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.