are very short in duration.

So last night I did some research (like I know what I'm doing - Hah!) and got out the credit cardI settled on this Canon. It's been shipped, and should be here in a few days. B&H Photo is my favorite site for cameras - and I've purchased quite a few for myself and others (no affiliation, yada yada).

Having a nice camera like this may make it possible to develop some video tutorials.

Canon's VIXIA HG21 Hard Disk Drive Camcorder with a 120GB HDD and additional storage for video or 3.1Mp stills available on SD/SDHC cards provides you with all the space you'll ever need. Because you can capture up to 45 hours and 55 minutes of true 1920 x 1080 high definition video (in LP mode) when shooting to the HDD you'll never have to worry about changing discs or tapes right at the key moment...
• Record
Record to both the 120GB Hard Disk Drive for up to 45 hours and 55 minutes (HD video in LP mode) and to external SD/SDHC memory cards when you need the extra storage. In addition, the video you record on the HDD can be copied to the SDHC card and inserted into your computer or HDTV's card reader slot for instant viewing. You can also transfer still images from the SDHC card to the internal memory.
• 1920 x 1080 Full HD Recording
Capture each and every image in true 1920 x 1080 HD. Your images will also be output and recorded in the amazing quality and clarity of full HD. Record at the highest AVCHD bitrate of 24Mbps.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where have I been, and just what have I been doing?

Well, it's truly autumn here, and life/work has been busy. I've been itching to make a doll, but it hasn't been in the cards. We're seeing many folks with the flu or "flu-like symptoms" present to the ER every day. Most of us have had our flu shots, but I get the feeling it's only a matter of time before we all start dropping like flies.

I attended a great trauma class last week (certification is required every 4 years). You might notice that the instructors are teaching in a hotel room. That's because the person coordinating the class lacks some organizational skills.

Not pointing fingers ~ I'm just saying...
Good thing they're real ER nurses, and therefore very adaptable and able to go with the flow (though the instructor said she couldn't sleep until she put the dummy away.)

TNCC (Trauma Nurses Core Course) is a comprehensive class, with written and practical exams. When I finished my one-on-one practical exam, the tester asked what courses I instructed. That caught me by surprise. I said, "Uh, doll making?" That's not what he was talking about. He said I'd make a good TNCC instructor because I like "control." I guess I do, but I think I'd rather teach dollmaking ;-)

We also babysit our grandson every Monday and Wednesday. Yesterday (during a rain break) we went to the local park with Ivan. He's so much fun to be around, and his vocabulary is expanding weekly. Dare I say, he's a genius?

Monday, my oldest son announced that he and his fiancee are expecting a girl in April. It came as quite a shock, but at least he knew to tell me in person and not via email. He's very excited and happy about it, and I'm happy that he's happy.

In just a little over a month we'll be celebrating Christmas. I'm sure I'll be ill-prepared as usual. Our Christmas party/auction is on December 19, and we've put together a little ER band for entertainment. We've just started rehearsing a set of songs to perform. The band has two new members that both work in the ER - Ian (drummer) and Kyle (my youngest son, on sax and is learning a little electric guitar). I'll also be playing the electric guitar for the first time. That should be entertaining...or not.

I've also become a little bit addicted to karaoke (at home, in private). has a karaoke feature, which is a good way to exercise the voice. I bought a mic for the computer, and now I can experience the pain of hearing recordings of myself.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Worked my butt off - lots of ambulances and flu people in the ER today. Came home, had no Trick-or-Treaters, so more candy for ME!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Little Red

It's a beautiful Saturday, and I'll be headed to doll club in a couple hours. We'll be meeting at Roxanne's house in Newberg (Oregon). We've met there once before, and her home is lovely.

Our usual meeting place (fire station in St. Helens) is currently off-limits, due to the prevalence of H1N1 influenza. The hope is by preventing outsiders into the facility, the first responders will have less exposure to the virus and stay healthy so they can do their jobs. I can appreciate that. I got my H1N1 shot a few days ago, will no ill effects.
Little Red will be coming to doll club with me. I used Lucinda Durbin's Presbyterian doll pattern, a reproduction based on the original dolls. I had to adapt the pattern a little, as I wanted to try a photo face doll. She still needs her basket, and some sort of hair-do. You can find some information about these original dolls HERE, on Sherrie Nordgren's blog.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Wobblin' Goblin

I've been trying to remember the lyrics to a song my mom used to sing around this time of year. I looked it up on youtube, and was tickled to hear the original, as sung by Rosemary Clooney.

The Wobblin Goblin

There once was a sad little goblin,
Who had a broken broom
When he went anywhere, it would wobble in the air
And his heart would fill with gloom
He tried to hard to fix it every night
But he just couldn't get it working right

The Wobblin goblin with the broken broom
Could never fly too high
For right after take-off
Another piece would break off
And soon he would be danglin' in the sky!

Each evening just as he would leave the ground
His radio would say:
"Control tower to Goblin,
Your broom stick is wobblin',
You better make a landing right away."

It soon got so he could only ride
When the witches took him piggy back
Until at last, he used his brain,
And bought himself an aero-plane!

So if you look for him on Halloween
You'll see him zip and zoom
No harm can befall him, no longer can they call him,
The Wobblin' Goblin with the Broken Broom!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Reigning Dolls & Bears club pin done

Today I finished my doll club pin, designed by club member Martha Checkett. Well almost done ~ I may add a little banner/scroll with my name, so I can use the pin as a name tag. The pin 3-1/2 by almost 4 inches in size. The head is about the size of a nickel.

Next, I'm going to try to finish my Little Red Riding Hood challenge doll, using a Presbyterian doll repro pattern by Lucinda Durbin. She just needs her hair and red cape. I've also got to finish our August challenge doll, using one of two patterns we selected from the old The Cloth Doll magazine.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tombstone Angel Wallhanging ~ prototype #1

Last night I added some detail stitching on my Tombstone Angel Wallhanging prototype. I tried adding the wing detail with the sewing machine, but didn't like the look. So I ripped that out and hand-sewed them instead, using thread just a little bit lighter in color. I also added some pupils, which helps a bit.

Today I'm drafting the Tombstone Angel pin doll/ornie version of the pattern. It's almost identical to the other angel, but a little fuller in the chest and wings.

Today's the perfect day to work on this project. The weather's stormy and gloomy ~ no reason at all to go outside. I'm planning to make Tombstone into a pattern. It takes me a really long time to write the instructions, but maybe I can get the bulk of it done today.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkinhead Doll Finished

My pumpkinhead doll is finally done. Well maybe. I might still paint her some boots and possibly add some lace along the hem of her dress. Or maybe not. She's about 16 inches tall (from her feet to the top of her stem). Her clothing is removable. She's all cloth, with a paperclay sculpted over her badly formed stuffed cloth head. You'll notice I didn't include a photo of her stuffed head with my first progress photos.

She turned out just a little darker than I'd intended, especially after the wash of walnut ink was applied. It doesn't help that these photos turned out a little dark and grainy.

I wonder how the other doll club members' challenge dolls turned out?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Great Columbia Crossing

Today was the 28th Annual Great Columbia Crossing- a 10K/6.2 mile Walk/Run that crosses the Columbia River near its mouth. This is the third or fourth time I've participated. The sunrise this morning was gorgeous.

This year I walked with my sister. My son and nephew ran. Here I am with my youngest (Kyle). We got up very early and rode the shuttle bus to the Washington side of the Columbia River, where we had two hours to kill before start time. It was very breezy and cold - about 40 degrees, I think. Hats and gloves would have been nice - next year we'll be better prepared.

Three thousand walkers and runners gathered at the Dismal Nitchrest area. After a mile, we crossed the 4.1 mile-long Astoria-Megler Bridge (usually open to vehicle and cycle traffic only) and finished in Oregon.

This is my sister and I (Deb's on the left, I'm on the right). It's not easy to have a good hair day with all that wind. I'm SO thankful it didn't rain this year.

We'd like to train for next year and try running it. Neither of us are natural runners, so I'm sure we'll suffer mightily, trained or not. The rise and span of the bridge are deceptively long.

This bridge is the longest continuous three-span truss bridge in the world. It rises 205 feet above the river, over a major shipping channel. It used to be a toll bridge, back when I was new to the area (some 23 years ago). Once the bridge was paid for, the toll went away. Hey! I see my friend and coworker Shaun in this photo. Many hospital staff participated today.

This photo was taken at the top of the span. We're just starting to get our autumn colors here. I think October is my favorite month. Very crisp and cool, but sort of risky for an event like this.

If you have time, check out the links in this post for a little history.

I really don't think we need to leave quite so early next year. The thing is, parking can be a challenge. I suggested we walk to the shuttles (about 1-1/2 mile from our house), but for some reason no one was interested.

Oh, and I did get the T-shirt.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin head ~ painting done?

I've got most, if not all of the painting done today. Now I just need to decided if I should leave her be, crackle the surface, or just try a wash. My husband thinks the color's too brown, but I didn't want a cartoony orange.

I've got the upper torso masked off in preparation for a crackle/stain, or just a stain. Then I'll sew on the orange arms, which will be crackled or whatever.

For her dress, I found several green plaids in my stash from which to choose. I'm not sure what fabric I want to use for her legs. The pattern is a really simple design, so I may decided to tweak the feet just a little. Her dress will have to be designed after sewing on her arms and legs.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tombstone Angel in Progress

We went to Boston about 7 or 8 years ago, and I took some photos of old tombstones. I was thinking the primitive angels would make great dolls. So while I was waiting for my pumpkin paint to dry (many layers), I made a prototype for a new doll/pin doll/wall hanging.

I decided to start with a small wall hanging so I could work out the kinks on an easier scale (a pin doll would be more difficult. I need to find some plexiglas or Mylar that isn't so shiny. One side is open so I can slide in various sentiments, quotes, or whatever (this one is by Benjamin Franklin). I also want to add some detail stitching to the wing feathers like the original below, pupils, and maybe even some shading with colored pencil.

Pumpkinhead ~ painting begins

I painted a coat of gesso on the doll and arms last night. I think the colored gesso might make a nicer base layer than the white. One more cup of coffee, then I'll begin mixing a batch or orange paint.

It's foggy this morning, at least on my side of the hill. I may post more photos today as I paint.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More pumpkin head

I had to take a look at some of the pumpkins at the grocery store, to get a better idea of how the stem looks. I used a scalpel to dig out a depression at the top of the head, then added the basic stub of a stem. When that dried, I added a little more detail.

Now that I take a closer look at the photos, I see where the doll's left upper eyelid crease is higher than the right. I'll add a little more clay. When that's dry, I'll paint the clay with gesso. I think I have some dark brown gesso, and I think that might work better for an under-layer than the usual white.

I sewed and stuffed the arms today, and will paint them with gesso, too. Then I'll mix up a big batch of orange, with some varying colors for interest.
I'm not going to pick out the colors for her dress until I see how the orange turns out.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Halloween Challenge Doll ~ a little more progress

My pumpkin head doll is coming along. I've added basic eyes and have filled out the face a little. I've still got to add a stem and do a little more refining. She was somewhat lop-sided, so I did some sanding after work last night - at least until it got too cold and dark outside. I hope she doesn't end up being too top heavy.

I'm going to use the arm/leg design that came with the pattern, as the point of this challenge was to use this particular vintage pattern. I've haven't started looking at fabrics for her dress, but I think an tiny print or plaid in autumn colors would look nice. I hope I have something like that on hand, because I certainly don't need to add to my fabric stash.

We're up early today, as we'd planned to walk to work like we did yesterday. It was a gorgeous day. But today it's 39 degrees, it's supposed to rain, and we've got to get groceries after our shift. I can do 39, but not 39 AND rain.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Don't judge me by my filthy oven

I really want to finish the sculpting my Halloween Challenge doll this evening, so I decided to push the drying process in the oven - the temp is at the lowest setting (170 degrees). I've been building up layers over the past few days and letting them dry naturally, but now it's time to get down to business. Once this is dry, I plan to make the eyes, build up the lips and cheeks a little, make a stem, and make the vertical grooves a pumpkin typically has.

I'm fairly new at sculpting in Paperclay, but I know it's super easy to sand. At this point I'm undecided as to whether the upper chest/back and arms will be orangish, greenish or brownish. I'll have to think on that. Maybe I'll even give crackling another chance - or not.

While I'm not intentionally advertising the Astoria Coffee Company, they do roast some nice beans...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How's this for an inspiration piece?

How's this for inspiration for a Halloween doll? I was downtown picking up some little snaps and hooks/eyes at JoAnn's, and this caught my eye. I was sneaky and took a few quick photos on my cell phone today (cuz that guy in the window was watching me). I love the ghoulish monochromatic-ness of this doll. I didn't have time to run inside and check her price tag or the name of the artist, but will try to do that before she's gone from the display.

Treasures of the Gypsy doll DONE!

...and in the mail - although after going through all the paperwork for this challenge, I might be too late. One paper had a deadline of October 5, another said the "last week of September." Oh well, what's the worst that could happen - the doll won't be exhibited and the money to send and insure her (there and back) will be wasted. Hey, at least I sent the insurance form in by the July deadline!

Maybe it's just me, but this particular challenge has a plethora of paperwork, labels, instructions, etc. And as I was reviewing it all today, I remembered saying (about 2 years ago) I'd never do this challenge again. I still don't know if I got it all together correctly. The Hoffman Challenge is so much easier in this regard. But Pamela Armas is a wonderful gal, and has tons of treasures in her shop. You know, the kind of stuff you buy and set aside for that very special doll that you never make. I have a bit of silk purchased in San Francisco last fall at $75 per yard. It's one of those pieces that's been set aside for "something special." Am I the only one that does this?

Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with my ToG doll. But I'm just not very blingy when compared to other dollmakers that participate in this challenge. It's really hard for me to embellish, let alone to the nth degree. I have a hard time picturing in my head what and where to stick a doo-dad. In my opinion, Arley Berryhill is the BEST. Check out his Troll Queen for the Hoffman Challenge - now THAT'S embellishment!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Arrival ~ Harvest Moon (unabridged) pattern

I spent most of last night and today typing, proofreading, printing, collating and assembling the unabridged version of my pattern "Under the Harvest Moon." I'm so glad to have this project done. This was the pattern published in the September 2009 issue of Doll Crafter & Costuming, which was condensed for the magazine.

This new release includes patterns for two types of ears as well as a wig template for Tibetan lamb (like my Treasures of the Gypsy doll). There's also a full-page color insert that reviews some of the face coloring techniques I use.

You can find the pattern HERE for $15 plus postage. Postage used to be included in the price of all my patterns, but with rising postal rates and the cut PayPal takes, I've made the decision to charge actual shipping (sorry). I wish there was an easy way (at the PayPal site) to update everything quickly and make adjustments with every increase in postal rates without having to generate code for every item!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Raining Again

It's raining again, and really starting to look like Fall. There are tons of garden spiders, and they're so darned efficient at building their webs (wish this photo did this web justice.) I'm all too aware that I look like a complete spaz when I unknowingly walk through a web, imagining a big fat juicy spider on my person.

Since it's so dreary out today, I decided to forego the laundry and housework and add another layer of Paperclay to my Halloween Challenge doll.

For this particular challenge, the Reigning Dolls & Bears club is using the "Genevieve" pattern from the book "On Making, Mending, and Dressing Dolls" by Clara Hallard Fawcett, copyright 1949. I was more than a little disappointed at how hideously mis-shapen the head was after sewing and stuffing it. It really needed some alteration. So I decided to make a clay-over-cloth pumpkin head doll. This is kind of outside my usual box, and I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Harvest Moon Class

I taught my first in-home class this weekend. I had three students, and sewed along with them. What a pleasure, not having to lug all my stuff to a different location (and hope I didn't forget anything!)

From left to right are Roxanne, Ginger, and Rhoda. Wish I could say the dolls were completed in class, but we were able to focus on the trapunto style face (and attaching it to the head), the hinge joints, the shoes, and the face sculpting and painting.I also shared my "system" of logging/recording the dolls I've made. From my very first doll, they've all been recorded in a notebook. Each doll/entry is numbered and dated. The entries in the log include a description of the doll, the pattern used, size, etc. Once the doll's been sold or given away, the entry is highlighted yellow.

In about 2004, I saw a similar journal up for auction on eBay. This was Edith Flack Ackley's journal, and she included a little snippet of the fabric she used for each doll's dress by their corresponding entries. I thought that was a great idea, and started doing that myself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TOG Wig Done

Yesterday was less productive than I'd hoped it would be. I did, however, give my Treasures of the Gypsy doll her Tibetan lamb wig. As she's not an all-painted cloth doll, I was able to ladder stitch the wig in place.

I received an email a couple days ago, asking when my "Under the Harvest Moon" pattern would be available. The abridged version of the pattern was in the September issue of Doll Crafter & Costuming magazine, but it's been my intention to release the full pattern with a few extras as soon. Yesterday's wig project makes me think the wig template and instructions would be nice to include, too. Just a couple more challenge dolls to finish, then I can focus on the pattern. Stay tuned!