Monday, July 20, 2015

Handmade Homestead Project, Entry #2: My New, Old, Bohemian Plush Art

{After all these years, he finally got stuffed. Aww...}

While organizing my new studio, in recent weeks, I came across these guys that I haven't seen in years. They brought a huge smile to my face because even though I made them years ago (around 2007 or perhaps earlier), I still really, really like them. I like them so much, that I had to finish them by adding stuffing to their sweet bodies, so I can add them to my studio. 

By the way, this particular stuffie is called Erdelobos (I name the soft sculptures I make and make a tag that adheres to the back of their bodies). It is an acronym for 'El Rey De Los Bandidos', which means 'King of the Bandits'. Why does he have a Spanish name? Because when I drew the sketches, he looked very Latin American-ish to me. All I kept seeing as I drew him was Incas, Aztecs, Olmecs. I don't know what others see when they look at him, but that's what I see. And then when I constructed the body and added the black liner around his eyes, he then looked like a bandit to me and his headpiece resembled a crown. Thus, he was given the name 'King of the Bandits' - el gran rey de los bandidos. (lol)


I've been making dolls since I was very young. In fact, I've been making them so long, that they are no longer called "dolls". This variety of doll is now called plushie, stuffie, plush art and soft sculptures. Actually, I like that this brand is called plush art or soft sculptures because given the amount of creativity, work that goes into them, doll just doesn't seem to encompass just how involved it is to make them. To give you a little behind the scenes look at what is involved in making a soft sculpture of this kind, here are the ingredients one needs to do it:

Conception - you have to use your imagination to think of/conceptualize the type of plush you want to create.

Design - once you've conceptualized  your plush you have to now bring it to life on paper - design it.

Revisions - you have your initial design on paper, but that initial design is just the beginning of this handmaking journey my friends because believe me, you will have to make revisions to your initial design. In other words, there will be a couple to a few different designs. Draft 1, draft 2, draft 3... until you create a final pattern.

{A friend made these 'tools' for me when he saw me stuffing dolls with an unsharpened pencil. His declaration of "ay mija, tu necesitas algo mejor. esto es una mierda" ('geez girl, you need something better, that [pencil] is crap"), gave me the impression that I would not be using a pencil much longer - especially since my friend is also a huge diy-er. }

Execution - the drafts are completed, the final draft/pattern is in hand and now you must take it from paper to tangibility. Make it a real doll. Place your pattern on the fabric of your choice and cut it out (both the front and the back of the doll).

Textiles - here's where all the choices come goodness...the choices!! You must choose how your doll is going to look. What kinds of fabrics will you use - one type, several types? What colors? What materials will you use for it's clothing, hair, etc? Will it have accessories or embellishments of any kind? You see. I warned you about the choices. It can drive ya loopy.

Adherence -  once all of the materials, textiles, embellishments are chosen, place them onto the front of the body you just cut out. Sew/adhere all of those fabric pieces to the front of your doll body. Add bits and bobs now or after doll is stuffed depending on what type of doll you're making.

Final Construction - Once everything is on the front of your doll and it looks just the way you want it, sew the front to the back right sides together leaving a space opening where you like and turn it inside out.

Stuffing - stuff the doll with fiberfill (this takes forever). This stuffing is where the names plushie and stuff come from - because these dolls are not hard plastic - they're soft and hugably squishable.

And this, my friends, is why plush dolls are now called Plush ART and why Plush Art doesn't come cheap. Because although the artisan luuuuuuuvvvsss what they create, the craftsmanship involved is very involved craftsmanship!! :)

PS: I'm feeling like I left out a step or five, but you get the gist.

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