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Zombie Poi Spinner: A Cloth Doll For Steve

So for Steve’s birthday doll I wanted to created something a bit more masculine.  After a bit of thought I decided to base his doll on some design ideas that he developed for Vaudeville Hippie in the early days based on zombie jugglers.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Steve and I enjoy practising circus skills, which includes the art of poi spinning.  Now am I not sure, but I think we were heavily into The Walking Dead at the time, which sparked the inspiration for the zombie juggler range.

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To create the artwork, Steve whole heartedly threw himself into this project, posing with a range of circus props in different zombie stances and facial expressions.

zombie juggler design exposed on a silk screen

zombie juggler hoodie screen print

These were then hand drawn and then adapted in Illustrator and Photoshop with filters so that they could be prepared for a silk screen print for T-Shirt printing.

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POI ZOMBIE 2

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Poi Zombie (Drawn)

I tried to copy the stance and facial expression of Steve’s zombie poi spinner photo and drawing as faithfully as I could, with some artistic license with the hair.

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I wanted to create a sense of the hair decomposing and therefore have used a combination of cut up plastic from beer can holders and small off cuts of black netting fabric.

Now, although this is based on Steve’s work, it has allowed me to start personalising the style of the dolls and moving away from the templates I have been using so far.

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The body parts are a combination of patterns from both Jan Horrox and Patti Medaris Culea to get the shape of the arms that most reflected the photo I had chosen to work from, one bent and one straight, this meant resizing the length of one of the arms to keep them a uniform length.  I also extended the length of the legs and added wire inside to enable to doll to stand in his zombie pose.  To create a male torso, I widen the waist.

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The details have been drawn on by hand with micron pens and water colour pencils and a little bit of stitching in red for the zombie scars.

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The poi are simple and small woollen pom-poms.

I am planning to make more zombie juggler fabric dolls.  To see my other OOAK cloth doll creations and read about my doll making challenge click the appropriate links!

OOAK Cloth Dolls

Liliella: A Cloth Doll for Lily

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This fairy princess, Liliella, was created for my cousin’s youngest daughter Lily. She is based on the final, most complex pattern, ‘Titiana’ from my Jan Horrox book.  This was definitely a challenge and took a lot longer to create than the previous dolls because of the moveable joints for the arms, elbows, hips and knees.  However, I enjoyed the challenge and the process of making all the intricate details for the doll.

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The colour scheme was developed from this original piece of textiles that I created for my degree over ten years ago.  Initially I dyed the fabric pale blue, then added red dye on top of the blue to create a bleed effect and purple dye to add texture.  The purple and pink stripes were created through a hand cut screen print.  Finally I stitched basic linear petal shapes over the purple textured areas.  It was nice revisiting an old piece of work and to give it a new lease of life.  My plan is to incorporate other textiles pieces that I have into my doll making.

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Fortunately, I already had a mixture of pink, purple and blue fabrics in my collection like the range of textured wools that I used for the hair, which also includes strips of off-cut fabrics from other parts of the doll.  I particularly like the vintage pink and purple floral fabric that I used on the lower arms and legs.

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Fortunately it was a really sunny day when I came to photograph Liliella so I made the most of this and hunted out interesting areas in my garden and had fun posing her in different areas.  I was particularly pleased with this image below and the featured image because I feel these tell the most interesting story.

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Gwyneth: A Cloth Doll for Jenny

This OOAK cloth doll is Gwyneth and has been inspired by a Welsh doll, wearing traditional Welsh costume.  She is a part of my birthday challenge and  was created for my stepmother, Jenny.

I chose a Welsh theme because my dad and Jenny have just moved from the Welsh village of Caersws to the Welsh town of Twywn, in the county of Gwynnedd (which gave inspiration to her name of Gwyneth) and Saint David’s Day coincided with my decision making of the type of cloth doll I would create for Jenny.

This is my modern interpretation of a Welsh doll and I had to adapt the look slightly to fit in with the fabrics and supplies that I already had.  I even had the little wooden daffodil brooch holding Gwyneth’s shawl together!

OOAK cloth doll, Gwyneth

Gwyneth before I made the traditional Welsh hat

 

Again, I based the body on a body pattern by Jan Horrox’s, ‘Anastasia’.  I as make each new doll, the process becomes easier, simply because with experience, the need to constantly refer to the instructions becomes less.  Therefore, I found the foundations for this doll fairly quick to put together.

OOAK cloth doll, Gwyneth wearing the hat

Gwyneth’s top as is made from a tube of lace and her skirt has been simply gathered around the waist. I love the little felt shoes and was pleased when they worked out, as I created these from scratch without the help of a pattern.  The hat, however, was the most challenging aspect.  I eventually used a pattern from my Patti Medaris Culea book.

OOAK cloth doll, Gwyneth, close up of felted shoes

OOAK cloth doll, Gwyneth, side view of hat

I love how the personality of each doll develops as the fabrics and details are added.  This is my favourite part of the whole process!

My OOAK Cloth Doll Birthday Making Challenge

I have set myself a challenge this year, which is to make a OOAK cloth doll for my friends and family as birthday gifts.  The plan is to blog about as each new creation as it is made and sent off to its new home.

I kick started this challenge with Elizabeth back in February and I have been busy making two more dolls; one based on a traditional Welsh doll and the other is developing into a fairy princess!  Hopefully these will be ready by the weekend.

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I would love to hear what your creative challenges are this year…

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Elizabeth: A Cloth Doll for my Auntie Carole

Introducing Elizabeth, a cloth doll for my auntie, Carole (Pitt) and author of the DI Elizabeth Jewell  murder mystery series.  She is named after Carole’s main character and is the reason she is sat on a note pad!

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Elizabeth is based the Anastasia pattern by Jan Horrox, which I dressed and adorned in a completely different way to the original.  Elizabeth is an independent, professional  woman who likes to wear simple, but smart clothes and therefore is dressed in slim fitting jeans, a black polo top and a fitted tweed jacket.

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Layered hair and fringe, wrapped in a gingham scarf complete her smart, casual look.

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I adapted the jacket pattern from Patti Medaris Culea’s Helen doll in the Creative Cloth Doll Collection book.  This was by far the most fiddly item to make out of the whole project, even more so than turning the fingers.  It was awkward to attach the sleeves to the main part of the jacket.  The instructions suggested using the sewing machine, but lack of experience and not having the correct sewing machine foot meant that it was easier to sew it by hand.

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I really enjoyed the new challenges that Elizabeth created and have already started on the next project!

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My Cloth Doll Making History So Far

I first tried cloth doll making about three years ago when I made a friend a cat doll based on one of her favourite youtube animations Meow it was incredibly fiddly but I enjoyed the process none the less.  This initial success, was followed by a miniature dachshund for Steve’s parents one Christmas and a circus cat for a friend who was moving away.

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We therefore discussed the idea of designing and making dolls, which would have printed versions that could be applied to shirts etc as apart of the Vaudeville Hippie brand.

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I attempted the doll above about a year later, however I just felt frustrated that although I could make the dolls, it was a struggle and I felt that I was not quite doing it correctly so the idea was put on hold.

Gladly things have changed and as I mentioned in my previous post ‘2015 the Year of Transformations’ I bought a couple of  doll making books: ‘An Introduction to Making Cloth Dolls’ by Jan Horrox, ‘Creative Cloth Doll Collective’  by Patti Medaris Culea and ‘Designing the Doll: From Concept to Construction’ by Susanna Oroyan.

I have made two dolls from my Jan Horrox book.  The first doll shown below is based on the doll pattern called Miranda.  This is the most simple doll to make in her introductory book and teaches key methods in how to create and attach a basic head, body and limbs, with some ideas of dressing and adding detail.

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My version is very different to Jan’s, this is for two reasons: one; I did not have the colours that she used and two; I wanted to keep within a more vaudeville style.

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I also happened to have a lot of red, black and white striped and black fabric leftover from previous projects.

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Despite already having a little bit of experience, I was still really pleased with the outcome and now I completely hooked, once I realised that I was capable of creating a quality cloth doll.

The second doll, Anastasia, is much closer to the original by Jan Horrox.  I  wanted to try out some of the more advanced textile techniques used to create this doll. Plus really I loved the charming elf and fairy like character of this doll, which fits in with my other hippie theme.  She also reminds me of a Cirque Du Soleil character,

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By creating this doll, I was able to re-try some forgotten textile techniques; a simple cold wash dye for the body and clothing detail and free machine embroidery on the arms and leaf details.  I even managed to find some old curtain material that had a batik effect and fitted perfectly with the colour scheme for the legs.

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It was interesting to try out other methods of creating the hair, other than just making hair piece out of lengths of wool.

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Whilst making these dolls, it has allowed me to think about how I might go about developing my own designs and characters.  I already have some ideas and I am looking forward to revisiting drawings that can be transformed into three-dimensional cloth dolls.

Please feel free to share your love of cloth dolls below!