Waldorf style Marie Antoinette Doll

needle felting
Marie Antoinette doll

 After we returned home from Paris, all my inspiration I had gathered there vanished. I guess living in a small apartment with my three, shreiking kids, husband and my mother-in-law for two weeks will zap the creativity from even the most creative soul! (oh, I’m just kidding –wink-or am I?)

I saw three movies on vacation:

  • Super 8 (very cute)
  • Brides’ Maids (gross, but very funny)
  • Bad Teacher (o.k.) 

I read 4 books on my i-phone (I think reading books on my i-phone is WONDERFUL):

  • Water for Elephants
  • Before I Go to Sleep
  • A Stolen Life
  • A Big, Little Life

Apparently, reading a lot and seeing movies is also a recipe for losing your creative spark; I rarely do either of these things, except on vacation. Before we went on our trip, I was full of creativity, partly because my friend/muse Tiffany came to visit me from New York and we worked on lots of projects together. She’s always full of good ideas and enthusiasm, which helps me a lot! I need a full-time muse.

Rivoli mosaic
Art Deco building decoration on Rue Rivoli

The week since I’ve been back have been spent cleaning, doing laundry and fretting about how I would find a renewed, creative spark.  Trying to revive my Joie d’Art, I tried eating copious amounts of cheese, eating a ham sandwich on a bagette, drinking Champagne instead of wine and using all the French words that I know-all to no avail. The one thing that I can usually find the patience and enthusiasm to create is a doll, so before I really get down to business, I made a Waldorf-style Marie Antoinette doll, in honor of our trip to France.

wool, cotton
Marie Antoinette, cotton face, wool hair, taffeta and tulle dress

 I’ve had a fascination with Marie Antoinette’s style and look for a long time. I’ve made many costumes and dolls based on this 18th century French queen. She is needle felted, but because she is so small (8″ tall), it was hard to put the detail that I wanted into her face, at least in a reasonable amount of time, so I covered her wool face with cotton tricot and embroidered her facial features. The hair is made from curly, silver/white wool. The rest of Marie is made of wool wrapped/needle felted around  a pipe cleaner armiture. I sewed her dress from taffeta, tulle and lace. I’ll soon be putting a kit for sale and posting a tutorial on how to make a smaller (5.5″ tall), slightly simpler version of pipe cleaner dolls and clothes, so stay tuned.

My other Marie Antoinette inspired projects:

Marie Antoinette
My Marie Antoinette puppet, child's costume and wigMy felt Marie Antoinette wig
costume
Marie Antoinette, child's costume in my store

The Waldorf-style pipe cleaner dolls are easy and fast to make plus they can be made to be more attractive to older children (8-12 years old), less “babyish” than the stout Waldorf dolls.

paris
Rue Rivoli Art Deco building decoration

Bon Voyage Helene

childhood friends
friends at the beach

Yesterday was Emili’s last day to play with her best friend Helene; Helene and her family are moving back to France. The girl friends from their school class spent a poingant day with Helene at the beach.

fun at the beach
making childhood memories

The girls were very busy building sand castles and  laughing and splashing one another!

ouch, jelly fish
jellatenous globs of jelly fish

We found jelly fish washed up on the beach; these are very small compared to previous years.

dolls
Forget me not

As a going away present for Helene and Emili, I needle felted two dolls, one for each girl. Emili the girl received Helene the doll and Helene the girl received Emili the doll.

Helene and Emili dolls
Needle felted Helen and Emili dolls

 Helene and Emili have been in school together since the first grade; I am still friends with my best friend from the first grade!

needle felted dolls
needle felted friends

We all tried to be brave and not cry, but Emili and Helene’s last parting hug broke me. We now have a great reason to travel to France!

Friends-needle felted dogs

needle felted dogs
best friends

I took a photo of these two dogs (the original, real live dogs) in India. They were sleeping at the base of a monument, one was using the other’s rear end as a pillow and they were the most raggedy dogs I’d ever seen…but they looked happy.

doggy friends
Let sleeping dogs lie.

It took me a week to make this sculpture, working on and off between the girls’ end of the school year activities. I find these two dogs sweet, I think the black and white cow patterned dog is much older than the blond dog, maybe she’s the mother. My girls look at the original photo and tell me that “everyone needs a butt for a pillow”, oh silly girls!

sleeping dogs
May I use your butt as a pillow?

As I felted these dogs, I thought about friendship and how a few very good friends are a gift and that the simple things in life are the best.  These dogs brought many nice things to  mind as I felt, felt, felted away.

everyone needs a butt for a pillow
sleeping dogs detail

Needle felting feelings and messages

dogs have friends
Two dogs chatting

You know, the dogs have been the most challenging pieces I’ve done to date. I really feel like a sculptor after I’ve completed one of these dogs, the forms are tedious, especially the legs. I thought the dogs with long hair would take less time, but I was wrong. I wanted them to look a certain way, not neccessarily exactly like the photos but definetly real. I didn’t want to get caught up in minute details, I wanted a certain simplicity to stand out.

dog
Weimaraner

After I’d finished a few dogs, I felt I’d gotten the hang of it, but I wanted more from the dogs. After I’d completed each dog, I studied them for a long time and I felt that each one had a personality. I put all the dogs out in front of me and I started to play around with the possible interactions between personalities.

needle felted dogs and big bone
Get away from my bone!

I started to see that the Dachshund was cheekier than the other dogs.

needle felted Dachshund
Wanna play ball?

I’m continuing to study the dogs and to try to unravel the mystery of what makes a great felted dog personality! Is it a prop, the tilt of the head, the position of the body? Maybe all three? My real challenge is to be able to create a story with the dogs and to make the viewer relate to their message.

needle felted Weimaraner
What a putum!

The needle felting process: Needle felting is the dry process of sculpting raw wool, using specially barbed needles; this art form is different from the ancient practice of wet felting which uses water. The barbs on the felting needles “weave” the wool fibers together, making them firm and strong. The needle felting process is time consuming ; one on my dogs takes from 10 to 15 hours to create each figure. Sculpting in wool can be compared to sculpting in clay in that it can be additive and subtractive; it is a very forgiving material and great detail can be achieved.