Harry Potter Magical Wand

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Daffodil Day - 28 March 2014

Hilda Boswell - Daffy-Down-Dilly

Yesterday was the Irish Cancer Society's annual Daffodil Day.  It is always the last Friday in March.  I've posted about it before and the badges representing past years are from my earlier offering.

I think it is a lovely idea.  It's so nice to see everyone going about their business in Dublin with a sunny silk daffodil pinned to their jackets.  Somehow the day seems a bit brighter and people look a bit more cheerful.  There was a very good turnout of volunteers this year, selling silk flowers and badges on every street corner.  I was glad to see there was still a strong presence. With the economic downturn its always a worry that good causes will fade away.

I tend to buy the badges rather than the silk flowers as they are easier to keep and I'm building up a nice little collection.

This year I also bought a pack of note cards.  I find blank cards very useful and I prefer having something that supports a charity.  A few years ago we lost a colleague at work to cancer.  She was only 45 and left behind two young children and a husband who adored her.  It made me realise how quickly and unexpectedly cancer can strike and how important the work of an organisation like this is.

I love daffodils.  They are a real reminder that summer is just around the corner.  At midnight tonight we change the clocks for summer time - longer days but I lose an hour of sleeping late tomorrow morning!

I always include this little paper doll for Daffodil Day.  The full set of Mother Goose Paper Dolls can be found here.  It is one of my favourites from my childhood.

Hilda Boswell - March and April

Warmer days are almost here ..............

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Disney's Cinderella

Like many little girls throughout the ages I dreamt of growing up to become a princess.  (Nowadays I aspire instead to a quiet life with a veggie patch, a rose garden and maybe a bee hive).

Perhaps the most accessible princesses during my childhood were the Disney versions.  I loved all the classics of the time, but Cinderella possibly had a slight edge when it came to my affection.

I think the appeal of Cinderella is the 'against all odds' aspect of the story.  She endures great personal tragedy, reduced circumstances and overt cruelty - and then just when life seems at its bleakest - fate (and a fairy godmother) step in and whisk her away to a new life of happiness and promise.

When we went to Disneyland (Paris) I chose a small figurine of Cinderella as my memento of our holiday.  

 I can't seem to photograph her successfully but she stands on my dressing table with all my other little treasures.....

.... . And then last Christmas I bought a 'vintage'ornament for the tree.  It was a bit of an impulse buy but I couldn't resist it and she looked really pretty amongst the other decorations.. 

The most bizarre thing has just happened.  I was busy adding these pictures to my blog when I saw a Google notification. It told me 'an awesome photo has been added' and someone else has included this effect of the tree sparkling - how strange is that! 

My Mom owned these two identical little books of Cinderella and she loved them.  The books are really small - like the little pocket dictionaries I used before we were able to look things up online.  As a child I could never really see their appeal.  They were not big or colourful enough for me, but I treasure them today because they meant so much to her.

Something that has always intrigued me is that Disney brought out two versions of Cinderella.  I've always found both quite magical.  Does anyone know if the alternate version was ever made into a movie?  If it was I've never come across it.

There is a well known paper doll book based on these illustrations - I've never owned a copy but have seen it advertised for sale and have often been tempted.  

When I was eight years old (don't laugh I know I was that age exactly!) one of the big South African supermarket chains gave out a page of card when you shopped there (it must have been some sort of promotional offer) that had a game on it - I think it was a bit like snakes and ladders.  It was similar to the sort of thing that appeared on the back of cereal boxes.  The illustrations all centred around Cinderella wearing the ball gown from this version of the story.  I would love to find a copy again but doubt any are still in existence.

I've always thought this paper doll book a particularly lovely one.  It first appeared 4 or 5 years ago and looks like it is from somewhere like Russia.   The dolls and dresses are gorgeous.  I'm not going to repeat them all here but will instead give two blog links where you can see the complete set (including other Disney princesses as well)

One can be found here at Paper Doll Collections and I also spotted them on the blog belonging to Miss Missy  (a fellow OPDAG member).

Of all the blog posts I've ever done the one that still continues to be visited the most (at least 50 times every day) is my compilation of Disney love songs.  I shouldn't be encouraging more traffic to it but the link to that post can be found here.  I wanted to put the same version of the song at the end of this post to finish but can't get it to list in the YouTube search so have included another one instead.  



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Galadriel Paper Doll

 I've been wanting to make a paper doll of Galadriel ever since I saw the first Hobbit movie (An Unexpected Adventure) way back at the end of 2012.  I preferred the first instalment of The Hobbit to the second - and one of the things I really adored about it was the beautiful soft, fluid gowns that Cate Blanchett wore.

The next OPDAG Paper Doll Studio issue has Favourite Films as its theme.  I had already sent in my submission (which I'll wait to show you after the magazine comes out on the assumption my doll will be in it) when I decided the time had come to finally make Galadriel.  When she was finished I sent her in as a second submission.  I don't know if Jenny will have space or want to include more than one of my dolls, so I thought I'd put her up on my blog straight away just in case she doesn't make the cut.  

I was really pleased with the way she came out.  She is a very practical doll - easy to cut out and dress with no fiddly bits and for that reason I think the finished result is quite effective.

Galadriel - ROTK
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Royal Flush - OPDAG issue 107

This is my doll from the latest issue of 'Paper Doll Studio' - the quarterly magazine showcasing the work of OPDAG members (The Original Paper Doll Artist's Guild).  The theme was 'Queens'.  There were so many dolls I could have made I hardly knew where to start, but in the end I went with this one as she allowed me to indulge in some fairytale fashion.  I called my submission 'Royal Flush' and she is a tongue-in-cheek representation of the four suits of playing cards.

I had two surprises with this submission.  First of all my doll was chosen to announce the issue when the newsletter to all OPDAG members was sent letting us know the magazine was ready for posting.  The three artists who appear alongside her are all big names in the industry and have worked on paper dolls for many years - so I was a bit overawed to be included in this graphic.

The second surprise was when I opened the magazine.  My doll had been placed inside the front cover so she was the first thing I saw as I turned the page.

Graphic in the OPDAG newsletter

I know I do seem to spend most of my time in blogland saying sorry - but once again I must apologise for my prolonged absence and no-show in visiting the many good friends I have made here.  I have popped in to look at some of your posts from time to time but have not often left a comment

In October my husband had a (planned) operation.  It was not life threatening but involved a very long recovery & recuperation period.  I found the extra responsibilities quite difficult on top of my long daily commute and pressurised job.  I'm afraid I hit the proverbial brick wall and am only just starting to bounce back again.  My head has hurt so badly for much of the time and often I feel as though its about to fragment into a million pieces.  All the things I usually enjoy doing have had to take a back seat just so I can get the essentials covered off.  Any spare time I've had has gone into making these paper dolls.  I think the fact they have deadlines is what has kept me going with them - it gives me a structure and discipline that makes it easier to achieve a result.

The figure of the doll is one I made many years ago (when I was in my 20's in the 1980's).  I included her in my blog way back in 2011 in a post called A Paper Doll of My Own.  To save a bit of time for this submission I decided I would use her again (I've always liked how she came out).  I gave her a new petticoat to represent playing cards (its not stuck on so the original doll is still the same as when she was made.)  Then I painted four new gowns to fit in with the theme.

I could only find one of the sketches today when I went to scan & accumulate the images for this post.  I'm not sure what happened to the other one (I am unravelling a bit sometimes at the moment!).  I don't have a sketch for the doll as she pre-dates the technology to scan and save images we have today.  

DeadSpiderEye asked me last time what medium I use for my work.  I always paint in acrylics - I know it is often called the amateur's medium of choice but I prefer it.  I can thin it out for washes or a water colour effect - or I can use it more or less straight from the tube for heavier detail.  I treated myself to a set of 24 colours a couple of months ago - but having said that I rarely use the colours in their pure form.  Most of the time I mix my own although I always try to keep the shades I use  bright and 'clean'.  I was very happy with the way the red dress (diamonds) came out.  Much of the colour used for the shading was mixed directly onto the paper and then blended before it dried and I could still work with it.

Once again the dresses are all taken from favourite 'memories' in the art world.  Anyone familiar with my blog may remember the first gown from a story I posted called The Prince and the White Cat .  I thought it was perfect for Hearts.  As an alternative I was toying with the idea of a more classic 'queen of hearts made some tarts' design but I love the strong vibrant colour of this dress and wanted the bright blue and red combination for the finished page.  If I'd had time I would have liked to include a tray of tarts as well but in the end I realised I had neither time nor space.

I've always wanted to use this dress for something so jumped at the chance to borrow it here.  I made mine full length instead of the lovely bubble cut and gave her a princess headdress in fitting with my theme.  I thought it was perfect for diamonds.  This is one of my favourite paper doll dresses of all time.  It is in my box of paper doll remnants from my childhood. I can't remember what doll it came from.  If anyone recognises the set please let me know.

All admirers of Hilda Boswell will recognise her 'Mary, Mary quite contrary' dress.  Once it popped into my mind I couldn't imagine anything else for Spades.  The little trowel provides the perfect finishing touch.

My reference to Clubs is a bit more oblique.  There was a temptation to depict a more modern golfing outfit but I wanted to stick with the fairytale theme.  The game of golf is said to have originated during the reign of Elizabeth I.  I already had this Elizabethan dress (its also included in the post mentioned before of the original doll.)  I made a new slightly different version to emphasise the link with clubs.  I had forgotten where the idea of the dress had come from until I treated myself to a Hilda Boswell Omnibus from March House Books. (I've sung Barbara's praises often I know but she is a marvel and a wonderful friend).   The book exceeded all my expectations.  One of the stories it contains is Tom Thumb and as I turned to this page all those wonderful memories came flooding back again.

In addition to our theme dolls we were also invited to 'Dress the Queen'.  David Wolfe one of the editors of the magazine and a renowned paper doll artist provided a delightful portrayal of the queen as a young woman at the time of her coronation.

OPDAG members could submit two outfits.  I decided to borrow mine from Hollywood and chose two iconic dresses worn by Grace Kelly (queen of Hollywood and later royalty in real life).  This is how I sent them in with references to the movies they appeared in.  I knew they wouldn't be used like this in the issue as they had to be arranged with outfits submitted by other artists.

I've seen this page containing the doll on a couple of other blogs so I hope OPDAG won't mind it I include if here. I wanted to show you how the queen appears in the magazine.  My two dresses were included on two separate pages - this is how the blue dress appears - I didn't want to overstep the mark too much and so I'm not showing the other one.

The theme for the next magazine is 'Favourite Films'.  My submission is already in.  It may surprise a few people - we'll just have to see.

I also received another paper doll request that I am working on at the moment - but I think I'll save that for another time .........

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anyone for Croquet? - OPDAG issue 106

This week I received my copy of Paper Doll Studio, the quarterly magazine showcasing the work of members of OPDAG (The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild).  The theme for this issue was GOOD SPORTS and for my contribution I decided to submit two sheets of dolls playing croquet with outfits from 3 different eras.

This is my second submission to the magazine.  My first was a doll called Clarissa.  On that occasion I was given a quarter of an A4 size page.  This time I was thrilled to see my dolls received a lot more exposure.  The two colour scans shown above were allocated a whole page on their own (pg 14).  I also appeared in the section of 'Artists talk about their theme art paper dolls...'  and was listed first!  (But that was probably because I sent in these dolls such a long time ago.)   Jenny chose the blue skirted outfit (top left) to put with my introduction.

The cover page I put together (above) was not printed - I mainly included it to show how the hats and umbrella work.  For the umbrella if you make a slit in her left hand (our right) the handle can slide through quite nicely and then the other end hooks into the area between her thumb and hand.

I based everything on contemporary images from the eras represented and just rounded up the dates.  The two figures are taken from an American fashion magazine of the late 19th and early 20th centuries called The Delineator.  Something about their poses made me think they could be easily adapted to croquet  This illustration appeared in the magazine in 1911.

The two outfits on the page with the dolls were inspired by this delightful illustration.  It is called 'Croquet or Wicket Thoughts' and appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post dated 5 September 1931.  Although I loved the design of her outfit I felt I needed more colour in my interpretation and was really happy with the way it turned out.

These are the sketches for the two pages.  I drew each outfit separately and then cut and positioned them on the page.  Cleaning everything up afterwards can be a bit fiddly but I find its the easiest way to get the different pieces arranged to make optimum use of the space.  I've been experimenting with different ways of doing the lettering.  For Clarissa I printed it directly onto the sheet with the doll once she and her outfits were drawn but not coloured.  That was quite difficult and it took a couple of attempts to get it right.  Here I printed and pasted the wording on the original sketch.  I cleaned everything up, printed it again and then coloured it in.  For the new doll I'm working on (next submission) I've taken yet another approach.  I'm doing the lettering last directly onto the scanned image using Microsoft Paint.

These two paintings provided the inspiration for the dresses on the second sheet. I adore this next image.  It is by the English painter Percy W Gibbs (1894-1937) and is called 'Ladies Playing Croquet'.  I love the pastel colours and the feminine effect of the artist's technique.  I would have liked to have reproduced these figures exactly as you see them here, but the style of my dolls was quite different so I had to adapt it to keep the overall look of my pages consistent.

The last two gowns come from this painting, possibly the most famous and well known depiction of a Victorian croquet game.  It is by the American artist Winslow Homer (1836 - 1910),

When I completed my paper doll of Alice I sent a scan of her off to Jenny at OPDAG.  Jenny liked her but as the doll did not fit in with either the Sports theme or any of the upcoming themes she could not include Alice in the body of the magazine.  What she did for me instead is put Alice in the Showcase Section where members advertise paper doll books for sale.  A small image of Alice is shown with a link to my blog.  It was so exciting to see my work there - I felt like a child who was allowed to mix with the grown-ups!     

The theme for the next issue is QUEENS.  I've almost finished my submission (due by the end of next month) and have already sent in two outfits for the special Dress-a-Doll section - in this issue a young Queen Elizabeth circa her coronation in 1953



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