Until I get around to updating all the links…if you are browsing my site (with no new material in months, but a fucking great archive menu)…any link you visit that was “.com” can simply be substituted by “.net”. Guess who forgot to renew his domain? I’ve been busy, Dears…
One can easily see why we doll collectors unite at events such as MetroDolls’ 2017 ‘A Novel Romance’ event – to celebrate the beauty and artistry of our favorite subject! But it’s through romance novels that some of doll artistry lends itself to the most sublime of themes not only in costume, but theme and emotion. By the way, MetroDolls has souvenirs for sale via their website, here…so you do still have a chance to be a part of it.
Silent Auction Items
And despite the cliques that inevitably bond together, we are all still in that room for the same reason…for the dolls. And, in this delightful circumstance, to raise money for a deserving and honorable cause – The Guide Dog Foundation, who supports guide dogs for the blind and companion dogs for veterans in need.
Anna Karenina Centerpiece Doll by Miriam Shepard for Yum Yum Couture, featuring face paint and hair by Cheryl Black Jackson.
In order to navigate through an event such as this, there are large groups of people, timing with regards to presentations, the auction, raffles, etc – and then there’s the actual anticipation of the big reveal, in this case, Tonner Doll’s Garden Encounter Claire from the Starz Series Outlander – the first release of a doll from this series.
From the shopping, to the huge selection of raffle items (I won two things!!!), one would go to such an event just to hear Robert Tonner discuss the evolving technology used in dollmaking, including his own digital sculpting experience rising into a tech-savvy world that draws upon the animated computer game industry, to John Davey relating fascinating anecdotes about selections from his vast collection of vintage couture and Hollywood costumes (some on display in the Louis Vuitton exhibit in New York).
From John Davey’s Costume Collection
There’s a treat here everywhere you turn – there are old friends here, as in Sandra Stilwell Present’s Richmond Event, of whom I haven’t seen in years. And through all of my memories, saltiness and anger dished out on this blog, there is still a camaraderie that harks to a day when we all got along so very well.
Live Auction Items
Now…I’m not going to drastically change the direction of my blog, but I do feel it’s time to evolve, too…put a truce in place, and concentrate on the things most of my readers love: beautiful dolls and doll clothing, how it’s made, and the history of our doll world. Maybe this time around will involve a bit more positive of an approach. Be that as it may, I will never give up the use of the word, ‘fuck’, so don’t even think about it.
Live Auction Items
MetroDolls and Sandra Stilwell remind me why it’s important to attend doll events. No, it’s not just about supporting the community (though that is a primary reason) – but it is about the love of dolls – the one positive thing we undeniably share.
Live Auction Items
Look…I am honest, emotional at times, passionate, hateful and embarrassing when I get too carried away – and Hell hath no fury like Tommy scorned. But one thing I know, and I am pretty sure is shared by people who know me well, and hopefully will always remember about me: I am genuine – I am unique – and I am not above self-improvement if it brings more happiness to a life that now seems to improve regularly. It’s time to move on, to play with dolls…and to stop being such an angry old bitch. Sounds good on paper…check in with me in a few months with a progress report – I trust you will let me know how I’m doing, Puddings.
Thank you to MetroDolls and Theresa for such a wonderful support of Brianna’s $3700 contribution to the $18,000+ raised for The Guide Dog Foundation. Thank you to Yian Lee, Modsdoll, Time of Doll, and Marcia Friend for a dreamy collaboration. Thank you to my family for not disowning me. Thank you to my friends, old and new – for being there. And thank you to my readers, who keep me in check, give invaluable feedback both on the blog and in private communications, and who keep it all real.
One square inch takes about 2.5 hours to complete by hand…so it should come as no surprise why bobbin lace was so valued in days of old. And when you use silk and precious metals to compose your unique symphony, then it becomes evident why lace was virtually considered ‘currency’ then, and a supreme symbol of wealth and power.
On a recent trip to Salem, Ma and its House of Seven Gables, I encountered the charm and artistry of Linda, the resident lacemaker. Despite her advanced age, she was sharp as a tack – and watching her manipulated the bobbins was as I watching an elaborate ballet of the hands; each glissade just as daring as the next. She looks up to her pattern, marks a few notes, the proceeds to the échappé..
The bobbins are each decorated with Swarovski crystal for no particular reason. “It’s pretty,” Linda says…and she’s right.
I spent almost two hours with her…learning her history, and her love of the art.
Salem may have its witches…but this was clearly an angelic wizard spinning simple cotton into gold.
Bobbin Lace isn’t the same as tatting, and the artistry is a bit finer in its evolving patterns seen in well-known bobbin laces such as Chantilly, Guipure…and Bucks Point (or Buckinghamshire), one such pattern thought lost until more recent years, and one I had the fortunate honor of purchasing in the Seven Gables museum shop – returning to Linda, she told me its story…
It’s a fine torchon, one for a bride – Linda showed me where she began it…and where she completed the braiding of bobbin threads. She fussed over the inconsistencies seen only by her solemn eyes – and I will cherish it forever.
When we commented to others who popped in to witness Linda’s mastery, one said, “It’s a dying art.”
To which Linda looked up and replied, “I’m not dead yet, dear.”
Because at Tommydoll, we believe in giving back to our community as so many of our followers and friends feel, too – that’s what makes a strong community of love and trust – all in the name of our favorite dolls, doll makers and artists.
So you’ll want to check out MetroDolls’ Charity Auction to benefit The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. if you are not attending their ‘A Novel Romance’ next weekend…learn more about the event here – and join in on the absentee proxy bidding if you can’t attend here.
Among the treasures available this year, you find something for everyone – from artists such as Robert Tonner, Connie Lowe, Doug James, Andrew Yang, Dimitha, Ilaria at Time of Doll, Cindy Lorimer, and many, many more…
Auction Images Courtesy of MetroDolls
And of course, you’ll find Brianna by The Modsdoll, repainted by Yian Lee, design lead of Modsdoll; Wig by Ilaria; Shoes and jewelry by Facets Boutique; and the OOAK gown by yours truly – learn how Brianna was made here.
He is arguably one of the greatest contributors to modern fashion – possibly the greatest. He is Christian Dior, and his name goes to many ears without a need of introduction. In his early days as a boy in Granville, through the influence of mother, beauty and gardens around him, Dior ascended to the fashion world mostly as a dreamer, contributing to the Paris fashion scene via such initial houses as Lucien Lelong, and culminating into this own iconic brand. He did not sew, nor did he really need to. He isn’t even considered by fashion historians to be among the most talented of his genre – his circumstance of being in the right place at the right time with the right people contributed to a perfect storm that simply couldn’t fail.
This post isn’t a biography lesson on Dior – you can get that here – it is however, a deconstruction of one of the most enchanting museum exhibits I have ever seen in my life (including the 2010 Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective in Paris). I missed the YSL mini in Richmond, VA…but it didn’t matter with Sandra Stilwell’s mind-blowing tribute to the era in miniature…and her exceptional reproductions…
The biggest difference from YSL to Dior in Paris? One was allowed to take photographs (well…mostly allowed).
There’s little wonder why Dior is my favorite…and why I have attempted to replicate his work in miniature…it is the most incredible learning process and journey through the art of hand sewing, layering, structure and design. And as such…here are some of my favorite Tommydoll flirtations with Dior and Dior-inspired design…
Christian Dior led his couture house for only ten short years before his sudden death. What would follow, however, is a string of amazing artists…each honoring Dior, but adding his or her own touch to the artist’s garden of fashion.
This exhibit ushers in a ray of hope that beauty has not died, and talent reigns supreme in the hands of visionary creatives we admire near and far. For therein lie the humanity of creation…and the art of enjoyable beauty.
Larger than life digital and literal recreations of the Dior Couture House open its doors and beckon you to enter. Everywhere – you are surrounded by crowds of admirers; yes, even those that don’t bathe frequently – and it is quite warm in this October Parisian evening. That being said, it is amazing how the exhibition surrounds you instantly with Dior’s inspirations from paintings and sculpture to soft light and sounds of both classical and modern musical styles.
There is an introduction to the man and his house. We see his pointing wand where he would observe from a distance and guide your eye to the area of his critique.
We are led into a dark chamber with faded light and protected treasures – this is Queen Elizabeth’s personal collection of Dior fashions – quite extraordinary (and somewhat scandalous) for English royalty to frequent a French business for its finery. No images were allowed here and I didn’t know that until I was sharply admonished by security – but I did manage a few snaps, thank you very much (What? It never stopped you cretins at doll shows where we had ‘No Photos’ signs posted – so there.)
We then walk into an area that pairs famous artworks with Dior creations (from all periods of the house’s history). The exhibit’s lighting design is at its best here, casting shadows against the walls that are as artful as the subjects, themselves.
Perhaps one of the most impressive portions of the show was realized as you are guided through sinewy vignettes sorted by color – a rainbow of fashion in both human scale, and any pieces from the diminutive and charming Le Petit Théâtre Dior – each one perfectly finished, and just as masterful as its larger parent.
Black, white, houndstooth – is it all a dream? No. it’s Dior.
The collections invoke Dior’s intelligence as a marketing genius – all seen in not only clothes, but accessories and fragrances, illustrations by René Gruau, licensed goods and all the hallmarks of a growing fashion empire.
Ahhh…a miniature of Charlize Theron’s J’adore Hollywood tribute ad gown…
As the colors change…we are reminded of the fantastic details in the clothing, the sublime matching of seams and patterns, the hand work and invisible stitches that make many of the work appear virtually effortless.
Coco Chanel hated Dior…she felt designers like he and Balenciaga did not design for women, but for men’s eyes – and that they ‘upholstered‘ women in constrictive cages, daring to call it ‘fashionable‘. Whatever your views are on women’s liberation, perhaps it is not best represented in 1950s fashion – be that as it may – it is nonetheless, spectacular to behold…via anyone’s eyes.
All of these images were taken with my iPad…and although I am very pleased with most of them – there are some in the extremely low-lit areas that resulted in blurry captures. I could have taken the Nikon…but without a tripod, I’m afraid the quality wouldn’t have changed.
Departure from these areas walks you past decades of the magazine covers featuring Dior and his successors’ work.
As with the opening of the exhibit, we are treated to mini-collections of themed displays that are driven by the influences of history and world culture on the collections. Each is contrasted with originals from Dior’s reign…and those of the unique artists to follow – Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Bill Gaytten, Raf Simons,
We also see the history of Dior’s perfumes among the themed displays…strange there is no influential scent to pipe into the museum’s air that would have reminded us we were in Dior’s garden.
Exiting this portion of the exhibit, one might think it’s over…but a simple passage into a new space tells me it is anything but.
The ‘Bar’ Suit – the ambassador of Dior’s inaugural ‘Corolle’ Collection (later coined ‘New Look‘ by the American Press) – and a fine example of what Dior was accomplishing as France wearily walked away from WWII, and emerged a liberated nation of new ideas – and luxuries. Dior’s New Look returned fashion to its rightful capital, and showered women with yards and yards of silks and woolens, once rationed heavily during wartime. It was a time to indulge again…and Dior rose to the occasion.
We are now shown each of Dior’s successors and iconic contributions from his and her visions. Sadly, Bill Gaytten (who worked under Galliano) isn’t featured…or if he was, I certainly didn’t notice.
Oops…a photograph I wasn’t supposed to take…it’s OK, I blamed the woman next to me who was taking flash photographs…you really have to think fast with this level of security!
Despite what you may think about Galliano’s controversial end at Dior…his mini-collection is clearly, above and beyond, the most inspired – not only in terms of haute couture, but with modern takes on Dior’s vision. Many feel YSL was the second greatest next to Dior, himself – but I disagree. I feel YSL‘s work was worthy of his own label and direction, for the harsh transition between the 1950s and 1960s was best realized by Saint Laurent…but not as ‘Christian Dior’ couture. ‘Minimalism‘ is one of the last things I would ponder when it comes to Dior couture.
Perhaps my favorite part of the entire exhibit was the Toile Room.
Here, you can see many muslin toiles from the Atelier workers who transform vision into wearing apparel through means of draping and flat pattern mastery. In the toiles you can see how the design is built, supported and embellished. Galliano would sketch directly onto the toile to communicate embroidery and beadwork. Each toile is a masterpiece in and of itself. This is the room that brought me to tears.
As a transition from the Toile Room to the exhibit’s finale, we tour through the years from Dior to present…and although I wasn’t 100% certain what the purpose of this line-up was (who could read with the 300+ photos I was in the process of taking?
I’ll read the book later)…it was impressive to see the lines, shapes and colors that possibly were most attributed to Dior’s legacy.
And before I get to the finale, I was disappointed that my two favorite gowns from Dior, Compiègne and that mammoth black ‘Marie Antoinette’ gown by Galliano, were not present.
Oh well…there are some dramas I just have to let go, right?
The final chamber was easily some 3-4 stories tall and was digitally enhanced with animation, lighting, music and mood. The show repeats app. Every 20 minutes…with a shower of gold glitter, to line-by-line animation of the architectural elements, to changing seasons and celebrities on the red carpet. It is pure joy…and I start to cry again – I’m so very moved by the beauty I have had the most honored pleasure of seeing in person.
This, my Puddings…is dedicated to you…the faithful lovers of fashion. I love you dearly…and the haters can kindly fuck off…
J’adore Dior. If you’d like to see a complete collection of the images – this is a Facebook public folder…you do not need to be a member of Facebook, and even if you are, you do not need to be signed in to view this public folder – click here – Enjoy!
Deep in every heart slumbers a dream –
So what if Claire’s daughter, Brianna, had fallen through time and needed something to wear outside her comfort zone in order to be noticed at ‘court’ maybe in pre-Albert’s death Victorian England – what would Charles Worth do…? Hang on then…I’m getting ahead of myself…
I don’t know what it is about the Starz series, Outlander, that aggravates my inner romantic. Is it the leading man…is it the leading woman? Both are compelling, indeed…and so beautifully portrayed by the actors. As with so many romance stories, I had a tough time growing up surrounded by the magic and wonder of ‘love at first sight’ and ‘true love’s kiss’. Do I believe in those things? Abso-fucking-lutely…and I don’t really give a shit if you don’t…
Am I really that naïve those concepts might actually exist? Yeah…I am, you know (oh, please…there are so many other things of which to judge me over, Sweetie – this is a drop in the bucket). When I was in my 20s and 30s, I always thought some Prince would sweep me off my feet (no, really). I spent many dialogues with a great therapist deconstructing fantasy versus reality, pitting them against each other in a mammoth showdown that only exists in my mind. Ultimately, I learned to embrace it, despite the pain and loneliness it brought. What, leave fantasy to Disney Princess and the Silver Screen? Nope…sorry, Dear.Let’s leave my lying scab of an Ex…and begin anew? You betcha, baby! I did that. Even better, I immersed myself into a fantasy world that allowed me to play with, manipulate and create storylines…of course, this was my decade at Tonner. When it ended in 2010, it broke me in many ways…only some of which have begun to mend, some are still steeping in regret, anger and sadness; on a more positive note, though – the ‘good times’ and sweet memories are rising above the darkness, giving me hope that all is not lost quite yet. But, Puddings, you can only deal with one life change at a time, right? Yeah…but not everyone appreciates the turmoil it can cause when your world still seems rather borrowed and temporary… As I have said repeatedly, I don’t blame Tonner for the events that followed my being laid-off. I take full responsibility for my life decisions that landed me in a predicament that would tear my heart into a million tiny little pieces. That certainly doesn’t make it any easier, you know….well, maybe it is for them.
I lost everything. My home, my cats, my dolls…my confidence, then my dignity…and for a while there, my mind. There’s something to be said for coping with the entire loss of your world. If that sounds dramatic, well…it’s because it is. And something I would never wish upon my worst enemies and haters.
And when you are nearing 50, looking at your possibilities in the world, it’s easy to weigh terrible options about how you sort things out. I’m not afraid to talk about it…since putting out hundreds (maybe even a thousand or two) resumes online, hoping desperately for an interview…I came to a point of where ‘selling myself’ became trite – even meaningless in its second nature – in a way I never had to do before. Partly it was to network, partly it was to convince a potential resource that I was something. Mostly, it became a nasty habit of mine because I needed to hear it from myself in order to simply believe it. That kind of forced self-affirmation fucks with you…and it has lasting effects.
Rejection is a bitter bitch…and through the cold, emotionless delivery of the internet, one is left with a dire need to be something…to be noticed again – for all the good reasons as before.If you wonder why I keep bringing this up, it’s because I live these memories every single day…some are easier than others; many are just unkind, period. I’m not trying to justify anything…this is my reality – this is who I am now. I would think anyone who regularly reads my blog would have figured that part out…but surprises exist around every corner…and I guess I get a new reader every now and then (yes, I’m looking at YOU). Flash forward to 2016. Thinking I was in a better place (and I pretty much am – well, better than before – that much is certain), I thought this was a great time to cast some bullshit behind me…and dance with my creative muses once again…that is until…
Doll World State’s Evidence:
Well…(queue the Law and Order dun-dun)…
From being a Barbie National Convention Live Auction Artist (how about that souvenir doll you wouldn’t let me have because I had to fly home early, BNC?) – it was a great honor bestowed upon me…but only from one special friend…not from the Convention Organizers themselves. They were only about the money and the ‘rules’ there. I have written a whole piece on this…but was advised by close friends that it’s best to let that one go. We have to pick our battles, you see…
To the abortion that was my single editorial issue of HauteDoll Magazine, and Jones Publishing’s decision to drop the publication after the single issue with me as Editor (not as a result, Dears)…and NOT telling me this before I did the work. Thanks, Di…love that silly little brochure you think covers the doll world now…ahem…now when will it fold exactly?
To the fiasco that is Kingdom Doll/Kinsman Doll, the lies they used to build a business…and the friends I lost while being more than vocal about it as they tried to screw me over, too. Funny how those ‘friends’ side with KD…and don’t even give a single consideration to the concept that I’m telling the truth. How well do you know them, and believe them? I doubt longer than my 20 years, dears…thank you very much…oh yeah, and the factories talk to each other…so it’s amazing what they’ve compiled on that scam. Ouch. Shit, Alex…not everyone can be Superdoll…Yup…from all that…I still took that MetroDolls’ 2017 invitation, knowing that they have never even tried to screw me (sigh, to work with people who have virtue – and virtue that’s not tucked into their suppositories). I trust them to make this a positive experience. And as history has shown, these are where my most delightful doll memories originate. These are people who know me (some better, some worse)…and yet, they still asked. Thank you, MetroDolls. I’m fully aware that I played a certain role in all these aggressive unpleasantries…I accept responsibility to a fault. They only occurred after the perpetrators maneuvered to wrong me in the ways they did. And I just don’t stand for that, Puddings. Be that as it may, the most celebrated are the rehabilitated? Not so fast, Puddings…I’m still the hot mess who started writing this post, ok? It isn’t a Tommydoll story without some Tommydoll drama, right? You know…after you lose everything in your life – there is this certain liberation you feel knowing that you don’t have to pack all that shit up again. Well, this was no different…it took years…but I got over it. I miss the dolls badly…but that was then, this is now…and even after the public rape humiliation known as filing for bankruptcy…oh, dear. But I got through that…and I’m stronger now (oh, shut up, Kelly Clarkson)… Stronger. I think that’s not entirely accurate. Just when you think it’s safe to go into the water…well, there’s that damned shark, again. Such was the case when I did an exploratory run into whether or not I would actually be able to OWN my home again. Lots of difference between that shitty rental carpet and the sweet hardwood floors you might find somewhere metro central AND with a tax deduction…OH, SHIT…I just came in my JCPenney underwear. But naturally, I digress… When an real estate exploration led to a find…and the find led to a mortgage application (note: remember the bankruptcy?)…and the mortgage application led to an unfurling of memories that resulted in the bankruptcy, the anger, the sadness…well…I can’t escape it. I’m not proud of that comment…but I am human, after all (no, really)…and mixed with emotions already awry…well, I just didn’t know if this stinking gown was getting done or not. I actually wrote an apology stating I would not be unable to contribute. I stared at it. I stared at the doll that had already been sent by Modsdoll – such a beauty.
And I asked myself, “OK, Bitch…you’re pretty good at fucking things up, right? But did you ever stop to think that this could be something wonderful?” I wiped the stupidity off my face…spent some time feeling like a little child…and pouted beautifully for days…
“Dry it up, drama princess…I exhaust me, too.” Sometimes I wish I knew where my drama switch was and how to control it better…but for now, this is all I have…It wasn’t until I attended the Sandra Stilwell Presents Richmond Event this past August through invitation by Sandra for a courtesy seat that I realized how much I missed these people. Through new friends and favorites from ‘the day’…the event harked upon all a good doll event needs to not only be memorable, but a best-selling guarantee to have those same people return the next year. The hotel wasn’t glamorous, nor did it need to be – it was smart, inexpensive and in a good location. The array of products Sandra offered was mind-blowing, but compared to other doll events, Sandra’s is focused on the clothing. The clothing and ‘stuff’ are critical to fashion doll collectors, Dears. You won’t want to buy everything, because there’s a little bit of something for everyone. And the showstopping pieces in tandem with Dior-fabulousness including Sue Connor’s Dior Boutique backdrop? Damn…that woman deserves an Oscar for Set Design.
Sandra’s products aren’t inexpensive…but as we’ve tried to illuminate you at Tommydoll, the clothing is where the costs are mostly concentrated…with better fashion dolls, anyway. Sandra’s offerings…well, kiss my grits, y’all…they are worth every penny as Sandra brings top quality to these miniature pieces of art, often involving highly skilled and stunning handwork – and not by 5 year-olds in Indonesia, either.Emcee Michael Basala was the cream-topped deviation, though. His style of holding the attendees’ attention while generating sometimes silly, but thought-provoking games kept people entertained. The laughter was well-timed, the ooohs and ahhhs of the souvenir reveals were genuine –and he stands as one of the best event Emcees I’ve seen since Robert Tonner, himself. Sandra, Michael and Team deserve a standing ovation, and the attendees, a round of applause…I give them credit for making me feel welcomed again into our world…a world where Barbie and Integrity don’t exist, and we can live in our Gene Marshall and Tonner memories while we forge forward to create new experiences. Oh yes…and we made you other shits relevant again…Barbie, because you can’t escape the bitch…and Integrity, because they leached off an industry originated by Barbie, and perpetuated by Mel Odom and Robert Tonner. You can genuflect now, sub-creatures…
So. Then I fucking got to work…The inspiration of the gown came from this:
As many of you know, I also enjoy photographing flowers, some in macro…some just through the moment of a simple gesture…like a newly fallen rain. The MetroDolls theme is Novel Romance. Through Tonner, we’d certainly explored romantic themes before…this time via the Starz series Outlander. There is a specific beauty of the slightly bruised and shimmering Scottish Rose that has endured a hard rain only to plump its petals upward in an act of defiance toward nature. Well, that…and it’s pretty…
I also happen to be a big fan of the Starz series Outlander – and through the grace of Sandra Stilwell, I was able to secure a ticket to the MetroDolls Luncheon. And when MetroDolls invited me to participate in the auction, my dear Paula Kagan came to mind, first…and then Outlander. I thought of making a ‘Claire’ doll…but ‘reproductions’ aren’t really my suit (Anna was a heaven-sent exception). While watching the second season again…I found myself fixated on Claire’s daughter…a woman of the 1960’s, fiery and independent, like her mother. I wondered what it would have been like for Brianna if she had been the one who fell through time? One thing led to another…and the sketchbook beckoned…
The inspiration is a stretch, I get that…but the vision was cristalle, Dear…
I had been playing with drapes and shapes on my ubiquitous strapless muslin resplendent with body-conforming tucks around the princess-seamed toile.
Through sketching, pinning and draping…a new gown began to take shape.
From there…the materials danced forward to offer up their dazzling splendor not unlike a ‘Be Our Guest’ choreographed spectacle. Well, maybe that’s overdoing it…but I’m telling the story here, Dear.
The pageant of satins, organzas, georgettes, gazaars, chiffons, taffetas, beads and rhinestones danced, and swayed, and undulated. They didn’t sing, though…so rest assured this was not a mushroom-induced hallucination. I mean…I eat them…but I don’t trip on them. That’s OK, I have Amy Winehouse on the Playlist…
Sandra Stilwell and I found this sumptuous ombré silk chiffon in New Orleans this past May, and we both were just giddy over the pink to red gradient as Melania Trump when choosing the perfect heels for the latest disaster.
During this same time, I was preparing for a move…which will be portrayed by my lovely Orchid, Madge.
Hey…some of you have children…some of you have pets (I prefer not to speak of my own experience with pets, thank you)…I have Madge. Madge was given to me by a close friend to cheer me up in a dark time…and as the weeks passed, Madge began to drop her blooms (boy, how ironic, right?)…but she was mustering up a new set of buds ready to open…it was my goal to not only keep her alive (as my silly attempt at growing tomatoes on the balcony withered into scarecrow stuffing)…but also to transport her into our new home.
The fabrics finally selected were a gang of challenging choices. For those who’ve worked with organza and chiffon, you will know how temperamental they can be. The ombré chiffon had to be stretched over an embroidery hoop on tulle to do the beadwork – and although they weren’t stretched tightly, they did compromise some of their original shape of which I had to compensate during construction (remember, it’s not going to be perfect, sweetie…it will be fabulous, though).
The draped portions of the skirt were to be hand-beaded – freehand, until one motif was created, then I made a rough pattern in transparent plastic to follow as a guide for the other pieces.
In the beadwork, I used rocaille beads, vintage ‘mother-of-pearl’ opalescent sequins, laser-etched sequins, rectangular glass beads…and those aggravating, but glorious Swarovski Lochrosen rhinestones. The idea was to mimic the dew on the petals…but add some sense of order to the randomness. Think Lesage meets Tommydoll in a rose garden…well, something like that anyway…
The real challenge was using clear monofilament thread in a fine gauge. There’s a reason they call it ‘invisible thread’…it’s like sewing with air. However, after working with it for a few hours, a method to working with the beast emerged, and I think it will change the way I approach beaded embroidery forever.
The color choices would change from the more intense red chiffon to areas of pink. The ivory tulle backing was a great choice to keep the chiffon stable. I observed only minimal puckering in my work – most of which I was able to steam out in the final product.
Madge dropped her last blooms just as the newest set started to open. The embroidery was done, and it was time to take to the base gown.
Now, understand there are five primary fabrics at play here: First and foremost, the ombré silk chiffon, which is the star textile. Then the base gown in Rioja organza (opaque weigh – almost a gazaar) – good weight and hand, but moody in its grain as it can shift, particularly on the bias. The gown lining is a lightweight pink silk duchess satin…almost like taffeta in its feel and weight, but a satin, nonetheless – make no mistake. Part of the ‘petal’ drape treatments will be lined with a ruby silk organza (translucent weight) for the darker red pieces, and a pale ivory silk gazaar for the pink portions – it was important to play with the contrasts seen in the rose petals – and to take advantage of the ombré. I didn’t count the final fabric in the ‘five’ – everyone’s favorite fabric (NOT) – tulle netting for the chiffon beadwork backing, and for the petticoat. That shit is like working with an angry little child you’ve just relieved of her iPad-babysitter.
That being said, I have to admit that this design isn’t the best use of the chiffon. The petal pieces are detached enough, so I feel I could have done it with three different colors in the same weight chiffon – but when the ombré effect does show, it’s well worth the effect, don’t you think?
Finally finishing the beading to the tune of some 15 hours…I cut the ‘petals’ from the chiffon carefully, and then placed each piece over the lining fabric to cut that, too. There was a fair amount of fabric waste, but I did keep muslin pieces as my patterns…should I ever revisit the theme again…yes, yes – this is a one-of-a-kind – but you need pattern references to see how you got there, so get your panties out of the anal-retentive bunch, please.
Before my final move from the dee-luxe apartment in the sky, I played with the cut petal pieces to see how they would compare to the muslin. I loved the effect, with some online friends even thinking this was the finished piece. No, no, Dears…
And whereas I love this soft, drapy look – I don’t like unfinished edges (tulle is an exception). I have yet to explore hot knife solutions using synthetic fabrics…and fray check is a good option for securing stitches or reinforcing interior seams. Nevertheless, a full lining is the best approach for my work right now…I like the clean edges, and I love the extra body it gives to a gown like this. Considering the structure of a rose petal, this solution just worked.
After almost losing my new place to the ‘decision-making’ financial folks, it finally happened…and I was home. Such a satisfying (and a little freaky) feeling, really.
Madge slipped perfectly into the window sill and unfurled her latest child’s round of glory for the world to behold. With the October 1 deadline approaching, it was time to shit, or get off the pot, mister (actually MetroDolls knew I was moving and didn’t hold the deadline as firm – so don’t think them heartless like the Barbie National Convention Supremacists)…
With the new sewing space set up, and more organized than I have ever had in my entire life, I assembled the lining, then turned to the petals…
What a difference lining the petals made!
But there was something not quite right about how I had seen the petals on the skirt, especially in the original sketch.
The interior of the petals was originally to have some beading, too…but that now looked all wrong in 3-dimensions. Still…something needed to be there.
Like a morning mist and dawn’s first sighs…an idea formed…(bless you and your God if you got this far…)…
Tulle is an odd fabric fellow, indeed…but used responsibly (as with most superpowers)…it can bring an ethereal quality to a human-scale gown. In miniature? The effect, when done correctly, can be breathtaking.
So…for ‘correctly’, I recognized my inane ability to forego design editing – and I brought in my friends Meg and Nancy (Madge can’t speak)…they both can take credit for what almost became just too much tulle. When asked about this project, both would say, “Huh? I have a life, Thomas.” Maybe not a good testimonial…so we press forward!
In the meantime, Ilaria at Time of Doll was finishing the wig cap based on my sketch. Her schedule was already a crunch considering how popular she is, and her work is sublime. I thought of asking for the wig cap as a donation…but that isn’t really fair to someone who is as popular as Ilaria is, and she is constantly working on projects. So I commissioned the piece, and she more than delivered! Other than shortening the ponytail a tad…her interpretation was perfection.
It’s no wonder she is so widely sought after – and I’m honored she was able to take on my commission in the timeframe needed. When it arrived, well…incontinence doesn’t really give justice to my depth of joy.
Into the home stretch, the petals were added with the tulle inserts –each by hand. When all were in place…it was time to sculpt the fabric using anchoring stitches – this largely because the new owner may not be able to accomplish the same sense of drape when seeing the doll in person, and this would help one pose the doll in one‘s collection.
Finally…the lining. Installing and turning…to the point where you lean over the pinned opening thinking some Alien-esque facehugger is going to jump out at you…no, really.
I opted to not use a hook/eye closure…or my tabbed solution with snaps. Look, it just isn’t needed with a closure this clean – it only becomes a distraction, and something some poor bastard is going to have to lose eyesight over. Despite my obsessive attention to detail, a hook and eye ain’t one of ‘em, Dear…moan over some other useless touch of clothing hardware, please.
And as with most projects like this, I left a little wearing ease in the gown, in case its new owner would like to try it on other dolls, too. My dolls swap clothes…and yours should, too…believe in the power of play, bitch.
Of course, no well-dressed doll would even think about being without Facets by Marcia and her luxurious touches. I wanted to whore the whole girl out in JOO-ray (‘jewelry’ for the unimaginative)…but alas…there’s that little voice in my head once again that is screaming like a Who from Whoville: “EDIT, YOU SCARY OLD QUEEN!”
(Sigh) How can one work with all this drama…I mean, really?
So, Puddings, please allow me to present to you, ‘BRIANNA’, featuring a one-of-a-kind Jazmin sculpt by Modsdoll, hand-painted by Modsdoll team lead, Yian Lee.
Brianna wears a one-of-a-kind wig cap by Ilaria of Time of Doll (make sure you give her your phone number or she will CAPS you! – humor is a good thing, Dear…learn about it. I won’t ask you again. Che palle…really?).
So what if Brianna fell through time? She is her mother’s daughter, after all…
Enjoy the eye candy, Puddings…and check out MetroDolls’ Website here for auction details, including proxy bidding opportunities – you don’t have to attend the event to participate…and maybe this Goddess will come live with you.
Special thanks to Yian Lee and the Modsdoll Team; Ilaria of Time of Doll; Marcia Friend and Facets by Marcia, Meg Hunt and Nancy Thibadeau for their undying friendship; Janet Jenkins for her stunning supplemental photography; and to Sandra Stilwell, Meg Hunt, Michael Basala, Marcia Friend, Michael Giunta, Lynne Day, George Sarofeen, Wayne Milson (missed you, Bennett, glad you were safe!), Larry Pemble (missed you Darin and glad you were safe, too), and Vera Swanson…(and so many others for being kind and saying ‘hello’ – apologies if I didn’t include you here – the mind ain’t what it used to be) – you all granted me a lovely and wondrous Richmond Memory.
By the way, Madge is pleased…she got some new friends…
Yes, yes, I’ll post links when I get them…calm your jets…and my sister still has some artistry to offer…she’s odd..like me – but talented…more on that soon…
Now…enjoy some Tommydoll Photography eye candy while we await the auction details…drool on your own keyboard, Kittens…it’s your computer.
Today’s Scarytale is brought to you by The Modsdoll’s Eileen wearing Cashmere and Lambskin Hooded Cape by Tommydoll (see how it was made here), with a cameo by Mr. Chic by Doll Chic loaned by my dear friend, Nancy.
Her Grandmother was the wicked sorceress that lived in the high castle above the village of Faol-chù in the Scottish Highlands. She despised the old woman’s dangerous experiments on living creatures, including her latest marriage of alchemy and transmogrification.When her beloved wolf went missing one strange evening of lightning and hail, she went in search for him, only to find a naked mute deep in a hollow cave. However…his eyes were familiar, and his gaze was undeniable…
Because we at Tommydoll have an affinity for making pure 100% American goodness, it should come as no surprise that our brand of goodness vastly involves talented individuals in other countries. And as you wait patiently for me to complete the big lens images of Red…(catch-up here, dear)…please take a moment from your morning tea to indulge in pure teasery…
The fine folks at MetroDolls will be holding its bi-annual event this November (learn all about it here)…and in their tradition of teaming with top names in the fashion doll world, their 2017 charity goal this year will be The Guide Dog Foundation. With one who has personal experience with friends and family who are sight-impaired, this is a special cause…one near and dear to many in our lives…
From the website: For 70 years, the Guide Dog Foundation has trained and placed guide and service dogs to provide increased independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship to people who are blind, have low vision or have other disabilities. Please take time to learn more here – and please watch the MetroDolls website for auction items after October 1, 2017 (the event is November 12, 2017 and features an extraordinary souvenir doll by Robert Tonner based on the insanely popular Outlander Series on Starz.
Learn more about Outlander costume designer, Terry Dresbach here – whichever design Tonner chooses in its license for the MetroDolls‘ souvenir is certain to be a wonderful interpretation in miniature.
I am honored to once again be included in MetroDolls’ fine panoply of artists asked to provide finery to the charity auction – Metro Gold was my first participatory effort, and as you can see, she was a great partnership!
This year, it is with great ticklery and joy that I am dressing The Modsdoll’s One-of-a-Kind (Jazmin sculpt) doll for the auction. A stunning OOAK, hand-painted by Yian Lee of Modsdoll, herself (read my interview and enjoy her eye-candy dolls here) – and uniquely coiffed by the multi-talented and ubiquitously known Ilaria of Time of Doll. The doll will come with certificate of authenticity, and she is expected to be quite the romantic beauty…don’t forget to follow her progress via my Instagram to see the gown come together…
So, right then…let me get to it! We’ve got a Goddess to dress, Puddings!!! So we can take comfort in knowing that John Oliver has yet to discover his fear in something else…Thanks, John…you nitwit…
But my, oh my…what a gown this will be!
I know what you’re thinking: “I thought Alice in Wonderland was your thing?” Well…it was when I still had a doll collection; but honestly, I’m into just about any kind of fairytale heroine as long as she’s wearing couture.
When I received The Modsdoll’s Eileen in late 2015, I fell in love. The sculpt, styling and painted details so captured me, that I honestly felt she was one of the finest examples of fashion doll art I’ve been honored to own thus far. It should come as no surprise how much I cherish the work of Yian and her Team at Modsdoll. But as I sat snowed-in, photographing Eileen, something seemed to be missing with her. The more I studied her…the more it became apparent my Eileen was actually Red Riding Hood, or a grown-up version of her. My ‘Red’ hunted werewolves in the Scottish Highlands, though (a fantasy deepened by my love for the Outlander series on Starz – the werewolves to appease those who would cringe at the thought of just hunting wolves for their fur).
In 2016, I finished up my final projects for Kinsman Doll (we have parted ways permanently for reasons that are none of your business – but suffice it to say it involved ugliness on both our sides). While completing a kilt project for them, which was to be done in leather, they sent direction to change course to a new project based on a pair of Balmain men’s leather jeans instead. And much like Earring Magic Ken being researched and designed by women, yet another ignorant styling choice for their ‘man’ (come on – a black leather kilt…Balmain red leather jeans? Really? Sexy for you, Dears…gay as all get out to everyone else). What’s so gay about red leather jeans, you ask? Well…it’s these jeans, to be exact:
Yup. Gay, Gay, Gay…Gay as a June Bride, Puddings…not that there’s anything wrong with that, though.
I had never worked with leather, but was curious about it when envisioning the kilt – I was finishing the first exploratory sample in black double knit to get approval from KD when they tossed the replacement jeans job my way.
As you may recall, the Navy Pea Coat, Trousers and Silk jersey knit top I designed for them was masterful, if I do say so myself – not because I’m patting myself on the back, mind you –but because I had never done menswear either – and I nearly shit myself when it turned out so beautifully (we sewers do that when we have success – and collapse into a sobbing fetal position when we fail – especially if it involves a vulgarly expensive fabric – so suffer us gladly when we celebrate doing a good job). I never did get one of the production pieces as promised by KD, so I have no idea how it reproduced; but that sample they showed at their 2015 MetroDolls event was truly inspired.
The leather jean project was a nightmare, though. Particularly because home machines at not well designed for sewing leather – even if you use the softest lambskin (I ordered two shades of burgundy from from Canada, the lighter shade suited this better – the darker shade? Well…we’ll see…).
Yes, many home machines can – but this type of sewing is best accomplished on commercial equipment. Despite using a variety of heavy duty needles and specially designed leather needles – the project dropped my machine into the repair shop twice. In a need to get the patterns finished, I switched to sateen before my machine gave up the second time – I had to send the sample to KD incomplete (though they did get a complete pattern and instructions)…and my sewing machine’s future was left with the repair folks. (sigh)
After the second repair, I started my contribution to the Barbie National Convention Live Auction. I had just completed primary construction of the outfit, when the machine’s timing problem returned a third time – it just wasn’t catching the bobbin thread for some reason – and it left me to hand-finish the Barbie donation.
I am grateful that I am no longer unemployed…but that leaves me at a loss for a new sewing machine – especially one of such quality that I need to do the work I do. I earn a nice salary…but not that nice. Was I to throw out the old machine and buy a cheap model to continue sewing? Would I be able to resume commission work? Will Ivanka Trump ever use adult labor for her clothing line? Questions, despair and drama…
Luckily, that didn’t happen. An engineer friend intervened and discovered what the previous repair folks suspected regarding the machine’s timing – and a solution was derived. I worked on a sample dress using fairly ordinary-weight fabrics to make an extraordinary ‘test’ for one of my commission customers. And even though the dress is still in need of significant beadwork – the machine worked beautifully.
With the need to push the machine this time to make sure I was ready to press forward with more demanding projects (my commissions folks have been patiently waiting for 1.5+ years – some dropping out, but none in an unsavory or unsympathetic manner – I thank them and those who still are waiting!!!) Few can ever understand what the past two years has been for me…and I don’t expect anyone to try. All I know is I’ve survived it, and it’s wonderful to be in a place of glowing confidence once again (remember what I say about glowing brightly, and sometimes needing others’ light when yours dims?). Yes Puddings, it was time to conjure up Red’s Riding Hood as the ultimate test…and yes, I was going to use that fucking leftover leather…
While fabric shopping with a dear friend during Superdoll’s May 2017 New Orleans Event (I was only a proxy, Dear – people barely knew I was even there), I was in creative heaven! I just adore experiencing fine textile establishments and the inspiration they can invoke. Chatting with the owner (yes, they sell by mail – and you should look at their sumptuous vintage ribbon here), I was communicating my desire to locate a delicious red cashmere for my Red Riding Hood project – the color had to be a true cool red without any hint of warm orange/yellow notes. As if by magic, her son produced a bolt of luxury that I couldn’t resist – and the game was on (HUGE thank you to Promenade Fine Fabrics in New Orleans – and thank you to Sandra for backing me up during the purchase!)
Tommydoll is back in the game, bitches…
Now, hooded capes are not particularly challenging. But what I was envisioning was something rugged, possibly vintage looking, luxurious – and possessing a distinct Ralph Lauren touch. I never did sketch this one out…but I did study a number of runway capes to get a feel for the style.
Draping the muslin drew observations from my Instagram followers wondering if I was working on a Handmaid’s Tale project. LOL…no, Offred didn’t wear cashmere, dear…
I knew I wanted an oversized hood…and draping the cotton brought the perfect shape, albeit a bit large – so I had to reduce the size when transferring to the paper pattern.
The opening edges at neck and sides would be trimmed in leather –and the pièce de résistance would be a circular leather inset completely around the cape. Don’t you just love opposing curves? Yeah, kind of like loving a STD…
As another exercise in punishment, I decided to do welted pockets – details matter, and if I’m putting all this into Red’s accouterments, you can damn well expect her pockets are going to work. I don’t always go that extra mile – working pockets are really unnecessary frippery for doll clothes – all in an attempt to give the doll something extra to do with her hands, I suppose…