puppets

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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:

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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: Wigging and Final Details

Published April 26, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I actually finished up Lucia the puppet very late Thursday night/early Friday morning. I basically pulled an all-nighter before my early shift and got only two hours of sleep because I was more tired of the disaster that the art room had become and was feeling really eager to get things back to normal. So anyway, this is going to be a quick post that just explains how I did the last major steps to finish her all up–her hair and a few other little details. I plan on following this post pretty much immediately with another one that will have some photos of her all finished…I took quite a few of her outside yesterday that will have to do until I can get some more professional pictures at a later date.

Before I even started on her hair I made a little accessory for her to hold on her arm. Its a little basket holding some moss, flowers, and a robin’s egg.

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I found the robin’s egg shell on the first day of the workshop when I was walking back to my car. Although it was just a cracked and empty shell it just looked so perfect; just like a robin’s egg candy. I decided right when I found it that I was going to try to find a way to incorporate the eggshell into my final puppet. It was very fragile so it took me a little while to figure out how I was going to do it. I ended up filling the shell with a two-part epoxy to bond it together and prevent it from crumbling. I placed it inside of a miniature basket that I purchased from Jo-Ann’s and attached that floral rope wire as a handle. Then I arranged some moss and flowers around the egg so that it would look like a little nest and also hide all of the visible cracks on the eggshell.

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I later added another small green twig with pink flower buds to the basket, which you will see later when I post the pictures of the finished piece.

For the wigging, or tedious attachment of her full mane of hair, I already had a cut piece of Tibetan Lamb’s Wool all picked out. I believe the color of the swatch I used was called “blushing pink” from my favorite OOAK doll supply store, The Morezmore Estate on eBay. If you’re into making OOAK polymer clay dolls, creatures, and puppets, then this is the best one-stop shop that I have ever found. The owner Natasha Red October is super nice and is a polymer clay doll maker herself so she knows her products very well. She also has a work in progress blog where she explains many of her own techniques step-by-step. I discovered her back in about 2009 when I was first teaching myself how to make really professional multi-media polymer clay dolls and was so happy when I found her blog and shop. She has taught me so much about doll making and she even sends me cool free samples of supplies whenever I order from her! Here’s a photo of the lamb’s wool I used and my other wigging supplies:

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One of the key things I learned from following Natasha’s blog was how to properly wig a polymer sculpt. The glue she recommends is the clear gel permanent adhesive manufactured by Beacon, Fabri-Tac. I know that this isn’t the only glue that doll artists use for this purpose–Wendy Froud and Toby Froud for instance both prefer another permanent glue called Barge. I’ve never tried Barge before, but I like Fabri-Tac well enough because it doesn’t give off any strong toxic fumes and I can use it in my small unventilated art room without much fear of killing my brain cells. The only main problem that I had with Fabri-Tac once I got past the initial figuring out how to work with such a gooey, stringy, sticky substance was how quickly it gets too thick and goopy to use while still inside the bottle (like an old nail polish that you have to throw away before you can use it up) and how darn expensive it always is. As a result you may think you’ve saved yourself some money by buying the biggest bottle with a coupon, but after you use it to wig a couple of dolls or even one human sized werewolf costume you’re probably still going to have to throw the last third of it away before you’re done with it because the consistency just becomes too difficult to work with anymore. There’s supposed to be a trick where you can add a little paint thinner to the glue once it gets all gloppy to get it back to normal for a little while. I’ve tried it and it kinda worked for me once, but I’ve found that most of the time the thinner and the glue stay separated so what you get is just a watery, not-sticky-enough mess…which is totally not worth the trouble!

Luckily I met a lady at the Toby Froud workshop last week who is the arts and crafts coordinator at the Craft Warehouse in Beaverton. She told me she get me a discount if I ask for her and clued me in on a little secret: Beacon’s 3-in-1 glue is basically the same exact glue as Fabri-tac but for a fraction of the price. I believe the only real difference between the two is that Fabri-Tac is archival quality for scrapbooking and 3-in-1 is not, but if you’re just using them to wig a doll that really doesn’t make any difference whatsoever! So I decided to take her up on that advice and just purchase a small bottle of 3-in-1 to glue the hair onto my puppet.

The way that I wig a doll is by cutting a few small locks of hair from the wool pelt and laying them out on my workspace. I then pick up each lock of hair at a time, spread a little bead of glue onto one end, roll it onto a toothpick, and then use the toothpick to press and hold the clump of hair onto the scalp until it catches, which is usually less than ten seconds.

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I then repeat this process again and again until I complete the first row of hair.

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I’ve used all different materials to apply hair to both dolls and costumes; lamb’s wool, synthetic hair from wigs or otherwise, faux fur, real animal fur, human hair, silk roving, you name it. I’ve got to say that of all the materials I have used Tibetan lamb is still my favorite. The extra fine strands are just perfect for a miniature scale and the variety of different colors and textures that you can choose from is really great for so many different projects.

The particular swatch of wool that I used for Lucia’s hair was a second quality piece that I got for a discount, which probably had something to do with the messy erratic texture that was not quite straight and not quite curly. Although it was a little frizzier than average which made it slightly more difficult to work with, I still managed to cover her scalp very evenly.

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After I get the first row of hair down I tug at the ends of the locks to make sure that everything is secure. Using my fingers I brush out and remove any loose flyaway hairs that didn’t hold with the rest of them.

Then I move up a couple of centimeters and start on the next row. If I want my character to have a very full and bushy head of hair (which in almost every case, I do) then I really don’t leave a whole lot of space between the two layers at all. Here she is after four or five layers of hair:

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As I near the crown of her head, I also start to apply the hair around her ears:

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While I was working on her hair I remembered that I had some really cool shimmery iridescent fibers that I wanted to try out on this puppet. I picked up a little bag of them a couple of years ago at this amazing sculpture and art supply store called Earth Guild in Asheville, North Carolina.

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They seemed like they would be just the right scale to mimic fairy hair sparkles/hair tinsel like I have in my own hair, so I started adding in a few bunches to Lucia’s hair here and there.

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The fibers ended up catching the light just like my own hair sparkles, and they were fun to hide into the locks of hair as I glued them on so you could just see little bits of sparkle poking through. I worked my way up the back of her ears and antlers. At this point she looked like she had some sort of unfortunate disease or strange medieval monk hairstyle:

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As I made it to the top of her head, I began to switch the direction of the hair to facing forward:

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When I got to her forehead I added lots more thick forward-facing hair to create face-framing layers and bangs. Unfortunately this is the last picture I remembered to take before I did that and finished her up:

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To cover up the last bit of glue on the crown of her head, the point where all her layers of hair meet and change direction, I did a trick where I attached a couple final locks of forward-facing hair, waited for the glue to catch, and then flipped them backwards before the glue was entirely dry. It’s another trick that I learned from reading Natasha’s blog and it’s also useful for creating a realistic cowlick, a little extra volume Jersey Shore bump-it style, or even a nice clean part if you use an Exacto blade to manipulate the glue while it is still wet. I wish I took a picture of this step but I guess you’ll just have to believe me again.

I also never took any pictures when I applied the final decorative touches to her hair–it involved arranging some floral craft wire and ribbon into an organic circlet and topping everything off with a big pink bow. Here are some close-ups of what it ended up looking like in the end, which can also serve as a teaser for the rest of the photos of the finished puppet in my next post!

Hairbow Close Up

Back of Hair

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

More Book Progress and Upcoming Excitments

Published February 28, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

It’s been a couple weeks since I last posted and a lot of things have happened. I want to get back into my one post a week routine, so this one is just going to be a fairly brief written summary with mostly photo explantations in an attempt to catch up.

So what have I been up to? Making new friends:

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Photo taken on Valentine’s Day at Lovecraft Bar during my husband Martyn’s Glam Rock D.J. night, Whips and Furs. In the picture is Mike Wilcox, our new friend who we met at the Bowie Sendoff at in Pioneer Courthouse Square, and Monika Wolf, another new friend who we met that very night. She ended up becoming our official stagehand and backup dancer. Well, more like the best dancer in the whole joint who got a lot of other people to get up and dance by the end of the night.

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She’s a lot of fun, and perhaps a little accident prone.

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We still to this day have no idea how she cut her hand and got blood all over the place. She still made the most of it, I suppose.

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Whips and Furs was such a success that Martyn is now on the permanent roster for the Lovecraft event calendar, so his Glam night is now going to become a monthly event!

What else have I been up to? Saw a couple of movies–The VVitch and Deadpool in the same weekend. Was so pleasantly surprised by both, and both were so refreshing for the overblown, overdone genres that they represent. The VVitch was hands down the best and most visually inspiring straight horror film that I have seen in a very long time. As a former strange child who spent a good portion of her middle school years in the library poring over every book on the Salem Witch Trials, The Occult, and American Folklore that was available to me, I can also give my full endorsement that the director got everything so right and as accurate as possible!

I also was finally given the opportunity to finish up a few more long-awaited projects for Trader Joe’s. Behold the belated frozen chocolate banana slices sign for Chinese New Year, Year of the Monkey, based off of some traditional Chinese paper cutout decorations that I had researched:

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He looks particularly cool whenever the light shines though him.

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Also at long last I finished the last permanent illustration for the backs of the new chalkboard endcaps. The King, trapped behind the soulless and terrifying brown paper mask of Trader Joe:

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Here’s a close up shot:

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And here it is pictured next to the endcap back that I finished before it, more monkey art coincidentally:

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I got the idea to draw an Elvis chalkboard because I had already had to do this very same private label end cap concept a few years ago at my old store back in Atlanta. The last board I designed for the subject matter was Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe:

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I was proud of how that one turned out, even though it was a little tedious hand drawing the same face twice in a row. Anyway I didn’t really know to follow that one so I figured, what else goes with Marilyn? Oh yeah, Elvis. Sometimes when your job is to literally make the same boring things over and over again you’ve just got to find new ways to entertain yourself.

Speaking of which, yesterday I had to make a sign for Shaved Brussels Sprouts so this is what I came up with:

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The funny thing is that’s like the fourth time I’ve drawn that anthropomorphic Brussels Sprout. I guess he’s kind of a reoccurring character.

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Virgil Collage

While I was doing all this other stuff I’ve still been teaching my painting classes at Vine Gogh and making progress on my children’s book. The new Vine Gogh Tigard studio, Vincent’s Loft, is still a work in progress as they finish up the last few details of the construction, but it should be finished very, very, soon. Once that’s done I’m going to be able to start designing my own classes. I work in a lot of other mediums besides just acrylic painting, so it looks like I’m gonna be the one to come up with some of the crazier and more experimental classes…stuff that nobody else is teaching at any other artist bar type places right now. I think I can see classes in illustration, cartooning and caricature, and polymer clay/mixed media sculpture in my near future!

As for my book, I’ve been just plugging away at the illustrations in an attempt to put it all together and get an initial first test copy printed by the end of May. The reason for that particular timing is because that is when I will be attending the annual SCBWI Oregon Spring Conference, Between the Pages, and I would like to have something a little more polished and comprehensive than a super rough dummy book to show potential publishers and agents. I plan to use crowd funding to self-publish the book regardless, but just in case any traditional publishers are interested I’d like to present something nice for them to look at. If nothing else, maybe an attractive debut piece might catch the eye of an agent that would want to work with me on other freelance illustration projects in the future. I’d really love for either of those things to happen and I know that the best thing I can do is to just work hard, go to these events, and keep trying!

So here’s a couple of work-in-progress photos I snapped of page number 27 of 32…the pencil sketch:

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The inked line drawing:

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My dog Grendel yawning and being bored as I try my best to ignore him and get some more work done at my art desk:

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Grendel and Miss Loon, The Black Babies. They somehow can make doing what I love very difficult.

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I have to make myself a super nutritious lunch to break their power over me…

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Fishcakes, fishcakes, roly poly fishcakes…

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…And back to work. Sometimes my coloring process somewhat resembles a printing press, with all of one color at once and then so on. Here it is with just red.

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Then I started adding all the green.

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I’ve done a lot more to it since that last photo…it’s not quite finished yet, but as soon as I get another minute to myself over the weekend I’ll have it knocked out in no time. I’ll post more pictures of my progress very soon, and I definitely won’t wait so long this time!

The last little bit of upcoming excitement that I will mention before heading off to bed tonight is that over the past week I was able to sign up for a now sold out Toby Froud rod puppet Workshop at The Fernie Brae in April!!! Some of Toby’s past creations to give you an idea of the kind of work he does:

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The Frouds have been my number one artistic inspiration ever since I discovered my very first Faerie book in middle school. I can collectively credit Brian’s paintings, illustrations, and concept art, Wendy’s dolls and puppets, and their son Toby’s puppets, short films, and current work with Laika Studios for teaching me how to layer colors together, how to make flat two-dimensional paints appear to glow, how to draw and sculpt fantasy characters that still somehow tell the truth and appear believable, how to sculpt professional art dolls in polymer clay, and how to make the seemingly impossible dream of handcrafting puppets and movie magic akin to the Jim Henson fantasy film heyday in today’s time possible. Probably some other stuff too that I can’t even think about right now. Just know that going to this Toby Froud workshop is not only a dream come true and a big deal for me, but should also prove to be very important and inspiring for my future career. I’ll be sure to post more about that, as well as some other very potentially exciting news, very soon when I feel that the time is right. Until then…goodnight!