It's been hard to get any creative work done this past week. Busy on the regular job and evenings have been spent reading and trying to stay away from things that otherwise tax my eyes. But I am hoping to have new things to post after the coming weekend (which can't get here soon enough!)
Meanwhile, here's Lydia by Peggy Jo Rosamund. I think she's one of Rosamund's nicer looking dolls (more natural, anyway ~ she doesn't have that creepy doll look). I bought her on eBay a bazillion years ago, it seems. She was originally made with three extra pages of clothes, but I only have one extra page (a shame!).
She was published in a doll magazine (Doll Reader, I think). These are the two pages I own. I actually found the other two pages online and will share them in another post at another time. I just wanted to share a bit of her here to keep things buzzing along in the interim. As always, give the image a click to see a little more detail.
It's definitely my ambition to finish a couple of dresses this weekend! I am studying some color combinations and working myself up to the task of tackling something that's not quite so duo or monochrome!
Wanted to just get kick-started with posting some clothing (the dolls are no longer wandering around undressed, though I admit the women still don't have proper skirts yet. I'll remedy that soon, but meanwhile here are all the tops I've been working on. For the women, they are all 60s-style (mid-to-late). I did these without any particular plan in mind, so there's some mixed results, but I do like Emmaline's white lace blouse and Amy's blue ribbons.
I don't make clothing with the traditional fold-over paper doll tabs, but for your convenience, I added some here.
For the men, I am re-posting Morse's purple vest (in the proper size ~ and I will post the doll soon). I also made vests for James and Lewis. I wanted to put more detailing on James' red vest, but got a little skittish and didn't want to ruin in (I like the little gold leaves as a border).
Now that I have made a few clothing pieces, I think I have enough confidence to work on bigger and better stuff.
Next: some more dolls from my collection.
Today's couple is James and Emmaline Hunter. These dolls will probably have the largest variety of heads and clothing styles since they are older characters. James and Emmaline were married in 1844 and James has been for many years (to his dismay) a career soldier, which puts him in a pretty wide variety of uniforms throughout his life (from military academy to wars in the west, to the fall of the Confederacy). He doesn't mind the uniforms, though: he's a clothes-horse and loves fancy things. It also helps that he's fabulously wealthy so he can actually afford these things. Think: Count of Monte Cristo wealthy. Except that he didn't really do anything to earn the money.
Emmaline is almost her husband's diametric opposite. Where he's robust, egotistical and lusty, she's frail, humble, and pious. She comes from a Moravian religious community and would prefer to dress very simply, but the influence of her husband has corrupted her (just a little). She does all of her own sewing (and has the time and money to be extravagant) so she often sews for other people. James also often bribes her to wear fancy clothes now and then ("you put on a silk gown and we'll build an orphanage" ~ that sort of thing). So you can expect to see a pretty wild array of clothing for these two.
Notes on the doll construction: yes, Emmaline is very short. She's a tiny woman. Also, the current heads on these two are post-Civil War. I will be drawing antebellum heads for them as well as heads for when they are old and grey in the 80s-90s.
Lastly, I forgot to caution, for the purpose of downloading and playing with all of the dolls on this blog, I am posting them here with their heads attached. The dolls are actually designed with removable heads ~ not only to change their ages, but to accommodate various hairstyles, etc.
So, if you print the dolls, collars may not lay properly on their neck (and wind up covering their chins). To remedy this (if you are really desperate), print out two copies and cut one set's heads off. Then fasten those heads over the other set so that there is a gap underneath their chins. This was a style I adapted from Raphael Tuck, the difference being that the way mine are constructed, they are actually interchangeable, whereas Tuck's were generally pasted on.
Next time: More introductions or shall we look at something different?
I thought I would take a moment to promote a couple of other sites out there that I really enjoy and that feature paper dolls in 19th century fashions. The first is Annas klippdocksblogg from artist Anna Forsén. The blog is in Swedish (which unfortunately I cannot read), but Google translator can give you at least a vague impression of what she's writing about. Still, you don't need it to enjoy her artwork! Anna creates mostly Regency-period dolls (19th century, right?), and they are wonderfully colorful (oh how I envy!). And she's incredibly prolific too (more to envy!). Click here to also see her website!
Her current project is a wardrobe for her doll, Annissa. The dress here at right is my favorite of her recent additions. Click on it to see more details, as always.
The other site I want to share is Margaret's Fleming's My Paper Dolls. Fleming has many many dolls from a variety of inspirations, including ten sets of dolls from the 19th century (one set for each decade!).
Fleming's work is very nice and they are presented in .pdfs for ease of downloading if you want to play with them. Her period details are wonderful. My favorite are the dolls from the 1870s (click on the sample to the left). These dolls are all colored digitally and Fleming talks a little bit about her process on her website.
If you have dolls from the 19th century in a blog or website, post a comment with a link ~ I always enjoy seeing new work! And also, a quick thank you to Liana, my original inspiration, from whose blog I found these and many other exciting sources!
I'm not going to inundate you with too much information, so I'll keep these brief and to context of the blog: who is who and how they dress.
Lewis and Amy met in Pennsylvania during the Civil War and married in 1869 (oh, those North/South romances!). They are a bit of an odd couple: she's adventuresome and high-spirited; he's reserved and intense. Amy is generally unconscious of how pretty she is. She likes some fashionable things, but isn't trendy and doesn't care for too many ruffles or lace. She also likes clothes that she won't mind getting rumpled. Lewis likewise doesn't follow fads, but likes his clothes clean, tidy, pressed. He'd be more inclined to do the laundry than his wife (and often does). Lewis is a dentist and the Fletchers are a middle-class couple (or as close as you can get to such in the 19th century). They have four children who I will probably show you all eventually.
Notes on the doll construction: yes, by God, I redid Lewis' body (again!). But this one is finally right and I'm keeping it (and I mean it!). More important: I love the faces on these two ~ Amy has the right childlike coyness and I finally managed to catch Lewis' bewilderment (he has problems dealing with the real world). I've always described him as having cat or lion-like eyes and I think I captured that too.
Finally, it occurred to me also that some people might like to download and print some of these dolls. The images I upload are not high-resolution, but might still be fun to play with, so I will be sure to scale all of the clothing to fit. Be sure to click on the image to get the full-sized image. Then right-click to save on your desktop. I am also creating tags so that you will be able to find each character and their wardrobes more easily.
Tomorrow: Another odd couple!
I had to do an errand,
Had to pick a peck of Snide
In a dark and gloomy Snide-field
That was almost nine miles wide.
I said, "I do not fear those pants
With nobody inside them.
"I said, and said, and said those words.
I said them. But I lied them.
~ Dr. Seuss (from The Sneetches and Other Stories, 1961)
It's a grief to me to make dolls sit around in a state of undress, so yesterday, after finishing the last two dolls, I painted three pairs of trousers for the men, at least (the women are so much more covered, it seems). This gave me the opportunity to paint something black, but not black (which is an art form all its own!). I used a very dark grey here for Morse's trousers, with some black on the edges and shadows. The result is decent. They look faded, though, so before I paint any evening wear, I'm going to have to perfect it.
All of these trousers here are all-purpose "bases" and not particularly specific to any period (though the boots on Lewis' pair would indicate it's post-1862).
Lovely commenter RLC asked about the who's who among these characters. When I started writing this blog, I was the only one reading it (ha!) so I never thought to try to "set up" any explanations. I promise I will remedy that shortly.
I ended the year with five dolls that I was pretty pleased with and pretty well decided that they were the "ones". Well I'm apparently more fickle than even I realized, but I think I have a good enough excuse. No, really. As I was designing clothes for the dolls that I had made, I realized I had made a terrible design flaw.
I had been careful to make sure that arms and legs were positioned in a way to be creatively covered up in a number of ways, except that I had forgotten to take into account that part of what would be necessary to cover up the arms in particular (and by this I mean designing clothes that effectively change the position of the body) was white space.
Normally that shouldn't be a problem ~ lots of doll artists do this! But I realized that once these dolls are done, I want them to be able to lay over backdrops (like in a display or on a bulletin board. random white space between arms and legs and whatnot would then be rather unsightly.
I had to correct this, so the old set of dolls had to go. I need bodies that won't require any white space and though it's a challenge to figure out a variety of positions that will meet the criteria, I think I've solved the problem. Even better, last night I drew all the dolls and this morning I have been painting them (the first three are shown here ~ as always, click on the image to see them larger).
The do-over was also a boon in some ways. It helped me think more carefully about some of the details like the lace on Amy's pantaloons. In the original version I had just willy-nilly thrown some scribble on there to give the sense of lace, but here I actually took the time to think out a specific design for it. I was also more careful with her corset and avoided the problem of too many black lines.
And even though, when unclothed, Morse and Lewis look like Power Rangers or something, their postures are better and I got to add a little more color (trying not to be so skeered of color!). And the best part is I don't have to redraw any of their heads ~ yay!
And just to prove that I'm not stalling, here's a collage of just a wee few of the many many design drafts I have been working on, clothing-wise.
I'm always delighted to find paper dolls by artists other than Tom Tierney. Not that I don't appreciate Tierney's work (and especially since he's so prolific and has created so many cool 19th century-era dolls!). But I enjoy different styles and enjoy the distinctive qualities each artist brings to their own work.
I'm not very familiar with most of Stall's work, but I found this little gem (4 pages originally published in the May, June/July 1985 editions of Doll Reader) on eBay (where else?). I did not reproduce the whole set of costumes, but wanted to share the doll and my favorite dress at least.
This is Adrienne, a "fashionable lady of 1864" and her wardrobe is based on designs that originally appeared in The Lady's Friend, which was a journal for women produced in Philadelphia in the 19th century. The nice thing about Stall basing this on contemporary magazine fashions from the era is that she included some footnotes regarding the various pieces of clothing and where they originally appeared in the magazine. Very cool idea!
The Dress here at the left is my favorite of the lot and I am drawing something based on it for my own set of dolls (for Emmaline). You can see both the doll and the dress in much more detail if you click on the images.
Because this is printed on somewhat fragile magazine paper, I'm looking forward to making a photocopy on sturdy paper so that I can cut the pieces out. I love them so much in black and white, I don't think I'll even attempt to color them.
I am trying to be diligent here ~ and really challenge myself to stay on track with all of the various projects I have running concurrently at the moment. And while I did, for a breather, set aside the dress I was working on for Amy, I forced myself to complete at least one small piece this weekend. It's not much, but I'm actually quite fond of it: a vest for Mr. Morse. It's not based on any special historical model; men's vests haven't changed too much over the last 100+ years. I did give him a somewhat old-fashioned wrap-around tie, and the fingerless gloves are particular to the character and not anything especially 19th-centuryish.
This was especially fun to do because I was basically experimenting with the embroidery on it and it actually came out exactly as I wanted it too: sort of shimmery (click the image to see it in more detail). Purple is a color I have a particular horror of ~ not for itself, I love purple! But painting with it has always been a nightmare of ugliness. This has given me some much-needed confidence.
So it's not much, but it's a good starter piece for the new year. I also like the way the black onyx rosary came out. Now I just have to make Mr. Morse some pants so he won't be wandering around in half-dress.
I came to this conclusion while trying to work out some dresses for the Amy doll I made before Christmas. I was futzing with skirts and overskirts and draping and sleeves and basically cobbling bits and pieces of various outfits from various fashion plates (trying to come up with something "new" rather than just reproducing the images), and guess what? It was hard! This may seem like a "no duh" sort of thing for many people (especially if you are a designer), but it had never occurred to me for some reason that there's this whole art of fashion design and however much enthusiasm I have for the clothing of the era, I haven't much of a sensibility as to how to begin to design for it.
To make matters worse, the problem of color still haunts me. If you look at the two scribbled designs I have posted here (click to see them in more detail), you'll immediately notice that I used all of three colors to create them: a mahoganyish orange-brown, an ochre yellow-gold, and a deeper brown for some of the detailing on the second dress. Not exactly bold choices. I feel pretty safe in these almost sepia-like tones. The thought of venturing into blue or green or purple (ack!) scares the beejeebies out of me. But I can't make Amy wear nothing but these colors. Much as I would like the various parts of her outfits to coordinate, it's not as though her entire wardrobe was built out of the same two bolts of cloth. Not even in the 19th century where that was sometimes the case!
So I'll be doing a lot of experimenting with colors and fabrics and designs here. I have no dearth of resources for this sort of thing. If I can copy other color schemes with my own designs, that might be a solid way of learning something like color theory in a way that will actually stick. It's worth a shot!