Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Healing Cloth Dolls

Art is a form of self expression and thus, I created an expression for my feelings and my healing journey. 

Have you created one of these yourself?

I wrote an article for 'Doll' on the Nurturing Nature of dolls, having been inspired by a book by Noreen Crone Findlay called 'Soul Mate Dolls: The Healing Art of Doll Making' in which she explains how dolls can be used as a form of Art Therapy, when at some point in their lives people may find themselves overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions and feelings.  Such dolls have been seen as an important medium to heal emotional and psychological hurts through Art Therapy. I found this book inspiring and decided to embark on my own healing doll.

Sadly the book is now out of print, though you can catch up with Noreen by visiting her Blog or website.

        Noreen Crone-Findlay found that by creating a representation in doll form of discoveries and insights made during self-evaluation, a person can explore significant emotions, memories, experiences and dreams. She found that the use of doll making as a medium for personal growth, in a safe facilitating environment can offer an opportunity for expression even for those who find it hard to articulate their feelings and thoughts verbally. Such discoveries enable the person to move towards wholeness, thereby helping to heal their heart and soul. “When there is a wound in the heart or soul, a wonderful way to heal it is to find a soul mate and embark on a journey of creativity.” 
I have also found websites by people who make dolls containing healing crystals.

I was keen to make a Serenity/ Forgiveness Doll and I wanted the whole experience of making the doll to be as soothing and relaxing as possible. 
I brainstormed some ideas on paper: 
This doll must be made in serene and peaceful white. 
The idea of a plant pot containing a seedling being held out in a giving way would indicate a fresh start and forgiveness. She needed to have a kindly, nurturing demeanour.
I jotted down words that tend to make us stay in a state of sadness and hurt, as well as those which are healing and empowering. 
The first group of feelings would be written in a lower-case scrawled typeface to convey the intense and erratic emotions that empty, negative feelings can evoke. 

The second would be in bold, smooth, curved, nurturing and empowering typography to be embroidered over the top of the first.
As I looked at her I decided to give her a yellow flower on her chest with the words wholeness and healing. All the sad words were in a beige-grey whilst the nurturing words were in green. I added the word Happiness in yellow and Love in red.
Her hair, a whole hank of white mohair made her look swaddled in a comforting, soft nurturing caress.

She measures 16" tall (40.5 cm) and has tiny fingers and I chose to use the kindly, non-judgemental looking embroidered face from Noreen Crone Findlay's book.
It would seem that dolls are as much an expression of the human spirit, creativity and psyche as they are of the human form. They can inspire, amuse, comfort, teach, appease, promote and even heal. With such an impressive history as this, it is no wonder that dolls will forever hold a special place in our hearts and minds.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

FABRIC MANIPULATION ~ Textile Sculpted Figures

FABRIC MANIPULATION Textile Art & DesignTrapunto/ quilting; appliqué; folding; pleating; gathering; layering; fraying e.t.c. 

I would add to this list knowing the fabric medium, because unless you know about the properties of fabric (selvedge, bias weft, warp, stretch and thread count) you will come across many difficulties when making your final creations.

While costuming for soft sculpted cloth figures lends itself really well to folding, pleating, fraying, gathering and layering fabric, it is also possible to use these techniques in other innovative ways.

I used Trapunto for veining the mermaid tail and to create a root system on the Earth figure's feet.

Needle-sculpting facial features is much like quilting: (i.e.to pad and stitch ornamentally) 
It can also be used to create designs on the body and limbs.

Appliqué and fraying can be used to embellish the body, add eye lashes and other features. 

< This is Cushionella's hat, complete with frayed embellishment around its edge.

Are you up for this challenge?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Textile Techniques ~ Knitted Felted Textile Art DesignFigures

TEXTILE TECHNIQUES: felt & felting; crochet; knitting; weaving.
Here are some thought-provoking and innovative designs that can be achieved through knitting and crochet:

<Jointed Peg Doll based on the German wooden peg dolls of the 1800's. Designed and made by Sally Cudmore.

Soft Sculpture
'Close Knit Community', PEI, Canada >

Experimental 3D hand woven figure constructed in parts and filled while sewing up. I am currently experimenting with a different style of hand woven figure.

Have you tried any of these techniques to make a textile figure?
Some links to inspire you:

Lucina Guy
Transcending the Material installation Ben Cuevas
Felted Celebrities  
Youtube clip of the Improbability Drive
Youtube Advert

Basic sock dolls:

< Grandpa's eyelashes eye brows and hair (on head and chest) have been needle-felted.

This cloth figure was lost by Royal Mail in transit to the lady who commissioned me to make him. 

If you have seen him, do let me know.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Surface Decoration~ Embroidered Soft Sculpted Figures

EMBROIDERY: machine embroidery; hand embroidery/ stump work and beading used to great effect for soft sculpted textile figures. 
and Earth Elements figure (below).

Do you machine embroider your textile/ cloth figures?

Inspirational links:

< Viviana by Patti Medaris Culea

<Vivienne, my version of Viviana using beading embellishment.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Textile Figures ~ Art or Simply Craft?

Since Soft Sculpted Textile Figures embody the elements of Textile Art and Design, an entire GCSE and Foundation Degree Course could be designed around them, alone.

However, I had a conversation with a GCSE textile art & design teacher three years ago, who stated that: 

a) cloth figures could not be considered art and 
b) students would not have enough scope within the textile figure medium to develop their own designs, in short cloth dollies were considered too limited. I was utterly astounded! 

SO... I got her to outline her course and what she required her students to make. She said that she'd asked them to make bunnies and had ended up sewing them together pretty much herself. I ask you, where is the design, art and scope for development in that ? The following year she intended to get them to make puppets. No, not sophisticated puppets, but simple glove puppets! I was left utterly speechless. 

I hope this dismissive attitude within TAD courses isn't the case today. 
The teacher in question no longer works in education. She's become a craft shop owner.
Does this attitude leave you lost for words or ready to do battle? 
Check out: Lisa Lichtenfels website and be awed by her creations.
Are you a textile art and design student with a passion for soft sculpted figures? What do you think?

Next post will be Embroidered Textile Figures

Thursday, 8 November 2012

PRINTED FABRICS ~ Soft Sculpted Textile Figures

Block; Screen; Digital Print
Soft Sculpted Textile Figures embody the elements of Textile Art and Design. 
With today's technology it is possible to transfer any image onto fabric.

There are some companies that sell printable cloth or you can iron on an A4 piece of sticky backed plastic to a piece of strong, thin cotton material. Use a rotary cutter to cut the material to the size of the paper with nice crisp edges. This will help when you pass it through your printer.

(NOTE: lightweight fabric will just slide off the freezer paper and just end up bunching up inside your printer) . Using masking tape at the bottom edge of the fabric will encourage it to be taken up better by the printer rollers. Sticking freezer paper to the back of your lighter fabric may also allow it be printed on.

With today's technology it is possible to transfer any image onto fabric.
If you own a computer, scanner and colour printer you can give your doll a face from a photo, or perhaps you'd like to transform your soft sculpted figure into a chic fashion icon straight from a Versace catalogue.

Screen Printing

Block Printing

Humans tattoo their skin for decoration.
Why not try your own print designs to create stunning tattoos for your soft sculpted textile figures?
Or an Aboriginal or other ethnic figure covered with body art.

Of course for such projects issues of scale with print size will be important.

Gerilyn ~ One of a Kind Cloth Doll with Tattooed Arms by Angie Naron
Sourpuss tattooed lady
An art doll from Mimi Kirchner
Mimi Kircher Tattoo Lady- Stars And Stripes

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pre- Printed Panel Dolls

The printed cut-out doll is believed to have originated in the United States between 1891-1893. Dolls were printed on fabric which was sold by the yard. The dolls could then be cut out and their back and front stitched together, turned right side out and stuffed. This type of doll seemed to lose its popularity in the 1920's.These dolls are bought as a length of fabric with the doll, clothes and instructions printed on.  Pre-printed panel dolls were were of the outline/pancake style.

Pictures courtesy of Susan Brewer 

With today's technology it is possible to transfer any image onto fabric. 

 If you own a computer, scanner and colour printer you can give your doll a face from a photo, or perhaps you'd like to transform your soft sculpted figure into a chic fashion icon straight from a Versace catalogue. 

Coming in a future post: PRINTED FABRICS: block printing; screen-printing; digital print~ Soft Sculpted Textile Figures

How will you create your own unique design?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Ethnic Cloth Figures

Have you ever made a Black/ Ethnic Cloth figure?

Making a black or ethnic cloth doll can have its own dilemmas in finding appropriate skin colours, hair styling and face painting techniques.

A great range of ethnic fabrics can be found at: http://dollmakersjourney.com/fabrics.html

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Felt Textile Figures ~ Dolls

Felt is considered a good fabric to work with for dolls, (though it is not good for dolls that you intend to wash). 

Tiny Felt Doll 
designed & made 
by Hattie Bavin
Felted Wall Doll Designed & made by Jane Eyers, 
Totnes, Devon, UK

She also makes mermaids & fairies 
This wall doll is made using the Felting process which involves tangling fibres together to give a soft, fluffy effect.

Felt can be sewn with the seams on the inside or the outside. It is important to trim and clip felt figures close to the seam.

100% wool felt is the best for sewn doll making, as craft felt does not hold up so well to handling and stuffing. 

Felt has no grain and is not woven, however, as with woven fabrics the fabric does have a side that is stretchier than the other.

Double-layering craft felt with another tightly woven fabric is another option. The two fabrics can be cut together and sewn as though they are a single layer. 
The second layer prevents the felt from becoming distorted with over stuffing.

In Europe the Lenci Doll company, Steiff and Lenci, began to experiment with Stockinette and felt which was hot-pressed over a mould.  

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Boudoir Dolls ~ Cloth Figures

Boudoir Dolls

The term boudoir derives from the French verb bouder, meaning "to pout". 
The definition: 'a lady's private bedroom, sitting room or dressing room'.  Boudoir is also used in photography as a term that describes implied nudity/ revealing glimpses of a lady's undergarments, while still dressed. 
Historically, the boudoir formed part of the private suite of rooms of a lady adjacent to her bedchamber, for bathing and dressing 
(the female equivalent of the male cabinet)The boudoir later became used as a private drawing room for embroidery or to entertain intimate acquaintances. 

The pattern for Pampered Polly (above) is available exclusively from my book Fiddly Little Fingers and Tricky Toes

~ Artist’s Vision for Soft Sculpture Figure ~
     She’s my atypical version of a boudoir doll. I imagined the blissful expression on Polly’s face as she enjoys a pampering session of nail treatments and facial. Her slightly sun-bronzed complexion also denotes a visit to the solarium. Whilst her attire consists of towelling robe and head towel; to further the theme of luxurious indulgence, as well as for modesty,
she has sexy, black, lacy underwear.
© Cloth Doll Creations by S Maddocks 2007

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Topsy -Turvy Upside Down Cloth Dolls

It was at the middle of the 19th Century that doll manufacturers started producing dolls with a head at either end. A wide skirt attached to the doll's waist hid whichever head was at the bottom. The clothes were therefore, sewn on and not removable and the arms were flap hinged to enable them to hang easily from the shoulder, so as not to stick out from underneath the dress. These dolls were often designed to tell stories incorporating several characters or simply to provide more versatility. Some souvenir costume dollmakers used this method to produce pretty stockinette-faced dolls, one dressed in Spanish costume, but when turned over a Dutch doll was revealed.
The variations of these upside down rag dolls seem endless: Cinderella in rags/ball gown; black doll/white doll; happy/sad doll; awake/sleeping dolls; winter clothes/summer clothes; day clothes/ nightgown.

When making such dolls, you need to make sure that the skirts are long enough to cover the hands and head of the doll beneath and you must ensure that the hairstyles are secured so that they don't flop down below the hem line.

In the mountains of North Carolina craftsmen there were also known for these doubled ended dolls to illustrate the characters in their stories. Some of the dolls would have 2 characters some would have 3 characters all into one doll. In Cinderella, for example, there would be a doll pair representing Cinderella and her two wicked step sisters and another pair representing the step mother and the Fairy Godmother.   


Alice in Wonderland  set of 3 dolls: Alice, Mad hatter and Queen of Hearts . Made from stockinette created by a company called 'FUN TO LEARN',Co. Down, Northern Ireland. makers of excellent Topsy-Turvy Nursery Rhyme dolls and other fabric made toys.

Snow White/Wicked Step Mother pair. Made from stockinette. Made by 'FUN TO LEARN',Co. Down, Northern Ireland

FOR SALE £25.00 GBP (see below)

 Little Red Riding Hood double-ended dolls made in France. This version even has legs: Grandma, Red and Wolf. 

FOR SALE £30.00 GBP (see below)

Cinderella Rags to Riches 
Pattern Available

There's no high-tech way to buy items from me on-line. It's a question of emailing me with: Item Description; QTY; Country to be sent to; Listed Price (as shown beside each listed item) and I will check the postage charges and send you a payment request via Pay Pal, unless you are in the UK and wish to pay by cheque in pounds sterling (GBP).

Monday, 15 October 2012

Rising to the Challenge

Doll making groups often set challenge competitions on certain themes and sometime using certain fabrics or colours. Doll makers submit their dolls for judging to win prizes and rosettes. 

Sophie Goth
one of two 1st Prize Winners 2008

by Madeleine Sara

Our Internet Group set this Cushion Doll Challenge for 2005. 
This Challenge was inspired by a member’s encounter whilst trying to get local business to sell her cloth figures.  She told us: ‘One gallery owner  said “fabric doesn't sell well in my shop; people just don't want to buy cushions.” I didn’t see the point of explaining to her the difference between a doll and a cushion and just left the shop’. 
This comment sparked speculation on what a ‘cushion doll’ would look like and so the challenge competition was set.
Cushionella 1st prize winner 2005 
for group challenge set by
Designed and made by Sara Maddocks  

Cushion doll for me conjures up images of plump, soft, comforting, relaxing, zoftig (full-bosomed; having a full, shapely figure), flouncy billowing, puffs, folds, layers, sumptuous/opulent soft furnishing fabrics, tassel/ fringes/ piping/ bead/ ribbon embellishment. I also considered the different types and shapes of cushions and of course my colour scheme, which became red and gold. I felt that the ‘doll’ and ‘cushion’ should have equal emphasis, so I gave her a bust that looked like two cushions. I shaped the bottom of her body like a square cushion with tassels, resting on the cushion-bustle of her Marie Antoinette style skirt. Her arms were made to resemble combinations of round and bolster-shaped cushions, whilst her legs were made to resemble a combination of pretty, frilly square and bolster boudoir cushions. The whole effect was to look like a pile of cushions and yet look like a complete doll. Her hat gives her an almost Elizabethan flair. She is embellished with beads, fringes and trim.
Madeleine Sara Maddocks

Our Internet Group ClothdollmakersUK also

set this 'Hot Flush Challenge' (above) in 2004.

Entries from left to right by Linda Misa; 

Myra Mylott & Teresa Maylon.

Have you ever taken up a challenge?