Every year I make a doll on New Year’s Day. The only rule is that they have to be achievable on one day and they have to say something about the past year or the one to come.
It’s interesting to look back over the many years I have been doing this. It really shows my state of mind at the turning of the year. Last year, when I was big into making bears, I made this one:
She is still one of my all time favourites, based on the walking work of art that is the artist, Bethan Laura Wood:
This year, I wanted to make something to help me in marketing my wedding celebrant business. I saw the peg dolls in Margaret Bloom’s lovely little book, Making Peg Dolls.
I think her ideas are sweet without being too cloying. I saw her Valentine’s dolls and thought that they would be perfect for my weddings business.
I bought a set of blank peg dolls and went to work on New Year’s day. Margaret Bloom uses watercolour to paint her dolls, but I prefer acrylic because once it’s dry you no longer have to worry about it. I used a set of acrylic paints that I bought in Sostrene Grene in Nottingham. I bought them because they are such lovely muted colours, right outside my usual colour palette but easy to use when someone else has mixed them for you. I already had black, red and brown at home, and I used a Golden Fluid Acrylic for the bronzey-coppery hearts. You probably know the wisdom of the phrase, ‘you get what you pay for’ and this is absolutely true with paint. Golden paints burst with pigment and this metallic was really thick and juicy. The Sostrene Grene paints are beautiful colours but thin. This was perfect for this job, though, as I wanted to use them as a stain rather than a paint. I thought about antiquing them, with some sandpaper and some brown gunge, but decided that they looked pretty as they were, and that was what I was after. Pretty strikes me as more appealing that grungy when it comes to weddings. So I gave them a quick coat of acrylic wax to protect them. I finished with some circlets of flower-shaped sequins.
So, if you are thinking of getting married with nine assorted bridesmaids, this might well be your thing.
I really enjoyed making them. The only skill you need is the development of a steady hand. I think I will make a lot more. There are some adorable ideas using felt to make the blanks into various creatures such as bears, which I can’t resist.
Incidentally, I like the one second from the right with her big blobby eyes. There is always one bridesmaid reluctant to give up her goth eyeliner.
As a sidenote, these dolls have a lot in common with traditional Japanese dolls. I have a little collection of contemporary versions of these: Coco Chanel, David Bowie and Frida Kahlo:
These are much larger than my tiny dolls, but they are the same idea. They are called Kokeshi dolls and the format hasn’t varied that much over the years:
All that said, Happy New Year and Happy New Decade.