The Queen of Hearts

 

 I‘ve been working on Alice in Wonderland dolls off and on for over 6 months.  There is so much work to be done on one of these felted pieces, I needle-felt till I’m burned out, then I stop for a few weeks, then I continue till I finish. I felt to a point that I’m overwhelmed with the piece because I think about it and work on it constantly, till I get to a point that I can’t go on. At the point that my interest wanes, I take the doll home, I put the doll on my kitchen table and I look at the doll for a week or so. In the week that I stare at the doll on my table every day, new realizations come to me. I’m able to see what’s wrong with the piece, what needs to be changed, what will make it better…Maybe if I worked on one doll at a time, it wouldn’t take me so long to finish, BUT when I start a project, I have so much energy for it that I can’t do just one design, I start two or three pieces at a time. I really need to focus my energies or I can start multiple projects and not finish any of them. 
Queen of Hearts collar detail

My goal for this project, something that I felt would bring this group of dolls to a new level in my work, was the abiltiy to convey expression on the dolls’ faces. In previous felting projects, my doll faces were pretty, but not expressive. 

The dolls are all about expressions.

 The characters in Alice in Wonderland, especially the Queen of Hearts are so expressive that I didn’t feel the dolls would be successful if they didn’t convey the feelings of  the characters in the book by Lewis Carroll, original illustrations by John Tenniel. I took Emili, my  most expressive daughter and I asked her to “act out” specific feelings.  I took photos of the “feelings”  she acted out and I used these photos as the base for the expressions of the doll faces. The secret of the crazed anger of the Queen of Hearts, the slightly inquisative, amused look of Alice, the clearly pissed off look of the Flamingo and the bulgy eyed enthusiasm of the Rabbit are all in the eyes. 

The Queen's eyes, expression

Normally, I needle-felt the eyes or use doll eyes or beads. None of these methods could convey the feelings that I was looking for, so I had to make the eyes of each doll. I took beads shaped like eyes (fresh water pearls were the right color, shape and size for the Queen and Alice.) I put them in the heads of the dolls, marked where the pupils and irises should be for the expressions, then I painted each eye with acrylic paint and sealed it with semi gloss varnish. The eyes of the flamigo are small, round pearls with pupils painted on them. I couldn’t find beads or pearls suitable for the rabbit’s eyes, so I made balls of paper clay to fit into the head, painted them with acrylic paint and sealed them with semi-gloss varnish. I made Alice’s clothing just like that of the book, but the Queen’s dress is an original design. I made the patterns of the dress to reflect card designs, but in an origianal way. 

The dress is tailored to the doll form.

I thought about sketching out designs for the dress, then making my favorite design, but I ended up designing the dress as I made it. I am now attached to each of these dolls and even though I want to sell them, it will be hard for me to do so. Someone recently bought my Marie Antoinette puppet and they had to talk me into selling her. She offered to pay the price that I asked, she did not try to bargain with me, it wasn’t the money, it’s just that I had a relationship with the doll. I told myself, o.k., fine, sell her, I’ll just make another one, a better one next time. After the woman walked out the door with my Marie Antoinette puppet, I felt like crying, I was really upset. I’m past that now, but how will I ever part with Alice and the Flamingo, my favorite of the Wonderland dolls? Now that the dolls are finished, I’m thinking of costume designs. I made Emili a Renaissance collar and crown similar to the Queen’s for our photo shoot. The small details of this project took just as long as the felting process. These classic characters abound with beautiful, creative and fun designs for many projects; I’ve fallen to sleep many nights contemplating Alice in Wonderland designs. Stay tuned for more Alice and Wonderland dolls……

The Queen of Hearts

Mad Hatter-Kitty Hats

Kids love cats! A cat is always a good topic when you’re creating something. Kids prefer the cat costumes and hats out of all of the animals in my store. I love it when moms come in and tell me that they need a second cat costume because their child sleeps in theirs and they need a spare so they can wash the other one without causing a scene. Helen is wearing a white kitty hat, but I think if it was grey, black or orange (minus the puff of maribou on top) boys would wear it too.

Emili, Helen and Diana

Emili, Helen and Diana are school buddies, 8 years old. My animal summer hats are still appropriate for this age group and up to around 11 years old, depending on your child.

animal summer hats: rabbit, cat, bird
cat summer hat

Mad Hatter Flower hats

 This flower hat is the picture of summer!

Emili and Elli in summer flower hats

Look it’s a Summer bouquet! Sometimes a hat is more than something to keep the sun out of your face; it’s a statement. Hats don’t denote social status anymore, but they do convey a sense of fashion. A flower on your heads is definely a fashion accessory that says “look at me”. The old saying: “if you want to get ahead and get noticed, then get a hat” applies in this case.  I gave my niece Piper a flower hat a few summers ago and I have never been stopped by so many people or heard so many comments as when she wore that hat around town (Bloomington, Indiana). Today’s utilitarian hat wearing traditions are much more ho-hum than those of by-gone days, but I believe this flower hat falls into the category of  a hat for “an occation”. What is the occation to wear such a hat? A beautiful, sunny day!

Yellow Flower hat

The Mad Hatter-Bird in a nest hat

This bird in a nest hat makes me laugh out loud and snort! When my girls see this reaction of mine to my work they say “mama, you crack yourself up, don’t you?” The shape of this bird sitting in her nest just lends itself to the shape of the hat. I think this hat looks British; the British have always been pretty serious about their hats; God save the Queen!

The Mad Hatter

My girls don’t like to wear hats.  Living in a country so sunny (nearly every day) as Israel, we MUST wear hats here. Many mothers come into my store looking for summer hats for their babies; every year I try to design summer hats worthy of a milinary fashion show in Milan. As the mothers are trying hats on their babies, I sit and daydream:” I imagine my creative, whimsical hats on the heads of adorable tots, crawling and toddling down the runways of the worlds leading fashion shows. The very well dressed, sophisticated and uppity crowd ooh and ahhhh as the babies make their way down the catwalk, decked out in my summer hats. ” Babies don’t really have much of a choice when it comes to wearing a hat; their moms just plop them down on their little heads, tie them on with the strings provided and that’s that. 

 But the older kids need to be pursueded to wear hats. It’s important that the hats I make are cute or appealing to little kids because I think it easier to convice a child to wear the hat. I’ve been making hats with themes that I know children will love. I KNOW that all children love animals, little girls love pink, pretty things, boys love things with wheels and manly animals. What is a manly animal you may wonder. Well mothers in my store have explained to me that they don’t like “girly” animals on their boys like bunnies, kitties or duckies. It has been explained to me by several different mothers, that if the animals might eat you, if it has big teeth and growls  like a tiger, a lion or a prehistoric beast, these are the manliest and best animals of all for little boys!?. I also make a few hats just for myself, because I think that they are hilarious. If my girls see the hats in my studio and  have a shrill response “OOOHHHHHH!!!!!!!!”  in a pitch that only a dog can hear, I know they will be very popular!