Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Hi All,
Here's more of my progress on my 18th Century Witch doll.

Here is a start on the fan she will hold. I embroidered the fan pattern with black faceted beads sewn to resemble a spider's web on  black sheer organza.

 I like to finish as much of the arms & hands as possible before sewing them to the body. As you see, I've added the sleeves (same combination of fabrics as the over-skirt and bodice), the lace "mitts", some beaded bracelets, and I painted her fingernails -- which is very hard to do once the arms are on the body!

Here, I'm embroidering the black lace on the stomacher (the triangle on the front of the bodice) with beads and sequins, after I've assembled the bodice. Again, like the skirt, I want to add some "witchy" bits to the bodice -- maybe a spider or skull??

Okay, here's the whole costume, (mostly) done.The over-skirt is sewn on, the bodice is added (hand-sewn at the waist to the skirt), and the arms added.

As you see, I've decided to add a spider charm to the bodice (dyed orange with alcohol ink.) 

Also, while working on her, I brought her to my "art" friends to see her work-in-progress, and they all agreed she needed a mask-on-a-stick in her hand, -NOT a fan! --(Oh well, I'll just save the embroidered spider web for another project someday). So, I put a wooden dowel in her hand to pose the arm. Now, I just have to make the mask!

Okay, time to work on the head and wig.

 Here's her head, already needle-sculpted, with the face blocked in with a tan pencil. I've sewn a "hair pad" to the top of the head to hold up the large hairstyle common in the 18th century.

 I've sewn some "wefts"  for the wig -- one out of creme wool, and one of orange mohair. My plan is to make most of the wig out of the creme wool, and add little "streaks" of orange here and there in the wig.

The only reason I'm using hair from different animals is ---It's what I had in my hair stash! I don't know if you can mix hair from different animals in the same wig, but I guess I'll find out......

 Okay, this is where it gets messy. I glue the weft along the hairline in the reverse direction -- this is to hide the raw ends of the weft. Since I'm working in reverse, I've already glued on the bits of orange hair, before adding the wool.

 And, after lots of jabbing with a felting needle, and MANY layers of hair spray, here's the finished wig. The little sausage curls on the sides are made by winding the wool over plastic soda straws (and spraying the hell out of them!)

Usually when I make a doll, I sew the head to the body, then do the face, and do the hair last. But, I've learned that SO many things can go wrong with the wig, I wanted to keep them separate until the wig is finished. Because I knew this hairstyle required so much hairspray, I didn't want to paint the face on first, and then have it ruined by all the spray.

Here I am, trying out some ribbon and flowers on the back of the hair -- just for fun.

Well, I'm pretty happy with how the wig turned out. I don't do wigs very often for two reasons: One, because I'm not very good at them. And Two, if it's a "styled' wig, it's so hard to control the hair and keep it from NOT looking like a rat's nest! (That's why most of my dolls have TURBANS or HEADDRESSES - they are so much easier to do and maintain!)

You may also notice I made little ears for her, which I never do. (Again, turbans and headdresses cover the ears!) But, I felt she needed them, as I want to give her dangling earrings. (And you need ears to have earrings, right??)

But, with an 18th century character (my FAVORITE period in costume history) you just can't get away with doing a hat -- the hair is what makes the whole "look" so extravagant!

So, she's almost done. I just have to finish her face and put it all together.
 Stay tuned for the finished doll......

1 comment:

robin dudley-howes said...

HI Arley

I met you several years ago at Teesha Moores fiber fest. I taught tassel classes. Anyway, I was looking on A for artistic's web site and saw your amazing troll doll pattern and just had to find your web site. I just have to say that I forgot what an amazing doll maker and designer you are!!! I am smitten with every single one of your amazing creations and all the attention to detail and proportion, costume and design you put into every doll... and then your blog...witches and halloween...my FAV!!!! I saw you are teaching in England....do you ever teach in the states? Take care! robin