Posted in Dolls

Finding a familiar for Camellia

When I first told Camellia I was giving her a bluebird as a companion, she laughed. Warmly and sweetly, of course, with her air of sadness, but still, a laugh.

I’m not sure what I was thinking. Maybe of Snow White singing with the bluebirds.

maybe of a lovely bluebird my Aunt Shirley gave me for a wedding present (here it is beside my bed, along with an odd collection of goats and tigers).

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Or maybe I was just thinking that I had a handful of tiny ceramic bluebirds I could use.

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Whatever I was thinking, Camellia was having none of it. Camellia, most emphatically, is not the “singing with the bluebirds” type. Maybe Daisy, but not Camellia.

After she put her (tiny) foot down, I went in search of a pet she might have with her on the boat.  “A familiar” Camellia corrected me. “Not a pet; A familiar.” Corrected, I went in search of a familiar.

I actually have an animal that would make a great match for her – right size, right attitude – but there was no way it would just happen on her out in the ocean. They do hang out together, though, when she’s not on the set.

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A dolphin might find itself near her boat, but it seemed too . . cheerful, I think . . . for Camellia. And whales, even of the smallest variety, were just too darn big to fit in a scene with her. Plus, I rather recall that, when a whale enters a boating story, the boat soon exits.

That was all of the mammals I could imagine she might encounter, and the only reptiles I could think of were sea serpents, which seemed completely wrong, so I circled back to birds.

Traditionally, owls are familiars, especially of characters of Camellia’s sort (more on that in another post). Here’s a crocheted representation of that relationship I found on Flickr.

Wizard and Owl

I don’t really picture owls over the ocean. Do they migrate? I have no idea, but I didn’t think so. (Googling I see that, as expected, owls are not migratory birds, but they do irrupt – an unknown but familiar word which exists in “rupt” class, along with erupt, and interrupt. It means either to enter suddenly or to migrate unexpected (as in owls) in response to a change in their environment). Anyway, it all seemed too improbably, even for a story starring a doll, so no irrupting owls for Camellia.

There are lots of seabirds, but I didn’t even consider them before I settled on the raven. (Parenthetically, again, a pelican would have been lovely. I wonder, though, if pelicans have the same tendency to connect with people that ravens have. No matter, the only pelican I own is roughly 5 times Camellia’s size, so it won’t be appearing with her.)

Anyway, I picked a raven for her, and she’s seemed happy (in her sad way) with the choice.

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While Camellia has been waiting in the wings, she’s fallen in love with the broken-eared dogs from Aliexpress. How I’m going to get a dog across the ocean to her, I’ve no idea.

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Posted in Camellia, Dolls, Fashion dolls

Setting Camellia Adrift

On the 12th page of my doll notebook – where I jot down tasks and notes – I’ve written”sort out ocean.” I even have a checkbox next to it, so that I can check it off my list when the ocean is done being sorted out.

Camellia’s ocean is about to take a starring role, and it’s ages from being sorted out.

First, as you know, the ocean is largish. And, as you might also know, it’s wet. My dolls are not about things that are large, and they’re particularly not about things that are wet. So, I have a problem.

I’ve had some problems all along with Camellia and the ocean but, up till this point, the ocean has managed to stay outside the boat and Camellia has managed to stay inside. That’s about to change.

 

Posted in Camellia, Dolls, Fashion dolls

Enter Raven, stage right

Camellia’s journey continues, with an unexpected guest.

Camellia and the raven 1

Camellia and the raven 2

Camellia and the raven 4

One of the difficult things about posting drafts of in-progress work is that I’m forever realizing that I did something wrong the first time. In this case, that I didn’t make Camellia’s early images in B&W (you’ll see why, in a bit). But, I promised myself that I wouldn’t go back and make revisions, at least until this first adventure has reached its conclusion, or I’ll never make any forward motion at all.

So, if you can, just imagine that Camellia was in B&W in her first sequence of shots, and that she continues, monochromatically, during her meeting with the Raven.

 

Posted in Dolls, Fashion dolls, Lily

Lily waits in the wings

There’s one more character, waiting in the wings.

Lily is the only doll I had custom made. My other dolls are all variations of Andrea’s (from Wildwood dolls) available characters. But, when I went looking for an older, female doll, I couldn’t find any. So I asked Andrea to make one, based on my favorite older female character – Miss Jane Marple. Specifically, the Miss Jane Marple played by Joan Hickson.

#joanhickson #AgathaChristie #missmarple #classic

A post shared by Tracey Asquith (@tracey_asquith) on

If ever my dead body is found in mysterious circumstances, I can only hope that Jane/Joan, with her mixture of sweet old lady and all-knowing understanding of the foibles of the human character, will find the culprit.

Here’s the doll Andrea created (now named Lily), waiting, with her dog, for her first episode.

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Lily is also the name of my Dad’s mom, who bears a passing resemblance to the doll (although not to Joan Hickson). Here’s Mom (as we called her) with some of my Aunt Posie’s kids.

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Mom died when I was young, and all that stuck with me about her was that she was very devout, that she managed to stuff an awful lot of hair into that tiny bun, and that she taught me to whistle one night when she was staying at our house. She didn’t talk a lot and she seemed rather stern.

A few years ago, I uncovered a batch of letters between her and my Dad after he moved away from home. The woman in those letters is entirely unknown to me – funny, wise, and able to rise through whatever was thrown at her – mainly way too many children, and way too little money.

Here she is describing how her boys got their sick Dad to her mother’s house (next door) where a car could reach him:

“I didn’t figure Daddy should walk to Grandma’s, even if he could. I asked Sam if he could think of any way they could transport him. He took the big chair apart, used the comfy upper part of it, and fastened it securely to a couple iron side rails from a bed, and presto! there was a comfortable riding chair. Sam and George furnished the horsepower; at any rate, they carried him safely to Grandma’s; except the bridge(?) – he felt safer walking the log.”

Here, she talks about meeting one of her son’s future wife for the first time, and what must have been a very difficult experience in feeling her son’s shame for her living conditions. Still, she finds the funny parts.

“When we got word they were coming, we decided to postpone our Thanksgiving until Friday evening (Roosevelt gets away with it; so did we.) Everybody scrubbed and cleaned and hid things until no one could find anything they needed. Then we knew it was time to stop and call it a day. I guess he had painted us pretty black, and then found he didn’t have to apologize for us after all. We spent a jolly evening together. Poppy pinched her arm, explaining that he wanted to make sure she was real, and not something out of a store window.”

Here, she offers my Dad love advice shortly after he writes about meeting my Mom. She’s trying very hard to paint a rosy picture about marriage, but somehow ends up writing something else altogether.

“Here’s two seasonal extremes that are running through my mind: “In the Spring, a young man’s fancy, lightly turns to thoughts of love” – “Love loveth best of all the year October’s bright blue weather.” I have found that it holds in spite of all things; I may become angry (not often) at my life partner, but I’ve never ceased loving him- and that love is stronger today than during our courtship. It’s been refined by thousands of days of faithful service. We’ll be married twenty-five years September 4. Daddy is an ideal lover, and probably will make a wonderful grandfather; he has a mean streak in his makeup, and a sharp critical tongue that tends to constant friction in the home, and with the neighbors, too. I lived with him for three years before I ever heard him swear, or speak harshly to me. Then it was about you and Tom; it’s amusing to me (when I can view it impersonally) how, in ten minute time any given morning, he can have every youngster “roaring mad” without any effort on his part. I’m telling you this, in hopes that you will learn self control in speech. Learn to say and do the kind thing automatically, then in times of crisis it doesn’t desert you.”

Finally, she offers some cold comfort for my Dad’s (apparent) complaining about his life in the merchant marines:

“Your last letter sounded so blue; is your liver all right? I think you should be thankful you *could* rest your hours off duty. What if you had a colicky baby who kept you awake all night after a day like those you spoke of? Or a willful wife who nagged because you weren’t doing more so she could have a new fur coat, because the one you bought her two summers ago was out of style. Guess what Poppy said “He oughtn’t to mind cooking the food and serving it. After all, he didn’t have to provide it.” He said to tell you you’d know what work and worry really was when you had a wife and ten kids of your own.”

“Is your liver all right?” That just cracks me up.

Anyway, to strong old women everywhere, I bring Lily (the doll’s) stories, and I hope that Lily (the woman) would have liked them.

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Mom (uncharacteristically smiling) and my Uncle John in a rowboat in Central Park, NY.

Posted in Daisy, Dolls, Fashion dolls, Photography

Dolls in the great outdoors

I have a series of shots of my husband from our hikes titled “Bob, dwarfed by nature” where he appears very small against enormous mountains, waterfalls, etc.

For my dolls, however, I don’t have to get out of the backyard before they’re made to look as small as, well, they are.

Here, for example, is Daisy dwarfed by grass

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and by pebbles

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Here are my various tween dolls surrounded by pine needle roughly the size of swords.

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All of this makes it very difficult to just take my dolls outside and take a picture of them. As soon as I get them out of the house and away from the tiny things made just for them, they appear . . . doll size. I briefly considered writing a story where they were actually their own size, but they seemed so real that I wanted to place their adventures in the real world.

There appears to be a whole art form of photographing your doll outside – I take these examples from Flickr where there’s an entire group dedicated to just photographing dolls outdoors.

Here’s the rough range of solutions, from that Flickr group.

Blur the background

Pensive Anna Stesia

Photoshop them into an outdoors picture

Path of the white birch

Photograph them on natural materials that scale well, like moss and rocks

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Photograph them so far away from the object that the scale seems OK.

James River Rambling

Just make the scale work for them

Sunshine

Or pose them on top of something that’s to scale (I think this is tiny fake grass) and use the real scale objects as a backdrop

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The very fine Elgin Park uses this”tiny world in front of the real world” style

Double SETUP SHOT for UFO Photo

The only other method I’ve seen seems so complex that I don’t think I can pull it off – building an entire world to scale and letting the characters move around in it. It’s what stop motion animation does. The only casual photographer I’ve seen using it is the Marwencol photos.

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I’ve toyed with an idea that I haven’t seen much in doll photos – some combination of real and drawn objects. This blog post is an example of the opposite – all of the objects are 3d, except for the main character, who is a 2d paper cut out.

https://akiraandprops.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/the-bear-and-the-hare-john-lewis-christmas-advert-2013/

So, something like that, but in reverse, and with the “real” real world as a backdrop.

The dolls are heading outdoors, using one or probably a combination of all of these methods, and we’ll see how it turns out.

 

Posted in Daisy, Dolls, Fashion dolls

Daisy shoots the sky

Daisy continues her day-in-the-life with a quick bike ride along with her camera and dog.

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daisy shoots the sky

Daisy shoots annie 1

Daisy shoots annie 2

annie against the sky

On the technical piece – I’m almost at the end of my have-to-be-photoshopped pictures and hoping to explore some new outdoor photohraphy techniques soon. I’ll talk about that in Wednesday’s post.

On the plot side, I mean for Daisy’s life to seem sweet, but small and confined. Rosie and Camellia, the real adventurers, will seem boundless by comparison.

That’s created an odd tension for the story, and for me. I’m so caught up in Rosie’s story (which I’d originally thought of as just a little throw away) that it’s hard to force myself to attend to Daisy (who was the original inspiration for the story).

Psychologically, it’s a little disconcerting to find how bored I am with Daisy’s life (which roughly mirrors my own) and how much I long to inhabit the adventures of Camellia and Rosie. Hopefully I’ll come to peace with that, for both of our sakes.

Posted in Dollhouse, Dolls, Fashion dolls, roombox, Rosie

A casement window for Rosie

Rosie is the only doll who doesn’t get to travel the world – so I wanted to be sure that the world could come to her. In her story, it flows in through open casement windows. She sleeps under the open windows, and, every night, some new adventure creeps in and rests on her pillow, beckoning her to follow.

So, she needs windows – big windows – that can stand open and let in an adventure on the night air. Rosie would just conjure them up, out of gossamer and dreams. I had to rely on strips of tiny trimmings, a miter box, and a lot of Aleene’s tacky glue.

I don’t know if you’ve ever really looked at a window – I hadn’t. It’s made up of many  distinct parts, which all have names. None of which I can recall. Instead, I’ll just show you what I’m doing.

First, there’s a frame all the way around the inside that runs perpendicular to the wall. Something like this:

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No one is every going to see this piece, so you can join the wood together in whatever inelegant fashion you like. I’m using a butt joint, which just means that I’m gluing the end of one piece to the face of another piece, like this.

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Also, again since no one can see it, you can use any kind of cheap wood you want. One word of advice, which came hard-earned for me – don’t use balsa wood on this piece if you’re planning on making casement windows. You have to drive a pin through the wood (to serve as a rotating point for the windows) and the balsa wood will split at the pin hole.

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Any real, soft wood – like basswood – will work fine. Here it is, again, this time in basswood.

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Next is the window piece itself – the thing that hold the window pane. There’s a very elaborate way of doing this, if you’re ever going to view the window from the outside, which gives you a clean look on both sides. However, no one every looks in Rosie’s window, so I instead went with my very favorite discovery – something called “tiny trimmings” which they sell for around $2 a yard at my local home depot. Here’s my current store of the stuff.

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You can get these in all kinds of different trim – elaborate decorated trim, or rounded shapes – but I just needed a simple angle piece that would create an open space in back where I could glue in the window pane.

Since this piece *is* visible, you want to put nice joins on it. I only know one way to do this – with a miter box and 90 degree angles – like this

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Here it is, drying in the frame, with a bunch of craft sticks stuck in to keep the glued edges tight.

For some reason, the angles required for these cuts are beyond my ability to reason. I have no idea why but, every time I cut one of these pieces, I do it wrong three times before I do it right. My head actually physically hurts while I’m trying to figure it out. You’d think I was solving the mystery of the universe instead of putting 4 little pieces of wood together. Here, for your amusement, are an assortment of laughably wrong attempts.

This piece, for example,

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would work perfectly if the final window were to look like this.

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This piece

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is cut right only if the pane forms some kind of mobius strip

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and this one . . .

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I can’t even imagine in what situation this one might be useful and it makes my head hurt to think about it.

Eventually, you should end up with something like this. Two windows ready to be attached to the frame.

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For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve left an enormous gap on both sides. It was supposed to be 1/8 ” – just big enough for the windows to swing open. Instead, I appear to have left a much larger gap on both sides.

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For this reason, I have to make the last piece – the trim – extra especially wide in order to cover up these ridiculous gaps. Normally, you’d have the trim overlap the join to the wall, since that’s where the gap normally is. But, instead, I’m having it overlap the inside of the window so that I don’t have to redo my windows.

I’m using the miter box again, to get my 90 degree angles. Since this piece of wood is flat, I have less opportunity for mistakes, but I do appear to have gotten the length entirely wrong.

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This is really puzzling, to me, because I measured the thing four ways from Sunday before cutting it. All I can figure out is that I measured the distance to the bottom of the cut instead of the top. Anyway, there’s no way I can see to fix this – the thing is just way too long. So, I’m going to have to cut the bottom off of it and just reglue that piece with a butt joint instead of my miter cut joints.

There’s a few last steps that I’m not going to show (because I haven’t completed them yet). I have to cut a clear piece of thin plastic to use as window panes, and I need to attach the windows to their hinges. With any luck, all of that will be done by the time Rosie has to go out her window.

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* Rosie is the creation of Andrea Meyer of Wildflower dolls. If a doll can be a muse (and, I’d argue, it can) Andrea creates muses.