Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Story Behind My "Brian Snow Buddy" Doll Pattern

The snowguy to the left is called "Brian Snow Buddy" and is named after one of my grandsons. I named him that because he is just so adorable, as is my grandson. He's my buddy, as is my grandson. He's my pal, as is my grandson. He's so squeezable, as is my grandson. He's just so huggable, as is my grandson. He's just so lovable, as is my grandson. He's so......Stop it, Nana. You're embarrassing me. Who said that? "Brian Snow Buddy" or my grandson Brian? Both. Nah! They both love compliments.

"Brian Snow Buddy" is a 5" snowman doll pattern and is actually the first doll pattern in my "stout" doll pattern series. Brian has many more "cousins" from the "stout" family series that are being created as we speak and will be making their debut in the next few weeks.

Brian is a free-standing snowman with a warm & natural cloth body, embroidered face with black eyes, flannel vest, fringed scarf, snow cap with bell , and carries a small I (heart) snow sign. Small bows decorate his vest. His pattern is very easy to make. He is available as an E-pattern snowman doll pattern or print snowman doll pattern.

When I was designing this doll he kept telling me "make me like Brian." I know, you think I'm crazy that the dolls talk to me. It's bad enough that they talk to me after they're created but before too. Well, yah. Anyway, I had to make something that was as adorable, squeezable, lovable and excitable as Brian was as a little boy. Still is for that matter. He had the cutest fiery red cheeks. Talk about excitable. At Christmas time he could barely control himself. Back to the story. So, "Brian Snow Buddy" became the most adorable lovable, excitable, and squeezable snowman around. Go on, give him a squeeze or a hug. He'll love it. So will you.

Brian Snow Buddy just loves the snow, as does my grandson. "Brian Snow Buddy" is strong in body, as is my grandson. He's determined, bold and brave, as is my grandson. He's stubborn, staunch and firm, as is my grandson. He's powerful and forceful, as is my grandson. He's bulky in figure, thick set and corpulent, as is.......OOPS! That's not my grandson. He's a lean, mean fighting machine and I LOVE HIM. Stop it, Nana! You're embarrassing me. Who said that? My grandson or "Brian Snow Buddy?"

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Story Behind "Nellie" - My Victorian Snowlady Doll Pattern

Two things today got me to thinking about "Nellie" my Victorian snowlady doll pattern. The first is that it is once again snowing outside. This is the fourth time this week. I'm beginning to think that Mother Nature is out to get us or, at the very least, inundate us with snow.

The second is a comment from my husband. When the Christmas decorations are put away the Winter decorations, also known as snowpeople, make their appearance. In the front foyer of our house I have a seasonal display. Right now there is a large floral basket with all the winter blue colors and three of my snowpeople dolls there. The focal point of the winter display is my "Nellie" Victorian snowlady doll.

"Nellie" was named after my husband's GrandAunt who was born in May of 1889, definitely during the Victorian Era. Or, at the very least, towards the end of the Victorian Era. All I could think of while I was designing her was that "Nellie" had to have been a bit on the shy, defined, and eloquent side. So, my "Nellie" had to be also.

Yah, so? Linda, will you please get to the second reason!!! Okay, okay. You know how I love to get off track. In any event, my husband told me yesterday that he thinks that my "Nellie" Victorian snowlady doll is the best doll I've ever made. Well, I couldn't agree with him more. She really is quite stunning. I have to keep that to myself though as "Nellie" is quite full of herself as are most of the dolls I've made. She just loves to be on display and begged me to show you the new pictures that I've just taken of her so you could judge for yourselves.

"Nellie" is a free-standing 23" tall and is wearing an 1893 Victorian Ladies Street Costume. She has a fancy double-tiered lace trimmed dress, full length double-tiered laced trimmed (inside and out) lined jacket with long puffed sleeves, fancy lace and floral decorated lined hat, lace trimmed and gathered slip, lace trimmed and gathered bloomers, lace trimmed parasol, and lace gloves. Her arms are wire-shaped and covered. Her hair is white with bangs and is fastened in a bun. Her face is partly embroidered and she has a covered Styrofoam head and cloth body supported by a wood dowel and covered wood base. Her fancy hat is tied with a lace ribbon into a bow on the side of her head.

"Nellie" is one of my more advanced patterns and requires a more experienced sewer. It's not that she is "difficult" herself (she told me to tell you that) it's just that her clothing is intricately designed. Her lined coat is adorned with lace both inside and out.

If you'd like to make a "Nellie" for your own house her pattern is available here. She's available as an E-pattern doll pattern. If you do decide to make her have fun doing so. She is just delightful even though she is quite conceited.

So, what do you think? Is she stunning? If you think so, please don't tell her. Make sure you send me a confidential e-mail. "Nellie" is quite the snoop and if she found out there would be no living with her then. She'd want to be on display year round. And then I'd have "Dollie WWIII" going on in my house. Please, please if you think she's gorgeous let ME know. Just don't tell"Nellie."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Create Keepsake Dolls From Your Kids and Grandkids Baby Clothes

I just got a wonderful package of baby clothes from my daughter-in-law the other day that contained some baby jeans from my twin grandsons. I was THRILLED. Seems like a strange thing to be thrilled by, doesn't it? Not for me. I see old kids clothes and immediately think about the dolls I can use them on.

The reason she gave them to me is that every one in my family knows never to throw away their old socks, flannel shirts, baby clothes, vintage material, fancy dresses, baby shoes, etc. They all know that they should give them to me as I will utilize everything and anything craft related and love to recycle old materials (especially old Victorian dresses).

In my previous article entitled "The Story Behind My Baby Nicky Doll" I mentioned that his mother, my step-daughter, used to give me all his baby clothes and shoes. I just loved this as little baby jeans, pants, corduroys, sneakers and shoes can all be utilized as is or just slightly altered to make some great doll outfits.

Plus, they make for such a nice memento. Every time I look at a doll that I've made that has some one of my grandchildren or relatives piece of clothing I'm instantly taken back to a memory of them. It's just such a nice way to remember loved ones and some wonderful times. My favorite, of course, is old vintage clothing especially Victorian clothes but, second to that, is baby clothes. There's just something about tiny little clothes.

So, I thought you might like to see a few of the dolls I've made over the years for myself or as gifts that were made based on other designers patterns and where I used some of my grandson's baby clothing, brother's clothes, etc.

The first picture DI172 (left hand corner above) is of a 3 foot bear that I made based upon a pattern from Design Farm - Designs by Lori Gardner and Sharon Reynolds. The bear is wearing my grandson's jeans and shirt unaltered. His feet are made from wood covered with one of my relatives socks made to look like sneakers.

The 2nd picture DI162 (upper right) is of a old fisherman that I made based upon a pattern and kit by Courech Creations - Designs by Susan Courech. The old man is wearing light exercise pants from my grandson that I altered to look like a fisherman's wet overalls with matching boots. The flannel shirt is altered from another one of my grandsons and the vest and hat is material I cut from a brushed felt coat.

The 3rd picture above DI164 (above and left) is also an old fisherman that I made based upon a pattern and kit by Courech Creations - Designs by Susan Courech. This old man is wearing a pair of my infant grandson's sweats slightly altered, material from one of my brothers flannel shirts altered to make his shirt, and flannel material for his vest from someone's flannel shirt.

The 4th picture DI030 (to the right) is of a little boy that I made many, many years ago based upon a doll craft book I bought or was given. Unfortunately, I tore the page out of the book and don't know who the author was or who's design to credit. In any event, the shoes are my grandson's infant baby shoes and the jumper is altered sweatpants from someone.

The last picture DI165 ( to the left) is of a hunting and fishing bear. He's wearing a pair of my grandsons unaltered brushed denim jeans, material from one of my brother's flannel shirts, material for his vest from one of my brother's sweatshirt, and cut up socks from someone in the family. I think his bandanna is from one of my brother-in-laws flannel shirts.

As you can see I love to recycle old clothes especially if they create a keepsake memory for me. So, the next time you think about throwing away some old baby clothes think about making a doll keepsake that you can have forever. Memories last forever if you can just remember them. Sounds redundant doesn't it. Let's say, memories last forever, when you have a visual keepsake like a doll to look at and remind you. The only problem you might have is where to store all the old clothing.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My First Doll Pattern Was Named "Linda" - How Appropriate?

If you aren't a reader of my Linda's Blog you might not know that I'm a doll maker and doll pattern designer. I'm also a bit of a genealogy buff. So, I decided to combine my love of doll making and love of genealogy by naming my doll patterns after members of my family - past and present. I thought by doing so that it would be a nice way to honor my ancestors.

In any event, I thought that the first article in my "The Story Behind Each of My Doll Patterns" series should be the first doll and doll pattern that I designed. Her name is "Linda" and her picture is the one at the top of this article. And, "yes" she is named after me. What a surprise? Bet you could see that coming a mile away.

I gave a lot of thought to "Linda" as I wasn't quite sure where and how to begin. Besides being a lover of dolls and genealogy I also have a passion for the clothes of the Victorian Era. I wanted my first doll, my namesake, to be a Victorian. I also knew that I wanted my dolls to be able to stand up on their own.

I'd seen a lot of porcelain dolls which were all very beautiful but, wanted something different. I wanted to design a doll who had a "distinct" personality that was not determined by her face. What I wanted was to create a "faceless" doll. My feeling is that faces overwhelm the dolls personality and, therefore, have a greater impact on her personality. I wanted the clothing, hair, accessories, color scheme, etc. of the Victorian period to determine the personality of the doll.

So, I decided that the best way to accomplish this was to use a wooden ball for the head, a 1/4" dowel for the neck, a 1" dowel for the body, and a wood circle for the base. Her wooden head would be painted with a flesh colored paint. I added a little blush for color. Her arms were going to be wires covered with batting so they were bendable. Also, her hands were going to be made out of old lace, preferably old lace gloves (talk about hard to find).

Batting was wrapped around the wood dowel for padding for the body. If I wanted her to be a little chunkier (what's wrong with chunky?) then I would just add more padding. A fitted slip was added to the lower part of her body and glued to the sides of the fitted circle so she was self-enclosed.

The fun part was that "Linda's" personality started to develop as I went along. Now this might sound a little crazy, but the doll kind of spoke to me as she was being created. If that sounds crazy to you that's okay. I know all my doll making and crafting friends will understand this.

"Linda" wanted to be a prim and proper Victorian so she decided that an 1850 Street Costume would be appropriate for herself. She wanted a lined 2-tier jacket with a 3-tiered lined shawl. She also wanted a lined bonnet, lace trimmed parasol, lace trimmed dress with long lace trimmed and gathered sleeves, lace gloves, lace trimmed slip and long curly blonde hair.

I tried to talk her out of being "blonde" with all the connotations that come with that. She didn't care. It was 1850 after all and they didn't have "dumb blondes" back then. Who came up with that term anyway? I told her that I, her namesake, had straight, fine hair. It didn't matter to her whether or not she looked like me. It was going to be long, curly blond hair or nothing. So, "Linda" had her way. Of course, my Mother would tell you that she was just like me in that regard.

So, "Linda" got her 1850 Street Costume and long, curly, blonde hair. She was well suited to be a prim and proper Victorian "Lady" if I didn't say so myself. Plus, as she tells me, she doesn't look anything like her namesake which she is thankful for. I don't know if I should be insulted or not. What do you think?