Showing posts with label vintage paper dolls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vintage paper dolls. Show all posts

Saturday, May 26, 2012

DIY: Shadow Box Memories

My shadow boxes full of photos of my grandmother Marilyn, her friends and family with the ceramic paper doll dresses I created.
Ya'll might remember these ceramic doll dresses I created while back. Looking at old family photos, I based the design of the dresses on clothing that my maternal grandmother wore in the early 1950's. The dresses were modeled on a vintage paper doll from my kinda-too-big collection, and glazed and fired in colors popular during that era.
The first shadow box I worked on, without the glass top. The reflection of the glass was a pinch too difficult to deal with when snapping photos.
And while I was pretty excited by the result of most of the dresses (I hate that glaze sometimes does the ugly and unexpected), I was then stuck with "okay, now what?" syndrome. I had some thoughts rolling around in my head but each seemed to take away from the idea behind the dresses: my grandmother.
I have a very limited number of photos of my grandma. In family, pictures of her are like gold. She was/is very much loved.
When an art teacher buddy suggested I use shadow boxes, it was like a slap-to-the-forehead-why-didn't-I-think-of-that moment. I rushed out to a craft shop and scooped up these vintage-y looking boxes along with a die cutter that created the labels and a super fine-tipped marker.
Because my grandmother has since past, taking with her many memories, I had to rely on what was written on the back of the photo for my information.
Putting these boxes together proved to be difficult for me as I have just a slight problem with showing restraint (see any outfit post and you'll see what I mean). Working in collage for me is more of a matter of subtraction rather than addition. What didn't make the cut: vintage stamps, buttons and an old letter. With everything competing for attention, my grandmother and her dresses seemed to get a little lost.
I love this buttery yellow glaze. Satin glaze by Duncan is my favorite.
So I decided to use vintage variegated linen for the background which I adhered to the masonite board with 3M Spray Adhesive (the best spray adhesive there is).  I had some of these vintage photo corners and glued the photos to the background with my hot glue gun.
In true can't-leave-well-enough-alone fashion, I immediately added another photo to this box after snapping these picks. I filled that blank area on the bottom left with another photo of my grandma.
To add some three-dimensional quality to the photos, I used 3M double sided sticky tape to lift the photos up a bit. It's hard to tell in these photos but in real life, you can see that some photos pop out.
My grandma was a majorette. Sadly, I don't have many photos of her in her outfit, but plenty of her friends, as seen above.
The last thing added to the frame were the dresses. I used that stinky but very sticky E-6000 glue. You might remember that I've actually got more dresses created than just these, like a prom dress and one that looks suited for a debutante's ball, but I thought these worked the best.
Love that curly hair and strong calf muscle.
And that was it. I'm pretty excited with how they turned out. Right now they are being hung in my school district's central office along with the incredible pieces created by the art teachers that I work with. If I manage to get over there, I'll have to snap a couple photos and share it with you.
My grandmother with her siblings. My grandma is the one in the suit, second from the right.

My mom noticed how my grandmother was standing: no hands on her hips or pose, but arms by her sides and feet planted, looking strong and determined.

My only regret...not having a paper doll that looked a little more like my grandma. I made color copies of the original paper doll so I would have multiples and not damage the original.

My grandma's high school graduation photo.
I really can't wait to get them home. I have yet to decide where I'll hang them...maybe in my very crowded sewing room or my rather bare bonus room. Regardless, I know I want to create more dedicated to my grandma and other wonderful women in my life. Thank you so much for your suggestions and encouragement on the first installment of this project. They motivated and inspired me to complete these pieces!
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DIY: Ceramic Paper Doll Dresses

A girl can never have too many dresses, I say. While creating these ceramic dresses, I had a theme in mind for each. Starting from the left, I call these The Debutante, The Librarian, The Lady Who Lunches and The Majorette.
I have a wee bit of a vintage paper doll collection as you might recall here. I just love the sweet illustrations and the beautiful dresses. As a kid, I often resorted to playing with my paper dolls when it became too stinkin' difficult to slide Barbie's tight Calvin Klein-inspired jeans over her sticky rubber legs. I'm pretty sure I was on the verge of getting kid's carpal tunnel, thanks to Mattel. But I digress.
The Summer Picnic, The Prom Date, The Secretary, The Cheerleader
One of my other fave kid toys were my Fashion Plates. Did anyone else have these? I recently found a set on etsy and scooped them up. I loved coming up with my own outfit designs as a kid. Huh, go figure, right?

Both of these interests, vintage paper dolls and dress designing, started me down this latest DIY path: Ceramic Paper Doll Dresses. I had been toying with the idea for a while but not until I found some old photos of my maternal grandmother was I inspired to set to work.
My beautiful grandmother is the girl on the right. I love her widow's peak, olive colored skin and wavy dark hair, none of which I inherited.
I love this photo of my grandmother with her mother and siblings. Her pretty little legs in those too-big shoes, her sweet smile but most of all, that dress. I was determined to sculpt a ceramic version.
Since I've been creating ceramic belts, I've been using tons of different textures for surface design. Among my favorites are doilies, burlap and these polymer clay texture plates sold at craft stores.
To create my little dresses, I first went through my stash of textures. Many of my textures are vintage lace which are perfect for creating little mini-vintage ensembles. For this process, I lay my texture down on my work surface (a wooden board), lay a piece of clay on the texture and use a rolling pin to flatten. Once the clay is flattened to an even surface, I peal the clay off of the texture, turn over and, voila! "fabric" for my dress.
The secret ingredient to working with clay and not having it stick to the rolling pin, your fingers, and everything else? Corn starch. That's the white powder you see on my clay.
I used one of my favorite vintage paper dolls as the model for all of my dresses. She was placed on my textured surface and the dresses were designed around her. This made dealing with proportion a snap and left me able to focus on the fun part, designing her vintage look.
My grandmother's dress. I cannot wait to have it fired and glazed. I would love to know the original color of the dress. My grandmother is no longer with us but maybe her sister will know.
Forming the little details, like the buttons and the ruffle, are my favorite parts about creating these little outfits. Once that's complete, I add the tabs and allow the clay a day or two to dry before a slow fire in the kiln.
My grandmother was also a majorette. My plan is to eventually create the accessories that go with these outfits, like the baton and the knee-high tasseled boots.
Once the dresses are out of the kiln, the glazing adventure begins. I have a love/hate relationship with glaze as you can never know for certain what you are gonna get. One of my favorite dresses I created was a Dale Evans-inspired cowgirl dress. Sadly the glaze was much too shiny and bright and the dress lost that certain something.
"Oh, what's that, Charlie? You wanna take me to the prom? Golly gee, I dunno. I've already been asked by Timmy, Bobby and Bill!"
I decided what these dresses needed was a satin glaze. So I ordered some here and was much happier with the result.
The Librarian. I designed the skirt of this dress around one I saw my grandmother wearing in a school photo.

My grandmother was never a cheerleader but I just couldn't resist creating a vintage cheer look in my college colors. I'm a hoosier, what can I say?

Okay, so someone needs to go shoe shopping. This dress is easily my favorite.

I attempted to use a tarnished gold metallic glaze on the skirt. Yeah, not what I was expecting.
I'm interested to hear what you think of this little DIY of mine. And now the question is...what do I do with these wee little wonders? I have a couple of ideas but nothing is really lighting my fire, if you know what I mean. What do you think? Frame them? Put them in a shadow box, as a friend suggested? Display

Thanks for reading, guys! I do hope you have a lovely day. Oh, and the next time Barbie's pants won't go up? Put her in a dress. That's what I do Every Single Day ;).
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

DIY: Sparkling Personality

 I've had my vintage paper doll collection stuffed in envelopes for months because I just couldn't think of a way to display them. So when Christmas rolled around and I was in a decorating frenzy, it came to me to dress my tree in vintage. 

I am about to go off on a wee bit of a rant. Before I do, I would like to preface my upcoming comments with the following bit of info. Try as I might, I do not have a Sparkling Personality. If it's morning, I am slumpy (that's sleepy + grumpy), before lunch I am often hangry (that's hunger induced anger) and in the evenings, I'm occasionally exhausticated (exhausted with a desire to self-medicate). This leaves just a few hours of the day for me to sparkle. And I'm no Edward Cullen, 'kay?

 While shopping in some little boutiques this past weekend, I saw the cutest ever glittery clothespins. For $25. Wait, what? Um, no. So I went to and picked up these mini clothespins along with some finely ground glitter. I coated the top in Modge Podge, dipped in glitter, added another coat of M.P. and viola! Glittery Clothespins for under $5.

That being said, I have made one of my resolutions to "fake it till I make it". Meaning, to work through whatever unpleasant mood I am in and turn it around to a positive one. Of course, I do think that it is fine, maybe even healthy, to be grouchy, angry and grumpy at long as it is not directed with the intent to hurt others. So that's my plan.
One of the items I did pick up at a local boutique. Some sweet little DIY paper chains made by this company

Wow, so that was a lot of prefacing. Now on to the rant. When my family was in town this past weekend, we did some shopping in one of the cutest areas near my home, downtown Franklin. If you're not familiar, it has the feel of an old fashioned town square brimming with boutiques and restaurants. It's also a place where  you can "shop local", if you're into that sort of thing.
Since I loved seeing my dolls on the tree, I didn't want to pack them back into the envelopes just yet. I knew they needed a place in my sewing room but space is pretty tight, as you can see. So I assembled my paper chains, attached the ladies with my glitter clothespins, and strung them above my framed collection of vintage notions. 

I was sad to see that several of the shop keepers/employees where just plain rude to us. When we entered several of the stores, we were not greeted or asked if we needed help. In fact, when we did approach some folk, it seemed that we were a real bother as they were texting or browsing on their computer. I have a habit of calling out "thank you!" when I leave a shop which was met on two occasions with a grunt.
Not wanting to put more nail holes in the wall (which already looks like a shooting range), I put stick pins in the wall and hung the chains over them.

As stated earlier, I'm not so great at masking my moods so I can relate to crankiness. But, really. With little local shops sinking faster than the Titanic, you'd think they'd work a little harder on their customer service. So I'm not sporting a name brand pair of heels or a headful of hundred dollar highlights. What I am carrying is a no-name brand purse with a knockoff wallet inside chuck full of Christmas cash I'm ready to spend. But not at your shop.
The funny thing is, I've never been treated like that when I walk into the franchise shops. Starbucks is one of the friendliest places around. It's no wonder to me that the little chocolate and coffee shop that was once next door where I was treated like dirt is no longer around. And good riddance.
It's not like I'm asking these people to go nuts when I enter the store, just fake it. Fake it till you make it. There, rant over.
Now, let me tell you about the shops in downtown Franklin that are local and experts at customer service. Here's a list of my favorite, always polite, strongly recommended shops: The Shoppes on Main

And, my favorite, The What's In Store

Happy Shopping!

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