Welcome to the world of A. Morrison Millard!

Since I’ve been too busy to work on my doll furniture lately, I thought it might be fun to highlight some inspiration from around the web.  Pinterest is proving to be a great way to find stuff that inspires.  That’s where I discovered an amazing artist and doll furniture maker specializing in mid-century modern for 1:6 scale.  Yep!  That includes the mid-century babe of all babes…..Barbie!  

She is A. Morrison Millard.  I had a brief and fun email exchange with Annie Millard, who seems to be a very talented and very very busy lady.  We all know that Barbie is big.  I mean BIG.   So leave it her to create little furniture for one of America’s most collectable dolls in the style of the times.  

Mid-Century Modern

I am so inspired by this lady.  She does it all. Check out this room (above, click to enlarge all photos).  First of all, the whole shot is just perfect and beautifully cropped.  She does it all….the couch, the table, the carpeting, the lamp, the books, the window, and the framed portrait!   And here I thought I was getting obsessive.  Turns out there is much to aspire to with the likes of A. Morrison Millard around.  

50's banquetteSame thing with this room, the floor, the table (and it’s glitzy base), the banquette with it’s classic little lamps attached around the back, the brick wall, zebra covered frames on the art (casually cropped) a fabulous red bar stool, and last but not least, the amazing tiny L.A. Times sitting there for Barb & Ken to keep up with what’s up.  This really blows my mind.  

Mid-Century Mod

Mid-Century Modern accessories are so distinctive and Annie does them spot on.  That orange chair with it’s delicate metal work and the cocktail table with inset glass….oh my!   Her clocks and lamps are like being there.  Hey!  I was there.  My parents had a floor to ceiling 3 fixture tension lamp just like these!  I’m havin’ a flash back. 

Doll Accessories

Morrison Furniture StudioAnd be still my heart….the fireplace is just too good to be true.  Fire irons!  She makes fire irons!  I had to show both of these shots because the little red Barbie shoes are bringing back such memories.  But most noteworthy is that bee hive hairdo.  She’s amazing.  I remember those do’s so well.  When I was in grade school, all the cool high school girls wore gigantic teased hair styles.  Again, the wall, the window and art are just right and that brick wall knocks me out. 

Morrison Furniture StudioBarbie!These are just a few of the items at Morrison Furniture Studio (http://www.morrisonsfurniturestudio.com).  Check out her Archives to take a trip down memory lane, and if you’re not old enough to remember this era, you’ll definitely get the feel for this very unique time.  

Barbie furniture

Here are two more complete rooms.  The throw pillows and their fabrics are perfect.  This artist works in wood, metal, glass, fabric, photography….you name it, she does it.  The window shades in the final photo have me in tears they’re so divine, and the inspired use of matchstick blinds to create a wall is simply genius.  Annie, my hat is off to you.  Love your stuff!!

Barbie rooms

Art Nouveau Inspired Doll Screen

The fabrics were actually the first inspiration.  I love these colors together, but only had a very small amount of each.  Art Nouveau art and architecture inspired the shape of this screen for 18 inch dolls.  It’s sized so that a ball jointed doll can stand behind it with head and shoulders, and calves and feet showing.  Of course, it’s also great as a room decoration or vanity table adornment.

First, that Art Nouveau shape had to be imagined and then drawn on heavy paper to use as a pattern.  In the next photo you can see the paper patterns and the finished shapes cut from plywood.  You can also see the smaller crescent shaped pattern pieces for the fabric adornments (the orangy fabric with the dots) which is attached at the top and bottom of the screen.   All of the crescent shapes for the adornments were cut from poster board.

Next, I applied a very thin layer of dacron batting to the “back” side and stretched the silk over it, attaching it to the edge with hot glue.  In this photo, you’re looking at the “front” side, but you can see the cuts in the silk which were necessary for the fabric to pull smoothly over the curves at the bottom of the screen.

Applying silk fabric to one side

Then, the main fabric was applied to the front of each of the three pieces. I didn’t bother to take it over the edge at the top and bottom because the adornment fabric will cover that.   You can see that I attached this fabric around the edge on the straight side of the two very outside edges (on the small side panels), but only about half way across the 1/2 inch width of the wood.   Trim will cover the raw edges of the fabric.  The exception to this is along the sides where the hinges are applied.  I carefully turned the fabric under and glued it into place.  You don’t want too much fabric or trim under the hinges because the screws won’t reach through a thick layer.

Now is the time to add the adornments to the top and bottom.  Remember those extra crescent shaped pieces in the second photo?  In this shot, you’re looking at the back side (the side which will touch the wood) of the one that goes across the top.  I make more of the little slits which allow the fabric to move through the curve and then hot glued them to the cardboard pattern across the bottom edge.

Unfortunately ;o(  I don’t have a picture of the next step, but you can figure it out.  Simply flip it over and line up the top edge of the cardboard pattern with the wood.  Lay the fabric back and staple the cardboard to the wood.  Be sure to staple down close the the bottom of the curve where the hot glue is holding the fabric on.  OR if you don’t have a stapler, you can put hot glue along the bottom edge and carefully place it to aline with the top of the wood and press until the glue dries.  This gives you a nice finished edge on the adornments where they meet the main fabric.

Do this same process on the bottom curved adornment, attaching enough fabric to also cover the legs.   Then, add a little bit of padding to the cardboard surface (and legs) and stretch the fabric over it and around the  edge of the screen.  Make sure to trim it closely and carefully so the raw edges can be covered  with decorative trim at the end.  You can see that I’ve hot glued a pretty decorative trim around to cover the raw edges, stopping at the edge of the adornment fabric.  This is where the hinges are applied, and if you remember, we turned the fabric under here so it’s already finished.   

I added a tiny ornate metal picture frame to the back and put a photo of my three dolls in it.

There you have it.  Not a project for a beginner, but you should be able to pull ideas and techniques from this to apply to simpler projects with simpler shapes. I hope you enjoyed getting an look at how I do this kind of stuff.  Please comment if you have questions and I’m happy to help.  This item will be posted for sale in my Etsy shop.  Cheers!

Joanne Thomas

Inchelina Inspiration

Sometimes when I’m surfing the doll world I come across work that inspires me to be more than I am.  It’s a delicious moment when a doll maker affects me in a way that stimulates my own creativity, which describes what happened when I discovered the artist Joanne Thomas at Inchelina.  All of her work is amazing.  It’s detailed, emotional and beautiful, and expresses a complete vision of her subject.  When I saw her Princess Maud and Princess Alexandra, inspiration was immediate, and I knew what I wanted to make for them.  Click on photos to enlarge.

These sweet companions defined the shape of the furniture piece I would create. It had to be velvet. It had to be ornate. It had to be a love seat/settee that was tufted to the max, and wrapped around them, enveloping them in a perfect reflection of their intimacy.  A kidney shaped love seat rolled around in my mind for several months.  A shape like that would create a space which could allow these precious girls to feel ensconced and able to share their little secrets and deepest desires.  You can read Joanne’s writing about these young royals at her Etsy site.  Also, lots of great photos and latest work at her blog, and information about her process with the princesses in her 2010 Archives.   

Finally, I made time to do a drawing and figure the proportions.  The girls are very tiny, a scale that would have made all the elements I wanted to included very difficult, if not impossible.  I chose 1/3 scale so that it could have all the character I wanted to give it.  I’ll try it next time with 1/4 scale and see what happens.

A kidney shape creates a nice space for sitting, bringing the occupants knees closer together.  You have to really like someone to sit in this settee with them……love them….. and the princesses definitely have a deep and loving friendship.

This is definitely the most ambitious and complex piece yet and I’m very please.  Can’t you just see her girls sitting in this, arms around each other being their adorable selves?  Or, one nestled back into the curve and the other leaning toward her sharing the latest news?  You’ll see this item popping up in numerous photos around my blog and my flickr site.  I’ll post it to my Etsy shop……after I’ve finished playing with it.  Deepest appreciation to Joanne Thomas for sharing her talent and bringing me the best of Inspiration.  Hope you like it.