January, 2015

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Of Course! Of Course!

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From the first main version, before Hazel Twigg was born. That’s Rochester in the lower right corner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s only been a week, but for the life of me I cannot remember WHY I chose to do a horse and equestrian-themed doll this week. Britney is O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 00028, and you can see her adoption page HERE.

Love of horses goes back a long way. In the very first version of Hazel Twigg, before Hazel herself even came into existence, I had a stuffed rocking horse named Rochester featured prominently in the story. I remember specifically describing him to Nina and being really happy with how he looked. I named him “Rochester” after a literary character from my favorite book Jane Eyre.

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Rochester in the current book, center foreground. A little darker and worse for wear…I still love him.

Rochester made it into the new version of the book, although he’s not featured in the story itself. Maybe he’ll make an appearance in the next book!

All I know is that suddenly, when faced with a doll originally sold as a “Debuteen,” I had this sudden urge to make a horse for her. But, how? I didn’t have a pattern! So I, um, winged it.

Like millions of other girls, I’d drawn countless horses in my time. Plus there was this thing called the internet. But I am out of ink, so I am therefore printerless. So I just kind of drew a horse shape.

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I wanted good natural fabrics. I found parts – PARTS – of an old wool blanket. Barely enough to make Rochester! Because I knew I wanted him to scale for Britney to ride if she wanted to. I still had to put his body into four different pieces to have enough, and I only had one shot.

I spent well over a day on this guy, and that’s not counting the harness and saddle. When you only have a week to begin with, plus other odd jobs to do, that’s a lot of time for a gamble. Oh, no! His nose was too short! And his legs were too! Secretly, I sweated bullets as I wrestled with this guy. And I was never fully sure he would work until I had him fully stuffed. I also didn’t know until then whether or not he would be appealing. He is FLAWED, but there are some happy accidents there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn lengthening his nose by re-opening it and adding blanket scraps to the end and with my choice of materials from what I had on hand, I unwittingly made him look like Mr. Ed! For some reason, his head is skewed to one side. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m glad it did! I don’t think I could have done that on purpose. Also, one of his felt ears is droopier than the other. I like that too.

Rochester’s mane and tail are vintage 100% wool yarn, and his legs are stuffed with sawdust. I inserted little sticks into his legs and neck to make him sturdy.

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Here’s the inspiration suit. I liked the way it swooped down towards the back.

It’s not like I know how to do this when I set out to do something. There’s a lot of pondering that goes on as I work things out and a lot of fretting that this thing that I’m spending so much time on might be a waste of said valuable time and I’ll have to think of something else. But, he worked! He’s a little crude, but he worked!

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Look at that ‘do! Doesn’t she look like just the sort of person that would ride a horse, I ask you?! That little pleat in the back of her jacket took me HOURS to figure out. I get a little obsessed, I can tell you…

As for Britney, she was a joy from the start. She was in very nice condition, which is what allowed me to go out on a limb and make a horse in the first place. Her helmet was made from one of those old aluminum Jell-O molds. I’d purchased a L-egg’s pantyhose container at a thrift store for that very purpose, but it was too small! Thank goodness I have random Jell-O molds sitting on my craft room counter.

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Britney can actually RIDE Mr. Rochester! I was tickled pink when I discovered such was the case. You can see all the shadows. The light was fast fading as I rushed to make my deadline.

While searching for something else, I found a pair of tiny cameo earrings. Perfect for a jabot pin! Britney’s boots turned out really nicely too. I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of this shoe making thing.

I like to think I’m getting faster, and I am! But the faster I get, the more elaborate I want to get too, and the more I want to challenge myself…I barely finished Britney in time for her listing and ended up working until midnight at my other job to make up for how long everything took.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHowever! Things like Felicity’s Finish puts the skip in my step that I need. I am so grateful to all who visit this site, to all who watch my auctions, to all who bid, and to all who win. You light up my life!

Felicity was adopted by Sylvia R. of Cayuga, New York! If she hasn’t been blown away by a blizzard, thank you Sylvia! Felicity will be on her way soon!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Tuesday! You’re my favorite.

 

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Finding Your Sea Legs & Taking The Plunge

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A piece of compo fell off while I was taking her “Before” pictures, even!

They don’t call me “Ol’ Sawbones” for nothing…

That pretty face beckoned me, and time after after time I would pluck her from the crowd, only to be reminded why I hadn’t chosen her before. Those legs! I would put her back, silently telling myself that when all the other dolls that only needed a cleaning were done, I would get to poor Felicity…

But thanks to a Giver, Felicity is finally up for adoption! You can see her page HERE.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou see,¬† there comes a time when a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and I knew the thing that I needed to do was to take the plunge and perform a leg-o-lectomy. I didn’t even know if my plan would work; after all, I was exchanging one style of legs – jointed at the hip – for another style: swing legs. It was now or never! I got my scissors, and I cut Felicity in half. Gulp.

fbaHer legs were so bad that I didn’t even really notice how much work the rest of her needed. There was composition missing from the sides and back of her head, she had cracks around her eyes, and her wig was so filthy that it got noticeably lighter after a good washing.

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I love the drop waist and pleats. So cute!

How a doll’s hair turns out can greatly influence what clothing she’ll receive. When I saw those golden curls, all I could think was “Beach.” In the middle of winter! Maybe I should put her back and wait for a more appropriate time of year…NO. I’d already cut the poor girl in half after avoiding her for so long. A nautical theme it would have to be and it would have to be NOW.

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It turned out just as I hoped it would. I love when that happens! (because it doesn’t always)

I’ve always wanted to do a sailor dress! And lucky me, I had some vintage navy wool on hand and some middy braid. I found a dress I liked for inspiration and got to work.

I still wanted to make a coat and hat for her, so was tickled pink when I ran across a nautical-themed sample square of upholstery fabric I’d purchased somewhere in my travels. There certainly was not enough for a coat, but there was enough for the brim of a floppy hat!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy sister The Mayor made fun of the huge ship’s wheel displayed so prominently, but I worked extra hard to make sure it was placed right there, because it was my favorite part of that fabric! I still like it, even if it is a little “busy.”

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You can see her new lower half here. I didn’t have matching fabric, so through a series of eliminations, this brown was the right choice.

So now in the dead of winter we have a little bit of summer to enjoy! Even as the wind howls outside…

The unusual Tabitha was adopted by….Amy W. of Alabama! Tabitha will be clanking her way to you soon! Thank you!

And with that, I leave you! Happy Wednesday, you’re my favorite!

Ebony & Ivory

1tabbefWhat do you do when a ghost comes knocking at your door?

“I’m not a ghost!” little Tabitha insisted. “I’m Snow White!”

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Smith & Jones getting jiggy with it.

Well, I didn’t want to shatter her illusions. I mean, she may have been sold as a Snow White, but she wasn’t one of the “official” Snow Whites. Clearly, this little 13″ composition girl with the frightful black¬†wig and the pale, pale face was a knock-off. But! Long ago she made some little girl happy, and that is the important thing.

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Note the clock gears on her hat.

 

Thus begins my description of O.L.D. No. 00026, Tabitha. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Being a Snow White doll of any brand is all fun and games until 80 years go by and your face has faded even more, while your hair stays as black as ever! What to do with her? Who would want her? If I put her in pink clothing, would that coax any color at all to her face? Probably not. In fact, it would probably make her look paler than ever.

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Zipper embroidery! Who would have thunk it?!

I have long been a fan of Steampunk (an art form that adds an antiquated Victorian aesthetic to modern technology) even putting it into my book with the characters of Smith & Jones. I looked at Tabitha’s unique coloring and thought, “Here’s my chance!”

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Her stylized Umbrella/Flower is an old Jello mold, leather cut out petals and the face of the smashed clock.

I took one of my son’s many, many clocks that he collected and I smashed it with a hammer! Using the parts for Tabitha’s new style.

On Pinterest I got the idea of using old zippers as an embroidery style trim. Wouldn’t you know, I had a whole bunch of really nice old metal zippers that I didn’t know what to do with! They were far too large for my dolls. Once again illustrating: This is why you never throw anything away!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATabitha will not be everybody’s cup of tea. But she’ll be somebody’s cup of tea, and every salvageable doll deserves a second chance. Someone who will love her for the odd girl she is!

Meanwhile! New year, new adopter! Just kidding. O.L.D. No. 25, Madeliene, is going to our dear Michelle E. in Colorado. Thank you, Michelle!

And with that, Happy Wednesday! You’re my favorite.

Practically (im)Perfect In Every Way

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New Year’s Eve. 2014

I cannot tell a lie. The title of this post refers to both the O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) number 25, Madeliene, and the writer of Hazel Twigg & the Hollyhock Hideaway, which would be myself. You can see Madeliene’s adoption page HERE.

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“Perfect” Madeliene

Madeliene is unmarked, but my experience tells me she is from the “Perfect Doll company.” Therefore, I could technically say, “Ta-dah! Madeliene is PERFECT!” even though she’s far from. Her face is like a road map of crazing – and there’s no fixing that without a complete overhaul, which would ruin her. Her limbs were cracked at the seams, and her wig is rather sparse. You know what saves her? Her smile and her happy expression. Dolls of this particular mold are hard to find.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMadeliene has been with me for a very long time. Before “Before” pictures, even! I would take her with me to presentations. Well, to my ONE presentation (so far) done at the Rolfe Public Library. With her clothing, she very well illustrates what it is I do with these dolls. She has been my constant companion in my sewing room, smiling at me and giving me cheer for three plus years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne desperate time, I stole her shoes that I had made just for her because I was behind on another O.L.D. and needed them. She instantly forgave me and sat there cheerily barefooted, content to be at my side. But now it’s her time to be loved again by someone other than myself. For the last time, she’s coming to my rescue when I need her most. I made a new pair of shoes for her and a second dress, and soon she and I will say our goodbyes. I will miss her smiling face.

The reason I needed a rescue was this: The very day after I finished my last doll before Christmas, I crashed. Crashed! I slept almost solidly for three days! You wouldn’t think that listening to lisping whispers of what each new arrival wants to wear, and then picking out fabrics and creating patterns for said lispers would be pressure, but it is!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a week, I rallied, only to lose a night’s sleep over a misconception that shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did, costing me another week in the end. I’ll say this: Finding love is hard. One more New Year’s still spent single. However! There’s always next year!

In the meantime, when I go out and about, people frequently ask me about the book and what’s going on with it. “Oh, we’re in the final editing stages,” I would breezily say, as if there were a team of elves busily dotting t’s and crossing i’s. This has been going on for months.

It’s never fun to get called onto the carpet, but thank goodness my brothers did. They gave me a deadline of December 31 to finish the edit and told me what’s what (I got in trouble).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReader, I made it! I made it well in time to go out for New Year’s, a third wheel to my sister The Mayor and her husband the First Dude, but still! I went out! Usually, I’m a hermit.

It’s comforting to know that all writers want to tweak and tweak and tweak. I by far am no exception. Why, these little posts alone go through an average of 26 revisions, and I’m still never satisfied! But the important thing is the book is finally DONE. We’ll be making announcements soon as to when it will be in print.

I’ll spend this last week with Madeliene before she goes away, both of us far from perfect, with our smiles intact to get us through.

2015 will be our year. I can taste it. And a Happy New Year to you!

Our special thanks to Michelle E. of Colorado, who once again came to a O.L.D.’s rescue and adopted Shirley Temple Angel/Fairy.