Monday, July 21, 2014

Feral or Stray–that is the question

And the answer is, Stray. I’ve been tossing the word feral around to describe this beautiful little cat that has adopted us, but having now done some in depth reading, it’s now more apparent that Radar is not feral at all.

The term feral is used so often now, that anyone seeing a cat wandering around not appearing to belong anywhere must be feral. Not necessarily so. A friend sent me a link to the rescue group in her area of Pennsylvania and since reading on that site, the difference between feral and stray, I now “get” the difference between the two.

Quoting from Alley Cat Allies, a site I found last night, this is their definition of the difference between the two types of cats.

“Stray:

  • A stray cat is a cat who has been socialized to people at some point in her life, but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence.
  • Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles.
  • Under the right circumstances, however, a stray cat can also become a pet cat once again. Stray cats that are re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to re-acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time outside away from people. ·
  • Another definition that may help:
    - “A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has ‘strayed’ from home and become lost. Stray [cats] were once pets and they can usually be successfully rescued and placed in homes.” – Stray Cat Handbook

Feral:

  • A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.
  • Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes.
Why does it matter?
  • Stray cats can readjust to living with people and can be adopted as companions.
  • Adult feral cats are not socialized to people, which means they cannot be adopted. As a result, they are likely to be killed if picked up by animal control or brought to shelters, so it is in their best interest to continue living outdoors.
  • Stray and feral cats can be difficult to tell apart, especially when they are trapped or frightened. Scared stray cats often need time to relax and show their level of socialization. Learn more.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return takes into account each cat’s level (or degree) of socialization to determine the best environment for them. Feral cats are returned to their outdoor home after being trapped and neutered. Socialized cats and kittens can be adopted into homes.”

Radar is definitely not feral, he is just a sweet little boy who has had to “make” it outside for a very long time. Some people’s perceptions of cat ownership are different, but the bottom line to having a healthy loving and non aggressive cat is simple basic training and providing a safe and loving environment to call their home. They are no different than us, we all need to that sense of comfort and belonging.

Since he’s been with us, I’ve made up some toys for him. Toys are necessary to encourage play time. I’m in the process of making some cat nip mice. He has others that he flings up in the air and pounces on them.

He now knows that outside at night is no longer an option, he has a curfew of 10 pm and seems to have an internal clock to let him know it’s time to come in. He is getting better at sleeping through the night without that need to be out on the prowl.

He had a hacking cough when he first came back and I was worried that he might have asthma or a heart issue or something terrible, but then I noticed that he only seemed to do that at night. I came to the conclusion that it was a stress reaction. It appears that i was right, because the coughing has stopped and he isn’t panicking when he sees movements in the dark.

Lots of changes and in a positive way. One thing that I have been giving him at night to help, are these one a day chewies from our local pet store. Calming

He is going for his meet and greet with the vet soon, and am sure he will get the all clear.

If you live in the Pennsylvania area, this the site my friend sent me. The Hundred Cat Foundation and be sure to watch the video at the bottom of the main page.

There is also Jackson Galaxy who has a good handle on the felines in our lives.

So that’s the latest from my desk. Have a wonderful week…

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Special Finds

These are some things I found in the past week. I love these special finds, especially when you weren’t looking for them.

The first one was a real treasure. It measures approx. 10” wide and high. The price of $10 was so good I bought two of them. I have no idea which dolls will get to enjoy their new cozy sofa’s, but they are just perfect for someone.

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The added bonus to the sofa’s was that when you flip the top of it back, you find a secret compartment in the bottom. What fun to make a doll for a customer and then show them that they can put some kind of little treasures in there.

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The other things I found were these sweet beaded purses. My friend Jessica and I went for a walk the other day and the first thing we came across was a garage sale. I don’t normally stop, but these little purses were catching the morning sun and just beckoning me to come forward…lol

They measure just over 6” both ways. I have a couple of spots to fix up the beading, Once I check them over and secure any other weak spots, I can then take them apart and I’ll use the beaded fabric on my dolls. They would make beautiful bustiere’s, and maybe a flowing silk skirt to compliment that. I paid $2 each for them. What a find.

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When we passed by the garage sale again on the way home, Jessica spotted these in a free box and thought I could use them for my dolls, and I agreed. They are either key fobs or handles from purses which is more likely. I could see them being used for belts, or if done carefully, I bet I could even use them to make some pretty bling inspired boots.

Don’t you just love it when others are looking out for you, and helping to keep your stash healthy. Thanks Jessica. ;o)

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Whoa Nellie!

Just finished this doll in a class with Cindee Moyer. Another fun project from the mind of Cindee. I really had fun with this and it’s on display now in the tea shop next to a grouping of tea cups with horses on them. How appropriate.

The colour scheme of mine is somewhat similar to Cindee’s, quite by accident. Somehow I manage to pick up things for my stash that eventually come around to be exactly the right thing for a project, and curiously similar to what a designer has used. Very strange how that happens. I’m glad I listen to that muse of mine and purchase things that I don’t necessarily need right away.

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Normally I would do the fabric overlay on the face, but this time I decided I would just leave the sculpting showing and see how that works out. I quite liked it, and will do that again with another of her projects (like I don’t have a lot of those to catch up on).

For the dolls hair, I used Hemp. A local fibre artist has a really good collection of fibres she’s collected up over the years and while at her home recently, I spotted this hemp fibre. The recommended hair for this doll was actually horse hair, but the hemp worked out beautifully. You have to of course give it the respect it craves and not overwork it. Just handle it as little as possible and it works well.

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I added one extra embellishment, and that was the little brown buttons where the trim is attached the horse, at the front and back. I didn’t trust the trim to stay together even sewn well, so I added a drop of glue and a button and it did feel much more secure in the morning.

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My base is done the same as most of my bases. I almost always cover the top and bottom with two different colours of felt and add a trim around the edge. I started doing that so long ago and I just seem to always go to that. I works, it gives a nice finished look that people respond well too. And that’s it.

I’ll show you in my next post a very cute find I made yesterday… Has given me so many ideas. Back soon.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Meet Radar

Through a crazy set of twists and turns this past few weeks, we now have a new permanent house guest. He showed up a year ago for visits, then went missing recently for 30 days and miraculously found his way back here to us a week ago. He was crying at the back door and frantically pushing on the door willing it to open. Pretty thin and starving but otherwise in good shape.

He is now a permanent fixture. I had taught him some little things before he went missing and he somehow managed to remember those things and just simply picked up where we left off. Of course, now that he’s back home, his night time roaming as a feral cat has come to an end. He seems to be adjusting to that quickly and I suspect he’s really not that concerned given the option of a safe environment compared to the unknown “out there”. We have raccoons in the area, so better and safer for him to be inside.

To see him in action, you would never really know he was feral. He’s quickly returning to the sweet little buddle of kitty kisses and cuddles he was a month ago. He’s getting over whatever the adventure was that he was on. We drove the route as much as we could to figure out how far he came and it’s about 3.5 – 4 miles.

A little spooked still from sudden movements, but learning quickly those are just every day movements around the house and no threat to him. He plays like any other cat and of course tries to assert the Alpha male role with the older cats that visit, but it never works out for him.

This is the moment when he tries to explain to the neighbours cat, that the treats come to him first, so stand down.. Yeah right…

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We are learning to use his new name befitting his recent trek into the great unknown, and he’s learning how to respond to it… And so the journey begins. Welcome back Radar to your forever home.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More Ravens

In 2010 I did the Raven class with Cindee Moyer. Since that time, I had done four of them, the original black version, a black and silver one for a customer, a red one and a white one. My friend Janet has loved them since they first appeared in the shop and has asked me to make more.

The count is now seven Raven’s. These are the latest three. She asked for one, but it was just as easy to make three as it was one. That way the clean up of feather debris is only done once too. ;o)

This is Azurine. In her hands, she is holding white silk gardenia’s.

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This one is Citrine. She has a red rose cupped in her hands.

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and the last one is Indigo. In her lap is a song bird.

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And of course the family portrait. Now off I go to finish another Cindee doll. I love making her dolls, they are easy to do and have so much fun built into them at the same time.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

The New Colored Pencil–Part 2

The New Colored Pencil  -

Create Luminous Works with Innovative Materials and Techniques

Author Kristy Ann Kutch

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Part 2: Covers - Water Soluble Coloured Pencils in 3 chapters.

Chapter 6: This chapter begins with how water colour pencils are made and the various places in the world they come from. The discussion covers nine brands of water colour pencils, and the number of colours available for each. There is a helpful chart as in part one that shows the brand names, the number of colours, the price points and key characteristics. I was happy to see that the author includes a reference to using an electric pencil sharpener and recommends using it. I started using one a few years ago and so glad I did.

There is information regarding the types of surfaces for water soluble pencils which includes watercolour papers and the variety of materials they are made of, the weight and finish. Kristy suggests trying a variety of materials to see how each works with these pencils, but focuses a fair bit of attention on Sanded Pastel Paper and Aquabord. There are extra tips provided along the way in this and other chapters to help you avoid problems she experienced.

Chapter 7: Chapter 7 focuses on brushes. You will be reading about the different types of brushes used with water soluble pencils. The topics covered will explain which brushes you would use for the subject matter you are going to be working with and the details you achieve with the various brushes. Having been a decorative painter, a valuable learning curve was understanding why you use certain brushes for the effects you hope to achieve. Kristy has explained this very well.

A very good article is included regarding how to clean and store your brushes and the need to do that to keep your brushes in good condition. One brush referred to specifically as being especially handy, is a “self-contained water brush” and why it is so handy. At the end of the chapter there is an example of watercolour art and how it was created using brushing, grating and spattering with water soluble pigment.

The one thing lacking in this chapter was a photograph of all the brushes that are described. Three brushes are shown, but there several others mentioned. I think that would have been a useful picture to include to go along with the descriptions to give the reader a visual aid. However, the book is small enough to take with you to the art store and use as a reference when looking for the brushes.

Chapter 8: Part two of the book finishes with water soluble pencil techniques. This chapter speaks to the different ways of applying Aquarelles. The specific topics include, start dry then add water, creating washes, and glazing. There are examples for customizing a palette, building colour with under painting and grating pigment over a wet surface. The example given detailing the steps to creating art with the grated pigment technique is my favourite. The sample shows me clearly how the art piece developed using the grated technique to build up the colours and achieve the speckled look. Easy to follow along steps.

The next section, controlling and lifting water soluble coloured pencils, explains very well how to control excess water you may have on your project. With just a few simple techniques you can save it from being damaged by too much water. Lastly, the chapter includes solutions for dried pigments. As in the rest of the book, each chapter ends with two page examples of how to use the techniques learned using text and visuals. This chapter includes three of these two page examples of how to create vignettes, dynamic backgrounds, and splattering using a spray mister for soft focus backgrounds

Part 3: Covers - Waxed Pastels & Combining Coloured Drawing Media in 2 chapters.

Chapter 9: This chapter begins with a definition of what wax pastels are, how they are made and what makes them different from regular colour pencils. The first two topics in this chapter define the difference between water-resistant (or permanent) wax pastels and water-soluble (or Aquarelle) wax pastels. Kristy explains in detail that the permanent wax pastels are well suited to quick linear drawing where the aquarelle are more geared to a softer type of drawing. Each option has a full page description. There are 6 brands of wax pastels covered. There is a chart as before that lists the different wax pastels, the number of shades, the price points and their key characteristics.

Along with the Aquarelle wax pastels, is further directions for creating bold backgrounds, painting directly from the water soluble wax pastels and creating customized washes and grating the wax pastels. Completing the chapter are four examples of the techniques covered. The examples include both text and step by step images.

Chapter 10: The final chapter of the book brings together everything you’ve read in my posts. This chapter covers “Combining Colour Drawing Media”. It begins with a synopsis of how all these regular coloured pencils, water soluble coloured pencils and wax pastels can be used together to create your art pieces. I’ve used all these types of pencils and some experience with the wax pastels, but never thought about using them all together, so I have enjoyed this chapter immensely.

There are four sections in this chapter.

  • Aquarelle as a base layer for traditional coloured pencil
  • Aquarelle as a complimentary under painting for traditional coloured pencils
  • Enhancing traditional coloured pencil with water soluble media and
  • Combining all three coloured drawing media

Each section explains how to use the pencils and/or wax pastels together. A pencil referred to, that I must now go look for, is the Sanford Verithin, it can be sharpened to a needle-like point and incorporated for fine details. Completing the chapter and the book, are two examples with text and step by step images to describe the techniques covered. The last one is a seascape and Kristy calls this example, Putting it all Together.

Notable:

  • The only thing I found missing, was that one picture of all the brushes that were described. That would have been very useful.
  • The Appendix has colour charts for each brand of coloured pencils, water coloured pencils, and wax pastels. A very good reference to help with choosing the brand you prefer to use.
  • Charts throughout that compare brands of colour pencils, water soluble pencils and wax pastels, to illustrate their features.
  • A healthy number of images throughout, which is what I need as the visual learner that I am.
  • The instructions are written in an easy to understand format.
  • I like that throughout the book, on each page the text is broken up into small sections that make it easy to follow along.
  • Tips are provided in darker coloured boxes.
  • I find this type of layout holds my attention more than long columns of text that run on over several pages. I can grasp the information far more easily and enjoy what I’m reading. I can refer to the images presented and easily go back to what I was reading.

As a footnote to Chapter 9: I went to my local art store when I reached this chapter, as I wanted to collect some flesh tone wax pastels to experiment with. They had a new one I haven’t heard of, Prisma Colour Nu Pastels. These particular ones are water soluble, and they had a good selection of flesh tones, so this is another brand for you to look for.

Overall, I found this to be a very good book. A quick reference book rather than a book of projects. I don’t use mine for paper or canvas work, but what I learned from this book will help me with my doll making. If you use any of these pencils or water soluble pencils and wax pastels, this is one of those handy to have books. I hope you have enjoyed this review.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The New Colored Pencil – Part 1

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a representative of Watson-Guptill Publications and asked if I would be interested in doing a book review. Of course I said yes after seeing that it’s a book about coloured pencils, something I use daily for my doll faces.

The New Colored Pencil –

Create Luminous Works with Innovative Materials and Techniques

                    Author Kristy Ann Kutch

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I really like this book, it is 176 pages of coloured pencil goodness. It starts with the bright colourful cover, which will get my attention every time. The size of the book, 8 ½” X 8 ½”, a more compact size making it easier to hold and to fit into a bag to take with you if need be. The book is divided into 3 parts which makes it so easy to find what you’re looking for.

Part 1: Covers - Wax Based Traditional Coloured Pencils and contains 5 chapters.

Chapter 1: This chapter begins with great information about the different brands of pencils and the how the pigments vary according to what brand you are using. The artist brands of pencils compared to student grade with give you a higher percentage of pigment, meaning your depth of colour is be greater. In this section too, Kristy references 13 different brands of pencils and their composition, using terms such as Buttery “Wet” and Crisp “Dry” pencils, terms I hadn’t heard before. Mostly I have just picked out my pencils based on the recommendations of the teacher in a particular class, without really knowing why they prefer a specific brand. For serious artists the information about the pencils in this chapter is an invaluable tool.

Of course it follows that the price of your pencils will vary depending on the brand you choose. There is a very good chart that compares all the different pencils available, how many colours available in each brand, the price points and the key characteristics. This is great information to have when it comes to the type of artwork you are planning.

Chapter 2: Discussion of the variety of surfaces that are compatible with waxy coloured pencils. The different papers, canvases and novelty surfaces that pencils will work with. There are charts that detail how the different papers and surfaces will work with your coloured pencils. There is information regarding the new types of surfaces available, pastel surfaces for coloured pencils and the various surfaces from smooth to grainy, with the look of your finished being determined by what surface you choose. The novelty surfaces touched on include drafting films and real wood paper as examples. The traditional surfaces and the new are discussed in this chapter, you will have a good understanding of what each offers and again, the author provides charts comparing those differences.

Chapter 3: Colour Wheel. This chapter discusses the use of the colour wheel. The colour wheel is often passed over because it seems too daunting or perhaps misunderstood. But, the colour wheel is a great tool to have for understanding the many uses of colour in artwork. This book provides very easy to read and understand explanations. You will come to know the differences between cool and warm colours, how colours work together to give you the results you’re after and simple explanations of how using the colours the right way can enhance your work. Topics covered included creating a value range, cool, warm and complimentary colours and playing with colour contrast.

Chapter 4: You will learn how to create simple line drawings, and tips for lifting pencil colour. I was surprized at the number of ways to do that. From the familiar white vinyl erasers and others, to a battery operated white eraser that I never knew existed. So interesting to read how that works. There is a great section on “Methods for Applying Coloured Pencil Pigment” by building up layers (my favourite thing to do on doll faces), how to sharpen and how much to sharpen pencils for your particular needs. I was also interested to read about using a metal mesh screen to grate colour onto the surface to build up layers that way. Who knew, a technique that I can easily transfer to doll faces. Masking areas of you work is explained giving examples of products you can use such as Frisket Film.

Chapter 5: Describes how to blend colour and create texture with your art pieces. The term “layers or layering” is a common theme and explained well. There are ways of blending colours such as using solvents, blending with brushes and sponges, using non-toxic heat in the form of an Icarus Board. Something new to me as well and would definitely look into if I were creating my art on canvas. The author gives examples of affordable blending tools. Ways to create texture through the use of line impressions, Frottage, Sgraffito, Mottling and Speckling. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the use of negative space. Topics for this include using a toned surface, close-cropped composition and vignettes (vignettes are wonderful). Kristy goes on to illustrate how to achieve these techniques, as she has done in previous chapters.

This is the end of Part 1, Part 2 and 3 to follow in the next couple of days.

There is far more information than I could include or I would be rewriting her book. What I really enjoyed and this applies throughout the book, I would refer to this as an art reference book.

The way it’s broken down into three parts allows me to flip to the section I need to refer to. Once there I don’t get bogged down in too many details. The information, in my opinion, was put together in a way that is helpful for busy people like me that just need a quick reminder or definition of a technique, but there is enough information for a seasoned artist to refresh and renew their skills.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sidney Museum’s Doll Exhibit

Here is an update about the doll exhibit. I’m giving you an article from the local paper where Ginni is explaining the different dolls from the different era’s. I was so happy to get a mention. I am also sharing some of the pictures I took to highlight a few of them. Hopefully the YouTube video at the end will give you even more to enjoy. Most of these are Ginni’s doll collection with the exception of myself and a few other local collectors.

You can click on the newspaper article and hopefully it’s large enough print that you’ll be able to read it.

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This table is a display of my dolls. She has it at the front as you come in.

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This cabinet contains the oldest dolls in the show, dating back as far as the late 1800’s.

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No doll show would be complete without the bride doll display. On the right is Princess Diana and below her at Kate and William

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Some of the American Girl dolls

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Part of the Barbie collection, of which there are so many

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Even our Town Crier got into the act. How fun. Click on the image for the full article in the weekend paper.

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And on this picture for an earlier article in the Times Colonist

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There is no place to hide, every door leads to somewhere. Sorry for the intrusion  ;o)

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I loved this display. It reminded me of spending time in the kitchen with my grandmother. Museums are so special. They take you back in time to relive those special times that held so much meaning for you.

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There’s even a spot to sit and watch silent movies. They have so much to keep you interested, male and female. The museum does have some military displays, so the men in your life can spend time looking at those.

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Here is a link to the YouTube video, just 12 mins. to tour the display with Ginni and Karen Elgersma from our local tv station… I hope you enjoy this. Just in case the video below doesn’t start for you, I’m including the link to YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkD4y4BZVQc

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Presentation Doll

My commission doll is done. It was a start stop and start again kind of time with this doll. I suspect because I really wanted it to be just right and I really need to wait until I hear the click in my head to know that I’m getting it right.

There were 3 requests for this doll. Some casual humour.  Then something that speaks to the West and of course the person herself. So here we go.

Humour…. that comes in the form of her fuzzy pink/black polka dot slippers and polka dot socks. She also does a parody of Martha Stewart in one of her performances, so I made some mini book covers of MS’s magazine and glued them to some little books from the dollar store and secured them in the basket on the side of the cube.

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The West Coast Culture I have incorporated, is some First Nations art. I have used some artistic license to make this little button pillow. It measures 4” square. I have used an old earring with a First Nations feel to it and fashioned it into a necklace. I have made the leather pants and she has a belt with a gold buckle at her waist. In the picture below you can see the little books better. They are about 2” tall.

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More covers and of course the guitar as part of her musician background.

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The rest that represents her, is of course the box I already showed you from the last post. The silky jacket is very much like what she wore at a concert. The final touch was her hands. I made new hands as the others were too much like troll hands. These new ones are more feminine. I found a cute little microphone and made the hand to wrap around that. The caricature turned out just as I hoped once I added her hair and hat, that finished the look. I will reveal who the artist is once she has received this a few months from now, so stay tuned.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Finally !

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for the clouds to lift. This commission doll I’ve been working on has to be special. It’s going to be a a presentation doll and will be given in the fall. I posted a while ago the little caricature doll that I’m working on, and had it sitting and standing with a chair.

Somehow it just wasn’t coming together, didn’t feel right, not convinced that I wanted to use that kind of prop for this doll. I was building a sofa for it last week and half way through, I said NO, this isn’t it. What to do what to do….

I went to my cupboard to look through my stash of wood pieces. In a past life I did a lot of decorative painting. Aha, I pulled out a wooden cube that measures approx. 7” square. It doesn’t open anywhere, it’s just a cube.I got this idea to decoupage sheet music on it as the person receiving this doll is a musician. I went out in search of sheet music and in the middle of asking at a shop if they carry paper with music on it, I heard that amazing sound I wait for each and every time I make a doll. That all too familiar CLICK. Whether it’s light bulb coming on, or my muse giving my brain a smack, I heard it.

Of course!!!!!!!!!! I have copies of this persons sheet music that is available on line, I’ll print that out and use it….So I came home and after thinking about what to use and getting a suggestion from a friend I went with my original thought to tea dye the paper. I didn’t make it really dark, but I like that it turned out looking well used. I used the first pages of 5 of her songs. I have Mod Podged it to 4 sides and the top. The bottom will be covered with felt.

The only other issue, how to attach the doll to the top because the cube doesn’t open.. That was actually the easy part. I positioned the doll on the box, made two pencil marks and proceeded to punch holes in the top. With help from my DH, I got the threads fed through the holes. Now I can push those threads through the dolls hip area from each side, and secure it to the box. I’ll add some glue for the extra hold and a drop here and there under the legs/feet and it should be good to go. I have more done on the doll, but I’ll show where I’m at with it, in another post.

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A TIP: If my problem solving idea gives you food for thought, just a quick tip. Remember to tie off the threads while you continue to work on the doll. I didn’t want them coming out or sliding into the box, so they are tied in a bow for now.

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