Stuart & Nancy ~ 50th gift

stuartnancyWM-1284I had the pleasure of making a 50th anniversary gift for my friend Judy Sue to give to her dear friends Stuart and Nancy. She asked me to include pertinent info like names and dates and suggested that I put in a pair of birds and a heart. As always, I began by drawing thumbnail sketches of the basic design.

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About halfway through the process, when I’d already made the birds, I realized that this would be a good project to show how I work. You’d think that this would be automatic by now, but it’s always a challenge to stop and document while you’re engrossed in the middle of something. I took a few photos and also asked Rob to do some filming. You can see high action close-ups of my hand stitching, winding and arranging parts in the video below.

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In this piece I tried a new way of handling thread wrapped wire. In the video, you can see me winding wire around another straight wire rod and pulling it out, creating a curled spring.

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Stuart and Nancy should be receiving their gift this weekend at a surprise party. It is highly unlikely they will see this post, so I think it’s safe to publish it now. I enjoyed making the piece and it was a real honor to help Judy Sue express her love and friendship to this couple!

See what it looks like finished on the end of this post.

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Wedding dolls: Max and Beth

 

max-bethblogWMMy friend Terry’s son Max got married a few weeks ago. Over the years, Terry and I have worked together on so many fun projects, including these: wedding cake, baby quilt and community quilt. So, Terry and I conspired to make a special surprise for the wedding couple.

I couldn’t wait to make little Max and Beth dolls for the wedding cake. Max and Beth met when they both worked as engineers at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Since they helped design parts for NASA’s Mars Rover, it became their obvious prop. Terry found a set of Lego directions for making “Curiosity” and enlisted the help of Max’s cousin to put it together.

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Beth’s dress was one of those strapless jobs. Way before the wedding, Terry sent me a photo of the gown, so I could replicate it in miniature. The biggest challenge was to make a smooth transition between the doll’s felt torso and floss wrapped arms. Usually sleeves or shoulder straps provide a break that hide any raw ends. You can see a couple of stitches on the top, where I fastened the top in place. I don’t know how real life women can wear this style, without the help of magic! In this close-up, her felt chest looks a bit fuzzy, hairy even. But that’s wool felt for you! Fortunately, it’s not so noticeable on the 4″ doll size.

I’m glad that Max insisted on wearing a blue blazer and khakis, which gave the wedding a relaxed Cape Cod feel. They both looked spiffy!

Before we go any further, I want to mention that my upcoming how-to book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures ( March 2015) will have many examples of wedding cake toppers for you to make. You can see other wedding dolls I’ve made here.

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maxbethdolls2Terry was originally going to make a Mars cake for the rehearsal dinner, but decided to simplify things by constructing a non-edible “Mars” stand from an inverted bowl covered with fondant. It was tricky to get the color right and she ended up using beet powder, cinnamon and cocoa. Terry rolled out the colored fondant and made impressions with a celestial patterned sheet of plastic and a rolling-pin, both with raised texture. She then spread the dough over the inverted stainless steel bowl. At the dinner, Max and Beth were totally surprised to see their likenesses lounging on the rover. The pair of dolls also made an appearance atop the wedding cake the next day.

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mars2Both the rehearsal dinner and wedding were lovely events. Congratulations, Max and Beth!

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Ryan and Lael wedding dolls

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Ryan and Lael will be getting married next month in Woods Hole, so I made them a pair of dolls as a wedding present. They met here as children, when they were Woods Hole summer kids.  And this wedding will join two families that have been coming every summer for generations.  I’ve always been a bit jealous of the summer people, who seem to appreciate their time in Woods Hole more than we year-rounders. For them, it’s special and magical, like summer camp, where you play and socialize, without the regular responsibilities associated with your “winter” home.

It was clear that a conventional white gown and tuxedo would not represent this couple’s theatrical leanings and spirit of adventure. Since the bride and groom have more than a passing interest in medieval history, I dressed them in period attire. Their costumes were so much fun to research and figure out how to make.

As with the Glen and Susan dolls, these figures use some techniques, such as wig-making, that will be included in the new edition of Felt Wee Folk. Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures will be coming out in the spring of 2015.

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Glen and Susan tie the knot

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Glen and Susan surprised everyone when they got married in a small private ceremony last December. They are a special couple, who are happy to have found each other at this stage in their lives. Now, they are planning to celebrate their union with their friends and family at their home in June.  I thought that they could use a pair of portrait dolls for the occasion, perhaps as cake toppers. I delivered the dolls a few days ago and you should have seen the look on their faces!

How do you like their eye glasses? It’s the first time I’ve tried making them and now I want to experiment with more ways of bending wire. And how about this photograph? I am so lucky to have my husband Rob document my work at a moment’s notice. We set them up outside in the periwinkle patch and took their photograph at different times of day, with natural lighting. I really like the way this one came out–it shows the dolls in a scene, but you can see the details, too. These dolls use some new techniques, like wig making (not the eyeglasses-they were made after the manuscript was handed in) and clothing, which will be included in my new book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures (Spring 2015). Until then, the original edition, Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects is still available from my Etsy Shop here.

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2 new baby jackets

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Within my sphere of friends, two new baby boys have recently been born. So, I made them each a little jacket, which is my go-to baby gift. I love going through my stash and picking out fabric to use for the outside, lining and bias edging. I’ve used the same Simplicity pattern 9647 for about 30 years, adapting it with cotton quilt batting padding, so it’s warm. Their names are chained stitched on the front. Welcome to the world, Eli and Kieran!

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Eli’s jacket

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Eli was born a few weeks ago to a librarian friend. It  was a good reason to get out the sewing machine and find some suitable fabric in my stash for a baby jacket. What satisfaction to complete a project in an afternoon! I’ve been making this style jacket for about 30 years and have recently taken to embroidering their name on the front. Welcome to the world, Eli!

Last year my friend Terry and I made a quilt for baby Teo, which you can see here.

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baby Teo’s quilt

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Terry and I finished the last details of the baby quilt on Saturday, May 25th at around 12:30 pm on Saturday. We later found out that little Teo was born at almost exactly the same time we declared the quilt ready to go. We haven’t met him yet, but we hope to deliver the quilt some time soon. See closeups of the quilt squares here.

We’ve had a wonderful time working on this quilt. Over the past 4 months, it’s flown across the country and back again, easily fitting on my lap as I chain-stitched on the plane and in airport waiting areas. Curious stewardesses wanted to know all about it. And, when our plane was low on cabin pressure and had to land at the nearest airport, I held onto it as we quickly descended. It was a safe landing and we were able to get home on another plane.

And baby Teo has also landed safely. Welcome to this world, Prince of Bees! Teosquilt

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