A family of Wedding dolls

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It seems like every summer, someone I know is getting married or celebrating a big anniversary and this year is no exception. My good friends Judy and Phil Richardson had a small gathering to celebrate the recent marriage of their daughter, Mary to David. And Mary orchestrated a 50th anniversary surprise for her parents at the same time!

This was an opportunity for Terry McKee and me to partner up again for a cake and doll project. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might remember some other creative adventures that Terry and I have embarked on in the past. We’ve teamed up for so many cooking and sewing projects that we have a special category here.

My part was constructing 2 sets of wedding dolls, one of Mary and David and the other of Phil and Judy. It helped to have reference photos to make likenesses in face and clothing. They were based on the patterns and directions in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk-New Adventures.

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Terry made a delicious lemon bundt cake with a stand for the dolls in the center hole. She devised a paper New York Skyline to surround the couple, complete with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

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Judy and Phil, on the other hand, needed a vessel to ride in, since they would be floating in a sea of ice cream, glazed with blueberry compote.

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Terry came up with the idea of adding a shortbread depiction of Vinalhaven, Maine, where they were married 50 years ago. Here are Terry and I, enjoying the results. It was another successful collaboration indeed!

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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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wedding cake prop

I’ve recently finished making a group of wedding couples (see photo at the end of post) for the new edition of Felt Wee Folk (2015 pub date). While I was working on them,  I imagined that the dolls would be photographed on a cake, lined up on tiered layers. As a prop, the cake didn’t have to be real, but I wanted it to look realistic. My friend Terry McKee provided technical assistance and moral support as we spent 2 afternoons in my kitchen working the problem. A few years ago, we made a real wedding cake, which you can see here. cake9 We quickly found out that the sharp edges of the styrofoam cake forms tear through the fondant, so we changed our approach.  We padded the sharp edge with fondant and abandoned the by-the-book instructions that called for draping the cake over the top and sides with one piece of fondant. We decided that a top and collar would work better, since we would be able to cover any seams with frosting later. cake7 Here’s Terry rolling out the fondant collar. cake6It took most of the afternoon to cover both tiers and the base.  cake8 cake5

I lined up the dolls to see if they would all fit. After Terry went home, I spent the rest of the afternoon decorating the cake with pieces of fondant that I cut out with leaf and moon shaped cookie cutters.

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On day 2 we resumed work on the cake. Terry put her piping skills to work as she applied frosting around the edges.

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I piped out some squiggles on top and voila, a wedding cake! Terry was a big help and it’s always more fun to work together as we tackle these new and unfamiliar projects. The cake should last a bit, being just sugar and styrofoam. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it after we photograph the scene.

cake1Rob and I set up the cake in the light box, with a silk curtain behind and took photographs for the book. Sorry about the teaser, but this is as much as I can show of the dolls. I still have a lot to do for the book, but I can feel it getting closer!
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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. 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. It’s easily fitted 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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baby quilt in process

My friend Terry and I are at it again! We’ve collaborated many times over the years and our recent projects include the Woods Hole Village Quilt, nursery rhyme cookies and a wonderful wedding cake. Now we’re making a baby quilt for a friend who’s due to have her baby boy any day. Terry pieced and sewed together a trapezoidal grid of bright cotton fabric and I embroidered designs that had a connection to the baby’s parents. There’s their red truck towing their boat and their chickens and honey bees, along with other fun images that a baby can identify. The chain-stitched objects are from 1 to 2 inches in size. For the past month, I’ve been posting a new embroidery from this quilt every day on my Facebook page. Most of the quilt was embroidered in airport waiting rooms and aboard airplanes during our recent trip to California. When Terry puts the layers together, we’ll figure out how we’re going to quilt it. I’ll show the completed project when we’re finished. I hope that we get it done before he goes to college!

Update: See the finished quilt here.

Shona & Amy’s Wedding Cake

Shona and Amy’s wedding was as wonderfully unique, warm and loving as they are.  My friend Terry and I made their cake as a gift and they graciously left the details to us. We have worked together on many projects, including the Woods Hole Village Quilt. For the cake, we were free to create our own vision of our friends and decided to feature our local corner of southern Cape Cod. On Friday, Terry and I got together at her house to work on the decorations. The cake was going to have a raspberry filling, so Terry needed to cut the large cake sheets in half. Using a setup her husband Keith devised for the purpose, she sliced the cake with a saw rigged with a banjo wire.

I busied myself cutting parts out of fondant, while Terry spread the filling and spread the frosting.  I combed a wavy texture with a pointy toothed triangular tool. Then, I sprinkled blue shimmer dust on the waves through a fine strainer.

Woods Hole and the Elizabeth Islands were made of fondant and covered with green shimmer dust.  I spelled out Buzzard’s Bay and Vineyard Sound, using cute little cookie cutters. I also made the wedding couple’s house out of marzipan.

We positioned the boat and dolls heading southwest along the chain of Elizabeth Islands  in Buzzard’s Bay

Terry piped the cake edges with frosting and we started to add decorations. I had made a fondant banner with the wedding date 2 days ahead and it had dried enough to crack in places, so we had to do some patching.

Terry had found these worm shaped candies, which we used to make a wavy border pattern on the lower tier.

Terry fixed the banner, while I added candy fish, lobsters and octopi. This project was becoming more fun by the minute!

We made a candy stone wall along the base of the cake.

And added some walnut-shell sailing dinghies and another candy wall. Beeswax holds the masts on place.

Here’s the sea gull’s view.

And yesterday, Shona and Amy saw their cake for the first time. What a special day!

nursery rhyme cookies

My friend Terry and I made nursery rhymes themed cookies ahead of time for the Pocketful of Posies book release party on Sept. 26th at Highfield.  We had a fun time picking shapes that would go with the book from our collections of cookie cutters. Terry is always game for anything to do with cooking or sewing. We’ve worked on many projects together including the Woods Hole Village Quilt, which I wrote about here.

We made sugar cookies…

and gingerbread cookies.

This tree cookie cutter was from my grandmother’s kitchen stuff. It looks like some of the embroidered felt trees in the book.

from Jack & Jill in “Pocketful of Posies”

I especially liked decorating the little houses with squiggles which reminded me of the embroidered doodles on the felt borders I’ve been making for the past few months. We had a lot of cookies to cover with icing, so I squirted quickly and loosely, not worrying about perfection.

There are many houses in the book. This one is from the rhyme “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day”.

Rain, rain go away, from “Pocketful of Posies”

At about midnight, we stopped and loaded the cookies into the freezer, to keep until the party.