costuming

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Mama Kringle Work-in-Progress Part 2: Costume Fabrication

Published April 5, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

Now I had created my 19″ posable polymer clay soft body Mama Kringle doll.

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She was finally all ready for some clothes and finishing touches! Costume fabrication is one of my all-time favorite parts of doll-making; probably tied with painting depending on how interesting the costume. Again, this is what I was going for:

Mama Kringle Design

For some reason I felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of Mama Kringle just being skyclad underneath her robe, so I decided to make her a pair of cute frilly undergarments that you will never see (unless you’re a creep like me who has always had to look at what’s underneath dolls’ dresses.) For this purpose I have an enormous bag of antique lace scraps that I once was lucky enough to find secondhand. Then I was even more lucky, because I happened to find in the bag a crinkly Victorian lace collar that was the perfect size to use as a one-piece negligee.

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I fitted the front of the lace to her body, then wrapped the straps of the collar around her shoulders and down her back. It really was such a perfect size that I was able to create the rest of the onesie with just a couple of carefully-placed contrasting lace panels.

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I know the garters and tiny buttons were completely pointless, but I kind of had to.

Here’s the back of it:

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Before I made her robes, I also decided to give her a fluffy layered petticoat to add some more volume to her silhouette.

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Next I cut out her robe. I forgot to take a photo of this before I had already stitched most of it together, but I used this generic robe pattern that I found online as a reference.

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The fabric I was working with was a very messy, long-pile silver faux fur, so I didn’t bother with cutting a pattern out of separate pieces of paper. I just folded the thick fabric over and used it as a pattern for itself, cutting everything on the floor fur-side down with very sharp scissors at an angle in an attempt to make slightly less of a mess.

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It was still a bit of a fluff massacre, but whatcha gonna do? I also attached the white fur trim to the panels of the robe before I had sewn it all together, which was a little tricky as I had to fold the trim in half as I worked for the desired thickness. Since I don’t have a working sewing machine, I also sew all of my costumes by hand. I finally caved and bought my first thimble during this project because I had to use extra-large needle to get through this tough fabric, and after a while it was pretty brutal on my fingers.

In the following nightly work sessions I made her sleeves and feathered collar, which I embellished with antique lace and tiny real freshwater pearls.

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Next a few more finishing touches–more feathers on the collar, gossamer white eyelashes, a shiny red bead for a bindi, some additional delicate opalescent fiber strands in her collar, some perfect little round lavender Barbie spectacles that I found on eBay, lots of additional glittery winter twigs and flora in her hair, and a sprig of mistletoe in her hand/hair.

IMG_6495.JPG I didn’t have any mini mistletoe on hand, so I actually custom-made this for her by combining three different kinds of artificial plants together; the frosted heart-shaped leaves from one, the white berries from another, and the little yellow clusters from the third. I twisted it all together in a tiny bouquet to hide the drops of glue.

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And for the very last touch of magic…I wove a fine strand of micro LED fairy lights into her hair, and hid the little battery pack with the on/off switch in a slot in the back of her robe. I think the warm white glow when she’s switched on is really beautiful.

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Much like Lucia with her glow-in-the dark skin, she could also double as a night light! The shadows she casts of the wall are really cool; much like being in a forest at night.

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I’ll make one more post for the finished photos!

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Lucia the Puppet: Painting and Costume Fabrication

Published April 22, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Over the past week I’ve been working on my puppet that I made at the Toby Froud workshop mentioned in my last post…and now she’s nearly finished! I’ll probably do another post or two later because completing her takes many steps and I’ve been taking a lot more pictures of my work in progress this time.

Also I decided to name the puppet Lucia, which is a Latin name that means “light.” I just figured it was appropriate for a ghostly albino faun creature that literally glows in the dark. I’ve tested her out by turning off all the lights after she’s been under my bright desk lamp for a while and she looks amazing. The glow in the dark polymer clay was pretty thoroughly mixed into the flesh tone Fimo so she has these really interesting thin swirling line patterns all over her face that light up in a pale fluorescent green in the darkness, and since her little antlers were made with pure unmixed Nightglow Fimo they light up brilliantly. At some point I may attempt to somehow take a photo of this, but for now I guess you’ll just have to believe me.

So after the workshop was over I wanted to continue working on Lucia as soon as I got home, so the first thing I did was clean up her paint job a little. It looked pretty good before but I added a couple more freckles, lightened her eyebrows a little, smoothed out the shadow color around her eyes, and added some clear nail polish to her nose and lips for a glossy wet look.

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Painting dolls and puppets is one of my favorite parts!

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Next I had a look at her and the unfinished body stocking, that thin layer of fabric that covers the batting and the puppet mechanism underneath. You can kind of see it a little bit in the pictures above but I think those are the only photos I have of it. Anyway, something about it just didn’t sit quite right with me. I think it was a combination of her arms being too long and the batting being wrapped too loosely around the mechanism so that it would keep sliding down, which then caused her to not really have shoulders anymore. The more I tried to figure out how to fix it, the more I realized that it probably just wasn’t worth it and that I should just redo that part altogether. I ended up stripping her down to a skeleton again so I could shorten her arms and adjust where her shoulders should go…so this is kind of the “before” photo.

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I adjusted the shoulders, added an extra piece of cross-wire to acted as a brace and join the shoulders together so they wouldn’t shift around so unevenly and independently of each other, and added a couple of wires across the chest and hips as a stand-in for a basic sternum and pelvis. I of course forgot to take a picture of this but I did get one of her after I finished rewrapping the batting again. You can see here that I also reinforced where the three small dowels from the neck controller connect to the base with a two-part epoxy.

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This time I wrapped the batting a little tighter so it pretty much stayed in place on its own. Instead of making another body stocking like before, I decided to skip that and just make the undermost layer of material be her shirt. This brings us to my other most favorite part of the doll and puppet making process: costume fabrication!

I bought this great crinkly ivory colored fabric at Jo-Ann’s that was just perfect for a floofy old-timey Victorian blouse. I started with the front and back panels and sewed them together with two seams at her sides.

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The back of the shirt was made in two separate parts because she has another big wooden dowel controller coming out of her spine that controls her shoulders. The lower half of the shirt comes up right beneath the controller, and I made the top portion of the shirt extra large and flowy like a capelet so that it partially covers up the controller but doesn’t restrict any of the movement beneath.

Next I started on the sleeves. I did an image search for Victorian shirt patterns for some inspiration, cut out one sleeve and then used it to trace and cut out the mirror image for its partner. I was able to sew most of the sleeves wrong sides together before I turned them back right side out (for a more realistic and professional looking seam) and then slid them over each arm. Once the sleeves were on her arms I joined them to the shirt torso.

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After I attached the sleeves I gathered them in a few spots to create that frilly Victorian silhouette. I also added three big cherry red buttons and some pretty pink and white lace trim to the collar and cuffs.

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Something about the combination of her ghostly coloring and those big red buttons reminds me a little of a poisonous plant.

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After the shirt I started on her lower half. First I gathered some more of that crinkly fabric around her from the waist down to cover the remaining exposed batting. I forgot to take a picture of that part but it kind of resembled a little pair of bloomers.

To create her skirt I kept adding layers of fabric to her waist and building them up from the thinnest and most sheer material on the bottom (for the petticoat) to the more opaque and decorative fabrics on top. First there was a fine white crinkle tulle that was leftover veil material from the custom cake toppers that I sculpted for my best friend’s wedding.

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Then a ragged pastel pink lace leftover from my fairy wings. It was actually shredded especially for me by my sister’s Jack Russell Terrier, Bridgette. She used to love it whenever I would give her that job!

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Next I added a little metallic chartreuse crackle pattern tulle. I did my best to mimic Bridgette’s shredding artistry to give it a more organic texture. It reminds me of sparkly moss. And yes, that is “Creating a Faery Figure with Wendy Froud” on my laptop in the background.

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Getting into the top layers now, I also had purchased some of the same fabric that I made her shirt from but in pink. Then I draped some pink and white pinstriped stretch t-shirt knit over that, cinched in her waist, and tied it all up in the back with a big bow.

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The pink crinkle had kind of an looking unfinished edge so I later decided to add more of that lace trim that I’m holding in the picture to the hem.

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I also decided to use another small fabric scrap make the neck controller a little prettier. I padded the bottom of it with some thick felt to keep it from breaking and tied with a matching ribbon!

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After the skirt was all finished I made her bodice with that same thick red felt material that I picked up at SCRAP.

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I forgot to take a whole lot of in-progress pictures while I was making it except for this one I guess. This was after I had already finished the front panels, laced them together with that thin metallic gold elastic string, and added that gold and red rope trim. I’m not sure what that scrap of felt fabric was originally from but it still had some interesting white fluffy piping on one side, so I used that edge for the underside of the bodice to make it look like it has sheepskin lining at the opening. When I took the photo above I was finishing the hem of the bodice with some jagged white stitching. I do this kind of stitching to a lot of my pieces–it’s almost become like a trademark. It all started with me being bad at sewing until I decided that my anarchic stitching actually looks really cool and that I should purposefully put it on everything that I make!

Here’s a picture of Lucia after the bodice was completed. Also pictured is the tattered shawl that I made to drape behind her shoulders and cover the rest of that controller.

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Close up:

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The very last thing that I’ve done to her so far is giving her little pearly white doll eyelashes. This took the fancy gel Superglue, Krazy Glue, and A LOT of patience and finesse:

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Yes, they were quite a pain to apply but now they’re really stuck on there and I think that they look awesome. I bought them a while back on eBay as a small roll of eyelashes trim that you can cut to size. I’ve been planning on using them when I make my Mama Kringle sculpture (my next big polymer clay project is to make pose-able dolls of all three of the characters from my children’s book.) Anyway now that I’ve tried them I think that they’re really great and I can’t wait to use them on my other projects!

Here is Lucia as completed so far on my art desk just begging for me to give her some hair and finish her up.

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Come hither.

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You complete me.

Ok, that’s it for now–but more soon!