Saturday, March 18, 2017

Speaking of Zombies...

Guess who is going to China!


My Gothic Ghost Bride.

By FAR the CrEePiEsT doll I've crafted yet! AND...she's a night light!  The funny part...these lamps run about $100, but I could not resist!I recommend using a cool LED bulb...I just haven't remembered to pick one up at the store...so, for now, she's got a blue Christmas bulb under her skirt.I made her veil because the one she came with was just not "dark" enough.Unlike most of the other Gothic Girls, her skin has been created by sponge painting a combination of white. parchment, and a light gray giving her skin a more decayed appearance.



She looks even more ghostly with the veil.





Thursday, October 20, 2016

Richard Schiver's Written in Blood: Fridays 5 Interview with Geri Taylor

Monday, October 17, 2016

How I Create Gothic Girls & Zombie Babies from Repurposed Porcelain and Baby Dolls


I search for porcelain and baby dolls in resale shops, online, garage/yard/rummage sales, etc. On the average, I’d say I pay about $5 for a doll depending on the condition. I prefer to use dolls that are in sad condition. I have purchased broken (porcelain) dolls and have a collection of parts so the table in my studio sometimes looks like Frankenstein’s laboratory! I’ve paid as low as $1 (RARELY!) all the way to $28 (shopgoodwill.com and ebay.com) for a doll (including shipping). But when looking for dolls at shops, I tend to stick to $5 or less.

eBay purchase. I later sold the boy in the baseball cap w/bear on eBay to help me with my costs.

One of my favorite places to shop resale in Ruston, LA is at Rolling Hills Ministries Thrift Store. I feel like purchasing from a charitable organization is a win/win! We don’t have any Goodwill or Salvation Army stories in my town, but I do hit a few in surrounding cities when I get the chance.

I find some pretty good bulk purchases on shopgoodwill.com but if you haven’t read my scathing review of shopgoodwill.com’s shippingpractices, maybe you should.  I’ve received a LOT of broken dolls!

Because I purchase dolls in lots, I tend to pick up a few highly collectible ones in the lot that I sell (unaltered) on eBay or Facebook groups. It definitely helps me with my costs.

Now that I’ve told you my secret…I’ll NEVER find another good deal on eBay or shopgoodwill.com! But with over 100 dolls to paint…I think I’m good.

The materials I use and links of where to find them:
Porcelain and/or Vinyl (Cloth/Vinyl) Baby Dolls
Alcohol
Paper Towels
Rit Dye (both regular and for synthetics
Multi-surface Paint (shoes).
Mr. Super Clear FLAT (eBay) I buy 3 cans at a time for $42 and I go through it pretty fast or a Multipurpose Primer.
Tibetan Lamb Hair/Wool Pelts (eBay) I buy remnants for $4/bag that will do 2-3 dolls.
Tiny Black Rubber Bands (Like the kind they use on bracelets)
Eyelashes (eBay China) $1.50 each 7”-8” strand. Order WAY ahead of time and in bulk! One strand will to about 6 porcelain dolls. Order extra because you WILL drop lashes and NEVER be able to find them! Occasionally I will use their original lashes but when pulling them off, they tend to get stretched out or broken).
For the baby dolls I use Wispy Lashes $3.50/pair.
GLUE (I WAS using E-6000 but it is pretty toxic and working so close to my face…not a good idea! So now I am using Eileen’s Tacky Glue and so far, so good. I also recommend Judikins Diamond Glaze. I haven’t used it yet, but I have ordered some of the glue and dimensional adhesive. (We don’t have a Michaels or Hobby Lobby in our town) Right now, I am using Mod Podge GLOSS.
Acrylic paint (I use craft paints. I have used the acrylic in tubes, but I have not seen that much of a difference.) I prefer snow white because it is not as stark as regular white. I use other colors like muted grays, antique whites, parchment, light tans, and black especially on my Zombie Babies.
Antiquing Medium (This is something I’ve just started working with.)
Pastels (Soft Chalk) I’ve purchased the Rembrandt “professional” but I actually prefer a student set. However, I recommend purchasing a few extra white pastels or white charcoal sticks in the professional grade.

Tools:
Disposable Foam Brushes for paint on primer. (1” or smaller)
Paintbrushes for acrylic paints,
Stencil Brushes for blending the charcoal and pastels because they don't wear down as fast (mostly I use my fingers)
Toothpicks
EZ Lasher (eyelash applicator tool for dolls) (CR's Crafts or eBay) There are two sizes...get both!

So, as you see, without even touching the dolls, I’ve invested a lot of money into my art.

First, I strip down the dolls wigs and all. Save the head plates. If any get damaged, you can either make your own SEE VIDEO using a similar doll's head with a intact cap or purchase some through a doll supply store.

Let me give you some pointers here that I failed to do the first time. Safety pin your socks together as well as any small pieces that go specifically with your outfit. I mix and match clothes, but you might want to photograph the dolls in their outfits if you want to redress them in their original clothing.

There is a secondary market for used wigs on eBay so if you could sell them by lots. But don’t expect much money for them.

Second, I use the Mr. Clean Eraser to get rid of any marks or stains. Then I wipe down the doll’s porcelain or vinyl parts with a paper towel soaked with alcohol.

You can do the third step one of two ways or both if you’d like. If you are spraying, you might want to mask off the body and the top part of the head where the wig/hair will be glued.
1.     Spray the Mr. Super Clear and us it as a primer. I don’t do it this way but I have read where others have.
2.     Use a spray or brush on multi-surface primer and coat all the porcelain pieces.
Give these a day or so to dry and “cure”.

Fourth, while the dolls are drying, I dye the clothes (for the Gothic Girls) by following the directions on the dye. But first, remove feathers and any parts that you do not want dyed.  I do not do a final rinse and lay the clothes flat to dry. This gives the clothes that sooty look that I want for my Gothic Girls.

Rinsing the clothes will take out a lot of dye. Most colors do not turn “black” but come out in a dark tone. Most of my whites ended up gray with a lot of blues and purples

I paint (multi-surface paint) my shoes randomly while I’m waiting on something else to dry.

Fifth, I paint my all my dolls snow white but on some porcelain and the vinyl dolls, I sponge muted colors of grays, antique white, parchment, and pale tan. I did use a brush to paint the primer and the white on my dolls but now I use the sponge because I like the texture it creates. Let the dolls dry at least overnight.

Sixth, you can do one of two ways.
1.     I use charcoal pencils to get in close to the eyes. I also use a wet paintbrush on my charcoal sticks (as if you were using cake watercolors in a tin) if I need to get into really tight places around the eyes and ears.
2.     I have just started using Black paint mixed with Antiquing Gel.
a.     Spray the painted doll with another coat of sealer. I used a MATTE multi-surface sealer for this step to prevent the gel from soaking into the paint.
b.     Wipe the gel/paint mixture over around the dolls ears, eyes, nose, and mouth then gently wipe away. This is a step-by-step process of adding and wiping off the gel until you get the look you want. Then do the hands and feet if your doll has toes and you want her to go barefoot.
c.      Let the gel dry over night.
d.     Spray with the Mr. Super Clear sealer.
3.     Now I add charcoal to smooth out around the eyes and enhance the features of the doll. I use the stencil brushes to blend but mostly I use my fingers.
4.     On some dolls I add a little color with the use of pastels. I have a rust color, a pale tan color, and a light blue that I use on some of my zombie baby dolls to give them a lifeless look. But I prefer to leave most of porcelain dolls white.
5.     Spray Mr. Super Clear between coats to add more color/charcoal.
6.     I use a multi-surface matte sealer on my last coat and to dull that down, I use more Mr. Super Clear.
Seventh, I found patterns and instructions on Pinterest on how to make a doll wig out of Tibetan Lamb Wool/Hair pelts but since I have arthritis, sewing through the suede is painful and because most of my dolls’ heads are different sizes and shapes, I prefer to glue small pieces  (1/2”-2”) of pelt straight to the dolls head using Eileen’s Tacky Glue. I also switch the directions of the small pieces of hair so that the hair will look fluffier and have the unkempt look I want for my girls.  I have no set way of doing this. Each one is unique. But…I always have fun doing this step. You can use any color you like and even mix them up! I use the black rubber bands (like they use to make bracelets) on my black haired dolls but you can use clear if you can find any.

On the Zombie Babies, I use pastels (brown & light tan mostly), charcoal, and watercolor pencils (browns and tans) to achieve the look of hair on their bald heads. I did purchase a rooting tool...but I can't find it in my crazy studio! But that is an option for adding hair to the vinyl doll heads.


Eighth, I MUST use my EZ Lasher tool for applying my eyelashes. I use the toothpicks to apply the glue and to help me position the lashes. THIS is the part I like the least! I prefer to have my eyelashes drooping downward to give my dolls a “sleepy” look. It has taken me a few dolls to master this technique!


Ninth, I sign and date the porcelain dolls because it will be impossible to do after the next step.

Tenth, I dress the dolls.

GOTHIC GIRLS
1.     Start with the socks. Since the elastic is most likely stretched out, either glue the socks on or baste them to the fabric “knees”.
2.     Bloomers. Since the elastic is probably stretched out, I do a gathered stitch to fit the doll’s legs and waistband.
3.     Some dolls have slips. If your doll does not have a slip but needs one, they are easy to make.
a.     Cut a strip of netting (not tulle) about 20-30” in length and a little shorter in width as the distance from your doll’s waistline to the hem of her skirt/dress.
b.     Baste around one side of the length of netting and gather the fabric in to the size of your doll’s waist.  Then I stitch the slip to the doll. This technique also works on stretched out waistbands, sleeves, etc.
4.     I should add here that I HATE Velcro so I remove it and sew the opening closed. This way I can adjust the fit for a better look.
5.     Add the shoes.
6.     EMBELLISH! This is where you can do your own thing to make your doll’s dress a little more “one of a kind”.
ZOMBIE BABIES
1.     I used cotton diapers with large safety pins.
2.     Most of the vintage Christening gowns I use are damaged. In some cases, I repair the damage but most of the time I leave it to keep that “ghostly” look.
3.     I stitch the clothes to fit the dolls better with easy to snip basting or whip stitches.
4.     I make a lot of my bonnets from vintage handkerchiefs and linen napkins.
5.     I collect vintage booties and I have been lucky enough to find a few crocheted doll booties…but they weren’t cheap!



  
I do have one last thing I need to do and that is to order black doll stands for my Gothic Girls. I really don’t like the white ones that came with the porcelain dolls. I tried coating one with cheap flat black spray paint but the paint scratches easily. So, looks like I’ll have to invest a little more money in the dolls and buy a better paint.

AND FINALLY, I made (and ordered) business cards to use as hang tags and created my own certificates of authenticity.

I add to each certificate a photo of the doll that I have enhanced with Photoshop.



See, there is a LOT of work that goes into my Gothic Girls and Zombie Babies so don’t get a case of STICKER SHOCK at my prices! I’m just a starving artist looking for a little validation but I also want other collectors to enjoy my work.









           































Friday, September 30, 2016

Victorian Memento Mori Inspired Gothic Zombie Babies

This is one of only two babies I will do in this fashion and that is to use several muted colors to create this skin texture. They wear me out!




First of all, this little cutie weighs in at approximately 10 and that is a lot more than my two boys weighed at birth!

His weight is due to the reptile sand I put in his arms, legs, head, and body.

I'm saying this baby is a "he", but can also a "she" depending the outfit.

The vintage Christening gown is what really seals the deal with this baby giving him/her the gothic look of a Victorian Memento Mori photo. Not to make light of the death of babies, I am more fascinated in the process and popularity of photographing the deceased during the Victorian period.



But he also looks adorable in contemporary clothing and can wear newborn baby clothing making him/her the perfect Halloween Zombie Prop or One Of A Kind Art Doll to add to your collection!







S/he is a baby you can enjoy year round!






Saturday, September 3, 2016

GOTHIC GIRLS and Other Fun with ZoMbIeS!

Well, it's that time of year again!

Time to get crafty with Halloween (and year round) decor.

This year, it's all about ZOMBIES and GOTHIC GIRLS!

So far...I've only partially finished two! So I've really got to get to work!

At first I was going with just a bit of hair that had escaped from her hat.
I ended up giving her more hair and no bangs.

But then I decided to go all out and give her more hair and no bangs.


I do have eyelashes I want to add.
A shot of all her hair! This is Tibetan Lambs Wool Pelt. It really makes the best hair!
I didn't have good lighting when I finished her. I'll have to do a better photoshoot when she's complete.

Her coat was originally off white. The fabric took the dye differently giving the "fur" collar a purple hue.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Before You Bid on Items on the GOODWILL Auction Site...READ THIS!

I had to admit that I'm a bit addicted to eBay and recently, I've discovered that good deals can be found on another auction site: shopgoodwill.com.

But don't get too excited!

Because there is a catch.

I won the bid on a box of beautiful dolls from the artist/collector Greta Mae Hedgcock who once lived in Tuscan where she had a shop, Greta's Doll Nook, that she opened in 1979 and in the early 1980's she started the Tuscan Doll Guild.

When I bid on the dolls, I had no idea who the artist was but I knew the minute I saw them that they were special. Well, three were obviously mass produced "collectibles" but I could tell which ones were the quality dolls.



I was very excited about the two large male figures because you don't see many adult male dolls in porcelain dolls. And since I could not see most of the dolls, I took a chance based on the two large male dolls alone!

BUT...I've had trouble with Goodwill's shipping standards before and I've had some fragile things arrive broken so, in fear this would happen again, I contacted customer service and ask that they please wrap them carefully.




Well...I guess you know where this is heading!

Have you ever seen that Moluccan Cockatoo, Peaches? If not, take a break and watch this video!
If you have seen Peaches, then you'll know how I reacted when I opened the box and found that these fragile porcelain dolls had NOT BEEN WRAPPED in ANYTHING. They were just tossed in a box all piled up on top of each other with some peanuts dumped over them for good measure! HA!
Well, as it turned out, FIVE of the dolls were damaged and, you guessed it, TWO of those were the large male dolls. (You might want to watch the Peaches video again!)
I hate this happened but I would put boots on him anyway.
Okay! This REALLY made me open up a can of PEACHES!
Do you realize how impossible this will be to glue back together!
That is the "socket" where her ball joint rotates.
Chipped Knee

Broken MISSING finger.
 I know...they're only dolls!

But here is my perspective on this.

Yes, it is true that MANY people donate junk that they don't want to Goodwill just to be rid of it.

Another broken finger...but we found it!
However, there are those who truly believe that by donating good quality items to places like Goodwill they are helping out their community, those less fortunate, or hope that their collections and gently used items will go to someone else who can enjoy and appreciate them.

Thankfully, where I live, we have a church run disaster relief thrift shop so we know our money and our donations are a part of something meaningful...and if you've read in the news some of the issues with Goodwill, then you know what I mean.

But I digress.

I feel it is the responsibility of these charitable organizations to treat the donated goods with some respect, not only as a sign of gratitude to those who donate, but to those willing to purchase said items.

If shopgoodwill.com wants to compete with the almighty eBay.com, then they will have to work on their customer service.

At least on eBay, there are checks and balances in place to maintain some sort of decorum, but apparently Goodwill does not appreciate the customer and since there are no repercussions save offering the buyer their money back (the offending Goodwill only offered me less than half of what I paid for the dolls), it does not offer anything in the form of damages to irreplaceable items such as these dolls.

I mean, I was so excited to get these dolls (that took the Goodwill way too long to ship! It was supposed to be 5 Days...more like 10) I was anxious to see them. Like any good work of art, you just want to look at it and study how it is done, right?

So, unboxing the damaged dolls made me SO stressed that I was up until 2 AM fretting about it.

Then, after some sleep, it dawned on me that is was not my purpose to finish or even keep these dolls.

I am a Zombie/Gothic Doll and Santa artist.




And since some of these beautiful dolls are really out of my league, I realized that it was my duty to see that these dolls go to someone who would cherish them. But not just the dolls, some history of their artist/collector as well.
I LOVE this lady!
She is wearing a toile or maybe it is her slip.


I always loved dolls as a little girl and I still do love them. I know, crazy, right?

Oh, you don't know crazy until you read this part!

I had no idea who "Greta" was, only that her name was engraved (when the porcelain was greenware) and the dates she worked on some of these dolls.

But as I "played" with each one, they revealed Greta's story to me.

I learned (having found nothing online about "Greta") from the dolls that she had died, and not recently. I also knew that these were not her only dolls, and that she had created many, many more. I knew the dolls clothing had been constructed by her as well. There really is an energy associated with each piece that she crafted, insomuch that when I picked up the Duck House, The Broadway Collection, or the other doll with the very long peach dress, I got nothing except a strong desire to turn them into zombies!

You see, when underpaid workers in China throw together mass produced dolls, there is a sense of apathy and disappointment that stays with the dolls. YOU THINK I'M KIDDING! Just look at their faces and their lifeless eyes. PURE APATHY and DISAPPOINTMENT!

But even when I get ahold of them and turn them into zombies they change and a personality develops!

Because when an ARTIST crafts a doll, they put some of themselves, usually the best of themselves, into their work and you can see it in the dolls eyes...probably because the artist sets or paints the eyes so they will look at you...but more because that is what being an artist is and that's what art is for!

Whether it is Starry Night or a rag doll sewn by my Grandmother...it's all an artistic and expression of very unique creativities.
These are from a ROMANS mold.
But I digress...again!

What I really want to share is that after photographing and "handling" this pair of her dolls, I had a feeling that I should look up where the Goodwill was that I purchased these dolls. When I found out it was in Arizona (Tuscan) I did a search under "Greta Tuscan Doll Artist" and found this wonderful article written by Kimberly Matas with the Arizona Daily Star.

Greta Mae Hedgcock: Dolls played a vital role in life of Tucson woman

I know...see! The dolls told me those things about her!

We live in a society where if one thing is good, more is better. And I honor that code as well as any hoarder! But...I am putting the majority of the dolls (along with some of my baby dolls that were too cute to zombify) on eBay in hopes they will find a home where they will be treasured.

I'm only keeping two or three of her dolls. Two boys with porcelain heads and composition bodies, because they are smaller and will fit neatly on a shelf in my studio. The larger boy is signed by Greta in 2002 and the smaller one is not signed but when I hold him in my hand, I get this feeling that he meant something to her and that he is supposed to stay with me. There is also small girl, signed by Greta, that I feel I am supposed to keep.



You know, I say I am going to "finish" them, but I have feeling they are already complete!

Thank you, Greta!

And you incompetent workers at Goodwill...well, I wonder what Peaches would have to say about you!