Friday, March 13, 2015

Inside the Studio: Creating a Sheep

Hi everyone,
Hope you are all doing well. I wanted to create a series of posts where I will talk about the thought and approach I take whenever tackling a new project. And a lovely little tag now helps you search for similar posts!

Gathering Inspiration

I knew ahead of time, that the next time I were to attempt a sheep, ram, or goat, I would make an art doll rather than a soft sculpture. I am just so inspired by people who sculpt the faces and feet of their animals. My favorite art dolls definitely come from Magweno.

Rather than sketching out a draft of what I want the finished piece to look like. I first decide on a color palette and then decide on the theme for the accessory. After playing with a variety of colors and themes, I decided to draw inspiration from the past and redo my first lamb.

Back then, I bought my mohair and viscose dyed, but now that I have my own dye pots and dyes, I went for a softer cream and pink and then wanted to incorporate the flowers in by making a flower crown. I went with Forget-me-nots, and I love the colors of the batch in the first photo. I gathered some photos of flower crowns on Pinterest for an idea of how I would like to approach it in doll size. I like to collect doll photos and other crafting inspiration. If you need some images to get your started, you can find my boards here.

From the dye pot, I go straight into the doll. I know some artists like to sketch out a basic draft, but I am more of a kinesthetic person than a 2D visual person, so I like to be more fluid and play with the ideas before fixating on anything in particular.


Next up I had to tackle on how I would like to create the face. I used a shorter pile for the face to distinguish from the longer pile in the body. I created a heart shaped face just as a preference. The blue pin marks where I intend to attach horns. 

I chose slightly larger eyes and a smaller, longer face after staring at some sheep photos. They also have that lovely nose that's very pronounced, so I tried to translate it into my doll. 

I went for a more distinct inverted "v" nose with a small face. Sculpting the eyelids downwards do give a more full sweet expression. Tip: The larger the eyes, the closer you might have to set them so that ends do not hang off the face. It still gives you enough space to add eyelids and a waterline. Nothing like a waterline for a more "dolly" effect.

Continuing the Blooming Spring I went with a warm cocoa brown, I sculpted little hooves for the arms and then decided I wanted her to stand. Choose a larger flat design to help balance her head out. Using a ball tool, I textured her hooves and horns, drawing on anthro BJDs for inspiration. 

Choosing how to curl her horns was probably the most time consuming part. Lots of google searchs of sheep and sheep dolls and sheep sculptures were involved, and I played around with it and her ears to decide how they would best fit in her head. 

After all the pieces were baked, I made new limb patterns to fit the clay parts.  Tip: Don't use hot glue, it will not hold to either the clay or the fabric. Your clay will pull right off. I like using a cyanoacrylate of some sort (Super/Crazy Glue)

Once the limbs are made, all that's left is some assembling and the sheep is done.


Last but not least are the accessories. For me, the little details really make the doll. I wanted to bring back some of the pinks, purples, and blues from the first photo, I braided a headband in my favorite shade of green and made some lovely flowers and buds. Then a little gloss and ribbon to finish it all off.

Well there you have it! One little sheep done!

It's an updated spin on a past idea! I hope you enjoy Divina as much as I did.

Stay tuned for more experimental adventures this year by subscribing via email or Google. Widget is in the side bar.

Until next time!
I'd love to hear from you, so keep in touch!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Different Kind of February: Doll Collecting!

Laine here again! 

Hope you all have been well. I can't believe it's already the second week of March. February ended up being less of a doll making month and more of a doll collecting. Between work and having a really bad health month, I ended up finding comfort in dolls. I wanted to share with you a different type of work. I learned new skills and brushed up on rusty ones that I can't wait to bring to my future pieces.

Let's meet Evangeline. She is my 12 cm anthro cat girl doll from Hujoo. She is an ABS (hard plastic) BJD which makes her an affordable way to break into the doll hobby. She did take a bit of work because only the blank doll is shown, so you get the bare essentials. When deciding to get one, you will have to provide eyes, a face up, all clothes, wigs etc.

She is so petite and sweet once done though! 

Here are some WIPs as I was working on her. 
Top left going clockwise
1) Making a custom fit wig cap
2) First attempt with a face up with black eyeliner
3) Styling new wig
4) Second dress prototype
One thing you have to consider when choosing a doll is to decide if you'd be willing to make clothes or would you prefer to purchase clothes. I would recommend checking your dolls measurements and just seeing if they fall into the popular sizes: 1/3, 1/4, 1/6 and 1/8 scale. 

Third time's the charm though, so the third face up and third dress ended up being her final look. In the future, I'll be adding to her wardrobe and hoping to eventually learn how to sew doll clothes worthy of a BJD. Create my own little fairy tale little by little with these dolls. 

Next up is a Ever After High doll I customized.  I've love the concept and the webisodes since they were released in 2013. I had always followed Monster High, and when Mattel released Ever After High, it was like they were complimenting my aesthetic. I had hesitated with actually getting a doll because the wide heads and face sculpts were not as appealing to me as the Monster High sculpts, but seeing them in person was a completely different story. 

My fiance bought me the beautiful Apple White Thronecoming Doll. 

Mattel Promotional Photo
Mini Review: (will be posting a video review soon)
I was taken away by the beauty of the doll, but I had to replace mine because her body was improperly cast (leading to cracks) and the seam lines very messy. It might have been just a defective doll, because all the other Ever After High Dolls I got have very clean seam lines. It also might be that they did not expect me to undress her which is why the seam lines were messier than any of the other dolls where the legs do show. [If you have an Apple White Thronecoming doll, I'd love to hear your experience with the doll] Overall, she'd receive a 8.5/10 from me (0.5 points taken off for for the easy to break saddle stand) She's still beautiful, and I'd recommend her!

Custom work done:
First I restyled her hair to rescue it from being squished in a box and gelled. I recommend lifting up her hair to the roots to cut out the plastic tabs. You want to get as close to the head as possible to minimize any possibilities of scratching yourself. 

Then I removed her factory paint and used watercolor pencils, soft pastels, and acrylics to give her a softer and romantic look. I wanted her to look youthful since she is in high school. I kept her stock because I just wanted to redo her to fit my taste in my collection. 

That's all for now. 
Next time I'll be sharing with you a new design that I've made for the New Lunar Year!

Keep in touch everyone!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Disney Concept Art : The Mary Blair Exhibit

I had the pleasure of going to the Mary Blair Exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum last year. I always found the traditional cell animation of Disney so beautiful and still watch the old classics just to look at the background, so of course I had to see the wonder concept work behind Mary Blair. It was sad that most of her work didn't make it into the public eye, but this exhibit traced her art from its traditional roots where she learned proper technique, to her breaking all the rules with vivid color, and to the design of the Small Small World Ride.

I thought I'd share some of the photos I did manage to take. I have gotten out of the habit of living behind the camera and really took the time to sit and enjoy the work. We also got to enjoy a little corner of Marc Davis's work too!

Marc Davis

Mary Blair

One of my favorite pieces. I would love to hang this right over my bed and dream of Neverland

The Three Caballeros

These works were heavily inspired by her trip to South America.


And last but not least, one of my all time favorites

Hope you enjoyed seeing her work!
Keep in touch everyone,

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Looking back: The Techniques and Art Challenges that Defined my 2014

I can't believe it is already 2015. 2 weeks in and I'm already getting swept away. It has been a crazy past year, but full of many new adventures and discovering both myself as a person and an artist. I had the wonderful support of 2 new regulars for 2014, and they challenged me and pushed me to do many new things!

I learned that I should expect less to be done in November and December between a convention and the travel time to see family for the holidays. So here's a recap of the FIVE new techniques etc that really defined my 2014!

1. Ombre Dyeing
My first true example of ombre dyeing started with a sunset and this little girl. Fading one color into another made for a beautiful hand dyeing technique and opened so many doors to different themes and expanded the stories I could tell with my work. It put a modern twist on my traditional techniques and made for a feast for the eyes.

2. Wings:
This year is all about wings. Goose wings, posable wings, fairy wings. I really went all out this year starting with these beautiful 1 meter goose wings. Learning wing and feather anatomy as well as constructing the bone structure to allow for opening and closing really made for my crowning glory this year! Definitely bought a lot more wire this year.

3. Clay:
When I first experimented with polymer clay, I really wanted to add it to my pieces as antlers, claws, and really make my pieces mixed media pieces. It started with an jackalope, but I really learned what I was doing when I made this beautiful winter buck. He was the perfect way to finish 2014 as well as teach me I can't bake thin pieces of clay in my oven at the stated temperature. Clay really gives me another medium to communicate through, and I couldn't be more grateful.

 4. Felt Flowers:
Nothing made me happier this year than taking my use of wool to the next level with both wool felt flowers as well as wet felted flowers. I never knew I could do these things with fabric that I have done with tissue paper, and they really allow me to explore this material to a entirely new dimension. Not only am I using felt to make scarves for my pieces and keychains, but now I can layer, cut, and felt to make beautiful pieces that can stand alone or pair perfectly to an ombre dyed doll.

5. Sewing Full Time:

Last but not least, I got to try sewing full time this year. Granted, I am still finding my niche in the market, but it is definitely enlightening to see what it means to sew 50+ hours a week and think about the numbers all the time. It made me think about what I was sacrificing in my art in order to make ends meet, and if I really wanted to do it as a job. We all know that when you are working vs doing a hobby, some element of enjoyment does leave. It really showed me what type of artist I want to be, and how I want to carry on with my art. Time really gave me a lot of food for thought, so I hope to share more wonderful things with you in 2015 as I straddle both being a teddy bear maker and a general plush artist.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you've enjoyed my 2014 as much as I have. I really appreciate all the support and love you've given me. 

As always,
Keep in touch,

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The past three months

For all those new to my blog or just new to me in general, I'd like to just do a quick recap of the past three months or so, so we can catch up and get to know each other. It's the lightning rounds!

Commission Roundup!

AWA 2014 Roundup!

Chromatic Garden Roundup!

To see which dolls are still looking for a home click here!

Now hit reply and let me know what you've been up to!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Convention Madness & Mixed Feelings

Everytime I encounter an obstacle in my part time budding career, I can only throw more and more admiration for those who keep up extreme work ethics. I have been juggling the constant balance between my own life and two families. There's only so much of me to go around, but 2 more of me or even another clone might be helpful. I have quite a one track mind which works for thorough work, and an additional few clones would be lovely. After spending time with my mother and grandmother in August, I went into a mad dash to prepare for Anime Weekend in Atlanta. This regime involved an unhealthy diet, building my own display, cutting, sewing, and assembling 39 peas, corresponding pea pods, 25 bear pillows, 29 shooting stars in too many colors, 9 onigiri, and 6 steamed buns.

Beginning of convention prep

Final Display!

After a month of 12 hour work days for days straight with no break, I was quite happy with the overall look and portability of my product and display. It was a great improvement from my first attempt at conventions with dolls in cellophane bags.

This was the second time at an Anime convention, as I am still trying to find my sea legs in the offline crowd. I aimed for a different price range after seeing the price sensitivity at Otakon 2013. I went for a variety of handmade pieces from 11 to 45 USD and then the upper end of 355+ USD for the art dolls. I have yet to crack the code for Anime Conventions and probably will only attempt 1 or 2 more before trying a different crowd.

It is wonderful networking and you get your name out there to people that you would otherwise have not met and you get to spend the weekend with wonderful people and get to tell stories about waking up at 2 in the morning due to convention shenanigans.
Hotel Evacuated!

All said and done, even if you try to find the silver lining in the cloud, it can be quite disheartening to put in all those hours of work and only make 11 sales. I know there are challenges and many artists go their entire lives without making it. Even so, none of this helped to lessen the disappointment. For a while, it made me question if I should just scrap it all and start from scratch.

Something else that was not helping was people meaning well to give me advice. I know they meant well, but I had given my business a lot of thought. It was not an overnight spur of the moment thing. I had thought about how to reduce production cost, thought about manufacturing, balanced my books, thought about my resources and what I can and can't do. After the 10th time someone's told you, "now if only you could have this manufactured" you have to take a VERY deep breath and explain that this is OOAK work, not to be mass produced in China. While I have thought of other branches, I also decided to do research but that it would be a long time before I would have the capital to give it a real jump start.

I really admire those in the art/entertainment business because you only have to wonder how many no's they had to hear that yes. It is really about just sucking it up and picking yourself up by those bootstraps, but one thing is for sure, I cannot cut back on labor costs. This is as cheap as it'll get. If anything, I will be raising prices pretty soon because I am not a factory or a general worker, I am an artist with a specialized skill.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Realistic Styled Canadian Goose: My Process

Oh I had to rest a day or two before I could even summon the strength to write this. I first started this project a month ago and came up with a plan:

  • ultrasuede beak & feet
  • pose-able anatomically correct folding wings
  • armatured neck and wired feet
I gathered a variety of photos of Canadian geese in different poses, looked at plush birds, and finally looked up wing anatomy. 

Goose body with one wing structure
I started with the head first before making the  body and estimating the distance needed for the neck. I had sewed the minky part of the head together with the intention of being able to machine sew on the finished beak. Alas that wasn't possible given the tough to pin nature of the ultrasuede, so I had to settle for hand sewing it. I bent 2 straight needles and just had to give both my hands a rest from the stress of sewing through layers of ultrasuede. 

Upon finishing the head, I noticed that a goose's body has a gradation of colors, so I chose three tans/browns to use for the wings. The commissioner had requested for something more huggable than a doll for display so I decided to do the main structure of the wings with wire. I had played with ideas of steel spokes already made to bend, plexiglass, and foam core, but none of these suited my use. 

To make the wing structure, I bought 12 gauge aluminum wire and with a sketch I drew of the bone structure, I wrapped one wire around the other to form a stronger wire that will stand up to much posing. The downside to that is when I went to sew the wire into the plush lining, every time I hit a wire, I broke a sewing machine needle. It ended up being the limit to my machine's foot with two pieces of minky, quilt batting, and a thick wrapped wire, but using a total of four pieces (two for the outer most structure and one more for the inner bottom) and several hours later, I had two complete wing structures. 
Start of feathering with two of the colors
Now time for the feathers: It was my first time attempting this sort of wing, so I did not really have a plan for where to start feathering. I decided to do it in four sections according to where the wing would need to bend when the wing would close. I used the middle to provide a sense of scale and also because the wing centered around everything else folding over the middle. 

Next up: outer section

Finishing up with the inner section & another bent needle
It is important to note that I drew feathers of varying shapes depending on where in the wings they were. I had looked at drawings of feathers and was warned by anatomy books against using just one single pointed shape. The shapes of the feathers ultimately helped shaped the overall structure of the wings for a finale that I'm quite pleased with. The inner most part blended perfectly with the tan back I had originally incorporated in the design

Finally the last part was to do the "drumsticks" and legs.
Attacking the legs
This was fairly simple: using the same 12 gauge wire, I wired the legs and stitched the wire into place using my machine, then had the lovely task of hand sewing the wired legs to the body. First I attached one side to the body, following that with the unstuffed drumstick. By sewing the drumstick over the legs, I had the legs attached to the body on one side and the drumstick on the other and once stuffed, the drumstick provided structural support for the legs. 

The finish project measured 20 inches from beak to tail and 1 yard/meter in wing span. I had crammed the remainder of the project right in after I got the boxes from my old apartment into my new and sewed for a minimum of 10 hours for 5 days straight in my desire to finish this (I actually would forgo eating just due to concentration) I learned a lot about wire, quilting, and ultrasuede in this project. I'd have to say I am well exhausted and have no desire to attempt such a project until I recover, but it was definitely an experience. 

I'd like to thank the person who commissioned this! Each piece is always to learn more.

Now for some brunch and possibly some livestreaming later.
Have a wonderful day and thanks for reading,