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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rocky Bits

Yesterday I sculpted and began painting the arms and feet.  Today I finished them.  I only have two things that I'm disappointed in.  The toes are more pointed on the left foot than on the right, and the left hand is smaller than the right.  I look forward to the days when I get things totally right.  I wonder if that day will ever come.
Now it's time to refer to the secret plan and begin constructing Rocky.  Rocky may turn out to be a girl in which case I guess I'll neet a different name - Rockette?

The Secret Plan

Here's the (no longer) secret plan for constructing Rocky.  Supposedly it will meet all my requirements - a head that turns, movable and somewhat posable arms, and somewhat posable legs and tail.  The construction of the fabric under-body is complicated, so we'll see it I actually make it this way or if I can find something simpler when I begin.  Since this body will be felted over, it doesn't need much shaping as I can do that with the felting.  So stay tuned!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rocky's Head

Today I put a few more hours of painting into Rocky's head and it's now done.  There's really not much to say about the painting.  I use acrylics - decorative acrylics, in fact - Delta Ceramcoat and Americana.  I like those paints because there are so many different colors so I rarely mix.  I think I must have 50 bottles of browns, grays, creams, and various shades of white - very handy indeed.

Now on to the paws!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nascent Rocky

I've been wanting to make some animal art dolls that will help me develop a method for creating them that I can pretty much settle on as a standard procedure for me.  I want the head to turn, the arms to move at the shoulder and be somewhat posable, and the legs to be somewhat posable.  I want the arms and legs completely finished so I don't need long sleeves and pants in the clothing.

With the beginnings of a plan in mind, I've begun on this little raccoon.  The size will be important - I'd like it to be about 9" tall.  So I began by sketching the outline in the size and shape I want, then I used that as a guide when I sculpted the head.

In this photo, I've just begun painting the head.  It's a bit difficult because I sculpted it last night and working with the dark clay in the low evening light, I didn't get the surface as smooth as I would have liked once I began painting.  With all the contours, sanding would be close to impossible.  So on with the painting anyway!  And there's a lot of painting to go - this is just the first layer.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Stargazer Gazing

This guy is just blown away by how startlingly gorgeous that star is!  Wow!

The last time I published Stargazer's picture, he didn't yet have an outfit.  I fussed around with several ideas but in the end couldn't bring myself to cover up a lot of his coat that I had felted so carefully.  So he just has this little stargazing cape which I made from a piece of felted lambswool sweater.  After making the sweater, I dressed it up a bit with some embroidery.  Then the last step was to add the closure - a button I made from a vintage glass star cabochon.  I added a tassle to it to make it reminscent of a shooting star.

"Punk Meets Goth" is Finally Ready!

It's been quite a while since I finished these two, but I hadn't gotten around to photographing them as I find photography to be such a big pain!  Actually, I have one teensy detail to add - I want to paint a black rose tatoo on Goth's rump.

I'm still very happy with these two, and demurely give myself an "A" for imagination!  My secret desire (no longer a secret, I guess) is to have a "DESTROY" t-shirt like Punk's.

Celestial Bear is Ready to Stargaze


I used many more different kinds of seed beads in this piece than I have in my others.  Where I needed consistent size - the peyote stitch bale and the trail of the shooting star - I used Delicas.  But elsewhere I had more free rein.  So I used Czech size 11s, which tend to be larger than the Delicas and somewhat uneven in size, cube beads, and bugle beads.  The cubes and bugles don't show much in this photo because they're very close to the bear.

Originally, I thought I would have many more dnagles streaming from the vertical lines underneath the bear, but in the end I thought three were enough.  There are 3mm crystal AB Swarovski crystals incorporated into these dangles for extra sparkle.  I added a short extention to each of the vertical lines beneath the bear, but then I took them out again because they detracted rather than added.

My beading addiction is definitely growing!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bear in a Meteor Shower

It took quite a bit of thought and trial and error to come up with a basic arrangement for this bear pendant that I was happy with.  The cabochon at the top is charoite - a purple stone from Russia with some chatoyance.  The star is vintage glass.  I glued the bear on, then worked a row of bead embroidery around her before I glued the cabochons on.  I find it very difficult to stitch beads between two large glued-on pieces because there's no give in the backing.  So this procedure solved that problem.

Before I settled on this design, I tried many combinations of labradorite, charoite, moonstone, and various agates.   But none of them worked for me.  And all of them were too similar to the two pieces I just finished - the wolf and the puma - with the animal head in the middle and a cabochon both above and below.

This design is going to be a meteor shower.  The glass star will be a shooting star with white rays curving downward against the purple sky.  Below the bear will be several vertical lines of beading with beaded strands dangling randomly from them.  At the tips of some, or maybe all, of the beaded strands will be tiny vintage glass star-shaped buttons that I was able to buy on Etsy.  It should make for both a beautiful and a unique piece.  At least I hope so!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Finished Not So Fierce Puma


I've finished the puma pendant.  It may be a bit overdone with all the dangles.  Over-doing is one of my design problems.  It's one of my goals to strike the balance between embracing it as part of my style but still trying to rein it in - at least somewhat!  I'm not sure whether I was successful here.
The frosted glass leaf beads are among my very favorite beads and I'm happy to have found a good use for them.
My next challenge will be to work on the bear pendant that I began last week but set aside while I waited for an order of charoite cabochons.  They arrived, and they're beautiful.  But I'm not sure the dark purple is the right pairing for the dark colord bear.  But that's tomorrow's problem.  For now, I'm enjoying the puma and glad that I finally used her in a piece.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Speaking of the Next One, Here It Is - a Puma


Here's my next bead embroidery pendant, this time with a puma.  I made this little puma head a year or so ago, so she's waited quite a long time to fully come to life.  She's sculpted from polymer clay then painted.
I selected two beautiful cabochons to surround her.  The top one is fossilized palm wood.  I've forgotten what the other one is, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were rainforest jasper.  I bought them both at bead shows and luckily I still had the receipt with the fossilized palm wood, and the receipt documented what the stone was.  Some stones I know immediately, but others are less familiar to me.  In the future, I'll have to label them.  If I sell them, the buyer might want to know what the stones are.
Anyway, this piece is in the initial bead embroidery stages and I thought it might be good to snap a photo of it at the point.  This piece is a first for me in that I've used these beautiful "maple leaf" Czech pressed glass beads.  They're lightly frosted and a beautiful color of green. 

Finished Wolf

This is the finished wolf pendant.  I wore it out yesterday and received several compliments on it, including one from the male clerk at the drugstore who said it was "awesome!"  Thanks!!
The dangles really add so much.  I've used both moonstone and labradorite beads in them, as well as seed beads.  I think the wolf looks a tiny bit mysterious, and both these stones have a spiritual connotation to me.  I'm happy with this piece.  On to the next one......

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wolf, Labradorite, and Moonstone

Here's another beaded pendant I'm working on.  I made the wolf head a year or so ago - I sculpted it from polymer clay then painted it.

My first step in making the pendant was looking through my stone cabochons to decide what to pair with it, and I chose a round rainbow moonstone and this very rounded triangular labradorite.  Once the stones were selected, they nearly self-selected the beads. 

My original bead selection didn't include the amber color.  It was only after I had been beading a while that I realized that the beading was way to cool given the tans and buffs in the wolf.  So I added the amber beads to my palette and added a few randomly throughout the design.

After making a few of these pendants, the process is becoming pretty standard.  After I'm done with the flat beading (in other words, all the beading except any dangles), I trim the backing as close to the beading as I can get without cutting through any threads.  Then I glue on the ultrasuede backing.  I get the ultrasuede from because they have a nice selection of colors and will sell in amounts as small as 1/8 yard which is particularly nice because ultrasuede is expensive!

Beginning with the mustang pendant that I finished a few days ago, I have added a stiffener between the beading and the ultrasuede.  I use a piece of plastic that I cut from a plastic lid.  It's about 3/16" smaller all around than the beading so that I won't hit it with my needle when I finish the edges.  I simply lay the trimmed beaded piece on a piece of paper and draw all around it.  Then I cut a shape from the paper that's smaller that the beading and use that as a pattern for cutting the plastic.  Alene's Fast Grab glue is a great adhesive for joining the layers grabs fast!

When the glue is set, I trim the ultrasuede even with the beaded piece and finish all the edges with tiny, closely spaced whip stitches using two strands of embroidery thread.  Then I'm ready to add any bangles as well as the peyote stitch bail.  It's a little tricky to add the dangles because I have to attach them to the existing beading without piercing through the piece.  So all the thread knots are hidden within the beading.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

No Fierce Bears

I don't think I could sculpt (or paint, for that matter) a fierce animal if I tried.
This little black bear will be part of another pendant.  His face is about 1 1/4" across.  I sculpted him from dark brown polymer clay then painted him.  He has 3mm glass eyes from
In this next picture I'm trying out various cabochons with him.  The top one is labradorite and the bottom one is chaoite (?).  Another variation uses a labradorite teardrop at the bottom instead of the purple stone.  And yet another version uses an oval amethyst cabochon at the top instead of the labradorite. 
I wisely haven't glued the stones on yet.  I find that it is very difficult to work bead embroidery between two large cabochons (counting the bear as a cabochcon), so I'm going to work a round or two of beading around the bear before I glue the stones on.
In this trial arrangement I have the bear's head at a jaunty angle.  I like the humor and personality of it, plus it gives a bit of surprise from the expected symmetrical design.  I'm looking forward to beading this one. 

A Beautiful Palomino

The beading on this pendant took about 6 hours.  That's more than I've done on my other recent pendants - the owl, fox, and wolf - and I wonder if it will look overdone on a braided leather cord.  I'm thinking of a dark brown cord rather than the tan cord I've been using.  So I used dark brown beads in the peyote stitch bail to facilitate the transition to the color of the cord.
The alternative to a braided leather cord would be a beaded necklace, perhaps a groups of individual strands of the seed beads I used in the pendant embroidery studded with moonstone beads, and rhodocrosite beads if I could get them.  I'm aiming for the braided leather because I think it would make a more wearable piece.  But the beaded necklace would be beautiful.
In the bead embroidery I used four sizes of seed beads, and I think it gives a nice effect.  Mainly, I've used Delicas.  But the ivory colored beads ringing the cabochon, the pearly beads in the lower portions, and the gold beads forming the outer ring around the cabochon as well as the outline of the teardrop shape containing two of the moonstones are regular size 11s.  The pink beads around the other two moonstones are 15s.  And I've also used a few other colors of 15s here and there to fill holes between the larger beads.  The larger beads at the ends of the dangles are either 8s or 6s, I don't remember which.  I like the variety in size, and there is also a variety of finishes on these beads.
The symmetry of the shape is not perfect, and I didn't try to make it so.  I like a bit more of an organic look - an attempt at symmetry, but not obsessively so.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mustang Pendant - a Palomino

Here's the beginning of another bead embroidery pendant.  The horse head is a polymer clay one that I made a few years ago.  At that time I put them away, each paired with a beautiful stone cabochon.  This cabochon is rhodocrosite and the beautiful pink color is echoed in the horse's nose.

If I were sculpting the horse's head today I would do a better job, especially with the nose.  But still I think it's a pretty nice horse and should make a stunning pendant.  As always, although the bead embroidery is tedious as I sew the tiny glass seed beads on one by one, but I mysteriously find the process soothing.

Badger Bits

I'm starting on another small animal doll - this time a badger.  The head and paws are polymer clay which I've painted with acrylic paints.  I'm really liking this approach.  I do the sculpting simply and with an untextured surface then create the texture (hopefully) with the painting.  The eyes are glass from and they add a sense of life. 

For the claws and nose, I painted interference blue acrylic over the black clay to give a sense of shine on the former and wetness on the latter.

I'm considering having my armature wire go all the way through the feet to anchor in a wood base.  More thinking is required on that.  But I seem to always have a problem towards the end of the project with figuring out how the doll will stand.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Fox is Felted


The felting went smoothly and here's my handsome fox.  He's the Star-Gazer, but besides that, I need to find him a name.  "Simon" just suggested itself to me, so perhaps that will be it - I'll decide by the next post when I'll have him dressed.

I like the way this little fellow's pose turned out, and that was all a result of seemingly endless fiddling with the armature And the tail is nice and fluffy.  Felting right up to the polymer clay head and paws worked out well because the ends of the polymer pieces where they meet the armature are flat.

It will be difficult to decide how to dress him, partly because I am reluctant to cover up much of the felting that I worked so hard on.  But also it will be quite difficult to make kind of jacket for him as the front legs are so far forward on the body.  I guess it's natural that the ease of constructing human type clothes for a creature will be in proportion to how closely the body resembles a human body.  So the clothing design will take quite a bit of pondering before I proceed.

Padding the Armature


I have now padded the wire armature with strips of wool felt that I wrapped around the wires and stitched in place.  I chose wool felt so that the wool fiber that I will felt with will stick to the armature.  As I worked on the padding it occurred to me that it would be easier to just wrap the wire with thick wool yarn and tie the ends.  Presumably, the wool fiber would needle felt to the wool yarn just fine.  I'll have to try that and see how it works.  Another advantage might be that wool yard would be easier to find than wool felt.