Bear with me, there is a bit of randomness to this one but I think I will manage to make it coherent, somehow. In the last four or five weeks much thought and sewing has happened to create the little creature above. Designing an aesthetically-pleasing 3D cloth sculpture/toy animal is quite a bite to chew on. Especially when you have expectations. I should say, more especially because you have expectations. When you don't expect, miracles happen. When you have set ideas, trouble ensues. I have found this to be the truth in doll making and also life in general. It is the expectation that lets you dry in the Sun, but it also forces you to grow up by giving you a goal to achieve.
In my doll making journey things have evolved so organically that I almost don't notice the growth. It is only when revisiting things I have said, or more properly, written, when I notice those tiny, forward-bend, mind-blowing, opulent growth spurts. I never expected to create the kind of dolls I make now, also never even dreamed of supporting my family with my creative pursuits. Things just somehow happened. One small thing led to another, and to another, and to another, and here we are. One small little intuitive change leads to another, then to another and another, and so the dolls feel and look the way they are now. I know this process to be true because I have experienced it countless times over the years. I also know, and keep a tab of, all the mistakes I have made along that way.
I get asked all the time if I sell the patterns for my dolls. People are very attracted to the aesthetic of my little people and for those that wish to create one for themselves, their friends or their children, or even to sell them to fund their doll making, starting from a pattern they already love seems like an easy shortcut. A simple way to get started. I don't consider this cheating at all, but I know from my own experience, and that of many of my friends, that when you design your doll to your taste, the doll speaks for you, the doll embodies a little of you, and people can connect with it more readily. It is something unique, because you are unique. I see very little added value to your growth as a doll maker if you mimic someone else's style. I also see the fact that you have to start somewhere, and grow from there.
It is in the starting somewhere, at the starting point, that I get excited. You start with an idea, a dream, and then you move on, forward. You make a mistake, and IF you learn from it, then you acquire immense knowledge that cements the ensuing growth. As you make more mistakes, you are establishing the foundation of your little house, of you. It is but in those mistakes where you will find the growth, the knowledge, the exciting thrust forward; without those mistakes there is nothing. You can't understand the process unless you have done it, and made mistakes at it.
While it would have been so much easier for me to start with an established, proportionally correct, tested pattern ( I probably would have chafed at least a couple of years of my learning curve), it is after all what I recommend to someone who has never made a doll before, I personally wouldn't have made all the mistakes that led me to take the decisions I made, and I wouldn't be making the dolls I make now. While it may seem that some doll makers guard their secrets with fury, it is not that at all, I can guarantee. It is just that they know. They have understood that the mistakes are the most important part of your growth, and that if you rob yourself from that experience you are robbing yourself from so much more. While it is not comfortable to make mistakes and it can be very frustrating and wreak damage in your self-esteem, they are the foundation of your little edifice. Don't be afraid of making them, otherwise you will not grow.
It is in those countless tries, in varying this or that, in the tweaking and prodding, where you will understand your design. The pride and knowledge that derives from this process cannot be taken away. Nobody can rob you of the learning experience, which in my opinion, is one of the most satisfying areas of doll making.
Now having said all of that, there are many small mistakes, design improvements, and things I can help you out. I promise not to rob you of the learning curve because all the thought process will be your own, but I can give you "food for thought". I have never taught doll making, other than my own little kids, but I will only learn to guide others by making mistakes, right? A dose of my own medicine.
Having said all this, I will hold myself accountable to bring you at least one post per week, for the foreseeable future, in which you and I can discuss the little things that improve on doll making, without robbing you of course of the priceless pleasure of beating your head against the wall. Let the wild rumpus begin. Hope you are as excited as I am.