SFM Cloth Dolls with Attitude! NZ

Friday, November 11, 2016

Steam Punk Pincushion!

In 2002 I made this Mixed media doll pincushion for the first Steampunk Exhibition I entered.  The idea of Steampunk is: Tomorrow as it used to be!  It's all about gender, belief, sexuality, roles, and  industrialism, including metal, leather cloth, mechanical, as well as time travel, fashion, contemporary and futuristic!  All symbolic!

This doll now belongs to my eldest daughter, who uses it as a pincushion, as well as a work of art.   Recently I visited, to find the head lopsided, and very dusty, so  I thought I would tidy it up, only to discover most of it was just pinned together!  I had not finished it!

Off came the head, out came all the pins, brushed off all the dust and shook all the fur, cleaned it all up and stitched (where it had never been stitched before!)  Here she is, all fresh and ready for the next 14 years!  Haha!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Merman v Mere man!

Hmm! Mereman - or Merman? Someone challenged me to make a merman to go with my mermaid. I was not thinking of the mermaid, (which is rather conventional), when I made himself!


My first thought was to make this doll with coloured dreadlocks, and that was my inspiration.  When I had made sufficient, I began with the trunk of the body of course - to see if I could make some muscles, because mermen can be half naked and no-one thinks anything of it!






Now the next obstacle - how to display him, with only a fin, and he can’t lean on anything.  Deciding it would be very manly to insert a wire hanger into his back muscles, (to show his strength and courage of course), high enough to be hidden beneath his cropped, shoulder cover thingy! That worked! 
I tucked his body into a tail - armatured with my favourite skinny coat hangers, so I could shape it later and to give it some 'body'!


Next, suitable arms, and I had to think what he might be doing, so one straight and one half bent. Ideal for tattoos, and to hold something.

Then the head. Had to be manly, so this head has a bit of shape. (I never know how they will turn out when I start.) Thinking of a good jawline when drawing it out, I feel I am slowly getting there with that one. I am pleased with the mouth shape, which is incorporated in the initial pattern drawing.

The next part of the process is how to present him. I thought of Steampunk, and went with that idea for a while, as I have seen a few trendy looking steam punkers, and so I added a few such embellishments, but in the end, I settled on something that reveals his alternative, feminine, creative, and caring side.  With the sea themed tattoos, (done by his local swordfish), the Paua Shell embellishments and neck bling, and his artistically arranged dreadlocks (styled by his local octopus, who is renowned for her creative agility to twist things around – tentacle-y speaking!)






With a critical eye, I noticed there was an imbalance between the body and the tail, so I connected them with the strap of a man bag, anchored to his belt!  I made the trident, but did not want him to be holding it – unwieldy for packing and sending anywhere – so made a strap that could sling it across his shoulders and be a prop.


The dreadlocks draw the eye down and connect the head with the tail, and I addressed the imbalance of the length of tail with the pet fish, hanging from his hand on a harness, to bring the eye right down.



 I could do more with the tail if I wanted to, but I liked the simplicity of his message:  Here is a mereman, not afraid to show himself as he is, usually found in deep water, vulnerable to predatory fish and the elements, but with the strength and resilience to deal with whatever life brings him. Happy with who he is, willing to intelligently stand for right, and with a care for the wellbeing of his fellow creatures!  Yes, there are Mermen like this!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mermaid Style

I have been trialling a mermaid.  I am not entirely happy with this design, although it does sit well.

I noticed the eyes are not correct, but overall I am happy with the headpiece.

I wanted to show some fairly natural movement  with a mermaid, and I have nearly, but not quite achieved it.  I later changed the position of the head.

Embellished with shells .  I like the hands on this one.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

DWRFBRED a play on words!

 I am launching this new PDF pattern called Dwrfbred today!

Dwrfbred is a 'play on words' design - my favourite!
The pattern has 44 pages of step-by-step instructions on how to make this 16 inch mixed media cloth doll! A marathon effort to do to write the pattern, but the doll didn't take long at all!

Dwrfbred is a mixed media cloth doll who really looks the part!  You can tell he is really a softie at heart by his chosen weaponry – mind you, have you ever been clouted by rock hard bun!

This is an interesting character doll to make.  Of course, he could double as Santa, or any old character doll with a beard!

A few different techniques in this doll!
You can get it at your favourite online pattern store, or on my Etsy shop


Monday, October 10, 2016

Advice from a Pumpkin!

What can I say?  I saw something like this on Pinterest in clay and just wondered if it was possible to do something like it in cloth.  One thing led to another and before you know it - I am needle-sculpting a pumpkin!  
I learned how to make a crinkled stalk and I enjoyed making his leaf collar - also needle-sculpted!
I made his clothes grubby and his boots are scuffed!

It was looking rather creepy, so I decided to turn it into a wise old pumpkin and found a quote that says:

Advice from a Pumpkin!

 Be well rounded.
Get plenty of sunshine.
 Give thanks for life's bounty.
Have a thick skin.
Keep growing.
Be outstanding in your field.
Think BIG!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Southern Royal Albatross 2016

I needed the symbol of an Albatross to take up to a group in Auckland, and rather than a picture - to represent our Southern Group - I thought a needle-sculpted Albatross might be interesting to try. (It will be interesting travelling with a 28 inch wide x 18 inch long bird!) Do you wrap it, or put it in a suitcase?


I had no idea if it would work. I just drew a shape - copying off google images, but there are no really good closeups, so made a good guess. It's not perfect and who knows if the dimensions are right? I know the tail is not right - too wide, but it looks like an albatross, so that's near enough for me!

Needle-sculpting the wings was a mission and hard on my fingers, but I am pleased with the results. Once I drew in the features and painted the wings it looked more like it!

For an armature, I used a thin wire coat hanger with the hook straightened and wrapped in masking tape. The end part of the wings has a bamboo skewer wrapped in batting. Stuffed, the wings were quite round, and I didn't know if needle-sculpting them would produce the results I was looking for, but it worked well enough!
 I am pleased and glad I have made it! You never know what you can do till you try!


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Exhibition 2016

Here are some dolls I have been making for an exhibition In Manapouri. 
The exhibition theme is "Living in Manapouri!" A small town community of retirees, artists, readers, knitters gardeners and trampers! A little bit of eccentricity helps!
 These dolls are conversationalists!

  Someone gave me some knitted fabric that lends itself so well to dolls and makes them touchable!
 The doll faces are made from quilters muslin with a bit of 'give'! I make them stump dolls because the fabric will speak for them and make them 'colourful characters'! I can vary the sizes and shapes accordingly. They go together quite easily.



This man is inspired by a good friend of mine - an artist who is a bit of a character!  I didn't get the head shape right, but the facial features went quite well and certainly the 'stance'!