Monday, March 25, 2013

Invisible Stitches

For all my dollmaking friends out there, you'll most likely smile at me when I say I was amazed by the results of soft sculpting...



When I set out to make the older face of Mrs. Rose, I decided to combine the techniques in both Jan Messent's Embroidered Portraits and Barbara Willis' Cloth Doll Artistry.  The embroidered portraits were a little too flat for older features...


And when I did find an older face, it was painted and not embroidered...



I have never had a painting class or been to art school so I had zero confidence in my ability to paint a face.

I did use Messent's technique of cutting out the profile in Vilene (I used Timtex) and placing a hole through which I would later add stuffing.  I've also made multiples thanks to Allie, assuming that there will be many learning-curve mistakes.



When I used the kona cotton, I had a very difficult time getting the cotton to sculpt nicely around the rounded features from my pattern (bottom middle).  It may have worked better if Mrs. Rose's features were more angular or if her head were larger.  As it stands, her little head is only 1" from forehead to chin.

Next, I tried the Doe Suede recommended by Adele Sciortino (bottom right). In contrast to my struggles with the cotton, the doe suede behaved like a dream.  I was also going to try using panty hose but I liked the doe suede so much that I have decided to go with that.

Once the Timtex was covered in the doe suede, I was ready to begin sculpting the face.  I modified the full-face sculpting instructions from Willis' book and was surprised to learn that most of the sculpting stitches took place underneath the surface fabric!


I know.  This is where all you dollmakers smile at me.

So, using that little hole in the back of the Timtex, I added stuffing and made stitches across the batting and through the Timtex, never once breaking the surface of the material.



And it started to work!  It took waaaayyyyyyy longer than I expected and I had to snip threads when I had incorrectly placed them...you know they're misplaced when they block the stuffing!

But this method allowed me to sculpt a rounded nose and mouth...and to give the pronounced cheekbones and sunken cheeks of an older person.  I only took two stitches through the facial fabric.  One tack stitch to locate the eye and another longer stitch to define the nose.

I really am just amazed that all that definition can come from all those invisible stitches.  Too cool...


For now, I'm in a bit of a quandary as to how to proceed next.

In Messent's book, she often used watercolor paint to define her facial features.  I think that would work  fine on cotton but not very well on the polyester doe suede.  She also used colored pencils...I tried those on a scrap cloth but think I might try a pure pigment pastel and a stiff brush.  Shiva paint sticks might work but I've never tried those and I don't own any.  I wonder if any of you who have worked with doe suede have a suggestion?


I also can't decide how I'm going to do the eye.  Tomorrow I go to stitch at a friend's house who is a master embroiderer, designer and artist.  I have a feeling that I'll come away from that with a few suggestions.

We had spring snow today and Jack had a bonus day off from school.  It's a beautiful, heavy snow that coats all the branches making for a frosted wood.

Happy Monday everyone.

27 comments:

Beth Ferrier said...

You are so very inspiring!Thank you again for sharing your process.

Mary Ann said...

Bravo!!! It looks excellent:) I love working with doe suede but as you say when it comes to applying the face on the nap side it is difficult. Most doll makers insert eyes to get around the problem or embroider a face. Quite a few use the wrong side out for soft sculpture...the non fuzzy side...but I really don't like the look it gives the doll. It's too shiny.

Corina said...

Looks great! Thank you for showing pictures of how you made this.

margaret said...

you have created a wonderful head, congratulations

Marsha said...

Mrs. Rose would be so proud of you, I bet. It is amazing.

Rachel said...

Looking fabulous, even if it was a slightly hair-raising experience. Perhaps you could experiment with chalks or pastels on the polyester doe suede?

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

It is wonderful watching Mrs. Rose come to life.

As always, I am inspired by your work.

Enjoy the process and thank you for sharing it here.

FlowerLady

wendy said...

She's turning out wonderful!!! What a neat process! your work always turns out beautiful.

FLOWER FRIEND said...

I am watching with interest how you are achieving the look you want for this piece Susan. I am booked to do a workshop on sculpting dolls heads in May and if I can pick any tips up from you that will be great.

Cath said...

It's like magic seeing Mrs Rose come to life :-)

Margaret said...

It strikes me that doe suede has a slightly 'fluffy' surface, which might not bode well with oilpaint sticks (like Shiva) or oil pastels. Have you thought of watercolour -- whether direct from a fine brush, or as w/c pencil, applied dry and then wet? You'd sample, of course, but you might get the right combo of control and subtlety... Good luck -- she looks great so far!

Mosaic Magpie said...

I am glad you mentioned the eye....I was wondering what you would do for it.
Deb

Judy S. said...

Way to go, you are breathing life into Mrs. Rose!

Suztats said...

Mrs. Rose is looking very shapely. I was wondering....what about using make-up on the fabric for shading? I don't have any experience in doll making, but I'm sure you'll get lots of great advice from those who do.

Createology said...

Oh I am smiling...not because I know how to do any of what you are doing, but because my Grandma did all of this. If only I had paid attention and learned from her. Your tiny Mrs. Rose's head is amazing. I am in awe. Blissful Stitching Dear...

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Years ago I needle sculpted nylons for faces on christmas dolls I made. I used make up..blushes and eye shadows to shade the faces. 4 mm black beads fit the look I did, along with sculpted crow feet. I'm sure you're going to do a really artistic technique with fab results.
xx, Carol

Gerry Krueger said...

I use high quality colored pencils on fabrics all the time and swear by them. You can subtle effects which are impossible with paints etc. Ger

Gerry Krueger said...

I use high quality colored pencils on fabrics all the time and swear by them. You can subtle effects which are impossible with paints etc. Ger

char said...

Watching your work progress is so much fun. Thanks for sharing, can't wait (but I will) to see Mrs Rose completed.

Mouse said...

way to go girl ... she looks fantastic and recognisable straight away ... hmmmm re the face ... hope you come away with some ideas ... Tilda does some "makeup" on their dolls faces that might just be enough .... can't think what they use atm .... will try and remember to check later this evening and let you know :) love mouse xxxxx

Bobbi Pohl said...

Wow!

Jillayne said...

Amazing Susan, just amazing. What a beautiful job you have done. I love how you research, try, modify etc. to get what you are doing where you want it to be.

Marjolein said...

You are well on your way!

gracie said...

I just know that I am going to love Mrs Rose....

Allison Aller said...

I love your approach...so thorough! The result with the doeskin and stitching is so believable...can't wait to watch her face come to life.

Catherine said...

Your talent will never cease to amaze me!

underatopazsky said...

That sculpted effect is incredible - so lifelike even without any features!

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