Thursday, April 29, 2010

The most frustrating shopping trip in recent memory

Well.  After staying late after work tonight for two hours of training, during which the video I was supposed to be watching online (streaming) kept pausing every few minutes, and finally refused to go past a certain point, I stopped by Michael's on my way home to pick up some black satin 1/4" ribbon for a shoe order.  Now, I had already been on several fruitless errands to find said ribbon, first looking in the Wal-Mart craft section, followed by JoAnn's and Hancock Fabrics and finally a thorough combing of my mom's stash when I was at my parents' house last weekend.  I had already looked through my own stash several times, of course.  Michael's was my last hope. 

You would think, wouldn't you, that black satin 1/4" ribbon would be a fairly standard thing to have in stock?  Apparently this is not the case.  I was able to find black satin 1/8" and 1/2" ribbon, as well as 1/4" black grosgrain, organza, and velvet ribbon.  I looked in the regular sold-by-spool ribbon section, in the clearance section, in the scrapbooking section, in the cut ribbon section...  Nothing.  Now, it's possible that I had not scoured JoAnn's and/or Hancock's as well as I thought I had, or that on those two separate shopping trips I had forgotten to look for this specific item, as I had other things on my mental list at the time.  But I wasn't willing to go back to either place just to be disappointed again. 

I looked through all the ribbon sections again.  I found black satin 1/4" ribbon with the annoying little loops along the edges, the purpose for which I have always been mystified by.  If this were for a project of my own, I would have given up by now and chosen to go a different direction.  But it is for an order, and although I did not have the specific ribbon needed to fill the order at the time, I was confident that it would be easy to find.  I should have known better.  But I refused to give up. 

I began scouring the entire store for anything that might have the necessary ribbon on it somehow, whether it was a drawstring bag or small purse that had it as a handle, a teddy bear with it in a bow around his neck, or a box of small candles or soaps with it tied around as decoration.  ANYTHING.  I was willing to buy a book that had a it as a ribbon bookmark, at this point. 

Finally, I found a bundle of fat quarters of fabric that had the exact ribbon I needed!  I could hardly believe it, and at first I was afraid that the florescent store lighting was playing tricks on my eyes, and it was actually navy blue pretending to be black.  But it was, in fact, the real deal!  And as an added bonus, I realized probably a full minute after finding the ribbon that the fabrics it was tied around were ones that would coordinate perfectly with a set of fabrics I already have, that I'm planning to make a collection of Christmas holiday doll outfits from!  (And before you ask, it is NEVER too early to start planning for Christmas.  :p)  Which is good, because the bundle was $8, and although I was desperate and half mad by this point, that wasn't really worth paying for the two feet of ribbon it got me.  Especially since I only need about four inches. 

So it was a happy ending after all, but I still went straight to the kitchen for an emergency infusion of chocolate, as soon as I got home.  If I could take it intravenously at this point, I probably would.  :p  But all of this is now behind me, and I feel much better after venting.  I am going to settle down with my latest Netflix DVD and make doll shoes!  :D 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why I collect dolls

From time to time the question comes up - Why do I collect dolls?  For some reason this is a hard thing for many people to understand.  I have loved dolls my entire life, or at least as far back as I can remember.  I never grew out of them, and for a while people seemed to see that as a negative thing.  I was in high school and still playing with dolls - although by that time I probably did more sewing than actual playing, unless my cousin was visiting.  My older brother AND my younger sisters made fun of me for playing with dolls.  The only defense I had was explaining that I planned to someday make money from selling the clothes I made for them.  Then it became OK.

I brought my American Girl doll, Samantha, to college with me, along with a couple of stuffed animals from my childhood.  I didn't really care if I got ridiculed.  Samantha was one of my oldest friends, and I didn't want to be apart from her.  She was also a connection to my cousin, who is also my best friend, as she always understood my love of dolls, and played and sewed with me.  My cousin had moved far away, and I missed her incredibly.

I didn't have as much time to sew for (or play with) Samantha in college, but I got really into Star Wars costumes, and decided I wanted a Padmé doll to sew for.  I researched and researched and found Laurie Leigh, an extremely talented doll repainter, and I sent my 12" Frankendolly to her for a makeover.  She came back an absolute beauty, and I started making costumes for her.

But through Laurie's website, I had found out about Tonner fashion dolls.

My first Tonner was a Tiny Kitty, because I was interested in customized Barbies and Barbie-sized dolls.  I loved turning dolls into characters from tv and movies, and one of my favorite shows at the time was Gilmore Girls.  I had seen pictures of Tiny Kitty dolls and decided that she had the perfect face to become a Rory for me.  I found a nude TK for cheap on ebay, and I originally planned to reroot her to become a brunette:

But then I just couldn't.  So I had to find a new Tiny Kitty to become Rory, and I decided that the redhead would be better as Anne of Green Gables.  (See my post just prior to this one.)  Then I also had to have her friend Diana as a doll, so now I have three total TKs.  (Rory's mom and best friend, Lorelai, is represented in my doll world as a Barbie.  I don't like my girls to be lonely.  :p)

I noticed, however, that more people seemed to collect the 16" Tonner dolls than the Tiny Kitty girls.  So I decided I had better get one so I could start making clothes for them, to sell.  I found a cheap Brenda on ebay, and although I originally only intended to use her as a model and mannequin for my designs, I fell in love.

Now I own nine 16" Tonner girls (and one boy) with another on the way.  :p  So I think I can safely say that I collect dolls.  Now, for the reasons why.

For me, dolls are primarily about creating. I'm the kind of person who would go crazy if I didn't have a hobby, or a job in which I had a creative outlet. I've sampled several different avenues of self expression - drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpting, quilting, cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, music, dance, fiction writing, poetry, costuming, stage makeup, scrapbooking, jewelry making - and the medium I most enjoy is dolls. I love sewing for them, styling them, posing them, photographing them, making jewelry and shoes for them, playing with them... They are my canvas and my muse. Of all the dolls that I have bought over the years, the vast majority are ones that I got specifically because they gave me a new body type to sew for, or foot size to make shoes. I really only have three dolls that I bought just because I wanted them, but I have a long wish list of others! All my dolls are models, but they are also just beautiful to look at. I like art to have a purpose, which is probably why I enjoyed ceramics so much. My dolls are all useful to me because they help me show off and sell my designs, and more importantly, they inspire me to create.
I can sew things for dolls that I would never have an occasion to wear myself. They give me an escape to a fantasy world where anything is possible. And I can make them into characters from my favorite books and movies, or name them whatever I want and create backstories for them. I think each of my dolls represents a facet of my own personality, so to me they are very personal. But I love to share them with like-minded people!

Which brings me to my last reason, which is that dolls are so versatile. The same doll given to two different people can become vastly different, whether those two people are repainters, rerooters, clothing/accessory/prop makers, or photographers. There are so many dolls that I will probably never add to my own collection, but I can and do appreciate the way other collectors dress and customize and display them. I love to look at the amazing photographs that other doll collectors post on message boards like Prego, and their own websites and blogs.  It helps to know I'm not a crazy person all alone. :p

Long story short, I collect dolls because they satisfy me. And to all the haters, I would say "Some people juggle geese!" 

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Anne of Green Gables

My very first Tonner doll was a Dream Girl Tiny Kitty that I bought nude on ebay.  She reminded me so much of Anne Shirley that I made her this dress from the description in the first book:  A lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pin-tucked in the most fashionable way, with a ruffle of filmy lace at the neck.  Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown silk ribbon.  

I don't actually know what kind of fabric "gloria" is, but I think that I got the glossy part right, at least.  And anyway, this is just my interpretation. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A hard day's work...

Djali is such a diva.  She thinks this is working hard:

I told her she didn't need to wear that long ballgown to model shoes for my website, but she didn't want to take it off.

"This is so tiresome.  Are we done yet?"

Did you ever see such a lazy model? 
Laying down on the job!

But she has to admit the payoff is pretty great:
"I get to keep these, right?"

Lucky for her, they don't fit any other dolls in the house.  :p

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Djali finally finds a gown

I don't know why I didn't think of this gown before, when Djali first arrived and had nothing to wear! It fits her better than Rose-Red or Amaya, who both love red as much as she does. I did have to pin it, but she finally seems satisfied. I took a few quick pics yesterday in the window, to take advantage of the late afternoon light:

Of course, now she'll really get on my case about making her some shoes! :p

Monday, April 12, 2010

Charlotte the ballerina

About a month ago, I bought a Dance Class Emilie doll as a birthday gift for my cousin, who is a dancer. She named her Charlotte.  This is her first Tonner doll, and she informed me that I had created a monster.  :p  I plan to make more ballet costumes for her in the future, but first I decided she needed a selection of tights in different colors. I bought a set of four pairs from Janette1965 on etsy, and played around with them and a couple of swimsuits by Tonner, as well as pieces of Emilie's original outfit.  

Isn't she beautiful?

And quite flexible!

I'm incredibly impressed with the feet the Tonner sculpted for this doll. I forgot to take bare feet pics before I gave her to my cousin.  :p  But the shoes are beautiful, too. 

I made her some legwarmers and a makeshift skirt:

She is just so much fun to photograph!  It was very distracting having her around. :p

I made a quick skirt from a scrap of fabric and some ribbon, and amazingly got her to pose on her stand!

The shoes really are fantastic:

Just a couple more shots.