Custom dolls can sometimes be a funny thing……your hands are to create someone else’s vision…..which is generally pretty impossible.
I get quite nervous doing custom work, I know that the customer has a picture of their perfect doll, and I worry that what I try and create with them won’t always live up to their expectation…..and you know what? Sometimes it won’t, and it happens.
I always try and get as much information from them, basics like size,hair colour skin tone are the easy bits……it’s the deeper elements which generally emerge when you get chatting that are important. There is always a story, a person, a place. THIS is the Core of the doll, her soul.
I’ve grown to really appreciate the Input from my customs, they push me in directions,where if I had not worked with them possibly wouldn’t have gone. It’s helped me to grow as a maker, and helped me move past a few road blocks.
I generally ask the customer to use Pinterest where they can pop some pictures that inspire them. It can be of anything and I just love looking through all the images they choose.
My customer had always insisted that she wanted me to dream up her doll for her, and that if she gave me space to express myself she would get a great doll (thanks kris x) it’s lovely that someone would trust your vision enough to give no guidance!
We had been chatting for over a year while she was waiting for her time to come so I did have a clue about her tastes and the dolls she already owned. Then out if the blue a few weeks before I was due to start I got a message….
“Russian, I really want a Russian doll!”
To which I replied
” ok, lol, where did that come from??”
Kris was married to an Asian man and owned a few Asian dolls, she was of Russian descent but owned no Russian dolls. So thought this was the perfect time to add one to her collection.
We set up a board on Pinterest where we both pinned a few ideas.
One day kris started talking about her Grandmother, and how she had arrived from Russia and her memories of her style.
Ping! So I asked if she had any old family photographs…thankfully she did!
I adore these 🙂 in fact I pretty much adore all all old photographs( possibly because my dad is a photographer)
Kris and I both agreed that we adored the fabrics and prints in this picture and I knew I had some amazing liberty print fabric which would be perfect.
I wanted to convey the essence of these pictures rather than an actual replica image of a particular person.
I also needed a nod to Russia, and used our pin interest board to help gather traditional dress ideas.
We had already agreed on hair and skin tone but when sewing up Meme I decided the skin was not quite dark enough….introduction, my obsession with tea dying!
Tea dying is kinda tricky, if the fabric is left too long in the bath and not rinsed correctly you don’t get an even dye, I don’t mind the odd mark here or there ( just like real people 😉 ) I think the fake tan look might be going a little too far!
Whilst sculpting Memes head I just kept those pictures in my head rather than in front of me……I think the main idea was to try and convey the kindness that so obviously is in her eyes.
Once I’ve started a doll, I find it very hard to stop. Every second I’m not sewing I’m researching, dreaming ( drives my family batty!)
And when she’s sewn I like to let her just sit, while I try fabrics and clothing styles….I find this process can sometimes take longer than the actual construction of the doll!
So after all of this! Here is Meme!