Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 doll part 1

don't think I have ever really documented my doll making projects other than to send occasional updates to the intended recipients, so this will be an attempt to present the process. I decided to make a doll now rather than the more complex doctor's bag mainly due to a temporary lack of bead supplies and funds; I had doll supplies on hand and enjoy making them...its really a series of many small projects that ultimately come together in a final product. Step 1 is thinking about the whole thing, getting motivated and finally getting started! I wish I could say I plan my projects out carefully; some are but most are not (hopefully I will develop better work habits in the near future). At best I can say I decided to make a male doll; the clothes are less elaborate (and less work) than females...I made a nice woman last year so its time for a new project. I vaguely have someone in mind to receive this one but that doesn't really influence how it turns out.

my dolls are now made entirely from deer hide; initially they were cloth, then cloth body with hide head, and now finally all hide. I had a pattern for cutting the hide, but decided to enlarge it a bit and adjust the arms. My original pattern was similar to one found in Whispering Wind, craft annual #3 (1990). Contemporary soft sculpture dolls are getting larger (18-22 inches) and I'm trying to move in that direction.

The hide is a nice deer hide split, probably in the 2-4 oz. range (although a darker shade than I ordinarily use). It was cut and sewn with Nymo thread using a glover's needle, then stuffed with polyfill. The seams are showing but will be covered by clothes...its just too difficult to turn the hide inside out. He stands about 11" tall (the size of a Barbie or old GI Joe) and has small half feet; hopefully this new feature will improve the way the moccasins fit onto the legs. Positioning the arms at his side appears more natural but it will reduce the visual effect of the shirt fringe. This is one of the very few times I have added beaded eyes & mouth, ordinarily they are "no face" dolls which allows the owner to imagine their features. Without hair, clothes or jewelry he looks a bit odd!

Next are the clothes: his shirt will be made from a buttery soft golden colored hide and I've decided to make black leggings for a dramatic contrast. I'll bead strips for his leggings; found black interfacing at Hobby Lobby so I can make very straight thin strips using lazy/lane stitch and then attach them to the hide. Decided on standard central Plains style fringed hide leggings rather than Southern Plain flap or Northern Plains cloth and will use 13/0 beads (in orange, yellow, green & white) and brass spots. The shirt will also have strips on the chest and arms (Northern Plains style) and fringe, as well as horse hair, on the sleeves.

Monday, December 27, 2010


am anxiously waiting for a new OU Press book on contemporary plains doll sculpture; have it pre-ordered and hope to receive in January but in the meantime I've started a new doll.

Have increased the dimensions just a little (new sculptural dolls seem to be 18-25") but mine are still around 12"...not sure yet of his clothing but shirt will be made of golden deer hide and leggings may be black. I generally make only 1 doll per year so I'm out of practice and my fingers ache already! Plan to send this one to a friend in England; his grandfather had been a missionary to a Canadian First Nations community and Justin's dad was born in Canada. Justin is an amazing musician so I want to thank him for years of entertainment!