Explorations on Movement. Part 1.
A small blog series where I discuss a few ways I've explored to add movement to my dolls' limbs, short of using joints, which might be an adventure coming soon to a screen near you.
Part of developing your art, your craft, your skills, is the almost necessary path to try new things. Not trying to combat stagnation, but rather with the mischief of being a wilderness explorer. To learn something new.
In my case, I approach everything with reverence, because learning is my jam. I love to explore crisp fabrics, current sewing techniques, fresh embroidery stitches, new ways to make a seam or sculpt a nose.
I take that same approach to body shape and construction. Once a doll body pattern has grown on me, this means: I have made it many times, changing little things here or there, but overall my hands know now how to put this doll pattern together and all I have to do is watch them do it; once I reach that stage then pandemonium ensues.
The first, and most obvious path to me, is to begin with the way I stuff those limbs. Maybe once I stuff "to here" I will make a seam like so, and now the arm hinges and moves back and forth with ease.
Maybe I want prettier shoulders (due to sensual necklines) so I then stop making that seam. I move on. There is not much rhyme to this, but there is always definite reasoning behind it.
The knees or the elbows have always intrigued me. The shoulders entice me. Perhaps because my own children have rather bony joints, so I have always paid keen attention to those in my dolls, right from the very beginning.
As you can see with this doll, she bends her legs. Not all the way to the back, no.. but without the need for a seam. A seam would make them floppy and then she wouldn't be able to stand. If you are after floppy knees that rock legs back and forth, a seam just there would do the trick.
In this case, she bends her knees when she wants to sit at the edge of her bed, or at a nice park bench, to read a book. Perhaps under an old oak tree.
But you can return the legs to the standing position, and she then has straight legs. I really like it.
The doll making procedure to achieve this feat consists of rolling very firm rolls of wool for her leg, but only up to where the knee would be. Stuffing the leg with this roll, then rolling a suitably-sized ball for a knee (I needle-felted it a little to increase the strength and evenness of the ball). Then you position the "knee ball" in its place inside the leg pattern. Then you finish off by rolling another firm roll of wool for the rest of the leg.
Now you have a 3-part leg, that with a bit of coercion and handling, can be gently bent into seating angles, and then returned back to its straight-leg position.
DOLL MAKING TIP. You need very strong seams to allow for all these shenanigans (mine are double-sewn). The knit fabric is what allows for this miracle, and the fact that there are very firm rolls that do not become soft or misshapen with time. I also think that the fact this leg pattern is shaped with a pronounced knee and has seams both in front and at back, allows for less wrinkles when you bend the knee, and an easier time coercing the leg into a bend.
Aside changing the actual doll patterns I work with, the biggest joy for me comes in producing a very different doll, both in feel and look, with the exact same pattern. Sometimes I stuff them with a rounder belly, or give them longer hands. Sometimes I make their feet chubbier, or the butt-cheeks super generous.
To me, each wool child deserves the care and thought before-hand to create it as a unique doll. Not just their face, not just the shape of their lips, or the colour of their eyes, or their hair. Each body deserves the same care, the same treatment. Creating the exact same body with a slightly different face feels so unauthentic to me. It's just the opposite way of how I work.
I know most of you feel the exact same way, you strive to create a unique doll. And that is why I decided to share with you these explorations, so that you too can add and create particular details to each doll body that comes out of your hands. To promote diversity in your body of work.
Hope you enjoy the ride. Do let me know what you think.