Posing Angie

How many ball jointed doll owners reading this pose/re-pose their doll(s) once a week?  How about every day?  Ahhhhh…. another junkie after my own heart.  It is addictive.  Of course proximity helps a lot.   I have a  “cubbie” in my staircase in which I place recently finished furniture pieces along with my doll Angie, providing the perfect opportunity to mess with her.  Occasionally, she gets into such a charming pose it simply must be retained for some time, but it’s a fun exercise in her best trait…..that would be being more limber than I am.

Ball Jointed DollsHere’s some new furniture, not yet ready for posting to my Etsy shop, but perfect for highlighting Angie “the poser” and some other new accessories which might interest the DIY’er in you.

BJD FurnituireShe looks a bit lost on this settee for 24″-26″ dolls, but finds it extremely comfortable.  She loves to relax in style.  I confess, playing with her and all the accessories, and then the big photo shoot, is more fun than I can say.  If you’ve followed me for a while you might notice the new end table and lamp. (Click on any image to enlarge.)

Exquisite doll furnitureI’m working on a post to show how I made it and will also provide information to DIY’ers, who might not have my workshop of tools, to create end tables that perfectly fit their dolls.  The lamp is one of two new ones and I’ll bet no one can guess what the base is.  Come on.  Give me your best guess!  It’s very heavy and about 50 years old.  I found it at a local antique shop and with a pre-made shade, it’s just about perfect for dolls.

Of course, end tables and lamps, backdrops and carpets are only rivaled by fashionable seating like nothing else you can find in the known Universe (well that’s what I heard).  Everyone knows that when Voyager sent back a message from deep Space after finding highly intelligent life deep in the galaxy, the message read “Send more Chuck Berry and Little Big Chairs!!!”.  What more can I say?  Photography and dolls are popular everywhere and accessories make it more fun!

Here are a few of the poses Angie came up with this time.

Doll ChairsBJD Furniture     Tufted Doll Chair

Posing1Best Doll FurnitureFine Doll Furniture




SD Doll FurnitureDoll Furniture






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)

My Photography…..so far, Pt.1

A friend and patron from Etsy, Mustangridergirl, asked a great question:

First of all, I’m only a professional upholsterer.  I am definitely not a professional photographer and do not have professional photographic equipment, nor studied theater in school or learn about set design.  This all got started because I had to photograph my furniture for the Etsy shop.  Check out “sales” at my shop and you can see my progression, not only in my furniture, but in my photography.  (click on any photo to enlarge)

So, this post is a behind the scenes look at my current photographic technique.  Should I study lighting?  Of course.  Do I currently have the time or inclination….not really.  Am I interested in spending tons of money on professional lighting and then having to find a place to store it when not in use?…..yeah, right.  Sound familiar?  Does this describe you?  I think I’m very much like any doll owner/enthusiast, making the most of what I have or can create.  I’m a DIY kind of girl and can’t even remember the name brand of the camera I’m using.

I don’t think it’s about the camera.  Most people now acknowledge that camera phones are on par with many available cameras.  I don’t use my phone for the dolls and furniture, but you get the idea…. just trying to make the most of what you have. Thankfully, my camera has a rechargeable battery.   I never never ever ever use a flash.   Holding my finger on the flash as I start the camera keeps it from popping up, and I ignore all prompts and flashing messages telling me I need more light.  The lights in my shop are fluorescent….yes!….fluorescent lights!  It’s been a workshop long before it became a posh environment for dolls. ;o)

The cutting table is directly behind the chair sitting on the upholstery horses…..waiting for me to quit playing with dolls and re-upholsterer it.

Floors and walls stacked neatly out of the way under the currently cluttered cutting table.

My shop is a 10 ft x 18 ft space.  The cutting table sits next to one of two west facing windows, although the huge Burr Oak tree just outside, shades most of the direct light.  My fully lit photos, like this fun take on the board game Clue (below), are photographed using only those two overhead lights, and I almost never adjust it later in Photoshop.   The only extra work done on this shot was to crop it.  In hindsight, I would have liked a little more atmosphere in this shot, but hey!, “me and the girls was just havin’ a little fun, ya know”, and crime should be exposed.  I amuse myself.

Miss Scarlett….in the library…..with…..the copper pipe?

Lately, I’ve started using a large white piece of foam board to deflect the light up to the ceiling and get a more subtle atmosphere, and have been known to drape fabric over the fluorescent closest to the table in order to affect the quality of the light.   Shifting  the whole scene to angle it towards the window, gives me a little less angled more direct natural light.    And if it’s atmosphere you’re looking for, I can’t say enough about making your own lamps.  It’s fun, easy and does double duty as a light source and a decorative prop.

This photo (above) was taken with the overhead lights turned off, only the two windows letting in a little bit of indirect natural light, and my doll lamp creating added  effect.  Strong late afternoon light gave it the feeling of dusk.  I left the scene lined up with the table (instead of angling toward the window) which gives the illusion that my dolls house indeed has a large grand window on the wall not shown in the photo.

The next one has only the light from the window.  I love that moment when the day is getting to dusk and you know if you don’t turn on a light now….if you wait any longer…. it will be very harsh when you finally do.  I always use “Auto Focus” on my camera, letting it do what it does best.  It’s a Canon Power Shot 5×210 IS.

Realize that the bulb color of artificial light, will affect the color of your sets, dolls and clothing.  That’s probably why my fluorescent lights work OK, because they’re white light…..not yellow or bluish.  I am using a yellow light in the lamp, which has a warming effect in the “night” shots.

The angle of the shot is also important.  I like to get low enough with my camera to be on the dolls eye level.  There are plenty of artistic exceptions to this, but for my purposes, shooting from the dolls point of view will look most natural.

Speaking of cropping, I’m still learning not to judge too quickly the merits of a photo before I crop it.  Cropping is a very creative process.  I occasionally find myself dragging photo’s out of the trash and finding interesting compositions within a shot I previously thought was trash worthy.  This paragraph is more important than some might think at first. Trying to take a completely finished shot with the camera is not as much fun or effective as cropping.   Play with cropping!  Most photo processing software (whether on your computer or the free ones on line) will let you “duplicate” your photo, which allows you to play to your hearts content.  It’s one of the most creative and fun parts of photography.

I work hard at the photos.  Sometimes I’ll take a dozen shots only to realize I’ve failed to notice a blunder.  Here’s an example:  The table skirt just didn’t look real enough until I stopped and forced it into a shape that seemed right.  I must have taken a dozen shots of it crumpled, but once I saw the photos on the computer, I ran back to the shop, adjusted the table skirt and it only took one more shot to get it.

Uncropped version with funky table skirt.

That’s much better!

My next goal is to develop mid-tone lighting.  Perhaps bring in a table lamp from the house, setting it up across the room, turn out the fluorescence, and shooting late in the day when the sun is lower and coming strongly in the widow….but not creating shadows.  Atmosphere is good!  Have fun!!

I’ll try to post Part 2 tomorrow.  It’s about scene construction and should be fun.  Thanks for reading, and Thank YOU again Mustangridergirl!  You’re a doll!

My Black and White Floor

Whether a black & white floor is marble, painted wood, or linoleum,  I love um!  They work in old castles, in 50’s diners, and best of all, in doll houses and doll photography.  My version was really simple to create.  I purchased four large sheets of 1/4 inch foam board at the local craft/hobby store.  Three were white and one was black.  This is a whole bunch of foam board, but then I was doing a fairly large area.  Two of the white ones were for the base (1/4 inch plywood would also work), while the other two were for the floor itself.

The squares on my floor measure 2.5 inches.  A quick search of the web will reveal many fabulous versions of this style of floor.  Patterns and sizes vary wildly, so there’s no right or wrong way to create one.  You get to choose.  I needed a floor that would span my bookcases for my furniture photography, so I broke it into two pieces for easy storage.

Marble comes in many colors.  My pink marble floor is made from pieces of Osborne & Little wallpaper, cut up and pasted to a piece of poster board.  I like the way the floors add drama and sophistication to my furniture.