Saturday, 29 August 2015

Wooly Critters

I have fallen in love with "critters" made from repurposed wool and/or cotton sweaters.  I first saw these marvellous creations made by "Sweet Poppy Cat" on pinterest and I decided I would give it a try.

Turns out making "Wooly Critters" is addictive.  I visit a number of thrift stores in the area and pick up sweaters to use.  Next I bring them home and wash them in the washing machine (like colours together, of course) using hot water wash with added soap and a cold water rinse.  This shrinks the wool sweaters so that they will not unravel when sewn.  Finally I throw them in the dryer and dry with heat to further "felt" the sweaters.  Now the fun begins:  I decide on a critter, be it cat, dog, lamb, monster, reindeer, etc, etc and I make a sketch on freezer paper to fit one side of the sweater.  Iron the pattern to the front of the chosen sweater, then cut out the pattern and create a hole for the face piece.  I kept two light coloured sweaters specifically for use as faces.  I add the face details, the heart or front pocket, the ears etc. by hand using embroidery floss. Finally I use the sewing machine to sew the front to the back and voila, a "Wooly Critter" is formed.

Without further ado here is the collection:

The Happy Striped Cat Family

Made with one of my old wool sweaters.  This one is going to a friend.

This doggy was made from my dad's vest and is now living in Alberta!

A fat, happy cat made with another of my old sweaters.

This colourful feline was made from a child's cotton sweater.

Yes, a sock monkey got into the mix.  I knit him the sweater and cap.

But wait there are more:

Two doggies waiting for their bone.

A lambie and Blizten.

The sweater let me know that it wanted to become a reindeer!

I just love this lamb with his heart in his pocket!

"Twinkle Toes" doubles as a pyjama bag (zipper in the back)

I call this one the Giggle Monster.

MacGordon the goofy Scottish cat.

Two sweet bunnies.

Rudolf, of course

A bandit!

Buddy made with my left over wool sweater and a repurposed cotton sweater for his overalls.

The cat on the front of this sweater dictated that this critter would be a cat!

The Flower Monster made with a Liz Clairborne cotton repurposed sweater.

Flower Monster bids adieu for now!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Shelley Thorton Dolls

In July I attended my first NIADA (National Institute of American Doll Artists) convention in Portland and took a class from Shelley Thorton on making a sculptural doll head.

I have loved Shelley's dolls for some time.  Her dolls evoke a sense of childhood play and innocence.  She uses mostly natural fibres and stuffs her dolls with wool.  Her dolls are a collage of unusual colours, textures and prints to form a pleasing image that can be held and admired. The size of her dolls (25-27") gives her work presence and draws the viewer like a bee to honey. Her signature is the sculpted hair and sculpted dress features to add an element of abstractness/folk ark to her pieces.

Here is my journey in making my first "Shelley" doll.  I hope you enjoy the process as much as I did!

We started with a basic head shape, sewn with cotton/hemp fabric and stuffed with cloth (understructure).  Then we refined the shape with extensive needle sculpting.  Next we covered the head with a cotton knit "skin".  Finally the features are embroidered.  I was able to finish the basic "skinned" head and start the embroidery in class (2 days).  Shelley Thorton provided us with a basic pattern for the body and instructions on ball jointing using wooden beads.  The rest of the doll I made at home.  This piece was so much fun and inspirational to make.  It is a joy to see the innocent face take shape.  I always take a lot of time to find just the right fabrics to bring my wee one to life.  

 I purchased the fabrics for her outer dress in Portland.  The undergarments are from antique Japanese silk fabrics that I had in my stash. Her boots are from upholstery fabric swatches and her tights are from an infant's "onesie".

 The doll stand was challenging as the doll is about 26" tall.  I covered the base of the stand with weights and then covered it with upholstery fabric simulating greenery.
 I made my doll, named "Shelley" a wee rabbit as her smock has rabbits on it.  The rabbit's frock is from an antique doily.
I added embroidered details to the rayon velvet jacket to enhance the design and tie in with the antique print of the smock.  

I was very pleased with my finished piece and am already planning my next doll: