I've been working on an interesting project for the last month or so. I joined Dianna Effner's Doll Dreamers Guild and while we were talking about her new molds for seated/bent legs, I asked if she'd considered the possibility of attaching them with magnets rather than traditional stringing, so that the legs (and arms too) could be changed back and forth easily. She sent me a doll and asked me to give it a try!
I had a relatively long learning curve to get to the best strength neodymium magnets for the project. I kept underestimating the strength I would need since these magnets stick together SO tenaciously when "naked". I ended up using N42 magnets - and they work so well, you can shake this doll and the arms and legs won't fall off!!
What a cutie!!! This is the 10" "Wednesday Child" body with the "Allison" head sculpt.
If you are interested in any part of creating porcelain dolls, especially if you really admire Dianna Effner's sculpts and face painting techniques like I do, I strongly encourage you to join her Ning social network "Doll Crafters". To join requires an invitation, so let me know and I'll see that you get one. Once you are part of this (free) network, you have the option to join (for a fee) any of several sub-groups like the Doll Dreamers Guild. (There is also a reborners sub-group.) And once into the sub-groups you have access to all sorts of interesting tutorials from Dianna and other members. R.
Well, we may not have managed to "do" much for Halloween around here, but we do have something for Thanksgiving! And the reason for this is because I started this outfit way back in September some time - it was going to utilize some great fabric with foxes (FWF): Not only have we had a Very Beary late summer and early fall and a Totally Turtle October and November but all summer long we enjoyed the company of a family of foxes - 3 kits and their parents. The FWF was going to be the apron but some how just didn't "click". So I thought about making the apron like a jack o'lantern for Halloween, but then saw a hand towel with this appliqued turkey and figured I'd use that. A little more ...... kitsch-y ... than my usual stuff, but fun.
This simple apron pattern is based on the aprons that Tonner used for the "Baking Cookies" doll and the Ashton-Drake series. I've made a series of outfits utilizing it and include them here, just for fun:
Enjoy. And have a happy Thanksgiving!!! R.
Annie Laurie's patience was rewarded this evening when I let her hold Primo, the turtle who was the first to start hatching a week ago. I think she may be a better turtle mom than I am!! (I'm having the devil of a time finding food for these critters!)
It was 72 hours from the time Primo burst his egg shell to the time he finally left it. Secundo took 48 hours and is the biggest. And the last one, Trice, had the hardest time hatching - I finally "helped" him out of his shell while his yolk sack was still partially inflated. In the last day he has "absorbed" it and now looks like a normal (but extra small) turtle.
All this staring at turtles while they wouldn't come out of their egg shells and then wandering around trying to find tiny size turtle food and then staring at them while they eat has completely discombobulated any plans I had for celebrating Halloween - one new costume about half done. So no Halloween at Joe Pye Towers this year, alas. But we DO have turtles!!!! R.
But it's hard!!! We have baby turtles at our house and Annie Laurie can't wait to see them close up and welcome them to the world. But even though they started hatching on Friday night, none of them has moved out of their egg shells yet. We have learned that they are still connected to their yolk sacks and are absorbing nutrients this way, and won't leave the egg until they actually need to. "Don't try to help!" is the order of the day ..... but it's hard not to worry!
The three eggs joined our family after I accidentally destroyed the nest while digging in the garden at the beginning of October. They are Eastern Box Turtles. Frankly, I never thought I'd be able to keep the eggs alive .... and we're not "out of the woods" yet. But Annie Laurie is now keeping a sharp eye on them and surely they'll pull through! R.
Recently Andria and I were both disturbed to find some of her photos from here at The Life and Times of Ann Estelle being used on eBay sales listings. We asked the seller to remove our images which she did. She then responded to me with multiple long, meandering diatribes which I didn't read in detail, but one thing she said struck me - she asked why I felt my photos were so "special".
I think the short answer has to do with how I perceive our website here. This is not a "commercial" website - we're not trying to get you to buy anything from us - we're just trying to share our enthusiasm for a certain size of doll and share what we look upon as a certain degree of expertise regarding these dolls to help you do things like identify your doll or buy the correct size furniture or wigs. We can do that with words and we can do that with pictures. And for me, the pictures are the most important vehicle. With my photos, I'm essentially inviting you, the reader, into my house and saying "look at my special, wonderful little dolls - I'm sharing my one-of-a-kind photos with you!" What I'm not saying is "come into my house and use anything you want to further your own monetary gain."
The longer answer has to do with the fact that, tossing humility aside, I think our photos are pretty special!!! Witness the fact that some folk feel the photos that Andria and I have created for the pages showing the Tonner collection are Tonner catalog photos (i.e. taken by Tonner's professional photographer). They are not! We take all the photos ourselves (except for a few images of new dolls in blog posts where it is specifically noted that they are Tonner photos, used with permission.) Speaking for myself, I put a fair amount of work into producing "good" photos - they have to be in focus, well lit, with either a good, non-distracting background or an appropriate "fussy" background. I make sure the doll's hair is combed (and if not, I 'shop out stray hairs). I make sure Ann Estelle's glasses aren't askew on her nose.
Check out this studio photo of what was required to take the pictures for the recent birthday party blog post:
The rack for the backdrop is stored in a closet and thus has to be rolled out any time I need it; the tables rolled around to "fit" the backdrop; the special lights and tripod brought from storage; a temporary ceiling created to support party decorations; the dolls all dressed (including specially made party hats), posed, moved around; the props either moved from the rooms in Joe Pye Towers or from storage. (All this AND lighting and blowing out the birthday cake candles over and over again!) It is a similar set-up for taking "simple", blank background photos, just minus all the small props (and "ceiling"). And I use a relatively podunk little ten-year-old Kodak camera!!
So do I think my photos are special??? Darn tooting I do!!!!!
Do I think that once I put my photos on this website, they become public domain? Well I wish that wasn't so, but in reality I do know in our day and age that this is the way of things. Who amongst us doesn't have a file of other people's photos from the 'net that we keep for inspiration? The whole concept of Pinterest "formalized" this tendency, didn't it? But there is a line crossed when something I've created is taken by someone else, without my permission, and used to help them make money ......
End of my rant for the day. R.
Meet Salali. She tells me her name means "squirrel" in Cherokee. Maybe she's playing a joke on me .... but she is so cute that Squirrel does seem quite appropriate! Apparently she is another nature lover, so I'm sure she'll find lots of friends here.
She arrived from Effner/Ashton-Drake land, and like Brigitte, Goldie and Mary Mary before her, I've fitted her with a pair of Tonner legs. R.
I've been having fun recently reminding myself how to smock. I've known for quite a while, but so much time goes by between projects that I essentially have to learn again each time I try it. This dress is based on a pattern by Lynda Chase, who is House of Biscotti on eBay. (The blue outfit that Ann Estelle is wearing in the previous birthday blog post is this same pattern.)
I love this fabric, even though it isn't the best type of pattern to show off smocking stitches. It is designed by Luella Doss for Free Spirit Fabrics - the line is called "Fowl Play". http://freespiritfabric.com/core-pages/gallery.php?gal_id=539&sw_id=8525
"Cluck cluck cluck ..... sm-OCK!!" Someone may have just laid an egg!!
"Hey, Ann Estelle, come in here for a minute, would you?"
"Make a wish and blow out the candles!!!!"
Yes, today is Ann Estelle's birthday at Claudia's house!! Claudia recently discovered that today is the REAL Ann Estelle's birthday - Mary Engelbreit's grandmother.
Everyone had a very good time. (And don't they all look pretty and handsome?!) Happy birthday Ann Estelle!!!! R.
Piece of cake!! And didn't even need magic. Just got out my grannie's pocket watch and hypnotized the local Ann Estelle into believing she is the Claudia Ann Estelle. Then I did all the others so that's who they'd think she was too. I mean, these dolls - they are always kind of glassy eyed, aren't they?! Don't tell anyone but I had a lot of fun and made Andreas think he is Christopher Robin and Christopher Robin think he is Andreas. And I mixed the girls all up too. Easy peasy to convince Sophie that she is the Duchess of Cambridge! They're going to get a shock when I say the code word that brings them all "awake" again, hee hee hee.
And the best part was R told me I could eat all the cake I wanted if I did this "magic" for her! MINE .... all MINE!!!!!!! Lily.
My new Patsy friends could hardly wait to get out of their boxes when we got home. They hated playing that 'I'm Just A Doll' pretend game that happens when they travel from Uncle Robert to their new homes.
Here are some quick photo introductions. We'll have a party with them soon, I promise.
But I'm just having too much fun learning how to take care of Autumn to think about that yet. Maybe Sophie will act as Party Planner since she is so good at things like that. It may have to wait until my real birthday.
I haven't even invited Georgia over to meet Autumn. And you know she and I are BFF.
But there is something extra special about Autumn. I want to take my time figuring out why she has this kind of glow about her. And I think we need to spend time being sisters the two of us together for a bit.
I'm exhausted and as happy as I've ever been though!
your cousin and now a big sister
Dear Annie Laurie,
Finally, the Big Banquet! I felt a little hesitant about meeting someone as famous and as beautiful as Evangeline. But it turned out that she likes little girls so that was ok after all. Here's me pretending to be famous and beautiful just like her.
You'll never guess what I'm sitting on. Each of us got a hat box with a pair of fancy shoes in it for dress up. They will look FANTASTIC with this special ME outfit I'm wearing or when we play princess or witch.
In addition to feeling shy and kinda little, I really didn't want to leave Autumn behind. She is too little to be on her own! Grammie C said that Autumn could nap in her purse, but I knew that being in the dark jumbled in with things would have been very scary to me when I was that age. We couldnt agree on a good solution, so we carried her down to the banquet hall arguing all the way. And you know...that NEVER happens with Grammie C.
As soon as we saw our favor, I knew just what to do though....so the shoes went in Grammie C's bag, and I tucked Autumn up in the wee hat box where she could listen but still be close to me. She fell right off to sleep even before the banquet started. Aren't I a smarty?