Dolls & Lace

Lace can be difficult to apply to little chairs and even more difficult to photograph.  I like it non the less, having used it a few times in the past, like this early effort to create a unique doll chair.  The black lace was from a corset-like top used while dancing Argentine Tango and up-cycled perfectly to a miniature chair (it was for 14″-16″dolls).

Black Lace Doll Chair

 

A year or two ago I purchased some off-white lace from a local fashion fabric store which  had a stretchy quality and a bit of sheen in some parts.  Since I usually use natural fibers, I had trouble coming up with a design that pleased me.  My embroidery class (see previous post) taught me the wisdom of texture and the idea of a little shine suddenly no longer seemed to be a problem.  The lace is placed over a neutral/tan cotton/linen blend and provided the opportunity for a bit of embroidery practice.  Click on all photos to enlarge.

Embroidery on Lace Doll Furniture

 

The embroidery became a slouchy pillow which is trimmed in silk.  The chair is a restyling of my favorite club chair and I’m hoping you like it as much as I do.    Angie looks like she just got home from dancing all night, exhausted but thrilled, kicked off her shoes, collapsed into the soft decadence of her new favorite spot and is letting the morning sun soothe her toes.  Happy dancing everyone!

Lace Doll Chair

 

 

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DIY Doll House Floor

pinkmarblefloorA

You can easily make this pink and white marble floor for your doll photography or for a dollhouse floor.  I’ve pick a pattern I saw in a magazine, but you can google marble floors and find ultra fabulous patterns that can make you crazy looking at them.  They’re not that hard to figure out and since there are no rules…..you can’t go far wrong.

Start with your materials.  I’ve chosen a large piece of pink poster board which will serve as the base for the tiles and will show through as my “grout”.  Honestly, it’s a pink grout floor, but that didn’t have the zing that “pink marble floor” has, and I was going for subtle pink.  Also shown below (click on any photo to enlarge), are a couple of pieces of white poster board and some darker pink wall paper which will be used as accent tiles for this floor.  Some of the white poster board has already been cut into small rectangles which will be my white slate/marble tiles.

Pinkandwhitefloor1

I started by drawing a very very very light pencil line on a diagonal across the pink board as a guide line to get started.  All you have to do is start placing the white marble tiles on the pink board with a touch of glue.  You don’t have to be perfect.  I only made the one guideline and eyeballed it from there, but do whatever you have to do to keep things in line and fairly square.

Pinkmarblefloor2

Keep adding more of the white tiles.  Below, you can also see that I’ve cut up the piece of wallpaper into small accent tiles.  You will have to figure out the scale of your floor to suit your needs at the start of the project.  I wanted pink “grout” to also show around the little accent tiles, so they were cut with that in mind.  Paste them in just like the big tiles.

PinkMarblefloor3

Here’s a close look at the finished product and then a photo of the whole scene.  You might notice that the accent tiles are made from the same wallpaper as the wall.  These kinds of touches are fun to make and can add so much visual appeal to your doll photography or dollhouse.  The garden door in the last photo is fun to make and you can learn how here.   Hope you like it.  Thanks for looking.  Ask questions if you have any.  Best Wishes, Melanie

Pinkmarblefloor4

pinkmarblefloorB

My Books

As much as I really like electronic media, I also love books.  The books on my library shelves are just props.  You can certainly find amazing tiny books on the internet to use with your dolls, but since I frequently have scraps of leather, fabric and wood from my upholstery business, the best way I’ve found to recycle or upcycle is to turn them into stuff to fill my bookcases.  My intention was to create the illusion of books.  Plywood is my favorite, since it has layers that looks more like pages than regular wood, but I use both.  Here’s a edge view of one.  All photos can be clicked to enlarge

Sometimes I paint the edges white or gold, which is common in the book binding industry.  Also adding images, lettering or decoration to the spines is a lot of fun.  You can see my collection of BJD Encyclopedias made out of teal leather in many, if not most, of my photos.   Linen-like fabric makes nice books and you can write on the spine with permanent markers.

Working with wood is easy for me, but because most doll owners don’t have the tools I have, I thought I’d show another option.  Using foam board scraps from my black and white floor, doll sized books are very easy.  Scale your books to fit your dolls.  I have two sizes, depending on the size of the furniture I’m photographing.

For the purposes of this post, I cut out four 1/8th inch pieces of foam board and glued them into two pairs.  Cutting the foam board is done with an exacto knife and a metal straight edge ruler.

Next, a piece of leather, cut to fit, is glued with hot glue to one side. I let the cover be ever so slightly larger than the “pages”, just like real books.

Here you see me holding the leather on the spine while the glue cools. You want the glue to bond well to the entire length of the spine.

Now I finish the other side and then trim it.  It’s easy to trim after glueing, but I frequently cut everything out before starting a batch of books.

You could also leave all four sections loose and have a book that opens in three places, but the glue does tend to separate at the spine as you open the book.  A fun way to cover the unattractive separation at the spine (if that’s important to you) is to add paper pages…..or you could make a whole book of paper pages….but that’s a lot of work for a prop.

I told Tracie I’d written her biography, which she just loved…..she’s had a most interesting life…and you can see how pleased she is with it.  She keeps it with her when she’s not modeling.

If you look closely you can see personal items on my bookshelf.  Here’s a couple of close ups which include a little distressed frame with a butterfly print and a photo of myself as an infant in my great Aunts arms, with my brother on the left.  To the right of that photo (second one below) you’ll see books covered in rattan I took from a small rattan sample book one of my designers gave me.

The books with printed titles are the name of that particular color of leather which was stamped on these particular samples.   The names can be pretty funny so I cut them out and glued them to the spine.  From a distance they just look like titles. Enlarge either photo above, especially the top one, and you’ll see what I mean.

Since most people don’t have access to sample books, try Tandy Leather if there’s one in your area.  They frequently have small bits of leftovers for sale, or instead of getting rid of that old leather purse that’s so worn out you’re embarrassed to use it, upcycle it into vintage doll books.  Making some books to stack around as props in your photos can be a lot of fun, and who knows, perhaps your dolls will take up reading like mine.  Oh no!  Then you’d have to make them a lamp so they don’t strain their beautiful eyes.  ;o)

DIY Damask Wallpaper

After picking this big bold WordPress theme to show off my photography, I had to come up with a picture for the header.  I’d just done my first photo shoot with the library and was so excited.  Trying to get the dolls, the furniture, the walls, the art, and god forbid don’t forget the floor, into the shot……was just tiring.  But, once I’d created a Steampunk outfit, hat, and goggles for Angie, I decided less was more.  She looks really cute in her new outfit and I like the humor and playfulness that Steampunk can add (when you’re not fighting giant squids , of course).  There’s plenty of time to do complex shots with lots of stuff to take in………but not there……not at the top of the page…..at least not for now.  A nice vintage looking damask wallpaper would be perfect.

The wallpaper behind Angie in the header photo I made myself with a rubber stamp I’d had for a couple of years.  It’s a nice little damask pattern by A Muse Artstamps, so I thought why not play a little and see what happens.  Using a sponge and watered-down paint in browns, pinks, greens and ecru, I pressed and dragged color it all over my paper to make it look as old as possible.  Don’t worry if it gets messy, especially if you want a really old look.  The more water you use, the thicker the  grade of paper you’ll want.  Since your first effort with the stamping might not turn out exactly the way you expect, if you can, cut up the base you’ve created and photocopy it so you don’t have to repeat this step again.  Each segment can be glued together before stamping.  Using a piece of wood as a guideline I brushed more watered-down paint onto the stamp and went after it.
 

The first version was done using a color that, in hindsight, was too dark…to much the color of her hat, which was visually lost.   I wanted a really old faded look.  Here’s the photo I took to check how it looked.  Although interesting, it was just too much.

 

Trying again with a really really watered down lighter version, I got a wallpaper that would stay in the background and not compete with all the other stuff in the shot.  Be sure to mix enough of the color you want to work with so you don’t run out midway through and have to remix.  Or, be a smarty pants and take notes on the recipe so you can reproduce it if necessary.  As you can see, from the uncropped version, I only created enough of it to get the shot, so it was a pretty quick process.

 
AngieHeaderDamaskFlicX
Steampunk Angie in the Library

I think she’s a young Victorian woman, waiting in the library, for her beau to pick her up in his new steam powered motor car….no…no wait….she’s a young Victorian woman waiting in the library for her new steam powered motor car to be delivered by the cute salesman.     Ciao!

Welcome to Dolls, Doll Stuff, and Fun

I was just an upholsterer minding my own business when I collided with the world of dolls. Ouch! This world is really really big and leaves a big impression when you slam into it.  I continue to be amazed at the broad range of dolls and doll makers found on the web and love watching the creativity of all the individual artists continue to evolve.  Witnessing my own work change and grow is an amazing process and I’m happy to find a niche in this rich and creative environment.

Preparing my stuff for public viewing has taken me on a fun journey of doll accessories, props, & photography.  I’m having the creative time of my life.  Now, there are people out there who might be saying, “Just make more stuff for cryin’ out loud!”, but I confess, I’m loving all the details and all the groovy little extras that make showing off my stuff so much fun.  The fun part is paramount to my process.  Inspiration is essential.

This blog is for sharing photos that won’t fit on Etsy, previewing doll furniture projects that were of special interest to me, appreciating the doll makers who inspire my designs, and trying to give back to this community as much as I’ve received.  Thanks so much!