Wednesday, June 6, 2007


I love early style dollmaking and started with making doll from others patterns. This was my education as to how to construct a doll. So many ways to to do it. And since I wasn`t in school, but in my own self taught classroom, no one was there to tell me this is right and this is wrong. Whatever worked, felt right, and then went on to be what I was looking to create was the right way for me. Each pattern was an experiment at trying it this way and that way. Let`s see what happens when I do it like this person says, let`s see what happens when we make this persons pattern with this other patterns techniques. On and on I went, making dolls, bears, and even doll/bears that I called Raggedy Bears,a dolls body with a bears head, paws and feet. Then dressed like a doll. This is when I started making my own patterns. I had moved past the learning construction stage, and started changing every pattern to something that didn`t look like the original pattern anymore. Then eventually made my own patterns.
Now I love recreating the early dolls. It`s more difficult because I don`t have them in front of me to look at and feel. But I just keep trying this and that and see what comes to be. I start with my own drawing or a picture I have found. Create the pattern pieces and begin..........

I start making my dolls with old feedsacks that I`ve collected for years. I stuff them with various stuffings, fabric scraps,wool ,cotton,sawdust. I stopped using polyfil, because it`s a synthetic and it wasn`t created back in the "early" days when my dolls are made after. I know I shouldn`t use sawdust because it will deteriorate over time. But it gives the best feel for some dolls. So I must do what my heart tells me and use what I feel is right for me. It won`t deteriorate in my lifetime, but someone 100 years from now, will be wishing I chose something else. I hope they could still be here 100 years from now. I love the thought of that.
I know so many on the internet and so many books I`ve read, that say this is an absolute right or wrong about something, such as a technique or a ingredient used in making something. I know I have to do what is right for me. Each artist does.
Stuffing a doll takes awhile as this is the life and feel of a doll. So many variations of what can be done, weighted bottoms for sitting well, lighter stuffing for a doll that will hang or stand on a stand. Crooked neck for an old and worn doll or add a dowel to strengthen the neck.
I continue on to the face. I`m into painting faces right now so I`ll talk about that. I love to paint doll faces. Sometimes I may do one over 10 times, but eventually I get to a point when I can`t find something wrong anymore and I step back and it`s finished. What I mean by something wrong is....something crooked, misaligned, lacking,flat blank face , no soul in the eyes, no flow to the painting, outlines too pronounced, etc. Can`t move on until I`m satisfied and sometimes that means they have to go on a shelf and wait until I can figure what needs to be done to satisfy me.

I move on to the clothes. I love fabric and I`ve collected lots of old fabrics, and some new reproduction fabrics too. I love old metal trims, hand made crocheted edgings, old clothing that can be recycled into something new. Of course I don`t mean anything good, I`ve learned I can`t bring myself to cut into a perfectly good piece of clothing. Had to be from the rag barrel.


Dixie Redmond said...

Mel - I love reading about your growth as an artist. I totally relate to the journey through other people's patterns to finally changing things so that the original pattern is not longer recognizable. Still, it gives me something to bounce off as a starting place. I've started doing my own patterns, too, and tweaking them with every new doll. It's so fun!


Anonymous said...

Melanee, I am such a big fan of your work! Your dolls have such beautiful faces with sincere soulful eyes. You have inspired me to get back to work on my challenge doll and enjoy the process.

Anonymous said...

Melanee, you have created such a pleasant place to come and spend some time. Yor creative process seems so peaceful and the beautiful dolls you have made are as much of an inspiration as the wonderful antique dolls that you have shared.


Christine said...

What a lovely place to visit,Melanee, it's just lovely.
You have such a great early feel your work.
I have always loved your dollies and look forward to seeing more of your beautiful work.