Thursday, November 22, 2007

With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm

This doll was originally made by someone in Quebec. Her owner brought her to me for repairs. Apparently she had been Anne Boleyn in a past life because she arrived with her head tucked underneath her arm!

The central portion of the doll had been firmly made but the arms, neck and head were too soft to withstand any handling at all. Her arms were also very long for her body. To fix her I opened her up to remove the old broken armature. I used a stronger gauge of wire as I believe the owner likes to pose the doll. It should last longer than the original pipe cleaners did. Mind you all wire is subject to metal fatigue.

I carefully removed her hat, hair and horns to reuse. Then I unwound the ball that had been her head reserving the surface wool (skin) for later. I made a new head which I secured to the new armature. Then I recovered the head in the old wool so that the design would remain the same. I followed the same procedure with the arms. Once the head and arms were repaired I secured them to the doll and repaired the incisions I had made to get at her skeleton. Once she was all together again I needled until the whole doll was as firm as the central portion. She grew quite shapely as you can see.

She came to me with no stand. So I improvised. I used a small plastic medicine cup that came on the top of a bottle of pepto bismol. I'm not kidding here. Everything old is new again.

I have some old rather long felting needles that I don't like much. I poked one up from inside the cup and into the doll adjusting for balance and posture. Once she seemed settled I filled the cavity with wool and needled it into the cup firmly. I then wrapped the outside of the cup in wool, needled that and embellished it.

Wish I'd thought to take a before photo. It probably took more time to repair her than it did to make her in the first place. I'm quite pleased with how she turned out. And my client was over the moon.


Sparx said...

Helen, this is amazing - this stuff just blows me away. I love the balls, I may have to get some instruction as I really love the idea. And, did I tell you I weave now? My gran gave me her massive floor loom and I'm starting simple pattern tests on it. I bet they'd felt well if they were wool - can you felt weaving?

Helen + ilana = Hi said...

The short answer is, of course, Yes.

When you make something out of yarn by knitting, weaving or crocheting it first and then put it in the washer it definitely becomes felt.

'Felters' refer to this process as fulling since technically it involves only the final process - fulling - in order to create the finished felt.

There are several good books out about knitted felt and I'm sure I've even heard of one about woven felt. I'll see if I can spot the name for you.

In the meantime just make sure the piece is about 20% larger than you want the finished article to be; be sure you are not using superwash yarn as it does not felt; throw the yardage in the washer with hot water and some towels to bash it about and bada bing bada boom -- you'll have felt