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: ( 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:

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.