Tuesday, February 21, 2023

 Hi All,

Been working hard. Want to see what I've been up to? WITCHES! Yes, I'm getting ready for Roger's Garden Halloween event for September.

I've made some Cauldron Witches. I made 3 witches (1 cauldron). They are all "sisters" (I'm referencing the "3 weird sisters" from Shakespear's "Hamlet".)

Here's how I made them. (I only took photos of one of them in progress, but you get the idea.)

Started with my "Witch Hag/Baba Yaga" pattern of a basic stump doll hunched over. (I didn't bother making the breasts, as I knew they weren't going to really be seen under the costume, so I just glued on some 1.5" black pom-poms)

Before attaching the arms, I got the basic dress done. I made the dress out of cotton knit, so I could cut the edges ragged and leave them raw. I built the skirt in layers, using 3 different colors of knit.

Once the dress was done, I could work on the arms & hands. I used cut pieces of plastic straws for the fingernails. I painted them and glued them to the fingers. I also put small pom-poms in the knuckles for arthritic fingers. I just made gloves for the arms, as I knew only the lower arm would be visible. I wrapped 2 different yarns around the glove mitts to make them more "raggedy".

Now I could stitch the arms to the body, and then start on the shawl.

I wanted the outer layer of the costume to look like tattered rags. I made a pattern of what the shawl would look like draped over the arms. I made the basic shape from layering 2 pieces of blue lace, with a metallic "confetti-dot" fabric underneath. (I thought a little of the lace & metallic might show through the rags, giving the shawl a "magical" look.) Then, I cut pieces of lace, yarns, gauze, muslin, & cheesecloth (all hand dyed on my stove!). I layered all the rags, in rows, to cover the whole shawl.

 On the back, I stitched all the rags to hang down toward the bottom. I stitched rags on the two front pieces to hang down the front. All the rag ends met at the shoulder seam, where I stitched rags in the center across the shoulders so they would hang both front & back.

Fitted it on the body. I also made some jewelry for her, including some necklaces (those are coyote toe bones on the middle necklace) and a sort of "witch chatelaine" that had some charms & amulets hanging from it. 

If you know your costume history, Victorian housekeepers & wives would hang small sewing & cleaning tools from chains to hang from a belt. 

A large & complex chatelaine from Victorian times:

I figured, Witches don't have pockets, so they got to keep their magical items on them somehow, right?


Okay, now to make the head. Here's the basic head with needle sculpting to make the eyes, nose, and mouth stand out.

And now I've added some color with acrylic paints, pastel chalk, and colored pencils. 

Oh yes, and some eyelashes!  I also gave her some age spots & freckles to age her down.

Putting it all together, I stitch the head to the neck. Then, I start on the wig. I use goat mohair in a grey/brown color. I stitch the mohair locks into "wefts" (fringe). 

I pin the wefts of mohair to the head. First, I glue the edges of the wefts in place, then go back and, using a felting needle, felt the wefts down.

I pull back the front wefts, do some more felting, and style the hair. (Sorry, forgot to take a picture of the finished wig.)

The hat is a simple witch's hat, made from the fabrics left over from the "rags". I stitch the pointed crown onto the head, then the brim over that. I trimmed the hat with more "rag" yarns, lace, and gauze. 

The broom is simple (if you ever made a broom before). Just a dowel, carved some "nicks" into it, and stained it brown. I took some orange raffia (from the Craft store), stitched it into a fringe and glue/tied it on with some wire. I drilled a small hole in the end of the dowel handle (where the raffia is) and glued a wire in it. I left a little of the wire stick out the end of the broom, so it could fit in a hole I drilled into the base. That way, the broom won't fall out of her hand.

And, she's done!

Have Fun! AB


Zia Joey said...

Wow Arley, you never disappoint. I love all three . I especially appreciate how you share your entire process. I always get so excited that I rarely remember to take photos of my process. Love, love your patterns, so well written, drafted and always give great results as they are versatile.

Arley said...

Thanks Carmen & Zia! I keep thinking I'll give up the blogging, but to know people like you appreciate it keeps me going!

Northbrook Designs said...

As always Arley, your master doll artistry is a feast for the eyes. Don't ever give up on blogging (unless you have to of course ;o)) Your work is always so inspiring...

Arley said...

Thanks Romona for your kind words!

Mark said...

Ditto from me, Arley! Your photos and descriptions are inspiring and helpful. I never thought to attach a witch hat (cone) separately from the brim. Brilliant! If only I had thought to do the same on about 10 witches I made last Fall. Always enjoy your blog - thanks so much!

Arley said...

Thanks Mark. I used to make costumes for a living (mostly stage and TV) including hats. I used to make a hat completely, then try and stitch it to the head. It was challenging. I have found that putting the hat together ON the head is much easier. I stitch the crown to the head, using a curve needle. Then, stitch the brim to the crown. I wrap a ribbon headband around the base of the hat, and that hides all the seam allowance & stitches. There are full instructions in my "Glamour Witch" pattern.

Kaz said...

Aw she's beautiful 🥰