One of the reasons I have books is because I use them for inspiration. They come in very handy when the internet goes down as it did recently. I was without phone or the internet at home for nearly a week. I was going to access an online class I purchased, but that went out of the window until things got back to normal. I could have just made another scarf, but I wanted to do something different, so I picked out a project from Jorie Johnson’s Felmaking and Wool Magic. There is a project for making Jack and Jill dolls, but as I don’t have grandchildren, I decided to make Arlene and Bob dolls. I haven’t made toys before so this would be interesting.
So, I had to make the templates. I always start with paper. You also have to consider that your work is going to shrink. You start with the decoration and the core fiber last. I used merino prefelts with merino wool for the decoration. I don’t know what my core fiber was. It wasn’t merino, but it was very soft. It felted, and that is all that mattered. I worked on Bob first. I think his doll looks the most like him than the one of me looking like me.
My husband is tall, thin and bald. I had to give him a hat so I made him a baseball cap. He has a green shirt as a nod to his Irish mother. Bob has facial hair like this, but it is more ginger. I didn’t have any prefelt in ginger. Besides, it isn’t supposed to be an exact likeness. When making these dolls, one is supposed to felt them with the decoration on the inside, but I was a bit concerned that I would have issues getting the arms and legs right side out, so I felted them with the decoration on the outside after I removed the template. There was a little bit of migration with the white coming through the blue on the trousers, but that just makes them more like blue jeans. Once he was all dry, I had to needle felt some areas, especially where I used the prefelt for the hands, face, and shoes. Although Bob is not a Yankee fan (I am), I needle felted a NY on his cap. I also needle felted his features and a little shamrock on his shirt. I sewed laces for his shoes and did some stitching on his collar to make it stand out more. I didn’t have enough buttons in the same size, but hey ho. Then I went on to make myself.
I have natural whitish hair, with a fringe that I cut myself. I haven’t had a haircut since January, so my hair is very long. I am short and full figured. I usually wear a shirt with jeans. I added some sari silk fibers to my shirt for a bit of luxury. Used a different core fiber for the inside part, but that wasn’t merino either. I have a fair amount of natural fiber that came with a botany lap waste order. It is very soft, but it is a mystery. It felts. I used merino prefelt for the shoes, hands, and face. The rest was merino and the hair was another mystery fiber. This time, I added extra fibers to wrap over the prefelt. I had some corriedale slivers in the same colors as the prefelt. When cutting out the template, you do it from the front of the toy. It is a little bit easier to hide the stitching with buttons. I needle felted my eyes, nose and lips. I really haven’t needle felted facial features before, so this is actually a bit tricky, especially the mouth. I actually have a pointed chin, and I don’t know how to fix that, so I look very much like a Russian doll here. If this was completely needle felted, I think I could have come up with a better likeness as at least I would have a chin. I ended up having to needle felt the trousers as the white core was quite aggressive with migration. I also had to tidy up the bottom of the shirt area on both sides. Because of the amount of needle felting that went on here, I decided to wet felt over everything and dry in the tumble dryer. I have less fuzzies now.
This project wasn’t supposed to be serious, nor was it supposed to be an exact likeness. Sometimes we just need to do things for fun. I now know how to make a toy figure if I ever feel inclined to make any more. (I have a load of stuffing left over!) We have a campervan, so these ‘toys’ will probably live there and have adventures. 🙂