Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Laney's Dolls


I'm so excited about this project.  It was a gift for my friend Laney.  A baby gift, actually, for her little girl who (you may notice) is no longer a newborn.   Milly was born in June, but the idea was born at a service auction in March.   I'd donated a couple of dolls, customizable to the winner's specs, and  Laney, our enthusiastic auctioneer, suggested that the winner could have a husband and wife set made.  She was really excited about the idea, and credited her prodding with driving up the auction price. I thought it sounded like fun, but I wasn't sure how Black Apple doll styling would translate onto male dolls.  So I was kind of glad when Sara, the winner, had something else in mind, and the doppelganger doll idea was dropped. 

I picked it back up again, though, a few months later while contemplating a gift to make for Laney's baby shower. Unfortunately, I knew I didn't have time to execute it before the shower, so I gave her a note that said something like "I know you like surprises!  And that's what  your gift will be!  Later!"

Part of the surprise, I'm sure, was just how much later this gift would arrive. Days before sweet baby Milly's six month-iversary, I finished and delivered this little family.  

Maybe you have to know Laney (an endeavor I recommend wholeheartedly) to appreciate this.    But I'm going to go ahead and point out some of my favorite details.

Prototype Milly with fancy earrings.
Milly was the first doll completed.  I started with the basic Black Apple doll pattern and shrunk it, but I wasn't entirely happy with the shape of my first attempt.  The arms are too long, the head is too big, and the body is misshapen.  Lucky for me, Grace loved it, (she's got a soft spot for the deformed ones), and (after a few requested embellishments) happily claimed ownership of the prototype.   I made a few changes to my template, and ended up with Milly 2.0, which I like a lot better.
She's wearing velvety pink baby pajamas harvested from a pair of velvety pink baby pajamas Grace used to wear.  I added a little bum flap cause I think that's cute, and a tiny pink bow cause Milly's not allowed to wear giant flowers in her hair.

Henry was next.   His best detail is the tiny pocket, just big enough for a Lego mini-figure rifle.  I know cause Sam tried it. 

He's also got removable shorts and a fetching little chunk of spiky hair.

To Sam's disgruntlement, I was happy with Henry 1.0, and there wasn't a prototype for him (Sam) to keep.  He has put in an order for a little boy doll of his own EXACTLY  like this one.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'm out of the stripey flannel I used for Henry's shirt.  But as long as Sam's version has a pocket, I think we'll be OK.

And now we come to the best thing about the whole set:  the (almost) (sort of) completely-to-scale sizing of the happy couple.  Taylor is the perfect match for Laney, smart and funny and clever and remarkable in hundreds of ways.  But if you meet him (and I recommend that you do), I guarantee that the first thing  you'll notice is his height.  He's nearly 12 feet tall.

Laney, for her part, is a bit more down-to-earth, and the juxtaposition between them in real life is (bless their hearts) a little comical.  So that's what I was going for here.  And I hate to brag, but I think I nailed it.  Doll Taylor's crazy doll height had me giggling through the whole construction process, and because I was having so much fun, it was really hard to keep it a secret.  But I did, even though it took me months and months to finish.
One of the reasons it took so long was that I had a hard time conceptualizing how to create and attach Taylor's tie.  In the end, it was pretty simple (and not all that different from the human-sized tie modeled by Sam here).   But for some reason I just couldn't wrap my mind around how to do it, until I just sat down and did it.

Another delay was that I had to make a couple trips to the craft store for supplies.  Don't be shocked.  I usually (proudly!) complete stuff like this with only my stash on hand.  But I needed to get just the right color felt for Laney's (and Henry's) hair.
And I also had to get embroidery floss, for stitching faces.  The faces on all my previous dolls have been drawn on with Sharpies.   I never loved the results, but I was scared of paint (Emily Martin's technique, seen here) and thought stitching would be too time-consuming.  I was wrong.  Taking a few minutes to hand-stitch is totally worth it.  So much cuter, isn't it?  And the added bonus is that unlike drawing with a Sharpie, stitches can be easily removed if I make a mistake.  (I won't tell  you how many times I re-did Laney's lashes.  But isn't she a looker now?  Oh la la!)

After her eyelashes, the next best part of Laney's ensemble is the little fabric flower in her hair.  It's attached with a tiny dot of Velcro, so she can take it off on days when she's feeling not-so-flashy.  The pink button matches her fuzzy pink scarf, which, incidentally, matches a pink scarf Laney happened to be wearing the other day when I finally gave her the set.  Also, she was wearing black.  (Am I good or what?) 

I meant to add earrings, but apparently I forgot.  Also, I contemplated cuffs and cuff links for Taylor, but decided it was time to just be done.  Maybe for his birthday.  Or Laney's.  In 2015.


Rachel said...

INCREDIBLE!! That is the most amazing (and I'm sure time consuming) baby shower gift I've ever seen. It actually looks like them. I'm sure she was beyond thrilled!!

Laney said...

oh my gosh. I am almost in tears reading this post. It is hysterical and wonderful and amazing. I feel honored and completely undeserving to have received what I think is quite possibly the greatest gift I have ever received. You are one talented woman Diana. And my family loves you. And my sister Leisy thinks you are fabulous. you are fabulous. And so are your dolls, and your hot fudge.

Boss said...

Thanks guys! These really were a lot of fun to make, but even more fun to give to because Laney was just so darn excited. Kinda makes me want to make her more presents! :)

Denyse said...

Ummm...why am I just now finding out about your cute crafty blog? I know I've told you a million times already, but you are ridiculously talented. Love the laney fam dolls!

Cami and Andy said...

Diana!!!!! You are so crafty! That is the cutest Idea ever. And I had no idea you had such a fun extra blog for me to see! Hope you all are surviving up there! Miss you


Annie O said...

A-Doll-able! You are amazing and I'm so pleased to have met someone as talented as you. You really ought to sell these.

I hope to see you again next time I come visit Laney and family in Buffalo.