You already know what happens when I get obsessed with a theme, right? I will not stop until I am utterly and completely satisfied with exploring every option and technique about it.
This past days my obsession has taken me to work with Little red riding hood, and I have been watercolor paintings, paper dolls, classes, and now, an art doll.
Working with her all night, I just had to add her to my ever growing collection of art dolls. Each one of them holds a little piece of my soul, and I just love making them. Now, Little red riding hood is looking for a home! Go and see more of her on my online shop!
I made here while I was in the forest last month, filming my latest online tutorial “Sketching in the woods” where I teach you how to paint a little red riding hood watercolor portrait just like this one.
And then, last, but not least… A little red riding hood paper doll! I have been working on this original paintings turned into poseable dolls.Now you can create your own with my downloadable pattern. It’s ready to be printed, colored and assembled so you can have you very own Danita Paper doll.
I am having a great time and work creating an art doll collection. I have been working non stop on the dolls and I thought it would be fun to stop for a moment to tell you the story of the doll creation using images from the doll making process and turning the tale into a mini tutorial.
Look at my desk… Someone told me that a messy desk is the sign of a creative mind, so I guess that makes me one of the most creative people in this planet. No contest on that.
But hidden within the mess, there are secrets to be found, like all the materials and tools used when you create an art doll. Can you spy them all in this picture? There’s one you can’t see but it’s the most important one of all… Love for what you do.
The first thing you want to do is pick the fabric for your doll bodies. Something resistant and sturdy that is also breathable is my weapon of choice, but you can choose anything you wish as long as it’s workable into small flexible pieces.
I create the patterns from my dolls from a standard but usually let the doll dictate what she wants to be, so the dolls are never the same, always different from one another. I really insist on that to give each doll a personality.
Once your bodies are cut and sewn, it’s time to stuff them! The perfect time to do this is while binge watch on my favorite TV shows and movies. I always buy a huge bag of Poly-Fil, grab my trusty stuffing tools and set to work!
Once the bodies are filled and my binge for TV and movies satisfied, the dolls move to my working table to start making the doll heads using paper clay, my sculpting tools, and as a new addition to my dolls, glass eyes!
Making a doll face with paper clay starts with a very rough surface that you have to sand and work until you have a smooth surface as a foundation, and let’s be very careful not to scratch the glass eyes with your sanding block.
Your hands and the sculpting tools will be of great help here. I polish, remove and add clay all over the place until I am happy with how things are looking. It’s a very labor intensive process so it’s important that you take your time working this step.
They always look very strange while you work the doll making steps. Next, after I am happy with the way the face is looking, I start to trace out features with a stabilo pencil because the next step is to paint the face.
Once I am finished with the face, it’s time to add more features to it to make it even more real. I love how I have learned how to bring my mixed media and watercolor paintings into the real world with my Art dolls.
And did you know that sometimes I spend more time choosing the perfect fabric for the doll that making it?
A piece of my soul goes into each doll I make, to me they are alive in a way and I can hear them whispering what they want. Sometimes they know right away, sometimes they will take their time choosing who they want to be, but it’s a very important step and I must get it right.
Wouldn’t you be the same if you were given the freedom to choose who you want to be? It’s a very important decision and one must take all the time it’s needed.
All the clothes on my dolls are handmade, most of the time from scratch. You can see here that I took a piece of fabric and turned it into trousers for this little girl.
I insist on everything being handmade. It adds to the uniqueness of each doll and to her final personality.
The dress is made with a fabric I found on a thrifty store somewhere during my travels. I will collect fabric, lace and props I find during my too frequent visits to antique and second hand stores and when the time comes, I will be ready for the perfect doll to wear it.
The lace on her also came from a very old box of lacy thing I was given by a friend. They are very precious to me because some of them come from another time, and there will never be one like it again. Using old, used things with a new purpose makes everything magical.
Once I’m done with the dress, I will add accessories to the doll. She is wearing a very nice choker with a cameo I made myself here in the studio with golden colored flakes and jewelry resin, like the ones I use on my original jewelry, only very small.
The dolls are pure mischief when they are finished. I really love to play with them in the studio while they impatiently wait for their final photos. We have lots of adventures and sometimes they even help to make other dolls.
Now the final step is to place them for adoption on my online gallery and shop, where they will sit on my virtual showcase, waiting for the perfect match that will take them to their forever home.
Penelope was very lucky! She did not last five minutes on the virtual shop front when her new adoptive parents picked her up. She is now very grateful to the people who gave her a forever home to start a new story in their hands. I’m really looking forward to hear from the stories and adventures they will have together.
I really hope you liked this little insight into my work. I wish I could live closer to my friends and fans so we could get together and learn what I teach on my online classes.
And luckily, the opportunity to spend some time learning with me in person is coming very soon. I have been invited by NW Country Art Retreats to teach a 4 day workshop in their beautiful place near Mount Rainer in Washington State.
I hope you can join me. Together, we will create a beautiful art doll just like the one we saw how to make on this tutorial, plus much more. And I will be just delighted to be in your company, working, laughing and sharing a beautiful time together.
My latest doll is a little girl with astonishing green eyes, who happens to love cotton candy.
I was thinking about my childhood delights and how much I loved to eat that delicious pink and fluffy cotton candy when I visited the fair or the zoo.
It felt like eating clouds, so soft and unsubstantial, but it still left that sugary taste in your mouth. I loved to think I was a bird and I flew to the sunset clouds. Now that I am a grown person, I don’t indulge on cotton candy that much, but I still remember how it made me feel and I wanted to evoke that feeling with this doll.
I didn’t think it was a good idea to use real cotton candy for her treat, so I dyed wool, needle felted it and placed it on a stick so she sn have an everlasting sweet. Yay!
Her dress is special too. I picked up a very light cream fabric with pink and yellow flowery accents, because, after all it’s Spring! I think it goes very well with her dark wool hair and her sweet face.
Did you know that sometimes I spend more time choosing the fabric for her dress than any other step? To me it’s very important, I need to be super extra sure that it’s the right one for the doll and she always helps me choose. I show her several fabrics and she decides which one will it be, and so far, all of them have always been delighted with their choice!
And finally, the shoes. Another important decision! This time she chose to wear high boots with pink lacy bows on them. I had the perfect silk ribbon for them, and they are just lovely!
Just like the hands on my dolls, they are custom made. I pour ceramic and resin into vintage, early 20th century doll molds for each of them, so each one has a very unique and one of a kind outfit and body.
I really believe that going that extra step of making each one of them old school, by hand instead of mass producing them or ordering premade items makes each doll special, just like the person that will adopt her in the end.
Do you like Belle and her cotton candy? We hope so! Drop me a comment here my blog, or via email after you see all the pictures of her in her official photo shoot page. There’s lots of them to enjoy!
They are perfect because I love working on projects at the time and I rarely visit one of the projects, so these collection are perfect for me because I can make a collection while keeping them fresh and exclusive, and it’s always such a thrill to work with them. I love to make each one individually unique, with it’s own personality.
Lady Clementine is one of my latest paper clay, handmade art dolls. She has a very interesting story on how she evolved and changed as I was bringing her into our world, and I thought it will be fun to show you.
Well, you already know that everything starts with an idea, and sometimes this idea is sleeping on my mind so deeply, that not even I know it’s there.
Then, just like that, the idea came from it’s slumber and she awoke. She was coming from my world into ours and she needed my help. So, I gave her a glittery horn and a unicorn princess was born.
And being a princess, a unicorn princess to be exact, meant that she needed to be perfect. We tried lots and lots of hair until I found the perfect shade for her.
A perfect shade of pale pink that goes with her magical presence and her limitless innocence.
A lacy gown, pure white and vaporous like magic is what I had in mind for her clothes, so we got to work. Almost done!
But… Alas! Her face was perfect… for someone else. So we talked over and decided we needed to start all over again. No shame, no anger. She commands and I must obey.
Art behaves in very strange ways. Sometime I start with a very clear path but something happens that takes me in a totally different direction. Her eyes are now green and she has glitter in them to reflect the magic within.
Now her face has softer features, her eyes shine with magic and she looks much more innocent than in the beginning. She is ready to step into our world.
Our photographer said she was a challenge to capture her beauty. Like the magical creature she is, she proved to be elusive and mysterious, but in the end with some convincing she let herself photograph. Definitively, Unicorns are very difficult to catch on camera.
Are you ready for the first snow fall of the year? Here on my side of the world things are just starting to get cool and snow may still be far away, but that does not mean I can’t start getting ready to create holiday art so you can decorate for Christmas, right?
I found some plastic dolls on a thrift store and I took them home with me to give them new life. Then I made new heads for them using paper clay and I hand painted each one.
Next I took some fabric scraps from my art doll projects and created onesies for them, and then I decorated their clothes and hats with vintage style tinsel and pompons.
A little more paint and lots of love to give them a vintage, kinda shabby look to remind me that old, discarded things can be given a new lease on life and that’s it!