Some of my doll making predilections are nothing but that, passing fancy. They seamlessly integrate into the doll repertoire and leave without saying good bye. Pervasive as though they may seem at times, they are not greedy. Inspired I am by their characteristics, and although I do learn from their presence or skill needed to bring them to fruition, I move on. Needle felting my doll's faces is here to stay.
I love the travails it entails to bring forth a face with this technique. Much more complicated and so much more time-consuming than using a doll making needle to sculpt with thread, which I still do for some dolls. There is just a deepness, a stirring in my heart, when the dolls come out of the fabric. You can see their features in the wool, you can envision their expression, but once you cover that face with fabric somebody else entirely can come out. A daunting process if you are after a specific face, boring if you are always making the same features, but entirely and acutely magical if you allow your hands to sculpt whoever. A foolproof recipe for falling in love.
I can honestly tell you I could have produced very similar results with needle sculpting. Tying and bending the wool in hills and valleys, the way I have been doing it for almost five years, but since I started needle felting their faces at the beginning of last year, each time I add thirty more minutes, a deeper nook, a longer neck, a more precise curve to the cheek. While the finished face might not look to you more different than the others, you can feel it. The face is very firm, there is absence of thread under neath, it's like you have a cloth doll but made of supple marble.
I have been needle felting the entire base of their faces, then covering it with wool and stockinette, and then lightly needle sculpting with thread. This time I did things different, and it was only thanks to the eight hours, yes, that's right, to the eight hours I spent needle felting her face. I obviously didn't do it in one sitting, my wrists can't handle such fervour, but it took almost three days from rolling the wool core for her head, and starting to add layer by layer and felting it, slowly bringing the face and head shape to be. Her face was so defined, so attentive to my tendencies, that I only needed to cover it with a thin layer of wool to soften it, and there she was. No need to add an eye line, no need to add the nose. It was all there.
Covering this coquette doll in the making with the loved swiss jersey was like a breakthrough. A tumulus of emotion was shaking me. I knew then what eyes she needed, what I had to do. I covered the head, stitched the fabric down trying to shape it as best I could around such roundness, trying not to leave any valley left behind, and then I took a break. I went for a walk, noticed the crown vetch and the toadflax, the wild carrot and the capricious goldenrod which is starting to bloom, thinking that this was no time for rash schemes: I must let her develop, I must allow her a courteous entry, and I will gingerly heed her arrival.
Yes, I do talk like this to myself. I do have all these feelings and bizarre commuting with my dolls. There is just no other way for me. The next day, yesterday, I embroidered her eyes and those pursed lips came to see me. She asked for a light blushing, not my regular overall glow of healthiness, but the more subdued and gentle hint of incantation. Such an intimate conversation. Such a wistful expression.
She is modest, and precocious and mischievous. And now I must supplicate forgiveness and mercy while I take her away from you and work on her clothes. Let's not be flamboyant, as we envision the dappled shade of an ancient forest, where her bare feet dance and get muddy.