This doll is some piece of work….and not in the most positive way right now. She’s been trying my skills and pushing the outer boundaries of my patience. Some dolls are ‘born’ easily from my hand, almost effortlessly sometimes – but not this one. This one’s been challenging me on almost daily basis, daring me to be better and to evolve past my comfortable place.
At least once a week I have to fight down a strong urge to hurl it out of my window, and cackle maniacally as I watch it shatter on the pavement below. In fact, I kinda feel this way right now, so I’m taking a little time-out from work for some complaining therapy.
Feeling better already.
Having been blessed with a good eyesight (thanks dad!), I’d always scoffed at the idea of working under magnification, even though I suspected it would have been helpful for the small scale of my dolls. But working with bare eyes was a source of pride for me and I stubbornly refused to accept any artificial optic assistance before it was absolutely medically necessary for me to wear glasses. I was such a fool. I had no idea what I was missing.
Getting a magnifier a year ago gave the ability to engrave the finest micro tattoos I never imagined possible. It instantly upped my skills and unlocked a new difficulty level in this doll-making game. I’m playing on hard mode now. And loving the results.
This doll, Marquise de Pompadour, is my first doll tattooed entirely under a magnifier. Because of that, she features the most advanced tattoo engravings ever seen on Enchanted Dolls that took almost a year to engrave. If I wasn’t feeling slightly unhinged from all that tattooing (at the moment), I’d be giddy with joy at the sight of this little French beauty. She is going to be auctioned off on May 13th. I’ll show and tell you more about her in the days to come.
As for me, I’m never going back to pre-magnifier tattooing. Not because I can’t, but because I don’t want to. Those years are behind me.
Tattooing, I mean engraving, the last arm of my Marquise de Pompadour doll. Whew… Judging by the number of months it took me to finish tattooing this doll, one would be forgiven for thinking she has a couple dozen of them arms. Anyway…whew.
This doll will be auctioned off in this spring! Stay tuned for more details, pictures and everything!
Just got this in the mail from the Swedish publisher of The Lunar Chronicles book series, authored by Marissa Meyer! I think they look great! Cress is probably my favourite of the three in this context, but they are all very lovely. I hope Marissa likes them too.
The Lunar Chronicles is a series of young adult fantasy novels – they are our most treasured fairy tales, with our favourite heroines, retold and set in the future. I think the concept is pretty cool. Revisionist fairy tales are my absolute favourite!
This isn’t the first time an Enchanted Doll has made the cover of Marissa’s books, the first Cinderella was on the Spanish version of “Cinder”.
I’ve been running tests on my new china paints for the last couple of weeks, and I’m almost done! My plan is to finish and fire all my porcelain tiles by Sunday, so that on Monday I can go ahead and finally begin painting my new porcelain doll.
I’ve been using white, matt porcelain tiles as ground for my paint samples. Saves me a whole tedious step of casting, cleaning and firing my own porcelain chips, which would have added up another two weeks to the testing phase. Why make life difficult for yourself when there’s an easier and better alternative?
Also, tiles make it all look homogenous and organized, as opposed to loose porcelain chips.
Aaaand as an added bonus, I’ve stumbled on another possible china-painting method with a quill, while labelling my colours! I’ll have to test it out more on an actual three-dimensional doll before I can try to integrate it into my own painting technique. I don’t know how this never occurred to me before!
Oh no-o-o! A firing casualty to fatigue fracture and thermal shock. On second thought, I think it’s now perfect.
Hey there Doll Collectors! An old year is ending and a brand New one is about to begin! I’ve been celebrating this annual renewal (for a whole month now) by renewing and reorganizing the very foundation of Enchanted Doll – My china painting palette. It holds a special significance to me. Read its creation story to learn why.
The act of creating a new paint box was both, practically necessary and symbolically important to me. It was necessary because I needed more room for my growing arsenal of china paints, while my old paint box has become an over-crowed and confusing mess over the last 10 years of use. But it was also a symbolic act, because it represents a reformation and a renewal of Enchanted Doll at its very core. I hereby proclaim that 2016 shall be my year of dolls! Happy New Year!
My new paint box had to be multi-level, air tight, orderly, user-friendly and of course, attractive. Unfortunately I know next to nothing about carpentry, so the box turned out a little bit, um…unorthodox. It’s crooked and uneven in, well, virtually every dimension, but surprisingly it works well! I am, after all a big subscriber to the “Fake it, ’til you make it” philosophy. Or in my case, it’s usually “Fake it, ’til you ruin a bunch of stuff, waste a bunch of supplies, and eventually make something” philosophy. It’s a somewhat destructive approach to creation, but much of the time it’s the only way to learn making something.
Using basic math skills and a high speed sanding wheel, I put several channels into 3 sides of the box to hold 4 layers of suspended glass sheets, which in turn will hold my pre-mixed, paint-ready china colours. Many ceramic artists still use simple porcelain tiles for mixing china paint, but it seems like a very archaic and wasteful method to me, because of the non-drying nature of china paint.
Once mixed with oil media, china paint doesn’t dry on its own and can stay a wet goo for years, so at the end of each paint job one must either discard the wet puddles of mixed paint or try to store them somewhere-somehow until the next doll, without contaminating and smudging it on everything around it. And that is the general conundrum.
A more optimal solution seems to be to keep a mixing surface in an air-tight paint box to protect it in the long run from dust, hair and skin debris, thus reducing the need to mix new batches of paint for every paint job and minimizing waste and hassle. Also, keeping a full palette of pre-mixed, paint-ready colours on hand is very liberating and helpful during the painting process, as opposed to having to mix every new colour one intends to use in any given project every time from scratch. That’s why a neat china paint box wins over one-time-use mixing tiles.
Of course the box is also a more costly solution than tiles, as it requires an initial investment of time and energy to construct it, but the convenience of long term use and the neatness of paint-preservation are just so worth it. If I could have bought this box somewhere, I definitely would have, but the absence of such a product on the market had forced me to manufacture it myself. It was such a headache, but like I said, totally worth it.
Once the wood frame is complete, I move on to cutting glass. Several times over. The glass store is closed by the time I realize I’d mis-measured and ruined ALL my available glass, so I’m forced to harvest it from picture frames. I take my least favourite frames off the wall, remove the glass and toss the rest. It seems like a very expensive and wasteful way to procure glass, and sure, I could wait until morning to go and buy more of it from the store, but that would delay the completion of my box by at least 12 hours and I want it finished taaday, dammit! So, goodbye picture frames.
Then, many painful little cuts later I have my glass sheets cut and filed down. Time to engrave them!
The reason I decided to engrave squares into my mixing glass sheets, is to permanently segregate colours from each other, prevent cross-contamination and label them. In the past I tried labelling my paints by writing with a permanent sharpie on the glass, but eventually that disappears and the colours become anonymous, runny messes. Engraving, however, doesn’t come off. It provides a permanent means of labeling and separation. The grooves around each square channel any run off oil medium away from other colours and into a closed circuit, thus keeping order for many years and making clean up easier.
This is my old box and the new one side by side. The first one is a picture frame I found in the trash in 2005 and adapted for painting when Enchanted Doll was still very young, and the second one I made specifically for that purpose in 2015, for its 10 year anniversary!
And that’s why making this paint box holds such a strong symbolism of renewal to me – When I was young, making dolls came purely instinctively and thoughtlessly, but over the years it has matured into a thought-out, deliberate choice I make every single day over and over again. The first box ten years ago was a random lucky find that set me on this course, but the second one bares the full weight of my intent and commitment to it.
This paint box is my Year’s End epiphany, from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
I hereby proclaim year 2016 to be the glorious Year of the Dolls! I wish every one a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Wish me happy painting!
I’d noticed that you guys were curious about the Spinal Pendant I wore in my short, glass-engraving video, so I thought that perhaps you’d enjoy knowing more about it. I made it for myself as a one of a kind project, but seeing how it caught your attention, I’m considering making it available to you as well.
The pendant is manufactured from original feline vertebrae and cast in Sterling Silver. The remains of this kitty were found on the side of the road, after it’d been struck by a car, but I’d like to think that a part of it still lives on in this wearable silver sculpture. This is a very sensual piece of jewellery because it’s free-moving. There are 15 joints connecting 16 vertebrae, which makes it very bendable. I’m always playing with it. Stroking it brings an odd comforting sensation that helps me concentrate, kind of like moving a rosary between ones fingers. Or like petting a cat.
I’ve used these bone molds before in a couple of my doll projects, such as the Beetle and the Crow, but this jointing system is more advanced and realistic than my previous attempts. It gives a better range of movement while maintaining perfect alignment. And, to smoothly transition from the pendant to the chain, sculpted a double-bail at the top of the biggest vertebrae in the shape of human pelvis.
I’ve spent the last week brushing up on my glass-working skills by making a practice display box. It turned out with a decidedly Victorian flair, which was likely inspired by seeing Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak two weeks ago.
What a wonderful Gothic scary-fairy tale for grown ups! It wasn’t so much about ghosts or monsters, as much as it was about monstrous people. I think it had a lot of nuance and reminded me of actual Victorian era crimes of serial killers George Joseph Smith and H.H Holmes. I think the film might have been partly influenced and informed by them. But I digress.
I constructed my practice display case from glass recycled from my old picture frames, and then engraved the door with high-speed diamond tip burs. Making it was a lot of fun: scoring and cutting the glass, soldering it together with brass came and assembling it into a functional object. Twice over. It turns out I’m terrible at measuring. The hinges gave me the most trouble, but I eventually conquered them .
Machine glass-engraving is a more recent interest of mine. Last year I wanted to make some monogrammed glass terrariums as Christmas gifts for my family, and decided to try it out and see where it went. Engraving this case was my 3rd engraving project since then and a good exercise for a certain future piece I’m planning.