Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wooden progress

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn
There is a Season Turn, Turn, Turn....
This has been my theme song ever since my wonderful husband bought me a lathe. Have I mentioned he's the dearest man who ever lived? Well he is. He not only bought us a lathe but he patiently showed me how to use it in such a way that I would not harm myself or others. Very helpful! I hardly had to nag at all.
There's something very satisfying in making something out of nothing. This is wood that would have been burned in our stove. Who knew there were dolls hidden inside our firewood?
To the right you can see two dolls that I've finished turning still on the lathe and "blanks" scattered all around. This is how all the dolls start out.
When the dolls come off the lathe I cut them apart with the band saw then shape them using the belt sander. I sand off the back and stomach and leave the shoulder/chest and the hips/bottom alone so the curves look somewhat womanly. (Looking at the photo from left to right you can see the progression from unshaped to finished.-click on photo for close-up) Then I cut the bottom of the hips and leave a piece in the center that I can secure the legs to. The body is drilled and limbs are attached using a 3mm elastic cord. When made correctly the arms will hold in any position and the legs will lock standing up and sitting down. She sits very securely. She can't stand alone but hey, even that bottle-blonde Barbie has to be propped up!
I enjoyed the look of the woodgrain of the first doll I turned and regretted covering her up with paint (she's the green one). I decided I wouldn't do that again. I want to celebrate the wood, not conceal it. The facial features and hair are drawn using my daughter's PrimaColor pencils. Everything is sealed with good old shellac. Old fashoined and non-toxic. It's a bit shiny, though. Must dull that. I don't want to antique these dolls but I also don't want them looking shiny and new, either.
The color variations you see are a result of the different woods used. The light colored dolls with faces are vine maple. The doll with hair is hemlock. The unfinished ones are alder and hemlock. These are darker and have a prettier grain but they tear out on the lathe. The maple turns "like buttah".
I don't have anything in the photo for scale but I measured the standing doll. She stands 9 1/2 inches (50 cm) tall.
I always stitch a little heart onto the dolls I make for my kids. If the doll is for a birthday I'll stitch the age of the child in the heart. I'm ripping off Raggedy Anne I know, but as a child I loved peeking under her dress to see the red heart on her chest. So I thought I might as well color a little heart on the chest of my wooden dolls. I hope the child who ends up with one of these dolls discovers the heart and likes it.
Clothes? This is not my strong suit. I've figured out what dress and pantaloons I'm making but haven't made them all yet. Will show them when they're all done and ready for sale. Trying to do a production-line type of affair.
The backdrop for these photos is a shelf in progress made by my husband. He hand carved the gold star and we all collected the redwood cones that make up the textured inlay. He's carving some great stuff lately. I'll post photos of his creations when I can.