Sunday, June 12, 2016

Exteme Primitive Doll Challenge

I am a member of the facebook group “Purely Primitive Dolls,” with Barb Moore, author of the book “Purely Primitive Dolls.”  She put on a challenge to follow her book, step-by-step and make an extreme primitive doll.  The only rules were to follow her instructions step-by-step, no skipping or cutting corners, and to document each step as we went along.  I accepted the challenge, and it really was a challenge.  Barb said to really put your emotions into it, so I decided to make a doll that represented me and all the pain I have been through.  I lost my mom to ALS two-and-a-half years ago, and now I have lost my two oldest daughters to my ex-husband who lives thousands of miles away. 

Overall, I learned a lot, but will definitely make some changes for my next doll.
When I look at the finished doll, she truly does represent what I look like inside.
Here are my documentations of my experience making the doll:
April 3, 2016
“I am very excited to be a part of this challenge. I have made a couple prairie dolls just in the past few months, but I have never done anything extreme primitive. With the prairie dolls, I did them very simple and it was like going against my grain by not finishing seams and by making them look old and dirty.
Barb said to pour our hearts and emotions into this doll. Recently I've had a lot of drama in my life because of my ex-husband, his wife, and her daughter trying to manipulate my 13-year-old daughter to turn against me and move away. I've had so much anger because of my ex. He has caused so much pain in my life. So as I imagined creating this doll with my pain and anger, I thought of making a doll that represented him, his wife, and her daughter. But as I thought about it, I really wanted to make a doll that represented ME. A kind, sweet girl who got hurt over and over. She will look nice until I start grunging her, which will represent all my pain.”
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Here are my tools, canvas, Barb's book, and my drawing of the doll I'm going to make. Because I have a torn ligament in my wrist and it is difficult for me to hold onto things, I will be using a foot callous remover instead of sand paper.
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April 25, 2016
My drawing on canvas. I made her a little bigger than what I had anticipated but I'm glad I made her this size; otherwise it would have been difficult to turn each piece after sewing.
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I used black thread to sew the pieces so that I could see it better.13083153_10208525196100570_4287834353428788645_n
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All cut out.
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Turned. I've never worked with this fabric before so it was tough. Even though I used turning tools, the canvas is so stiff, it was difficult to push out the hands and feet.13095916_10208525196420578_3791143097733574805_n
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My first grunge stage. She has been in hot water mixed with instant coffee, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It was a little slimy feeling. This picture is before I baked her. I like this color of her. It reminds me of chocolate and I love chocolate.13087643_10208525196740586_2092017968821333460_n
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April 29, 2016
After baking on lowest setting for about 40 minutes--20 minutes on one side, 20 on the other, then another 20 and set overnight. They remind me of chips. They are hard like they had sat in starch. I'm surprised at how light they are. They were so dark when they were wet. I thought I had the perfect color but I will be making it darker.
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This is my paint mixture. Mostly water with some paint.13256383_10208733524068639_4567221851843870096_n
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May 13, 2016
I can't believe I forgot a picture of it all painted. While I was painting it black, it reminded me of how my heart felt--all black. I actually think the painting was the most therapeutic for me. Then scrubbing it off, taking the black away. The foot callus remover was difficult to use, so I ended up buying a medium-grade sanding block which worked perfectly.13240758_10208651571259870_1541446622491733098_n
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Up close. Because the fabric is wrinkled, the sanding caused it to be uneven and tear in some places, which is what it needed.13165912_10208651571299871_9008902907653782689_n
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This is the stuffing I used. My son's old socks and an old baby shirt. Here is the sanding block I used.13178847_10208651571619879_8365406114042799718_n
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All stuffed. It was difficult to stuff, but using the hemostats made it easier. I ended up using some scraps of wool yarn for the hands and feet because they were so tiny.13173719_10208651571699881_1004341208394695085_n
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I sewed her arms and legs on. The needle was difficult to go through the fabric. I found that by spraying with water the places that I sewed, the fabric softened enough to get the needle through.13232949_10208651571939887_3442796806427834970_n
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May 14, 2016
The second grunge stage. I sewed her mouth and nose, and sewed buttons for eyes. I put nutmeg on instead of cinnamon because I have a ton of it from over ten years ago. The smell reminded me of an old antique shop.13221549_10208655539559075_7423016216153349552_n
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Up close. My 15-year-old didn't like the eyeball hanging. She thought it was creepy. I like the look. It adds character. I also slightly sanded the buttons to give them an old look.13233025_10208655539759080_364016026583907497_n
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Second sanding. I think she looks great :)13174080_10208655942769155_637259627264273347_n
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The "eyeball" sort of reminds me of a teardrop.13174033_10208655942849157_5150018301023289712_n
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May 18, 2016
Drawing a bird.
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Sewed, turned, and stuffed. I got too close to the seam when I cut it out, so it frayed really bad on the bottom and tail. I think it gives it character and makes it look like feathers.13256084_10208689228681282_6129947869576017241_n
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Painted black (mostly water with some paint.)13239946_10208689229121293_7832227407848055500_n
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Sanded.13239916_10208689229441301_2936066305966173484_n
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After grundging, I didn't sand it again. I painted the beak with orange paint, not mixed with water, and sewed a black bead for each eye.
I found that by rag-stuffing, it created high and low points on the fabric when I sanded, so it created it's own kind of texture.
I also did the bird a little differently. I stuffed it before grunging and painting, and it was actually pretty soft to work with compared to painting the doll before stuffing. I don't know if that's what made the difference or what. I can't wait to experience with my next doll.
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May 18, 2016
Drafting the dress. I traced around it, cut two pieces, dipped it in grunging sauce, and sewed it.13227085_10208689307283247_391231742213722738_n
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Last year I tore a ligament and didn't know it. My hand and wrist hurt so bad. Sometimes it throbbed with pain. I rested it and it didn't get better, so I went to the doctor and was told it was tendonitis. She said to stretch it and exercise it and if it wasn't better in two months, to come back. It wasn't better, so when I went back to the doctor, I asked to refer me to a specialist to see what it was. I didn't think it was tendonitis. She never referred me, so after a couple more months of pain, I went to another doctor and she immediately ordered an x-ray and MRI. It showed that I had a torn ligament, so I was sent to a specialist who said that I'm pretty much stuck with it and will have to deal with the pain for the rest of my life. In those 7 months that I dealt with the pain and not knowing what it was caused from, I fell into a great depression. I felt completely useless. I couldn't wash the dishes because it hurt so bad, so I had to rely on my husband and kids to wash them, which they rarely did. At times, I told my husband that if I didn't get better, I might as well be dead. When I found out it was a torn ligament, I looked up online how to treat it. I immediately wore a brace day and night for 7 weeks. I started putting essential oils on it and taking vitamins that are supposed to help the body heal and build ligaments. My wrist is so much better now. It has been three months since the doctor told me that I will probably have to spend the rest of my life with it, and I can already do things that I wasn't able to before. I wasn't able to wash my face without pain. Now I am able to. I have a ray of hope and I believe I am healing. It has been a depressing journey, though.
So I made a tear in the right hand.
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This is the hole in the heart from losing my mom 2 and a half years ago. She died of ALS. We were very close. Since she's gone, I feel like I have a hole in my heart that can only be filled by her. I am also in the process of losing my two oldest daughters to my ex-husband who lives thousands of miles away. They both want to move there because they are so sick of living here. They want freedom. They will be leaving in two weeks and I won't see them again until next summer. They've never been away from me for more than two months. I'm hoping and praying that by going there, they learn that the grass isn't greener on the other side and they want to come back. I'm hoping that they will learn respect and appreciation--something they haven't been able to learn by living with me.

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Here's the back. When I sewed up the dress, there was a big gap in the back because I didn't make the dress wide enough in the bodice part. I tore a piece of muslin, dipped it in the sauce, and sewed it on.
This doll has been quite a challenge for me, in many aspects. For one, it was going against my grain by making everything without a pattern, and trying NOT to make it perfect. After the initial shock of not making it perfect, I actually enjoyed it. No stress to make it perfect. No worries about flaws. Second, I had never done a doll or anything specifically like this before, so it was all a new experience. I learned a lot and often found myself wondering why Barb had us do it a certain way, but after doing it, I realized why. Putting on layers and taking them off really makes it unique. Lastly, it was a challenge for me to work with tough stiff fabric. When I made the bird, though, it wasn't as tough. I wonder if I put too much paint on the doll. Or maybe because I painted the doll before stuffing, but with the bird, I stuffed it, then painted. Either way, it made me want to experiment with different techniques and fabric. I am excited to work on my next doll!
ugly doll 023
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First I painted the stripes on the legs black, but I didn't like it, so I painted over it with red coral. Then I sanded them. I really like how the black sort of comes through where I sanded it more.ugly doll 021
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I chose a bird because birds hold a close place in my heart. A few years ago, I found four baby birds, barely with feathers, that had been tossed out of their nest. I actually saw them being tossed. I took them in and looked up online how to care for them. When they were grown, one of them flew out an open window. I decided to put the other three outside to get used to it so that I could let them go free, but they got too hot. Two of them died. I cried and cried. I felt like such a failure. Whenever I see a starling, I think of the four that I raised and I wonder (and hope) if any of them are the two that got free.ugly doll 020
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I had a little trouble figureing out how to place her hair. I decided to use 100% wool yarn. I wrapped it around a piece of cardboard, then cut a slit in the cardboard where I would sew it. I had two different pieces: one for the bangs and top part of the hair, and the other for the ponytails. First I sewed on the back part, but it was so difficult because the fabric was so stiff. I broke about 3 needles. So with the bangs, I decided to hot glue them on. Then I dipped the yarn in the grunging sauce and set it outside to dry. I wish I would have taken a picture of it when it was dry. The yarn was sticking straight up. Then I used a metal hair pick to fuzzy the yarn. I tore strips of muslin for the hair ribbons and dipped them in the sauce and let them dry.
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She is finished! :)
Sewing on the buttons added character to the dress. I wanted to make it as close to my original picture that I drew. Of course she's not very close to my original picture, but she is definitely unique and I feel she really represents me and all I've been through. ugly doll 018
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I almost forgot to sign!13239267_10208733686312695_7282245995125910642_n