Monday, 17 August 2009

The doll house project upgraded

The summer holiday is nearly over and I've been working full days just to get my doll house done. I decided to make a façade for the doll house to prevent my cats getting in and suddenly the whole project has gotten out of hand. A mere door to cover it wouldn't do, no, it had to looks like a proper house. And not just any old house but of course Art Nouveau, my favourite style of design and architecture since my dolls do live in Paris even though I may not.

So, I build a façade with different window designs for every floor as typical for Art Nouveau, add decorations, ornamental rain-lids, an opening door to the hallway, address numbers and you name it.

And am I satisfied with it? Nope. On the contrary, I feel so exhilarated I have a dream where there is this house on a steep urban hillside, the pavement being nothing but stairs - maybe something inspired by Montmartre in Paris. And I wake up and start to sketch it. Its 5 a.m. but I'm too exited about it and start making the darn thing before I even consider do I have the space for such a contraption. Well, obviously I don't but by the end of the day I'm facing a diorama framework 120cm wide, 90cm high and 50cm deep. There's a house - Art Nouveau again - and beneath and behind the staircase that is the pavement there are two shops: a antique shops and a shop for Japanese antique swords. Above the stairs a door to an apartment building awaits for my dolls to more into this overgrown backdrop.

A month passes by and over the foamcore frame layers of papier-mache and card board and paint pile up. Finally I add the patina, rust and dirt any urban building must have and add the little shop signs and names on windows in French. My French being poor the articles are misspelled, but I was too anxious to wait until my friend who teaches French could check my spelling. When inspiration takes me I'm always in too much of a hurry - afraid that the inspiration will dry out and that the project is left unfinished until the rest of an eternity.

Just today I added a final little detail of urban culture to my doll house - a graffiti.
Banksy was here!

Its been a lot of work, but at least now my dolls have a place to live, to shop, to love. All too soon I have to be back with my real life and the long, wonderful holiday is over.

To see more pictures got to my flickr set!

Eyewear Tutorial - Important note added!

Here is how to make eyeglasses for your dolls at home. Easy, cheap, perfect fit and any design you want.

First, cut strips of old doll box plastic for material. I draw took some measurements of my dolls head and drew lines to help me get the strips perfect sized.
Hold the strip over the doll for sketching and design.
Draw the design on the strip. Make the part over the nose a bit bigger since it will shorten when we bend it in the end.
Measure the length temples so that the frames will rest well on the node and ears.

Now you have the simple sketch of the frame.
Now to paint the frames. You can use rather thick undiluted paint to give the rim thickness and texture.

Pick a colour for the rims, more detail the better. Here I've made the basic layer in simple all black.

Now take a pair of sharp scissors and cut out the frames but leave the lenses.
I added metal paint to the temples and I'm testing if the size is ok. You can still cut the glasses smaller if necessary. I also painted the sides to give them more bulk.
Now for the final touch: bending them into shape.

First bend the nose rim. I used a toothpick to give it roundness instead of a tight fold.

Then, bend the temples against a sharp angle and squeeze then flat against the lenses. The average plastic from a doll box can take about 30 foldings before breaking so don't worry.

Finally curve the part that go behind eye slightly for more natural look and tighter wear.

Finishing the frames from every side with a layer or two of gloss varnish
gives them a more realistic look and makes them more sturdy.
It also prevents the paint from flaking when you are playing with them.
Especially varnish the parts that touch the dolls face to avoid staining
or discolourations (just in case the brand of acrylics you use might cause this).

DO NOT colour the eyeglasses with a magic marker
as that is very likely to stain and ruin your dolls!

And finally, you have a pair of perfectly scaled eyewear for your dolls!
Browse internet for great ideas and details and indulge the new fashion accessory! :)
Here are some I've made: