Saturday, September 17, 2011

In Progress: Paper Dolls

Well, it seems I've totally neglected my blog for awhile. But I'm looking forward to updating more regularly. If you notice a lack of updates, please, send me a scolding email.

I'm working on a fun side project that I've been thinking about doing for some time— illustrating/crafting a set of paper dolls. Recently got it started, after joining The Designer Co-op. Here's a little background...

I was always a crafty kid. Way beyond the easy-bake oven or paint-by-numbers level, if I might say so myself. Jewelry making kits were one of my strongest early skill sets. The photo of my first day of 3rd grade showcasing my giant neon painted clay earrings is proof of this.

There is one particular childhood project that stands out to me, mostly because I remember how excited I was about it. I think it was 4th grade. I was in the elementary school library, flipping through the American Girl magazine, and came across a craft article called “Pen Pals”. They were basically ball point pens wrapped in embroidery thread made to look like dolls. I was so excited about this that as soon as I got home from school that day I asked my Mom to take me to get supplies.

I was a pen-pal-making-machine for weeks, months even. I soon got bored with the basics of hair, shirt, pants, and toothpicks as arms. I started creating new accessories and refining the details…. customized clothing, earmuffs, scarves, pom poms for my cheerleader edition, and even different hairstyles. Here’s a photo of my prized collection, thanks to my Mom’s cell phone photography skills.


The point of this post isn’t to relive arts and crafts time… well, actually it somewhat is. My point is that working on personal creative projects shouldn’t feel any different than silly childhood crafts, at least in some regard. You should be oozing with the same excitement to work on your own projects as you were to build a model airplane or make a turkey out of construction paper hands.

Aside from reminiscing about my childhood craft days, part of my inspiration for this project is from a set of paper dolls that I was given as a child. A sweet old woman from my church, Jean, hand-made my sister and I each a set of illustrated paper dolls. They were awesome. At the time, I didn’t appreciate them for their artistic value. I just knew that it was freaking cool to have a paper doll with a cowgirl outfit complete with boots and a lasso. I’m sure we tore those dolls to shreds and now they no longer exist. But I remember them vividly.

Paper dolls seem like a logical and also exciting outlet for my love of watercolor and recent interest in fashion illustration. It will also get me away from a computer.

I started making look-alikes of my family members and giving them as gifts. I couldn’t wait to work on those pens each day after school. I even entered them into the 4-H county fair, taking home a blue ribbon. I was a craft nerd.

Here’s a collection of some visual inspiration for the project. I'm thinking it would be fun to mix in some realistic photo textures with the watercolor elements.

I recently received a Bloomingdale's look book in the mail, so I've been using it as a starting place. Here's some sketches I've been doing to experiment with different fabrics and textures. More updates to come soon.


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