As I prepared to temporarily relocate some miniature settings in order to display Christmas decorations, I was reminded of a recent update on a dollmaker's work room; now in a container after several years. This whole thing is a cautionary tale about NOT leaving individual pieces to be exposed to wear and tear and dust.
This workroom's inspiration was the result of a 2010 project for an adjunct group to the MiniDolls list called the Posse. Moonyeen Moller, whose talent, enthusiasm, generosity and patience are boundless, as were her contributions to both groups, was the impetus for some outstanding swaps among the Posse Hens, as the members of the group refer to themselves.
We had a Doll Maker's Swap and I received some wonderful pieces. My swap items were dollmaking books, pattern envelopes and a black notebook. Moonyeen sent a tape measure kit, kit for assembling boxes, mini ironing board, ribbon spool kits, kit for apron and pkg of stuffing. Other swap items are identified throughout these photos.
Because of some marvelous sculpting tools made for the swap by Susann Crack of Tasmania and an Unfinished Sculpture, a doll in progress by my dear friend, Lorraine Heller, which I already had, I decided my dollmaker's focus was on sculpting, rather than using readymade doll bodies.
To showcase everything, I made this table and a standing shelf unit to match and was really pleased with the results. Unfortunately, I never had the right display setting and over the years those pieces got kicked around and kind of dusty and some elements came unglued.
Well, after daughter Dana came over recently and helped me with my workroom, I decided I wanted that Doll Maker's grouping to be on the corner of my real-life doll making work desk, so looked around for a better way to display it all.
My eye fell on a glass and brass lantern on a shelf, so that is now the new home of those pieces. To complement the Seminole green of my furniture pieces, I used a piece of green carpeting from a roll that has been in my stash more years than I can count.
I spent a LOT of time dusting and regluing items on those original units, and when I set the two original pieces in the lantern I knew that more furnishings were needed. I decided on a little metal wicker shelf unit and a Raine Folkloric chair. I also wanted to add the doll making books which were part of my swap on the table corner.
It still surprises me how much can be fitted on one little piece of furniture. This little wire wicker shelf had been sitting on the back of my work desk ever since I gathered items for an Easter scene. It worked perfectly for this scene's small confines. I added a dirty water wash to tone down the bright white.
The larger kewpie is from the late Irene Sjostrom, a real life doll repairer and restorer and very generous person who was a member of the MiniDolls list.
The little kewpie cutie now on the shelf here was on the lower shelf of the table originally. In my early days there was a dollmaker in Northeast El Paso who used to sell tiny kewpies, and I used several as babies in cradles as gifts for my mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law back in the late 80s or early 90s. Theirs were a bit more sedate than this one with her little red bunka skirt and red feather in her hair!
The incredible tiny packets of beads and the minute cards of ribbon, etc., were made by Sarah Moores of Alberta Canada. Beautifully done and so tiny.
The large rolls of wide velvet ribbon, including this red roll on the second shelf, (and a blue one which doesn't show up here) were kits that Moonyeen sent, I believe.
Cotton balls are great for giving a doll a bottom and a bustline! A little bit of stuffing goes a long, long way for a miniaturist, too. Our dollmaker cuts strips to wrap her dolls' bodies, as well as using it the conventional way for pillows, cushions, etc.
The Fluff Stuff package on the top of the shelf was originally on the bottom of the work table.
The middle shelf holds more fabrics and trims, and a tiny little figure who was in my quarter scale stash.
But she looked like she needed to be in this setting!
The blue Shaker box has been in my stash since the late 80s, and I believe I made that little clay teddy in an early workshop.
Here are my original two pieces.
The first item I glued in place in the glass lantern was the tall shelf unit.
This time I added the silver coach, a gift from Alice Zinn at the Las Vegas Miniature Doll Convention, and one of Disney's princesses to the top of the unit.
This is a picture of the unit as it was filled originally, before getting bunged up. The wonderful bust with wig was made by Pat Jackson. I was really proud of the tiny toy soldiers in the background, but they disappeared somewhere, replaced now by a larger baby doll.
The two hats are on the shelf again; they were part of a quarter scale swap a few years ago.
The teddy bear was part of the swap, or a gift; can't recall which. I made the books and big black notebook, like the one I use in real life for miniature doll patterns and pictures.
Both these little guys were purchases in Chicago. I think they were made by Bonnie Justice. And as I look at this in real life I notice something that doesn't even show up here unless I magnify it greatly.
Notice the tiny little blond headed doll at the very back of the shelf? She is way too cute not to be seen in my pictures, so I intended to take her out and place her in the forefront somewhere but forgot and now this unit is glued in place, along with all the other furnishings around it, and I sure don't want to take it all out again. I wonder what else is hidden.
Moonyeen contributed several carton printies, including a couple that were pre-made. I used the printies to make these boxes, cutting down the one on the left and covering the one on the right with a magazine advertisement picture that was in my stash.
The left one contains patterns, which I made as part of the swap, and the right holds silks and other fine fabrics.
That's real slip in that jar and a real mold, created by Cynthia Howe. I have now opened the top of the mold so that it can be seen and added a book on Mold Making.
This little fairy was made by Sue Ann Thwaite, known as LadyBug.
There were some wonderful items in that swap; I just wish I could identify everyone who made all that I used. I made several false starts because I had no story and the key for the way I displayed everything came as I examined Susann's fabulous sculpting tools and remembered that I had one of Lorraine Heller's Unfinished Sculptures.
So, I arbitrarily decided that my dollmaker does more sculpting than anything else, and that gave me the theme and focus for my table. I kept thinking I would make the dollmaker; but so far she exists only vaguely in my imagination. Maybe she is just me! lol
Here's how I made her work table.
I used a paint called Seminole Green and added white to get the shabby chic look I wanted, with a coat of Golden Oak stain to mellow the look.
I found very small chalkboards once at Walmart and used a couple in some settings I made in my early days, including the sign board in my rediscovered Season's Greenings market stall.
(Sorry for the poor quality of the image. My daughter rediscovered these pictures of one of my first miniature projects when she was scanning old photos. This was long before my digital camera days and oh how they have faded.)
I came across one of those little chalkboards when I was trying to figure out a way to display some small items from the swap, including the small bulletin board by Sol Zaga, along with a skirt pattern and a tassel display which I had in my stash.
It was almostly exactly the entire width of the table! I covered it with a piece of cardstock to form a large bulletin board which I glued to the back of the table top. I also glued a piece of cardstock on the back to extend down as far as possible to help hold the two pieces together. A coat of my Seminole paint mixture melded it all into one unit.
In addition to the swap items, I added other small elements like the tiny rabbit and some decorative push pins, etc.
This wonderful little dress was made by Cecilia´Coló Hernández of Mexico.
Here under the work lamp, which I believe is from Heather, is some needlework in progress, which I think is also from Sol Zaga.
Isn't that a cool idea?
Every dollmaker has parts lying everywhere. This little basket also holds a pincushion from Dorothy (DotBoo) and some wisps of the stuffing that are used to wrap doll body armatures. Lucie Winsky made the pincushion doll kit and some other blank dolls.
I originally included these packages which I decided contained DVD's of dollmaking patterns, and I can't recall what would be marked fragile. perhaps it's small porcelain parts ...
However, in my latest effort, I have added some books instead. Among my greatest miniature dollmaking resources are Jamie Carrington's 1/12 Scale Character Figures, along with three of the late Susanna Oroyan's books, among others, which I duplicated as part of my swap.
I also use Genesis heat-set paints, as well as regular acrylics. The artist's palette is also made by Lorraine Heller.
The mannequin was a Chicago show purchase from an Italian maker.
This is Lorraine's piece that became the focal point of my dollmaker's table. She has these in her product line. Visible on the bulletin board in the background are pictures of the dollmaking process.
In the cup/pitcher, a swap item, are paintbrushes I made from toothpicks, scissors (Chrysnbon with handles painted orange like Fiscars); plus a pick, craft knife, tweezers, etc. which I made.
The contents of this cup vary slightly now, as it got knocked around over time and some of the tiny pieces were lost.
The incredible detailed tools on the left from Susann Crack in Tasmania were in the dollmakers' swap. They lie in a tray that was part of a Chrysnbon dresser set. The bone-handled tools on the larger tray (a miniature cookie sheet) are actually part of the same dresser set. That's a piece of real flesh-colored Fimo. The wire cutters and pliers were in my stash; I painted the handles red. Only one pair of pliers is left in the tray now; who knows what happened to the cutters?
Thread spools in the drawer were a kit. You will notice the dollmaker has a measuring tape glued to the front edge of her table, which is quite handy. (I have a yardstick attached to the edge of my real life dollmaking table.)
The sewing machine was part of the swap, but I don't know who contributed it. I believe the large pincushion was made by Konittajo. Cool, isn't it?
We received an ironing board in the swap but I turned it into a version of my own small sleeve board which I keep in my dollmaking area. Instead of the top pieces, I used the smaller bottom half, covering it with white muslin that I painted silver. The iron was metal which I modernized with paint.
I found all these pieces in my stash and used one of Moonyeen's boxes, cut down, to hold them.
Others in the Posse project made entire rooms; I did not want to do that at the time since I am running out of display space, although I did plan to include a chair, perhaps one wall with a window, more dolls, but ....
Well, that was then, this is now.
Boy, it was hard to get that table in there because the lantern's opening is on the narrow side, rather than the wider front.
I need to go back and cut away the lamp cord, because I know now this scene won't need lighting since it is glass on all sides.
The last piece I added was the dollmaker's chair, a Raine Folkloric, c. 1900.
This little doll has been in my possession for a long time. She was meant to stand, and her polyester lace skirt fought me when I tried to get her in a sitting position.
Finally got her seated. Although her skirt looked cute in its original form, this is another good example of why using natural fabrics is so much better.
So, with the addition of my wicker unit and this little dolly in her chair, these two pieces that remind me of a great Posse group project finally have a home in my glass lantern. Right now it sits on a shelf of the corner display unit in the living room; eventually it will find its home on the corner of my real-life dollmaking desk. When I EVER get my witch's kichen finished, I can remove the glass basketball display case which will hold it and is now occupying that space.