Thursday, December 12, 2013

In my own little corner

I had promised my followers a tour of my room if they wanted it. I've been meanig to compile the photos and post this but life has gotten in the way.

Anyways while my plate is incubating, I will show you a tour of my house. These are the main parts of it (except my bathroom , there's only a toilet and a shower there, not even a sink, & kitchen space) All you see here is within one room. I only have 1 window, so the light throughout these photos will be different depending on how far away from the one window they are

This is where I start every morning. By now, the two peas in a pod have been delivered and the star is waiting for its owner to claim it.  My bed is lofted 3 ft off the ground so I can store my dye pot, suitcase, pokemon cards, and a few books & bottled water under it.

Next we'll move to the second place I go with the start of my day. Usually I start my day by doing dishes. I only have this sink so I have to keep it clear of stuff. (Don't ask about the kitchen space, it's disgusting, which is why I never lived with 3 male housemates before) As you can see my dishes drying on a dishcloth, I keep all my kitchen stuff in my room because it's not sanitary outside of my room.

3rd important place is my closet. This is all my clothing for 4 seasons. I am photosensitive so I wear the same long sleeves 365 days a year. NO, I am not a sparkly vampire, I simple get hives in the sun. I have a large thing of white vinegar for washing my shower curtain, cleaning, and a little for dyeing mohair. Most of it gets used in cleaning.

The next place I spend most of my time here, whether sewing or working on hw. You see the ice cream machine on which I have a pad of scrapbooking paper? When you see me during LSes (me not my hands) my laptop is sitting ontop of that little space. There's really not that much room on my desk. One day I will have half a room for sewing. For now this little corner will do. (On my table you see Tovi before he was completed)

Whenever you see me disappear off screen this is where I go. My fabric is stored in the bottom bin with the top bin full of miscellaneous stuff. I keep my wool felt, business cards, and other miscellaneous stuff in this little corner.

For those who are interested in this colorful spectrum, my fabric collection has certainly grown this year. 6 months ago I barely had half these colors, now I've rearranged them so I could always pull out what I want without having to dig through all of them (I still need to take the big green carton) off first though)

So that's most of it. I didn't show you two of my drawers where I store dolls, textbooks, and toiletries or where I keep my vacuum and fan, but this is most of it. At least all the important parts. I hope you enjoyed my little corner of this earth! I certainly feel at home in my own space.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My Jointed Ponies: The Story Behind My Ponies

Growing up, the My Little Pony commercials definitely drilled the theme song into my head. It wasn't until 2012 though, I actually watched the pilot of the Gen 4 Series: My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. For those who know me, know that nothing draws me faster to a cartoon than a soundtrack and aesthetics and MLP FIM had both.

After watching the series, I really wanted to make a pony plush, I did some research and saw that I could not come close to the custom MLP plushes that were already available. All I had was fabric, embroidery needles (I like to sew with these), thread, and my hands. I had no embroidery/sewing machine, hadn't even heard of stabilizer at that point, and could not satin stitch the strands of the mane and tail, but regardless I was going to figure out something.

4 prototypes later, I realized that one of my weaknesses is one piece bodies, so I went to make it the way I knew best: jointed dolls. I lacked an embroidery machine and hand embroidery on minky was a struggle for me (given that there is fur you have to hide with the thread). I put in glass eyes, shaped eyelids with some wool, and designed manes to match their filly times hence eliminating the needle to embroider anything!

A few more prototypes later, I was able to get a doll that had the proper hock, would stand, and was proportioned correctly. Upon the completion of my first pony: Fluttershy, I realized that the body wasn't as suited for the legs, so I changed the shape of the body gusset to emulate  the effect that was achieved by the one piece doll.

Each doll's mane and tail are assembled by individual pieces of fabric to give the appearance of strands in the mane and tail. The amount of painstaking hand sewing work has made me want to throw the towel in a few times, but I'm glad I haven't.

So far the fruit of my labors has resulted in 6 character ponies and 1 over-sized custom unicorn.

Twilight Sparkle
Rainbow Dash
Princess Celestia
 Princess Luna

White Unicorn Commission

Luna and Rarity are still available

All others have found homes.

I hope you enjoyed them!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My First Large Doll: The Story of a White Unicorn

Edit: Now with references since the commissionw as delivered.

For the past 2 1/2 years that I've been plushing, I have never made anything over 6.5 inches. I received a challenge this year from a commissioner to make something relatively to scale based on an image they gave me. I made two dolls and had wanted one to be 3x bigger than the other.

(I apologize for the poor background. This plush is larger than any setup I have for photographing it.)

For me, there are 3 main differences I faced when scaling up. They came up in :

  • jointing
  • eyes
  • construction of the mane. 

One of the things I definitely struggled with was figuring out how to joint the doll. I worked with bolt joints for the first time and having never even used a wrench before it took some figure out. I picked a tapbolt with a nyloc nut, and I was frustrated for a couple of days trying to figure out why the limbs kept falling off, only to realize I have to break the nylon on the nut.

It was also the second time I worked with colored eyes, which always throws me off when looking at the face. Constructing the eyelid and white of the eye out of wool at such a size also threw me off.

Construction of the Mane:

The mane itself was an even bigger job than the ones on my small ponies (even though the small manes are all sewn by hand). For the mane, I machine sewed each strand, stuffed it, then hand sewed them onto the head as well as sewing the strands together for one continuous piece. I am very pleased to get results that match the reference I was given

To sew the strands together and attach them to the head took 7+ hours of hand sewing alone, not to mention the time it took to construct the strands.

Last but not least, I have attempted satin stitching on my machine to put together a tail, but I have yet to get the result I like despite using heavyweight interfacing. I know the results can be achieved without a walking foot, but I have yet to figure out how to get smooth stitches.

Overall, I am happy with my first attempt at a large doll and his mane sorta makes him look like a princely character to me. (I've been watching too much MLP) He'll look more complete with a tail and all the proportions will make sense then. Hopefully I will figure out a way to photograph him so that the photos will do him justice.

Until then,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Adventures with a Sewing Machine

Another cloudy weekend morning where I have to go into work. I have actually been more interested in working on this commission than crunching some data and struggling with the new assay we are using in our lab. My boyfriend got me this little machine. Having never machine sewed, I did things via trial and error. After 1/2 a spool of hand sewing thread, I figured out a couple things:
-I can't use hand sewing thread on a machine
-When bringing up the thread from the lower bobbin, I need to actually pull out the loop, not maintain it
-I can't get good tension with super thin fabric
-Although there are techniques for sewing round pieces without pinning, for a first time user, it's better to use pins

After a couple of hours figuring it out and finally getting the tension right, I started working on this unicorn. I have the head, legs, and body sewn. Now it's just waiting for ears, mane, horn, and eyes. I put my finished kitten next to it to show the scale. Both are private commissions.

Hopefully after my project due on the 6th, I'll have more time to work on dolls.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How I started my hobby on a budget

Hey guys,

So I was talking to someone who had some concerns about starting a plush hobby. First off you have to understand my personality that I mull over things (and do a lot of research) for a long time before I make a purchase, but for plush making I did not, so I'd like to share my story with you:

Some of you may have heard this story before: I had my eyes on a BJD for a while and was doing my research. I loved looking at photos of my favorite sculpt at the time: Rosenlied's Clover. I had my heart set on that doll (which I actually never ended up getting), and I wanted the whole package, doll, clothes, wig, and most of all, I wanted her to have a little bear. While I was browsing Den of Angels, I came across a collector who was a miniature bear artist. Since I couldn't afford one of her OOAK bears, I ended up purchasing a pattern and kit off etsy.

When I first started, I was going to a small university in a village (yes it wasn't even a town). There was one hardware store and one craft store within walking distance. The craft store was overpriced to begin with. Anyways, so after I purchased my first pattern, I purchased 1 complete kit, 1 large piece of hand dyed viscose and mohair from Europe. 

I set out to make my first plush. I had never sewed before and when in the instructions it said I needed doll needles, I walked into the "downtown area" of the little village and  bought darner needles and sewed with them (making a miniature, it's not ideal given how thick darner needles are). I couldn't find upholstery thread at the time, so I bought embroidery thread remembering how to take it apart. I had no idea how to do certain stitches and had to scour the internet because the instructions assumed you could sew. I also had no idea how I was supposed to sew on foot pads and ended up with a messy blanket stitch which when turned had spots where the filling poked out. 

When I was nearly done I realized that my doll wouldn't sit because it's head was so much heavily than it's body. I then went back walking into town trying to find steel shot. I started with the hardware store thinking I could find something like steel shot there. No luck. Most of the workers had never heard of it despite it being a mom and pop store. I tried thinking about BBs but those were not only too big, but they would rust when wet.  After a futile search, I had to settle for paying 8 USD for 1 lb of plastic beads. (Cost 3-4 USD at Hancock Fabrics) After finishing it, I dunked it in a cup of black coffee that I borrow from my department's office, and dried it off and there was my first derpy doll.

I tried making some substitutions afterwards to stretch the 3 pieces of fabric and 10 joints I purchased.

These are some of the ways I tried that did and did not work:

♥Buying everything all at once to save shipping costs
♥Learning everything online rather than attending a class/workshop
♥Substitute cotton fabric for mohair in the body (makes mohair last a little longer)
♥only jointed the head (sew on rests of the limbs)
♥button jointing the limbs to save on cotter pin joints (very loose joints, doll may or may not hold poses right, have had a doll's head fall off because button was too small)
♥used hardware stores washers and cotter pins instead of ones made for dolls (BAD idea. Cotter pin heads are too big and will budge out and is visible on your bear's arm)
♥use hardware pliers to turn cotter pins (worked well enough but I prefer the ease and comfort of jewelry pliers)
♥buy a pillow from walmart and use that as a surface for needle felting as well as stuffing for the dolls
♥I never tried this, but you can some plastic joints because they are cheaper. Just be careful of fraying when you insert the joint. 

Hope this gives you some insight on how you might try your hand on mohair dolls on a budget. This is just how I started. As I got more and more into the hobby I invested more money in tools and such that would be useful in the long run. This might help you just make a doll or two if that is what you are interested in.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Starting a New Kitten

(Yes this is my small and slightly messy workspace for my soft sculptures. I have a laptop for entertainment, beading wire & duct tape of some sort for armature, jewelry plyers, darning needles, embroidery & fabric scissors, hemostat, tweezers, isopropyl alcohol for clay work, tea and magnesium for headaches)

It's cloudy outside this morning which makes it a perfect time to blog. I actually meant to write this yesterday, but didn't get around to it. The commissioner requested that this kitten be able to reach up for something, so I put my hand to understanding and working armature. This is my first time trying to wiring the limbs and tail, and while I had a general idea of how it was done I could not figure out the specifics on how to get the wiring to stay in one place while stuffing. I went searching in other places and became especially curious on how artist dolls (dolls with resin heads and limbs, but soft pose-able bodies) were assembled. Luckily, Magweno ( had an old tutorial that provided some insight. The solution to my problem was to wrap the armature in quilt batting so that I would not have to stuff it afterwards. I would sew one side of the arm, flip it, put the batting wrapped armature in it, and ladder stitch it closed. I am not sure yet if this is more time consuming than how I usually work, but it works very well. The armature doesn't shift and I'm able to pose the arm as I like.

Since then, I have started prepping the face for needle felting, and will work on the later in the week when I have more time. Mondays and Tuesdays are always the busiest days for me.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Insert clever title about restarting my blog"

Hi again everyone. 

A year ago I closed my blog and cleaned up my posts because I felt like I didn't have much if anything to say. This academic year, I'm wrapping up graduate school and also thinking about the direction my life is heading. 

It's always so easy to want it all, and then by the end of the day, you wonder where the time had gone, and why there aren't enough hours to do everything. Then we start making sacrifices, less sleep, less socializing, less this and that to make time for everything. Personally, I have been feeling less driven and more towards questioning the path I chose to walk in life and the destination. I have become more withdrawn and definitely socializing much less.

Mainly I have been "active" on here For me, there is a lot less pressure to post here than among the beautiful pieces in the bear forums. I have still yet to get my nerve up to be active there (and between us, I have a hard time being active on more than one site). I have made one decision though and that being that I do want to keep doll making a large part of my life despite juggling work, classes, teaching, and cleaning my apartment (yes that needs to be done once in a while, preferable more often)

I want to keep this as a more personable side of my doll making where I'd show things I prefer not to post on deviantart such as my experiments with different media (and fails) and shots of works in progress. I'll have to work out a schedule to take photos because it's that time of year when the daylight gets shorter but with a little work and desire, I hope to show you how I see my work before it's done and what it means to me.

Thanks for reading.

<3 Laine