The Creation Process – Maria Iliadou

21 05 2008

I am presenting myself to you here as a doll maker. I am an artist that deals with many forms of Art by being (usually) good at it. But I am here to share with you my experience (not a long one I might have to admit) as a doll maker.
The process of creating a doll needs time and patience. The dolls I am dealing with are rag dolls. They are one of a kind (like many other handmade items) and rare in the market business.

pandora - one of my sold creations

Usually artists that make hand-sewn dolls start with a pattern. I don’t use any patterns. I draw the doll’s body each time on a piece of white fabric (the size is random but they come out from 17cm to 20cm, but they can be made also much bigger when it comes to custom orders) then I cut off a big piece of it (with spaces around the doll’s body) and I start sewing it with my hand (I don’t use a sewing machine). I sew it twice and then I start filling it with cotton. The body parts of the doll don’t come out always the same, because sometimes the fabric might rip off from the sewing or while I fill it (you have to follow a certain technique so that you can make the doll’s body parts same in size and length and it needs patience so that you wont rip off anything while you fill it). I usually rip it off with the small pair of scissors I use while I push the cotton in, basically because I get angry quite easily. I am hot blooded after all and that’s not a benefit when it comes to doll making! Usually this is the longest procedure until you fill the doll’s body with cotton. Also the head might not come out round cause after sewing it, it might take different kinds of shapes if you don’t pay attention to that while you make it! But this can be useful if you make the spooky dolls I make! At that point, the doll’s body doesn’t need to be perfect!

After that I am “sewing” the doll’s hair. I am using different kinds of yarn. The mohair is my favorite because its really soft and looks like real human hair! Most doll makers that make fabric dolls tend to use sock yarn and the regular kind of yarn, which makes the doll’s hair look like she has dreadlocks! This doesn’t look good if you want to leave her hair down! On the other hand if you want to make her a ponytail or different haircuts but with her hair up, then this kind of yarn can be useful. So, let’s get to the process again. As I’ve said before I use different kinds of yarn, a different for curly hair, a different for long and rich one etc! I sew it with a needle that is used also for knitting. That may take some time but that’s the fun part. I like putting their hair up or just making different kinds of “haircuts”. I love putting for my dolls’ hair different kinds of yarns with different colors!

mohair yarns

Then I fix the face. I either draw her eyes and lips, with a thin paint brush and fabric paint or I put glue and stuck beads for eyes and draw her lips or make up (if I chose her to have one). When you draw her characteristics you have to be careful because If you make any mistakes and you ruin her face you need to make the doll all over again or sew a piece of white fabric on her face to cover the mistakes you did. One time that I really ruined a doll’s characteristics I just paint it with white fabric paint that actually didn’t really match the doll’s skin color so the doll ended up looking like a vampire in the end! Fortunately it was a custom made order and she was meant to look gothic so by accident I made her look even better! Another thing, I might even give her the traditional look and sew her mouth like some of the old rag dolls mouth would look.

Even if I can’t find the appropriate beads or buttons I want for my doll’s eyes I might improvise and simply take her eyes out and put 3D paint that will look like blood is coming out of her eye sockets. A solution can always be found! Wire, metal, 3D paint, fabric paint, beads anything can be used!
So, after I am done with the face, I have to dress up my doll. This is really random. Depends on my custom order or on what I might come up with as her clothing. In this case really again anything could be used. Leather, fabric, ribbons, wire, 3D paint or fabric paint, everything is perfect! These are just only a few of the materials you can use for this.
Of course if you have a custom order and a really specific design for it then you have to follow it. Again if the customer said that you can improvise then, use whatever it’s in front of you!
The process of the creation of the doll really depends on what kind of doll you are making and what style she will have!
I once made a girl with bat wings and another time an evil doll that was chocked by her alien baby which came of her womb with its placenta. She looked like a fly and her baby like a… well! As I said, whatever comes into your mind use it, and this has to do with any forms of art!
Just find your theme and style, release your thoughts and… CREATE!

jezebel - a doll made under a custom request Oya

I will just stick to my nightmares and … turn them into reality for you.

MySpace SpookiePookie Doll Shop
my Etsy shop



3 responses

23 05 2008

Maria, I love your dolls. Thanks for taking us through the process!

25 05 2008

Thanks for sharing the details..I was just in your shop and I like Maev!

29 05 2008

Ah, your dolls are fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

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