Oh my! Have I been having fun!
Now, I’ve had a Pinterest account for a while – if you’re interested, there’s an icon for my account in the left hand toolbar – but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve really practiced the fine art of spending hours and hours trawling through the amazing creativity of others and pinning all my favourites onto an ever increasing number of boards.
Oh the things I dream of doing! I need an indoor staircase so I can wallpaper the risers. I’ll need a couple of kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms so as to use up all the loveliness I find. Hundreds of quilts – of course. Exotic things in the garden that will require far greener thumbs than I possess. Then there’s the new skills I need to acquire – lino cutting, print making, papier mache sculpting … I almost begin to hyperventilate and I can’t decide between sitting and looking, or rushing away and doing.
Sunday morning saw us gathered in the cosy corner of the kitchen; Julian home (for just 30 hours – can you believe it! – home at 3.30am Sunday and gone again Monday at 9.30am) – sliding fresh expressos and creams across the desk every 1/2 hour or so, Abby by my side – saying “Oh! There! There! Pin that! That one!”; and me having a blissful time looking at so many beautiful handmade dolls …
Until I could bear it no longer and simply had to make a doll of my own. A lovely amalgamation of so many dolls I saw and loved. A wooden spoon doll with pipe cleaner arms and a little bit of corriedale roving for the body and hair, a wee crocheted bodice, a gathered skirt …
And because Melinda is so lovely and asked how … here is a little demonstration of how I made my sugar plum fairy. Hope it makes sense … and inspires you to make one of your own!
So I started with a small wooden spoon – bigger than a teaspoon but not a dessert spoon – the sort you buy in a packet at party supply stores.
And one long pipecleaner – also in a packet from Winterwood – it’s about 12 inches long. I used the technique of wrapping the last 2 inches of each end of the pipecleaner (as perfected by the incredibly gifted artist Salley Mavor) with embroidery floss – I used DMC perle cotton no. 8 – in your skin colour of choice. Start 2 inches in, winding the thread firmly and neatly – make sure you check both sides so that you don’t leave any gaps – to the end of the pipe cleaner. Then fold the wrapped end in half so that a little hand is made from the the bend and wrap the raw end to the pipecleaner so that it is covered. Fasten and trim. I leave an inch of floss which I’ll later cover with the arm wrapping.
Now – position your pipecleaner evenly on the spoon with its 2 wrapped hands out to each side. Twist the pipe cleaner around the spoon handle, making sure your arms are at an even height – you don’t want wonky shoulders.
Next – because I am in a crochet mood – and because I saw an amazing bird cage made from a large whisk which had had its wire loops crocheted over, crochet a single row along each arm – from the wrist to the back – making sure to keep the stitches firm (not tight) and neatly lined up. There are your sleeves! This was a bit fiddly and really, the end result was pretty much like blanket stitch – which will be precisely what I do next time.
Crochet a little bodice. I used 4 ply cotton thread and a size 2 mm crochet hook and followed the same stitch layout I am using in Attic24’s Stripey Blanket CAL. You should check out Lucy’s tutorials – they are so incredibly clear and helpful and Lucy is the Queen of Colour. I made my bodice 18 chains long after deciding on how rounded I wanted my doll’s bodice.
Pull the Corriedale roving into long thin strips and wrap the upper half of the spoon handle, making it the most rounded around her bust and tapering it off past her waist. I then pushed the doll’s arms through the crocheted bodice – there’s always a gap somewhere – overlapped the back and sewed it shut.
I used a scrap of quilt binding – cut at 2 3/4 inch – for her skirt. I machine sewed my skirt’s ends together (1/4 inch seam) then pressed up a quarter inch hem and machine stitched it. I handstitched a gathering thread around the waist and pulled it in to fit my spoon doll with her roving bodice – tie the gathering thread ends together, push them through a needle, and then pull this through the roving and trim. Use a few hand stitches to fasten the waist of the skirt to the roving and pull the bodice down over the top of the skirt waistband.
Night fell, and dim light precluded any more photos so now we jump to the finished doll!
Next, I added a bow to the waist – I just cut the ribbon to the desired length, tied a bow and stitched it onto her bodice/waistband/roving body with a button.
The hair. I used more roving to create a beehive. I started by covering the top 1/3 of the spoon’s bowl with white glue which I wrapped the roving round. I tried needlefelting but really, I just kept hitting the wood with the needle, so I just lightly poked it until it was all attached.
Then I added this lovely single ply yarn that has a lightweight wire centre. It’s kinda smooshed on. Nothing flash – poked the end into the roving best I could. Then I added the sequins – each one attached with a little crystal bead. I mostly used these to attach the yarn to the roving. I added a button with a sequin and bead – piece de resistance! – to cover the still visible end of the yarn/wire.
Finally, I painted the face. Very simply. Terrified I would completely stuff it up. The mouth’s a bit wonky – but then again, I think it looks like my lipstick these days! Bit of a problem with straightness these days ;-)
And here she is! Miss Plum! My little wooden spoon – sugar plum fairy. I’m certainly making more of these little sweeties for the Christmas tree. I was also thinking they’d make a nice mobile. Oh! You could stick them in a cupcake – how pretty would that be! Tsk! Can’t believe we’re not having a birthday party this year – these wooden spoon dolls would make lovely party favours for the guests – don’t you think?! Course they would.
I love how the afternoon light would sometimes glint off her so prettily – clouds scudding by and trees bending in the wind and all – but Abby thought the darker photos were nicer. So I put in both – Abby’s photo, my photo – Abby’s photo, my photo.
One of our last flowering stems of lavender. Miss Plum has the perfect hand for holding a wee bloom. And said she’ll mind it til next spring. What a sweetie.
I’ve already started the next wooden spoon doll … a bigger version … a Wattle Fairy for the top of our Christmas tree … with a mantle of gum leaves … here’s a glimpse …