Books on Doll Making

Last week, I shared my favourite toy and softie books with you. This week, I am focusing on doll making books.

While I tend to make toys rather than cloth dolls these days, cloth doll making is still a wonderful form of self-expression and creativity and these books are classics in the doll making world!

One name that is synonymous with contemporary doll making is that of Susanna Oroyan  (https://www.niada.org/portfolio/susanna-oroyan/). Sadly, she died in 2007, but she left behind her a wealth of doll making knowledge with her books, most of which I own except for her first (Contemporary Artist Dolls: A Collector’s Guide by Susanna Oroyan and Carol-Lynn Rössel-Waugh 1986).

In order of publication, they are:

Fantastic Figures: Ideas and Techniques Using the New Clays 1994

Anatomy of a Doll: The Fabric Sculptor’s Handbook 1997

Designing the Doll: From Concept to Construction 1999

Finishing the Figure: Doll Costuming, Embellishments and Accessories 2001

Dolls of the Art Deco Era 1910-1940: Collect, Restore, Create and Play 2004

They are all fabulous books with beautiful dolls, packed with information and very inspiring photographs!

The first book, Fantastic Figures concentrates on working with the new polymer and paper clays, from working armatures to sculpting and curing heads, bodies and limbs, then finishing with painting and wax, as well as wigging, clothing and accessories.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6538

The dolls are so life-like and amazing, but I think cloth dolls and soft sculpture is much more my forté, so her next book Anatomy of a Doll has been very well-perused!

The first section discusses the creative process and the design process in depth, including the origin of ideas and concepts, as well as variations, then looks at the evolution of dolls from elemental, primitive, simple and basic forms (outline dolls and rag dolls) to some very sophisticated figures.

She examines heads and faces, the body and joints (bead, stitched bead and button), working with wire armatures, and finishing the figure with hair, footwear, clothing and bases, as well as a myriad of embellishments, all supported with photograph galleries of other talented dollmaker’s artworks.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6537

Designing the Doll is another essential book for the dollmaker’s library with more fabulous and inspiring art works and a more detailed and comprehensive analysis of doll design and construction.

Part One: Designing the Figure looks at problem solving and making choices, addressing the issues of construction (materials, costumes, embellishments and treatments); sculpture (materials, armatures, moulds); design variations and breaking rules. Considerations of form (animal, realistic human, toy, exaggerated or caricature and abstractions) and design elements (subject and motif, focal point, line, scale, colour, texture, pattern, balance, harmony, and style) are discussed in detail, including basic body proportions, developing patterns and making templates.

Part Two: Construction Materials looks at the nitty-gritty of constructing the head, body and body parts with notes on making moulds (wax, plaster, elasticon, latex and RTV); wire armatures; sculpture mechanics and movement; joint physics, considerations, design and construction; and cloth figure construction.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6534

Finishing the Figure is the final book in the trilogy, looking at costume and elements of design (line, scale, texture and especially colour), as well as a large section on pattern drafting and historical costumery.

The elements of costume include underwear, underpinnings, petticoats and panniers, kirtles and corsets to bodices, skirts, dresses, folk costumes, pockets, headwear and shoes.

The section on embellishments is equally large and ranges from painting, stencils, stamping, embossing, printing, dyeing and burning to machine work, pleating, weaving, felting, beadwork, hand embroidery, lacework and appliqué.

Specialized costume like wings, glasses, jewellery and animals have their own chapter, as do the elements of display, including furniture; doll photography; and transport considerations (packing and shipping).BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6536

I bought Dolls of the Art Deco Era to try and discover more about the vintage doll parts in my collection.

Boudoir dolls, which were dolls for adults, were displayed in the bedrooms of the era, especially the porcelain and wax-over-chalk half dolls and heads, which could be attached to pin cushions, purses, powder boxes on the dressing table and even lamps.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6517 I particularly love the flapper wax doll heads, the cloth mask faces made in Belgium and the antique French boudoir half dolls.

While I did not find my dolls in this book, I did learn so much about the Art Deco period, the dolls and dollmakers of the era,  the art of collecting vintage dolls, repairing and storing vintage dolls, and making and costuming boudoir dolls. I suspect most of my collection hails from the 1920s, when Marie Antoinette, Flapper and Harlequin and Pierrot dolls were very popular. See: http://www.jazzageclub.com/fads/the-boudoir-doll-craze/#more-916 for more on boudoir dolls.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6533

Patti Medaris Culea is another well-known name in the doll making book world. See: http://www.pmcdesigns.com/ and https://dollmakersjourney.com/culea.html, as well as her videos on cloth doll making (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpoxSzpx0zQ) and cloth doll faces (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klNPrt0EUao) .

I own three of her books:

Creative Cloth Doll Making: New Approaches For Using Fibers, Beads, Dyes, and Other Exciting Techniques 2003;

Creative Cloth Doll Couture: New Approaches to Making Beautiful Clothing and Accessories 2006;   and

Creative Cloth Explorations: Adventures in Fairy-Inspired Fiber Art 2009.

Patti’s dolls are always very bright, fun and colourful and she makes the most of all the wonderful materials and embellishments available today!

In Creative Cloth Doll Making, she generously shares all her knowledge about the basics: the basic kit; laying out patterns; turning fingers; stuffing body parts; and creating the face, before progressing to all the fun and magical bits: surface coloration with dyes (silk dyes), paints (Dye-NA-Flow; Lumiere paints; pearl-ex pigments; textile paints; Prismacolor pencils; gel pens and Zig Millenium pens) and stamps (Impress Me); working with Tyvek, liners and machine embroidery; beading using Peyote and bead embroidery techniques; and collage with fabric, beading and photo transfer.

She explores all these techniques with backup projects like the Beginning Doll, seen on the front cover, and a gallery of other artists’ work. The patterns for the projects are in the back, as well as details about the contributing artists.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6541After an introductory chapter on making the basic cloth doll, Creative Cloth Doll Couture focuses on costumes and accessories.

There are four wardrobes: a 1940s Haute Couture stylish suit; a 1960s Flower Power outfit; a Formal Affair and a whimsical Fairy Gathering, each section a platform for teaching specific techniques like collage and layering appliqués, fibres and transfers (1960s);  working with beads, lace, satin and silk (Formal affair); and dyeing, painting and stamping (Fairy outfit) and again, reinforcing and inspiring with a gallery of other artist’s work.

.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6542

Her last book, Creative Cloth Explorations has a similar presentation to the previous two books, but dives headlong into the fairy world, a perfect venue for indulging in extreme creativity!

The first chapter on basic techniques and supplies for fibre arts is a bit longer and more comprehensive than its counterpart in the other books and covers: the basic sewing kit; the basic beading kit; the basic embellishing kit; making stencils; using silk rods, waste and cocoons; stabilizers; photo transfer; threads, needles and presser feet; colour; embellishments and embroidery and beading stitches.

There are some wonderful projects: an Art Nouveau Fairy themed journal with fairy pages and a book mark and a fairy fan, as well as gallery pages showcasing the inspiring work of other artists.BlogSoftToys30%IMG_6540

Making Creative Cloth Dolls by Marthe Le Van 2002

My final book with some wonderful totemic and abstract spirit dolls!

Basic materials and techniques are covered in the first chapter by Barbara Carleton Evans with some useful notes on design, journaling, conceptualizing and proportion and movement.

Marthe then presents a series of Blank Canvas projects, based on basic forms: Clarity; Energy and Strength for the reader to make, then decorate and embellish creatively.

She also asked four other doll artists to decorate them as well as a platform for showing different techniques and the huge potential and versatility of the craft. She also invited ten talented designers to create unique patterns to showcase more inspirational ideas.

Along the way, she also discusses the use of doll making for personal growth; art therapy and healing; and past historical and cultural associations, including health insurance, good luck, fertility, magic, the supernatural world and sacrifice.

There are a number of contemporary photo galleries for further inspiration: a Gallery of Mystics;  a Gallery of Storytellers;  a Gallery of Angels and Demons; a Gallery of Legends; and a Gallery of Body Language.

This is a particularly good book for beginners and people with limited experience, as it promotes creativity and imagination without overwhelming the reader!BlogSoftToys25%IMG_6543

Other sources of inspiration include doll making groups, like Western Dollmakers, in Western Australia ( http://westerndollmakers.com/), magazines like Art Doll Quarterly http://www.artdollquarterly.com/ and https://stampington.com/blog/ and commercial patterns.

There are so many talented artists in the cloth doll world. Some of my favourites include:

Julie McCullough of Magic Threads: https://www.magicthreads.com/ and https://dollmakersjourney.com/mccullough.html, as well as designers like: Elise Peeples; Jo Maxwell; Bev Bradford; Ann Clemens; Priscilla McDonald; Maxine Gallagher and  Sally Lampi eg The Weather Vane in the photo below.BlogSoftToys25%IMG_7211Many of their patterns can be sourced on websites like: https://dollmakersjourney.com and http://dollmakersjourney.net/ and Pinterest is also a wonderful source of inspiration and ideas.

Next week, I will be looking at books about sewing with and for children. Until then, Happy Creating!

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