Sunday, November 29, 2020


 Hi All,

Sorry about not posting for a while. I was taking a break after Halloween.

I've finished a new (non-witch) doll, "Carmen". She is the lead character in the opera of the same name. She is all cloth, with a clay sculpted face mask. I haven't done this style of doll in a very long time, so it took me over a month to complete.

She's a much larger doll than I usually do -- about 28 inches tall. "Carmen" is a Spanish gypsy in the opera. She flirts with all the men and causes a solder to fall in love with her (much to his demise). In the opera, Carmen goes to a bullfight, then meets (and flirts with) the matador in a bar after the fight. It's traditional that Carmen dresses in the style of a matador's outfit for this scene.

I made the face by first sewing and stuffing a basic cloth head without details. I had to create a hole in the front of the cloth head for the open mouth with some needle-sculpting. I then covered the cloth head with plastic wrap and draped an 1/8 inch layer of paper-clay over the face area for the base of the mask. Once the clay had dried, I was able to remove the clay and now had a base for the face details. I continued sculpting the face off the cloth head.

As you can see, I used lots of reference photos to help me sculpt a face that looks like it's singing. I inserted glass doll eyes from the back of the mask. (You can hardly see the eyes, as I glued several false eyelashes on the eyelids.) 

Once the mask was finished, I glued it to the cloth head. I added more clay to the edges to blend into the cloth head. I used acrylic paint (matching the base color to the fabric) and pastel chalk to color the face.

I sculped the teeth separately out of polymer clay. I did this so I could paint the inside of the mouth first, before gluing in the teeth.

Meanwhile, I started working on the body. It's  a "stump" doll, with no legs (why bother making legs, feet & shoes if a long skirt covers it all?) I wanted her to lean to the side & back slightly, while cocking her head to the side. I felt she needed to have at least one hand on her hip. I stitched a body that started out symmetrical, but was able to changed the pose by hand-stitching darts at the knees, waist, & neck to achieve the pose I wanted. There's a thick armature wire running down the center of her body (like a "spine") that helps hold the pose and supports the head.

When designing the costume, I purposely made an outfit that was way "over the top" and as glitzy as possible, as I wanted it to look like an "Opera Costume" (not something a real gypsy peasant girl would wear). This woman is a very famous opera DIVA, and she insists on looking glamourous in every role she performs.

She wears a full skirt with ruffles with a small train. She has a black sequin corset with gold embroidery on the front (two appliques stacked together stitched to the front). Tied over the skirt is a velvet and lame' shawl with several rows of beaded fringe. On top, she wears a red velvet bolero jacket with black lace jeweled appliques. The shoulders are adorned with epaulets made from two half-circle be-jeweled appliques trimmed with black beaded "dingle-ball" fringe.

The hair is a doll wig I re-styled. Getting those spit curls was a real challenge. I finally cut the locks off the wig and styled them separately (using LOTS of hairspray) and glued them directly to the face to keep them in place. That's a real Spanish-style comb in her hair, covered with a lace and sequin veil/mantilla.

And, as a final flair, I made a black lace fan she flourishes by her head while trying to hit the high note.

Have fun, be safe, and wear a mask! (It won't be forever.)