Wednesday, August 31

Why I Need a Pattern...Revisiting Barbie

I got out my Barbies a couple of days ago to put together a play kit for someone, and was just delighted to find I'd kept some of the clothes I'd made. This is why I need patterns for the miniature Barbies, and then on to the dollhouse dolls afterward.

This first picture shows the enormous size difference in a regular Barbie and the miniature Barbie I'll be working with to learn how to make clothes in 1:12 scale. I love the dress I made for this Barbie. It was made from an old handkerchief, bead findings, and beads for the buttons. Once I have figured out the size difference in patterns (somehow), I can start inventing patterns of my own off the basic shapes.

These two dresses were made from patterns and handkerchiefs. The Bolero on the left doesn't fit all that well, should have used a clinging fabric for this.

This fashion doll is larger than the Barbie, I had to make up the pattern for her dress. It was made from a hankie too.

I love this fabric! It's so soft and flowy, I can see it working great for the miniature doll clothes too.

This Summer dress was made from a hankie too. I think I had a pattern for the basic dress then added the print from the sides of the hankie coming around in front for accent.

I totally love the outfit on the right! The blouse and pants were from hankies too. The handkerchiefs just have so many possibilities with the various trims and prints on them. Then the plain white ones were usually used and laundered so many times that the fabric is so very soft, softer than any fabric you can buy.

Still working on ideas of how to get basic patterns in dollhouse scale... I want my dolls to have contemporary clothing that can be removed (need fasteners and proper openings), too bad the miniature Barbies didn't come with wardrobes...

Sunday, August 28

August 28, Commercial Break...

August 30,

Edit to say: Whew! All of the miniatures I have listed right now have moved back to Mostly Art on Etsy. The next post here will be back on topic with the miniature doll clothes project.

At the risk of being viewed as "flakey" on the subject, I've decided to move my miniatures back to Etsy. Most of the miniature artists have already gone back, the rest have plans to go back soon. I have been a "hold out" during all the turmoil, wanting to give ArtFire a chance to take off and be something great, but a few things have happened this Summer to make that vision seem nearly impossible to achieve in the "Dolls and Miniatures" category there.

First, ArtFire decided to do away with the free selling accounts. This was the start of the miniaturists going back to Etsy. Most didn't even wait for the free-trial to try out the "Pro" selling accounts with all the special features. They left as soon as the word was out about free accounts going away.

The second thing that's happened just recently (the last couple of weeks), is ArtFire is involved with a new payment service called ProPay. This is a very expensive service for sellers to have, and since most people are used to PayPal, having it (PayPal) take second billing on the checkout pages as "other", and confusing for people to figure out... well, I can't see that will be okay with the majority of buyers for quite a while.

Everything new online takes a lot of adjustment and people in general don't like change. (me included) I have been with PayPal since they were new enough to be not only a free service, they offered $5 bonuses for everyone else you could get to join. I've never had any problems using PayPal, not as a seller or buyer, they would have to do something really drastic to get me to not want them as my main online payment source.

The third thing weighing my decision to go back to Etsy is all the people who didn't want to move with me in the first place. Etsy is much more fun to shop on, because there are just so many more items, more to browse, more energy... with so many of the miniaturists leaving ArtFire now, it could take years for them to attract enough new miniaturists to make a good category over there. I think I am finally convinced the wait will be just too long.

It will be quite a bit of time involved in moving the miniatures back to Etsy, because the listings on ArtFire are mostly new items since I left Etsy last Winter. The information isn't on Etsy anymore, it will be like making brand new listings. So... I'm giving myself a week to do this, just an hour or so a day until it's done.

Thanks for listening to my rambling...

Wednesday, August 24

Ta Da! First dress completed

I finished the first of the miniature Barbie dresses last night. This girl also got some red lipstick and red shoes to match her dress, because the dress itself is so fragile, she likely won't be changing clothes too often.

I think this fabric would be called Chiffon. It's very sheer and frays so easily, that it probably wasn't the best choice for my first piece of scale dollhouse doll clothing. It was actually a vintage handkerchief, but the intended purpose wouldn't be good for that because it isn't anything like Cotton, or even Silk. I thought the pattern was nice for the dress though, and am happy in the end that I did start with something more difficult to work with.

The dresses (and other clothing), should be much easier with Cotton or Silk. This dress will only fit the miniature Barbies because they're more slender than the dollhouse dolls. I made the dress to be removable, but it's likely to be this doll's permanant clothing anyway.

Tuesday, August 23

Dressing Miniature Barbie Part 1

Saturday, I began the miniature doll part of my project. I decided to start with the miniature Barbies, because the dolls themselves can't be altered much, and they all had a dress that could be dismantled for patterns. These Barbies have the big toothy smile, and you can't really change the face character when it is this mold. I decided to just leave the faces the way they are but change the hair. They all got a haircut, and the hair is getting tamed down some with the plastic wrap. I did have a tutorial on how to change the style of Barbie hair completely with boiling water or something... maybe I'll do that later, for now, I'm just going to make them all some new clothes.

These are the princess dresses the dolls came with. I don't see them as princesses or fairies, but since they are all tall compared to the other female dollhouse scale dolls, they may be Amazon women. Maybe they are just model types from the 60s-70s with that clean "girl next door" look they had back then?

Sunday... I got out some full size fashion doll patterns to see the size comparison, and tried to adjust for size. I wasted a lot of time on this, because I thought I had a program that would just reduce pictures by 50% on my computer. That must have been with my first printer though, because I couldn't figure it out and pretty much just wasted the whole day for nothing.

Sunday night, Monday, and Monday night... I tried free-hand reducing the patterns to a scale dollhouse size. For a while, I thought I'd figured it out and made several sample pieces of clothing from some soft Batise fabric. (I didn't want to risk any of my beautiful vintage hankies until I knew the pattern would work out.) The pieces were still too big in some ways, and though I could have altered the clothing pieces themselves with seams and darts, I decided to take a new approach instead.

I carefully took apart every piece of dollhouse doll clothing I had, (there weren't many things, so it wasn't like I was giving up something precious), and made new pattern pieces of this clothing.

I finally decided to make something from a hankie late last night. The top part of the dress is almost finished, then I will add a gathered skirt to it. No pictures yet, I wanted to make sure it turns out first. Actually, I'm almost finished with the second bodice of the dress. The first one, I couldn't quite get the tiny sleeves in and my fabric frayed to almost oblivion at the shoulder. After that, I put very, very thin strips of scotch tape on the edge of the cut fabric pieces before I started sewing. This has been successful, and the second bodice went fairly quickly.

Saturday, August 20

A Year in Miniature

Today is the beginning of a year long project to make a 1:12 scale miniature town. Only the more I think about it, the word "town" is not appropriate for the world I'm about to create, it would be more proper to call it "the land of____?" like L. Frank Baum did with his 14 book series on the Land of Oz.

This plan has been growing, evolving, and changing direction almost as fast as I can think or fantasize about it. It just became "the land of_____?" this morning. This time the plan will stick, because I have made the commitment with a deadline of a year from today, and including all of the various ideas into one "Land of____" is perfect for me.

I was very late to find out about dollhouse miniatures. If it weren't for eBay, it may never have happened, and I would have missed so much! Many good friends I've met along the way, a growing imagination, and new skills of my own with learning to work in 1:12 scale.

While I have always loved anything tiny, growing up, we all played with Barbie and similar 1:6 scale dolls. As an adult, I did still enjoy playing with Barbie in the way of making wardrobes of clothing for her/similar fashion dolls, and once made myself a project of altering the dolls themselves for the adult women in my family. I made each sister and my mom a doll that resembled them, then a wardrobe to go with it. This is how I found my way to the "Dolls and Miniatures" category on eBay in the beginning.... I was interested in making altered 1:6 dolls as artwork to sell.

That idea passed when I found the life-like fairy and artdoll sculpture made from polymer clays. Especially the work of Julie Mansgergh/faerielady on eBay. Her dolls/sculpts are so life-like, you might even convince yourself you saw them breathing! After I saw these artdolls, I just had to learn how to make them myself. I took a year to learn how, the requisite "make 100 dolls before you try and sell one", but still, it was not to be. My dolls didn't ever get a following, and I still have a few that will now live in my "Land of____?" too :)

While hanging out in the "Dolls and Miniatures" category on eBay so much in my fairy/doll making days, I discovered the 1:12 scale miniatures. It was like a heaven-on-earth time of finding so many perfect replicas of anything you could think of in one inch scale! My first project was going to be a display piece, a miniature version of the real life shop of Mostly Art, down to the last detail.

I purchased a lot that had two basic dollhouse kits still in the boxes. I thought I could combine elements of the two small houses into an empty structure resembling the store when it had been empty, then go from there. After trying to figure out the basic floor plan for a while, (why are 1:12 dollhouses not really to scale, but so much smaller than they should be?), I could see this wouldn't work. I would have had to compromise too much on the design. If it couldn't be a true replica, I didn't want to do it.

Time went on, I still wanted to make some kind of house or roombox, and tried with one of the kits later. I blogged about it here , where you can see it didn't work out either. That was when I realized what I really want to do is PLAY! I don't want my dollhouses or roomboxes to be a display-only piece, I want the whole thing... "it's a lifestyle" to quote a very good friend of mine. I want my dolls to be characters, with personalities that will let me know what kind of dwelling they will live in, what kind of job they might have, what kind of place they may hang out in...

So this year's project, making the "Land of_____" will start with the dolls. I have an assortment of dolls of different kinds/types that are in 1:12 scale. Some are from Heidi Ott, a few proper Porcelain dolls, miniature Barbies, the sculpts I made, two sculpts from another artist (they already have their own dwelling/structure), and a lion/man who I believe will be someone like Harvey, the rabbit/pooka.

Most of these dolls and characters are in need of clothing and/or alteration. So that's where I'm deciding to start this journey... pictures to follow

Wednesday, August 17

One Tiny Pumpkin on Great Vine!

This year's Pumpkin vine had a rough beginning. I had decided to get an earlier start this year, but then the first tiny plants froze. The second set of seeds seemed to take forever to come up, then they didn't really do much of anything until August. We now have a Great vine going in all directions!

The leaves are huge again this year, and the vines are pushing their way through the wild flowers and tall grasses we let grow however they wanted to this Summer. The results were really fun for the cats with so much "jungle", and the only controlled areas are the square areas with Lettuce, and the other patch for the Tomato vines.

Here's the lone Pumpkin... at least I think it's the only one, I haven't discovered any others yet. There are many more beautiful flower blossoms early in the morning. I took the pictures in the afternoon when the blossoms had mostly closed for the day.