Posted in Dollhouse, Fashion dolls, general discussion

Gradual stiffening, in miniature

Flower detail in Lily’s garden

Lily’s garden wall of brick and foam represents the idea of gradual stiffening – the second, but probably not the last, time I’ll mention the influence of Christopher Alexander and his pattern language in my work. I like to think that he would be amused to see his patterns applied to these tiny worlds. In any case, it amuses me.

Flower detail in Lily’s garden

Gradual stiffening is a philosophy of building which says, loosely, don’t plan everything down to the last detail and implement it all at once. Instead, continue to make approximations over approximations until you lay down enough layers of approximations to create the finished product. Or, from the language:

“Recognize that you are not assembling a building from components like an erector set, but that you are instead weaving a structure which starts out globally complete, but flimsy; then gradually making it stiffer but till rather flimsy; and only finally making it completely stiff and strong.”

Here’s the solid brick wall, which shows realistic depth and texture in photographs.

I’ve violated the rule, somewhat, by creating some wall fragments from sturdy stuff, but I needed to see how the solid bricks would photograph.

. . . and it’s foamboard companion, which looks fine as a background but suffers in focus.

I’m holding to the rule in principal. In my mind, I see Lily in a high-walled secret garden with a solid wooden door. What I imagine, though, may not suit Lily at all. So I’m mocking up the secret garden with flimsy bits and pieces until I see how she wants to live in it. Only then will I put in the hours necessary to create a sturdy little world for her to live in.

Camellia chilling in Lily’s garden



Posted in Dollhouse, Fashion dolls, Lily

A garden wall for Lily

No matter who wins the presidential election of 2016, there will be a wall. It will be strong, it will be solid, and no one under the height of 5 inches will be able to scale it.

They will, however, be able to walk around it and enter Lily’s garden. Such is Lily’s garden wall.


Continue reading at mydolladventure.

Moving to a self-hosted site

I’ll be migrating my site to a self-hosted site over the weekend and launching the new site on Monday.

I’m planning on continuing to post summaries here with links to the main blog, but let me know if that turns out to be a hassle and I can move your subscriptions over to the main site.

If you want to check it out, the new site is

Posted in Characters, Daisy, diorama, Dollhouse, Fashion dolls, roombox

Daisy’s room ‘o foam ‘n photoshop

The impermanence of Daisy’s current life is written all over her room. Where Rosie has metal and wooden furniture filled with bits of her life, Daisy’s space is all flimsy foam furniture and empty cupboards.


The most obviously flimsy part of her room is the lack of a second wall. I have the materials to put a wall behind her desk (including the 24 inches of carefully cut and painted beadboard), but I just couldn’t be bothered putting it together.


That was a foolish time-savings, on my part, since I spent more time photoshopping in the missing wall then I would have spent creating an actual wall.

Here’s the real view from Daisy’s desk:


and the very fake photoshopped in wall:

annie in photoshop

The desk itself, while nice enough, is also made of foamboard. It’s the remnant of an earlier time (e.g., a month ago) when I was more careful about creating elements for her room. Now, I’m so impatient to get her on her way that I can’t even glue a few beadboards onto some foamboard.

Her window seat is also foamboard:


And her rug is a piece of felt from the local crafts store.

She does have one real piece of furniture – a wooden wardrobe (probably a jewelry box) from Goodwill:


But I didn’t even fix up the shelves for this shoot, and I left the scrapbook paper hanging by a pin behind it.

The *real* action in Daisy’s room is all the stuff piled to the side.


These are all of the characters and accessories from upcoming episodes, including a mysterious stranger in sunglasses.


Meeting that stranger will start her adventure. She’ll pack her suitcases (now carefully stored away with her travel clothing) and leave all this foamboard and photoshop behind.


Posted in Fashion dolls, Writing

Writing without words

Early on, I decided that my doll adventure would rely very little on words. What entranced me were the the story and the images, and everything that pulled me away from that felt like a distraction.

The problem with that strategy is that it threatens to make my images a little pedantic – pictures in support of a plot detail simply aren’t going to be the best possible images. I really felt that in the difference between Rosie’s doll adventure (last week’s adventure) and Daisy and the mysterious photos (this week’s adventure). Photographing the first felt like an act of creation, of bringing things to life. Photographing the second felt more like solving a puzzle, of putting together little pieces to communicate specific details.


On the contents of the torn photo:

I knew from the start of creating the adventure that it would circle around a photograph. Daisy is a photographer, and the adventure is ultimately from her perspective. I also knew that the photo had to be complete enough that it was clear what Daisy was looking for (someone who could help her find her family), but not so complete that she’d know how to begin the search. And the second half of the photo (the second shoe) had to provide that completion and give her enough info that she could figure out where to go.

The contents of the photo, though, were in flux almost up to the moment I created it. At one point, I had young Rosie in the photo. At another, I added a gift her mom had given her. One version had the numbers from a street address. The final photo, though, had just two recognizable elements – a woman and the word “secret” in Italian. On the back is written the word Nonna (or Grandmother, again in Italian).


On the characters in the photos:

young daisy with photo

Young Daisy (in the first photo and the newspaper article) is played by a mini Rapunzel doll with a curly wig.


For those who know my mom, you may recognize her as they mysterious woman in the torn photo. The full photo is a picture of my mom with her brother and sister and their spouses after her high school graduation. That’s my mom in the front, her brother Vincent and his wife Peggy on the left, and her sister Claudia and her husband Frank on the right.

This is the last big event photo where Claudia appears – she dies young of a stomach infection before my mom finishes college. My mom’s other brother, Mario, dies before she’s born – drowned at 16 while boating on a lake. My mother, Marian, is named after him.

Of the 5 Miletti children, only two (my mom and Vincent) make it to old age, and only my mom has children. So all that’s left of the original family is myself and my siblings, some pottery from my Grandpa, and a pile of old photos.