Sparks the Robot 2

Back in the summer I blogged about completing this  hand sewn robot  based on a craft project from a Craftseller Magazine, which sadly stopped being published at the end of last year.

I enjoyed making this little fella so much I had to give him another try but in a lightly different colour scheme.

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A Bob Marley Cloth Doll for Jill

We’re jammin’ –
To think that jammin’ was a thing of the past;
We’re jammin’,
And I hope this jam is gonna last.

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Bob Marley Doll, A new challenge!

This is the first time I have attempted to create a cloth doll inspired by a real person, and of course, the danger and challenge of this is trying to effectively create and capture the essence of that person.

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As with the previous two dolls, Rowan Foxglove and Lazuli, I used acrylic paint to try and paint a life like Bob Marley face.  This was such a challenge, because whilst I wanted the face to clearly resemble Bob’s features, I also wanted to retain a strong sense that this is still a cloth doll.  It was also difficult to fit the Bob’s features within the head and face template I had used, particularly his mouth.

The Dreadlocks

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Bob Marley’s dreads were created using a technique I first discovered in one of my earlier cloth doll’s, which is to rip up thin strips of T-shirt material. The ripping process slightly stretches the jesry fabric and in turn cause the raw edges to curl.  This, I have found is perfect for creating dreadlocks or thicker hair for your cloth doll and is a really effective alternative to using wool.

The Guitar

The cloth guitar was really fun to make.  Like the face, the details of the guitar were painted on using acrylic paint.

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Thick white thread and small wooden beads were used to create the guitar strings and tuning pegs.
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Black ribbon and rasta coloured beads created the final finishing touch of the guitar strap.

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A Cloth Doll for my mum, Guild Wars Inspired Ranger

“In a world torn by conflict, where human kingdoms are all but destroyed and guilds sacrifice all for a chance to control the Hall of Heroes, a champion must rise from the ruins of a once-proud land to lead refugees from the ashes and fulfill an ancient prophecy”. (http://www.guildwars.com/en/)

rowan foxglove

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This cloth doll, Rowan Foxglove, is the name of my mum’s online Guild Wars  character. Her design is loosely based on the ranger concept art for this game, however I have used a lot of creative license and adapted the look to suit the requirements for a cloth doll.

 eco warrior

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When designing Rowan, I always had the vision that her look would be influenced by that post apocalyptic, eco warrior aesthetic where clothing is fashioned and up-cycled from other garments in a thrown together need rather than for any fashion or style purpose.

make do and mend: the wrap top

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This was actually a scaled down version of customised top I had made for myself.  I took two small sections of the jersey cotton and part cut into tassels.  These were stretched to encourage the edges of the fabric to curl.

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This happened by chance, and it was really fortunate that when I draped the two pieces of jersey over her torso they hung nicely particularly when the tassels were tied together at the back.

the coat

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The coat is made from scraps of a mixed woollen fabric and sewn together using my favourite stitch, the blanket stitch.  I deliberately placed the stitching outside of the seam to make it visible and to enhance the ‘make do and mend’ design ethos.

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A small coordinating turquoise button has been used to decorate the front of coat.  I cheated a little and added a popper fastening in the inside rather than putting in a buttonhole.

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The design is asymmetric  and curves around the length of the doll’s body.

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the TRousers, boots and cuffs

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Real leather was used to make to boots, which were sewn together by hand.  The cooper eyelets were also punched through using a hand hole punch tool.

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Like Lazuli, Rowan also has leather wrist cuffs.  I discovered that this is a good creative solution to cover up the arm and hand join, which are made separately.

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The trousers are made from a denim material and when fitted to the doll’s body, they were a little bit wide.  So another creative solution was to include the golden thread at the hips and criss cross the thread to echo the laces on the boots.

the hair and face

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After the success of Amber’s doll, again I used acrylic paint to add the details and depth to the face.

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Once again, I used my stripped T-shirt material to create the hair, which is becoming my preferred method and it is a really nice way to use up old jersey tops.

A Cloth Doll for Amber

lazuli

“A bright blue pigment formerly made by crushing lapis lazuli.”

new design

Meet Lazuli, named by Amber, my friend and colleague at work and the person she was created for.

Amber has a wealth of creative interests and I always knew that this cloth doll would push me creatively to produce something that is entirely new.  This is the first doll that has been completely created from scratch, including the pattern for the body pieces.

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 The Inspiration

Now I must admit that I did a bit of Pinterest stalking to come up with the original design for this cloth doll.  I went through Amber’s boards with a fine tooth comb and picked out elements that I thought would work together.  Her pins had a strong presence of blue, turquoise and purple feel, which naturally found their way onto the design of the doll.

The face, head and hair

The design of the face was inspired by a pin from KelleeArt, an illustrator who has most notably worked on the Monster High characters.  I wanted to recreate the enlarged eyes and pouting lips from this style of illustration.

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Lazuli’s hair has been layered with different hues of blue and purple wool for each new layer, using a range of wool types to create texture and interest and to reflect the pinning board title ‘Hair’.

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The ear was inspired by another pin showing a leafy looking elf ear and I loved this unusual shape.

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painting the face

I have been very inspired by the painted cloth dolls from Pantovola Textile Folk Art by Anouk de Groot  I love the whimsical nature and individuality of these dolls and if I ever have any spare money would love to purchase one from  the Pantovola Etsy shop.

Therefore, rather than applying the details with water colour pencils and pigment pens, which I have been using up until now, I painted on the facial features with acrylic paint.  I referred to an image of Neytiri, the female character in Avatar to help create the blue tones needed on the face.  Painting definitely allowed me to achieve a greater level of depth on the face than the colouring pencils did.

the body, tail and wings

The body of this cloth doll was inspired 3D printed model from Bitgem.  When creating the pattern I narrowed the waist and accentuated the curves.

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This then led me to complete the look with a corset that was made out of real leather.  Matching arm cuffs were also added around the wrists.

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Like the image, I choose to include wings and a tail.

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the legs

The lower half of the legs are centaur shaped, again using my own pattern and I was pleased with the end result.

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However, I felt there was something missing when I assembled all the body parts.  I made a decision to recreate clubbing style fluffy boots.  This turned out to be an excellent way of using up tiny scraps of fabric.

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OOAK Handmade Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

A Cloth Doll for Barbara: Show Jumper

‘The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.’  (Sharon Ralls Lemon)

My cousin Barbara has been passionate about horses since she was a child, so naturally I wanted to create a cloth doll for her that reflected that.  More recently I had seen some photos of her show jumping so took my inspiration from there.

The show jumping look

OOAK Handmade Show Jumper Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

Show jumpers have a very distinctive look and I therefore wanted to make sure I included all the key details such as the jacket, cravat, jodhpurs, riding hat and boots.

the Riding hat and hair

OOAK Handmade Show Jumper Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

The riding hat was made from four slightly rounded triangular pieces, adapted from the head pattern, to create the helmet part.  Two crescent pieces were sewn wrong sides together and turned out before being sewn onto the main hat.  The straps were made from four strips of ribbon.  The hat was lightly stuffed inside to provide the rigid effect of a real riding hat.

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I tried a new way of styling the hair and opted to create a side parting for the fringe and adding in layers at the back, which allowed for a much longer length of hair without being too bulky.

OOAK Handmade Show Jumper Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

the cravat and jacket

The cravat was made from a simple piece of white cloth which has been wrapped around the neck like a scarf, folded into place and held with some small stitches to keep the shape and ruched effect.

OOAK Handmade Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

I have made several jackets for my cloth dolls now and with this one I really challenged myself by using a satin lining.  I really loved the design of this fabric and just knew it would be a lovely finishing touch to the jacket and to give it a classy feel.

OOAK Handmade Show Jumper Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

the jodhpurs and riding boots

Strips of black and white fabric were sewn together to make a base piece of material so that the jodhpurs and boots could be created in one piece.

OOAK Handmade Show Jumper Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

Additional details were then added once the legs had been stuffed and formed.  Patches of fake black suede were sewn on by hand to the white of the jodhpurs and I added ribbon to decorate the top of the boots and a small button at the back.

OOAK Handmade Show Jumper Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

cloth doll flower fairy by vaudeville hippie

A Cloth Doll For Esme: Flower Fairy

“And as the seasons come and go, here’s something you might like to know. There are fairies everywhere: under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day. So listen, touch, and look around — in the air and on the ground. And if you watch all nature’s things, you might just see a fairy’s wing.” (Author Unknown)

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inspiration

Esme is a friend from college studying art and then Ba(hons) Contemporary Textiles Practice at UWIC together.  When I think of the textile pieces she created, I always remember a strong floral influence and therefore the cloth doll flower fairy was born. This doll has also been inspired by my childhood memory of flower fairies and our own beautiful flower border, which Steve has been slowly developing this summer.

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the wings

My biggest success has to be the padded wings, which developed on from a technique I tried on the ears if the Machi, adapted into fairy elf ears on this doll and then onto a much a larger scale to create the wings.

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To make them, I lightly padded the shape of the wing and top stitched the line details.  As you can see the wings have been decorated with pearls and small beads.

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finishing touches

I managed to tuck the raw edges inside the body before closing together with a ladder stitch. Buttons were used for strengthening stitches and extra detail.

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creating the look

I was fortunate to receive a selection of vintage fabrics including this delicate floral pattern used for the body.  This was my starting point for the colour scheme, choosing coordinating pale pinks and purples for the rest of her clothing.

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The fairy look has been completed by adding a simple, yet raw edged waist wrap detailed with a matching button and decorative ribbons.  This was inspired by one of the first dolls I made from my Jan Horrox book.

Sparks the Robot: Pattern by Craftseller Magazine

“Sparks the robot! reboot your making mojo with our felt buddy” (craftseller Magazine, issue45)

My First Craftseller Project

So after several months of subscribing to Craftseller Magazine, I have finally managed to create my first make from one of the magazine’s royalty free projects.

Hand sewn robot

The Design

As you can see, I changed the colours scheme a little from the original, this was down to the fabrics I already had in my fabric store.  However, I really like this colour scheme and think the fabrics work well together.  I also simplified the detail on his body, choosing to only add two buttons, rather than the suggested six.
Hand sewn robot

Making

He is mostly made out of felt  and sewn by hand, with the exception of the polka dot areas, which were machine stitched and in a poly cotton fabric.

Deatil of Hand sewn robot

This was a fun project and very different to what I would normally make.  There are a couple more Craftseller projects that I have my eye on, particularly this month’s circus characters pattern pack, so watch this space!

Upcycled Crochet

Sunny Day Crochet

We were walking through Bournemouth Upper Gardens today and happened to walk past a lady sitting on a bench doing a bit of sunny day crochet.  However, as we got nearer I realised this was crochet with a difference because she was using strips of cut up carrier bags instead of wool.

I have only ever dabbled with crochet a couple of times, which was quite a few years ago, so I am not really up to speed with contemporary crochet practice and therefore I have never seen this before.

Recycled Crochet

Out of interest, I did a quick google search for ‘recycled carrier bags crochet‘ and it turns out that this quite a popular idea.  With the rise of eco design and the trend of up-cycling I am not surprised, but really pleased that crafters and makers have shown that the issue of surplus plastic carrier bags can be re-used in a purposeful and creative way.

Reducing Plastic

Recently Steve and I made a decision to try and reduce some of the plastic in our home.  Now there is a big debate about this and surprisingly, research suggests that plastic production has a lower carbon footprint than paper and card.  Our reason for reducing plastic is the simple fact that some parts of our oceans have become areas of a ‘plastic soup‘ meaning that tiny particles of plastic are being mistaken for plankton by marine life who consume this, which is likely to enter the food chain.

After looking at a few ideas on Pinterest I am now keen to give this a go.  Lets hope this trend continues as designers and makers continue to lead the way in repurposing materials that would otherwise end up in landfill sites to create the very best in contemporary eco design.

Useful links:

http://www.nezumiworld.com/crochet_029.htm

https://www.etsy.com/uk/market/recycled_plastic_bag

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_zpbfBmnTw

https://uk.pinterest.com/vaudevillehip/plastic-bag-crochet/

organising my craft room

Organising My Craft Room

“This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you may find nothing happens there. But, if you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen”. (Joseph Campbell)

My Craft Room

The challenge is on this summer to organise my craft room.  As you can see it is a small space approximately 3m x 3m so it only takes one or two craft sessions before chaos descends, and I am rather ashamed that I have let it get to this stage.  Not a fit for purpose space at all!

my craft room

Space and storage

Since starting making my cloth dolls the time has come to take action.  Fortunately constructing the dolls does not require a lot of space.  However, the frustration sets in when I have to hunt for a particular tool that has become buried or that perfect piece of fabric for one of my cloth doll’s clothing.

My disorganised craft desk space

Despite having a lot of shelves, storage is still a problem.  Like a magpie, I hold onto everything that may potentially become useful and I should really just be brutal one day and simply get rid of those items  that are very unlikely to ever be used in a craft project.

My disorganised craft shelves

Organisation

Despite my best efforts to group the tools and equipment I need, the organisation has fallen apart.  This is purely because I start a project and stop mid way with the intention to continue, lets say after dinner, but then its several days or weeks before I return.  During the organising process I will have to train myself to tidy as I go.

My disorganised craft resources

Craft Room Style and decor

The inspiration behind giving my craft room a complete overhaul has come from reading the beautifully produced ‘Craft, Sell & Show’ by Torie Jayne.

Craft, Show & Sell by Torie Jayne

The very first chapter introduces the idea of creating a workspace that reflects your personal style, which in the long run with help to establish your craft brand and creating a visual style and cohesion to everything you do.  This chapter then leads nicely into the second chapter, which gives practical ideas in how to explore and create a handmade craft brand.

Torie’s Pinterest board and Facebook page gives you s sneak peak into her tips and advice.  However, the book shares imagery of several makers gorgeous spaces and is well worth a look.

https://www.facebook.com/craftshowsell?fref=ts

in conclusion

As you can see, my craft room is very much lacking any clear visual cohesion and lets face it, is a cluttered mess!  Since reading Torie’s chapter I have created a couple of Pinterest boards to get me started.  My first idea was to look at Vaudeville inspired interiors and then I widen my criteria to include my theme and chosen name of vaudeville hippie and what this means to me.  Craftseller magazine have also produced a crafty spaces board containing really inspirational craft room ideas.

I am excited, yet a little bit daunted by this process and look forward to sharing my craft room make over as it happens.  I would love to hear about your creative spaces and how they have developed and transformed over time.

Handmade OOAK Mapuchi Indian 'Machi' Cloth Doll by Vaudeville Hippie

A Cloth Doll For My Dad: Mapuchi Shamen ‘Machi’: 

“when the village is rocked by a series of gruesome and apparently ritualistic killings, it soon becomes clear the local police are up against dark forces…” (CRY OF THE MACHI, A SUFFOLK MURDER MYSTERY – Alan s. blood) 

story behind the cloth doll

This cloth doll was inspired by the title of my dad’s book ‘Cry of the Machi’, which is a fictional novel that weaves together a murder mystery involving Mapuche Indian shamanic rituals with the quaint English tradition of Morris Dancing.
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mapuche indian ‘machis’

Machis are usually female with a similar role to that of a shaman.  She plays a central role in traditional Mapuche culture.  They perform many rituals, which include; trying to ward off disease and evil spirits and influencing the weather for a better harvest.
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creating the machi look

Other than the descriptions in my dad’s book, I did not know much about Machis before starting this doll and naturally I did a google image search and created a Pinterest board to get me started.

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the clothing

The machi dolls’ clothing on a combination of images that I researched with the fabrics I already had in my material collection.  Many of the pictures showed the women wearing patterned dresses over long sleeved blue shirts, which became my starting point.
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the details

The look is accompanied with a tartan shawl (similar to my traditional Welsh doll) and heavily adorned jewellery, usually discs of metal.  Her main piece of jewellery and bracelets were adapted from necklaces and beads I bought from a second hand store and the cloak is held together with a crescent button that I already had. This, I felt fit in nicely with the shamanic and magical element.

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the machi headdress

The Machis’ outfit is completed with an elaborate and floral headpiece. My version was created from a piece of elasticated fabric, decorated with a handmade fabric flower and additional pieces of silver discs to echo her necklace using the same piece of adapted jewellery.  To create her thick black hair, I cut up strips of old T-shirt material that I stretched slightly to encourage the fabric to curl a little and to soften any harsh edges.

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exploring other cultures

This has been a great opportunity to explore clothing and culture from other traditions and at some point I would like to research and make other dolls inspired by people around the world.