I’m excited to be making ethnic dolls. I need to find new ways to make various skin tones and features that look realistic and beautiful. I think most doll artists fall into either the “hyper realistic” art or “cute dolly” art. Right now, I want my dolls to be somewhere in the middle.
Below is one of my favorite African American babies. I’m dying to make one that has deeper color with highs and lows. This one has the sweetest eyes and I’m happy with how she came out.
The photos on this little one came out really well. I’m learning so many new techniques in such a short time that it’s a bit overwhelming but I think it’s making a difference in what I can create. I’m not great with patience so although research and practice sounded like great ideas a few months ago, I still struggle with the fact that it slows down production. 🙂 Making a 7 inch doll takes me a week.
What’s new about this doll? I learned new techniques for shaping the eyes, sculpting hands, and sanding. I think it made all the difference! Hopefully after practicing this over and over, my time creating dolls will be reduced… it has to! I have far too many ideas to keep them in “queue” like this so long.
Meet Gracie Mae
I was very happy with the way her hair came out. It’s hand painted and took forever but the result was nice. I should have taken more pictures 🙂
I’ve created six miniature babies in the last couple of months. Three are shown below.
The jewelry business is doing okay. I’m not making as much money as I’d like but it’s… okay. I got quite a few orders for Christmas and that was nice. I used my jewelry profits to bankroll presents for everyone lol.
Right now, it’s a lesson in how to make something really cool with what you know. Instead of worrying about learning new complicated techniques, I’ve simply upgraded my jewelry line to include popular colors and sizes. My pieces remain pretty simple and charming. A few simple tweeks have made a difference for the jewelry selling at my friend’s shop. But we’re still not pulling in hundreds of dollars like I’d love to see :S
Personalized jewelry is where the money is. I’m selling bracelets at $20 a piece and necklaces go for $25. My customer base is very much word-of-mouth, but I don’t want to spend money on marketing just yet. With the doll business and a day job, I don’t have time for several jewelry orders. Below are some pictures of wire jewelry I’ve done for friends.
I sat down at my craft table and decided to start again. I’ve been away from doll-making for a while but with a new baby in the family and one on the way, I’m inspired to start some new projects. Here is a doll that I will keep for myself.
She came out so cute but she’s got a severe boo boo. I added her ears after the head was cured. It created a very visible “seam” and this makes her unfit for eBay. It was visible in one of her pictures but not that bad in person. She’ll look great in my display case 🙂
Edited 8/4/14: Okay…. So I just realized that what I considered a flaw was just a lack of skill lol. I’ve discovered the art of sanding polymer clay. I know I know. I’ve been doing this on and off since 1999 and I’ve never sanded a piece before. After risking it with another doll, I decided to give it a try with this little one. Apparently, spending a little more time with finishing touches makes a world of difference! Who knew? lol I saved her!Now she’s ready for another photo shoot!
See? No seam around the ears 🙂 Hurray!
In thinking of ways to be profitable and make more money with my hobbies, I’ve turned back to jewelry to give it another go. I’m actually going to try both jewelry and doll-making for a while and see how it works out. Of course this means my poor little social life has been reduced to text messaging for a while! lol I’m sure my friends will understand.
I’m happy with results so far and looking to learn new techniques for the craft. It’s a lot to take on but it’s exciting to have a new adventure for the moment. Unlike dolls, making jewelry is more of a quick fix for me. If you didn’t know- most crafty people enjoy the thrill of accomplishment. Making something from nothing is a kind of pat on the back for yourself. Getting finished pieces done sooner is also a nice change of pace.
As for selling, I have a friend who just opened her own hair salon near the local college. Yay, Saira! She’s a great hair stylist and has plenty of traffic. She wants me to set up a display in the new shop and I am so excited to get started!
I also have a cousin that owns boutiques. Hopefully, I can branch out and get into as many shops and stores as possible! I’m dreaming of the day that I bump into a perfect stranger and realize that they are wearing something I designed 😀
You can also check me out on Etsy!
A few weeks ago, I decided to test my skills with the clay and make something different. First I tried decorating a phone cover with tiny sculpted pieces. It was adorable and I promised a couple to my nieces.
Since it takes quite a few hours to complete a doll, it was nice to finish a project in just 90 minutes! Hmm 90-minute projects?
Next, my mom suggested I start making jewelry again. I’d tried before but wasn’t happy with the result. This time I’d give it more effort. I bought a book, some materials, and oh wait resin! Now with resin I need molds, release spray, glitter… So a little investment was needed but I found that I can make a charm bracelet in about 90 mins too.
These projects made me question the polymer doll business. Babies take so long to make! I could sell an iPhone case or a charm bracelet for $30 each. I spend roughly 6 hours on dolls that sell for $50?
I need to investigate why this is and answer the question: How can I be more profitable doing what I love?
Baby Bailey is a little doll I’ve been working on for months. I saw a photo of a baby that I thought was adorable! I wanted to sculpt the little one pretty badly.
I loved how Bailey’s little fists came out but the arms didn’t look good with the bodies I had on hand. I put the doll aside for over a month then decided to try and make her a tiny body myself. It took two tries but I finally got the size right.
Now I had to figure out how to dress this little one. Again I went online for some inspiration. A bubble romper was created and l added a few embellishments like super tiny buttons and a little trimming.
I made a little Hawaiian face around the time Bailey was being finished. Although similar in inches, the scale is still pretty small. Take a look at the two together.
Take a look at Bailey’s auction through my website. Click on Available Babies. http://www.artbysummer.com
I’m working on a craft room. Part of planning involves taking inventory of what I have verses what I want to keep. I found some cute items recently trying to downsize my crafting items. I found an adorable wicker basket and some pink fleece fabric I hadn’t used yet.
Putting together a little baby to fit in the basket started as a simple idea but developed into a very detailed piece. After completing the doll, I spent a bit of time sewing. I made her a cute little fleece coat, pillow, quilt, and cushion.
I think the details help her shine. She’ll make a great display doll. I’ll have to make another for myself to keep!
Below are photos of Rylee in progress.
Sculpted but not baked.
Baked and realistic skin tone painted on. I wanted her skin to be imperfect like a real newborn. It’s blotchy around the cheeks.
I made a tiny pink coat. I think it came out nice and bunchy like a real baby’s jacket.
Doll will be on eBay starting 3/6/12. See her auction at www.artbysummer.com
The auction for this doll ended early. Baa! I’m not sure what happened but I look at eBay on my phone a lot. I noticed other quirky things on my eBay phone application before the auction ended. Last week every item I viewed had “local pickup” for shipping.
Anyway… If it’s my phone app I guess it’s my issue. It’s certainly not the fault of the bidders so I’m trying to accommodate. I’m selling to the person with the highest bid when it ended and planning to offer a similar auction before Easter. We’ll see what happens.
One of the rewards of sculpting, is pushing yourself to do things you’re unsure you can actually do. When things go wrong, you try again. When things go well, it can increase your confidence. And if you’re lucky, it can increase your sales!
With eBay and Etsy most of your success is based simply on staying power. If buyers get used to seeing you, your work will likely sell better than similar items from lesser known artists. You have to brand yourself.
I’ve been on that journey for a while. It can be tough to come up with a good marketing strategy. The new doll I’m working on is helping however. My skills continue to develop and I’m excited to make art that looks more and more professional.
This doll is a portrait sculpt. I think the proportions are good but most important- she’s cute!
In an effort to save money, I’ve been forcing myself to use items I bought and never used. I have a tendency to shop based on sales and an idea that I might, could, possibly, maybe, one day use it for a project. lol In the mean-time I have a closet full of fabric, kits, doll bodies, and doll hair!
The point: I’m using up my doll eyes! I bought plenty from a website called miniworld. But since most of my creations are sleeping babies, the eyes have been around for years. It’s about time I get used to using them.
Here is a cutie I’m working on with larger eyes. I learned the trick from reborn artists. People associate large eyes with cuteness and innocence. (The opposite would be beady little eyes.)
See how this one was created starting from a brick of clay.
This doll is still in the studio but is planned for eBay 1/27/12.
Go to www.artbysummer.com to link to her auction.