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,