Nov 11, 2013

Little Lessons

I've worked on dolls all weekend.  (Yes, I worked on the studio too, and it's in much better shape.  But perhaps my declaration that it will be actually clean by Veteran's Day was...aiming a bit high.)

The remaining dolls begun last March (as we were listing our old house to sell) are now almost finished.  There are two completed 21" Izannah Walker repros, with clothing and all.  There will be three more by the first of December, as well as three 16" Izannahs.  I've got them all painted and assembled, ready for their second skin and new clothes!

I had to stop in the midst of it all because I got a commission order for an 18.5" Izzy, and she'll be headed to Maryland at the end of the week.  So why is this post called Little Lessons?  Because this mad rush to finish so much so quickly has had me sitting quietly while I work, oddly enough.  And as I'd posted last time, that quiet work allows me to think.

It's a scary job, living in my head, but somebody's gotta do it.

The newest Izannah Walker (18.5") and an Experimental Friend who needs eyelids.  See the one hanging by her toes in the upper right?  She was drying, not being tortured.  I promise.

Some things I've observed: small organizational efforts really do add up and help in the long run.  I've been afraid of this studio for months, overwhelmed by the immensity of what needed doing.  I made some good changes this weekend, and there's hope.

On a less philosophical note, there are two other things that might seem like a "DUH!" moment for some of you, but here goes.

A.  Clean your acrylic paint brushes with water and soap.  I keep an old sour-cream tub for water at my paint table to clean brushes as I go, but you'd be amazed at the paint that comes out with soap that water doesn't get.  That paint is what hardens at the join and eventually makes it less flexible.  I finally learned that if I'll take all the damp brushes to the sink at the end of a painting session and scrub soap into them, they stay flexible and smooth much longer.  

B. Get a new needle!  Being of a (cheap!) thrifty nature, I keep a hand-sewing needle as long as it's straight and has a point.  I've seriously had some of these needles for years.  My pioneer ancestors would be proud.  But it occurred to me--as I attached the 25th of 28 limbs using heavy button thread on heavy muslin--that maybe my fingers wouldn't bruise so bad if I had a sharper needle.  Eureka!  So I got a fresh needle, closed my eyes, and threw away the old one.  Those last three limbs were shockingly easy to sew, and I vowed to become an absolute spendthrift when it comes to needles! 

I have made another declaration as well, regarding the studio cleanup effort.  Rather than "It Will Be Clean" by a certain date, I believe that those little efforts--putting a bit of cleanup on my plate before the yummy desert of creativity--will get me where I want to be.

Happy Veteran's Day.


  1. Yes. Things have finally settle enough here that looking at my work rooms doesn't end me into a panic attack. A little here, a little there and a work surface is cleared. A little here, a little there and a doll is done. :-). Gorgeous Izzies in progress.

  2. You are funny. Yep learned a long time ago, to use soap and water to clean my brushes. Do I follow through? Nope.
    You have come far with your dolls, Jan, be proud of them, you worked for it.

  3. I love this picture Jan, it really shows all the elements that go into creating a work of art. Your Izannah Walker style dolls are very impressive!

  4. And once the brushes are clean, rub a little soap into them to shape them and let them dry. Just remember to wash it out before you paint the next time. Also, if the soap is down into the base of the brush, it helps keep the paint out.

  5. First, the new Izannah is just a beauty. The lady you are making her for will be jumping up and down when she gets her. the little fellow in back with the pop eyes is a cutie, but does look as though he needs some relief from the bright light. he looks like he has glass eyes. So much work, I find I think a lot while I work too. It is relaxing. it takes you into another world and as your mind wonders you realize things you can and want to do. It looks like you are well supplied with everything you need for making your dolls. Brains, talent, will power, and a love of dolls.

  6. Martha said it so well... "Brains, talent, will power, and a love of dolls." Yep, that's all it takes to make pretty dolls! Congrats, Jan, on all of your doll making achievements!

  7. Oh my gracious, the sweet doll destined for Maryland must be coming to my house! She is marvelous and I can hardly wait. Her wardrobe is started- finished the undergarments last evening.

    1. Yes, Ieva, she's yours! I have to make her shoes this week and then she's ready. You might wait to make her gown til she's there for her fittings, though. :~) They all vary in chest depth and width, etc., and even though I use my own patterns for these, each one is a little different. Her waist is 7" around with the second skin sewn up. I'm glad you like her so far--she's all painted now, with blue eyes and dark brown curls. I'll be curious to learn what you name her!

  8. I'm proud of you for throwing away the old needles! My tip of the day, look for needles when you're at a flea market. I've found needles in those boxes and jars of sewing stuff. Many times they're in the little packages unused and far cheaper in price than at the quilt store or sewing center. I never pass them up and have a nice stockpile of needles!


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