When we attain a certain degree of skill in a field, and when multiple of our own ideas and challenges are behind us, we're prone to fall into a routine and start doing things in a rote way. Dollmaking is no exception. In these circumstances, external motivators can be precious. Since I do dolls per custom order, I occasionally get a buyer with an unusual wish and idea, something that I likely would never decide on doing on my own. Someone that thinks and sees things differently than us and pushes us out of our comfort zone, encouraging us to be clever and imaginative. As a creative person, I enjoy these kinds of challenges very much. Generally, I love when I get some kind of specific task, some frame within which I am given certain parameters that I need to fulfill, to make the best out of what I have at hand. Some of the orders that incentivize this the most came in the form of requests for making a specific fantasy character. These challenges are especially interesting due to the need to produce costumes.
I have, for example, made an angel twice so far at the behest of a customer.
Even though I had never made them before on my own initiative, after these experiences filled me with such great joy, I'm sure that there will be more made by my hands in the future. I'm already full of ideas of how my next creations will look like, but for that, I will wait for the Christmas holidays to return once more. The parameters? Completely white clothing (to be more precise, a dress), footwear and accessories. And of course, the most important piece of the puzzle – a pair of angelic wings. Optionally, a halo can come perched atop the doll's head as well, for those with the patience and good ideas for a way to do it. Everything else is up to the imagination.
For me, making the wings was especially fascinating.
I’ve made them in different ways, and can confidently say that I now have experience with the problem. The first time, I was quite confused and had big dilemmas on how to make them. I had decided to use wire and pieces of cloth which were supposed to resemble plumage. I made a frame out of the wire, over which I stretched some elastic fabric. Cutting up many small pieces of white cloth in the shape of feathers, I would dunk them in acryllic paint, and after they’d dry I’d attach them to the wire base. It was a very tedious job. The result was not unsatisfactory, but I concluded that it was not worth the great effort required since I felt that there must be a better method, especially since the entire structure ended up quite heavy due to the wiring.
The second time, I opted for a simpler way, which I would recommend to everyone that plans on making an angel – sewn wings made of cloth stuffed with a thin layer of wool (or sponge). These wings are simple to produce, lightweight and pleasing to the eye. What one needs to be careful with is the shape of the wings. They should be akin to that of a bird, optionally spread out, but not like a butterfly or some other insect.
Here, the given parameters were: light (white or almost white) braided hair and a costume which resembles one of the specific ones in which Elsa appears. It did not seem complicated, at least at the outset, but when I got to work it turned out much more demanding than I had anticipated. Namely, to reproduce Elsa’s dress faithfully, one needs to be well stocked with specific fabrics – elastic, shiny, tulle fabric, with glitter and a pattern with snowflakes... and that is something that, even with my overflowing stocks of material, I struggled to scrounge up. As it turned out, acquiring them was no easier, and it took a lot of headaches and wit to somehow compensate for this – by hook or crook.
But to be clear, all of these are, ultimately, cute trials. Finding imaginative solutions is at the core of every creative person, and the result is gained experience and knowledge, so the new inspirations are a reward of priceless value.
Making dolls inspired by characters from stories, fairytales, legends, animated films and films in general I’d put at the very top of the list of things that get the cogs of imagination going, and great creative fun. And if you didn’t try your hand at this type of challenge yet, I heartily recommend you do as soon as possible.