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




Steampunkify My Doll

Steampunk Angie

I’ve been attracted to Steampunk since I first heard about it a few years ago on the web.  I fell in love with science fiction in junior high school, about the same time I was sure not to miss an episode of The Wild Wild West on TV.  In 1990 when I purchased a copy of “The Difference Engine“, on the advice of a friend who also worked at the library, I had no idea that this genre had a name.  Apparently this work, co-authored by Austin writer Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, was instrumental in bringing the concept into the public’s greater awareness.  (All photos are flickable to enlarge.)

I will also happily confess that two of my favorite shows have been “The Adventures of Brisco County Junior” (Brisco and Bowler were just too damn glamorous) and, more recently, WareHouse 13.  So, I like to think of myself as sort of mildly keepin’ up with “the comin’ thing”, as Brisco would say…..except for sewing clothes.  Have not sewn clothes much since I was a kid.  Mom was an excellent seamstress and taught me, but I’m kind of a slob who just hangs out in her workshop, messes with furniture & dolls, and digs in the yard…… so who freakin’ cares?  I do on occasion clean up quite nicely, and living in a casual town like Austin has its benefits.  To say I was surprised by the finished product would be an understatement.  With so many amazing doll clothiers out there, intimidation was my biggest problem, but Angie’s jacket turned out quit well and I’m sure I’ll try again.

I used the edges of a piece of vintage ribbon to get the teeny tiny pink ruffle at the cuffs and up the front and collar.   Those pieces are also lined with the pink silk of the skirt.  No, the skirt is not real.  I didn’t have enough fabric to make a real skirt, so I faked it for the camera.  The little striped cummerbund is silk and taken from a sample book of silk plaids.

I’m quite pleased with myself, but will again express my undying respect and appreciation for all those who work on a very small scale.  Angie’s 22 inches tall, which feels pretty tiny when you’re trying to set those sleeves.  I’m consistently blown away by doll makers, doll clothes makers and miniaturists of all kinds.  I don’t really know how they do it.

Besides the Victorian-esque outfit, the top hat and goggles are quintessential Steampunk.  The leather is from a tiny sample of Ralph Lauren leathers, very thin and supple (only the best for my Angie).  Polymer clay lens holders, plastic lenses tinted with permanent marker (rose colored, of course), and tiny watch gears complete her sweet but punked up image.  So much fun!  Thanks for visiting and please feel free to comment!

My Doll Size Bookcase

My doll furniture photography has been slow to develop.  Well….it’s true.   I have so many work projects, play projects, house projects, and then there’s always food projects.  Things started to take off when I saw an ad, I think it was at the NY Times on-line, for a couch with lots of books surrounding it in the room.  About the same time I finally made it to Restoration Hardware and loved their bookcases filled with neutral colored books.  So I figure, I met my spouse when I worked at the library…..he still works at the library……and as much as we love electronic data, we still love books……hummmmm?  The seed was planted, or more accurately, the design and construction began.

I design and build furniture for approximately 14 inch to 28 inch dolls.  I can certainly go larger, but smaller is difficult.  My appreciation and amazment for those who design and build in miniature is large, but have trouble getting my stuff to work on a smaller scale.  Naturally SD is my favorite, but in deference to the smaller sizes, I designed this case to work for 21 inch dolls (whatever scale that is), which gives me more versatility.   The design was for two cases, one with a “finished” end on the left and one with a finished end on the right.  In doing so, they could be combined with their unfinished edges together, making a long single case, or, switch them so the finished edges are next to each other, but leaving space for a wall section between them. You can see my drawing of the design in the first photo.  Click on the image to enlarge it.  The second photo is my damask club chair sitting in the library with both sections joined.

Surprisingly, the bookcases turned out to be a managable weight.  Even filled with books, I can carefully pick up each one and set them on my cutting table in preparation for the big photo shoot.  Of course, there’s more involved than just the bookcase, but it does it’s job very well by providing me with an interesting backdrop.  Since they’re only about four inches thick, storing them against the wall of my shop is easy and painless.

Here’s a shot of my dolls, Angie and Tracie, relaxing in the library.  The shelves have been switched so the finished ends are facing towards the center of the photograph, and a wall section has been inserted.  As you can see I’ve decked out the room with other props, like my black and white “marble” floor and three pieces of my furniture, a lamp and end table, all of which I’ll be writing about in future blogs.  The painting is by one of the few famous female Impressionist painters, and an American, Mary Cassatt.  It’s called Lydia Leaning on Her Arms in a theatre box (1879) and I think it’s amazing.  This was a really fun project that will be the mainstay of My Little Big Chairs brand.  I hope you like it and will return to read about more of my stuff.  Last but not least, a photo (spoiler alert!!!;o) of the bookcase as it really is.  Click Here