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Monthly Archives: May 2012
One of the questions I’ve been asked in my question drawing (you can still enter, by the way), was about the early history of paper dolls and what I thought of it. I love historical paper dolls. As I begin to build my collection, I am drawn to older dolls (pre-1900) and newer dolls (right now) far more than I am to the 1930s-1950s, probably because I was never into movie star paper dolls at all and those are sort of the golden years for that.
Lately, I’ve sorta been obsessing over two-sided paper dolls such as this paper doll whose beautifully chromolithograped and was published around 1866. I love the hairstyles and the matching cape. Originally, it was published in Frank Leslie’s Lady’s Magazine was a monthly publication featuring needle work, literature, fashion and news.
The magazine was one of the many publications of Frank Leslie. A major publisher, Leslie is best known for Frank Leslie’s Weekly, officially titled Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, an illustrated literary and news magazine founded in 1852 and published until 1922. Frank Leslie“> Leslie died in 1880 and his wife, Miriam Leslie took over the publishing house which was in debt.
She had her name legally changed to Frank Leslie and proceeded to run the business successfully out of debt. A campaigner for the rights of women, specifically suffrage, Miriam Leslie gave up publishing in 1902. When she died, she gave management of her fortune to Carrie Chapman Catt for use in the fight for woman’s rights, though the will was contested by her relatives. Miriam Leslie should be remembered as one of the great women of the late 19th century.
Sold at a Theriault’s auction in 2006, the paper doll set sold for 200 dollars which was less than I would have guessed. She’s aged well the last 140 years.
Today, our printable pin-up Dictionary Girls get jumpers. Nothing terribly fancy, but I needed to do something simple and I wanted to get it done, so here they are. I’m fairly pleased with how they came out and very pleased that last week I managed to get a full week of paper doll posts up.
Hopefully, I can do the same this week. I have everything ready, I just need to post it. And now for a question answer…
Kate asked: I loved your Esther doll, some time back, and was wondering if you were up for doing any more biblical costume dolls.
At the moment I don’t have any more biblical costumed paper dolls planned. Ester was done for Purim, since it seemed fitting to do a paper doll for a holiday where children dress up, but I can’t really imagine doing a paper doll for another Jewish holiday. Not only because I can’t think of a tie in, but because I discovered that ancient costume is really hard to research.
However, I know Toria over at Paper Closet has discussed doing a Women of the Bible series and Toni on her blog has a Christmas and Hanukahh Paper Dolls including Mary, Joesph and a Jacob. They’re full color and have wonderful faces.
And on a totally unrelated note… Flat Doll is the website of the wonderful artist Kwei-Lin Lum whose work is surreal and beautiful and artistic and sometimes dark and sometimes playful and always interesting. And it’s just recently been updated after a long silence. Kwei-Lin Lum is one of the only paper doll artists who really seems to engage with the idea of what the medium “paper doll” or as she calls them “cut outs” can mean for transformation art. Seriously, her artist statement is inspiring and humbling.
If you have a question for me and you want me to answer it? Ask it and enter my drawing.
So, my drawing is still open (will be until Next Tuesday, winner will be announced with the Dictionary Girls post of that week), but I wanted to start answering some of the excellent questions I was asked. Since one of the questions was about Marisole and here is Marisole, it seems fitting to answer that question now.
Dee asked: Where did the original idea [for Marisole] come from, was the first doll based on anyone special.
The answer is yes, she was. Well.. sort of. The first Marisole paper doll was drawn in 2009, according to the note I have scribbled on the original art work, but I never got around to posting her until the site crashed. As a result, she was posted for the new site version in January of 2010 and made her debut.
She is based, vaguely, on Halle Berry in the James Bond movie Die Another Day which is a pretty bad movie. Jinx Johnson, played by Halle, walks out of the water in a tiny orange bikini and a spiky hair cut. The hair was what made me think Marisole looked like Halle. The rest of the paper doll’s features owe their proportions to the Bratz dolls mostly.
Beyond the Jinx Johnson connection, I wanted to do a paper doll that wasn’t white. I’d noticed that there just aren’t a lot of brown skinned paper dolls out there on the internet. (My attempt to collect some African American paper doll printables taught me there still aren’t a lot of them.)
I went utterly cartoony with Marisole because I was self-conscious doing strongly ethnic features. The history of black paper dolls, especially, is full of some remarkably cruel depictions and I wanted to make sure Marisole wasn’t one of them.
It is possible she’s a cruel depiction of compound eyed, huge headed bug people… but that can’t be helped.
Also, making the paper doll cartoony meant she could be any skin tone or style I wanted which is part of why I still like drawing and coloring her after 2 and a-half years. She’s been dark, light, and dead.
I’ve even made her an alien.
Today’s incarnation of Marisole is a fairly standard pseudo-Victorian set whose pieces I couldn’t seem to arrange properly and so lose the title. Oh well… these things happen. I hate coming up with titles anyway. Tune in next week for the color version. It’s going to be… bright.
One of the things I think a lot about is “playability” which is a term I’m not sure is actually a real word, but what the heck, I use it anyway. What I mean when I say “playability” is how much a single paper doll sheet (one Pixie, One Puck, One Marisole) can be played with. Does the printable paper doll have options? Can she (or he) be dressed up in different styles? Are there choices?
The problem with this, of course, it that pretty soon you run into wondering if printable paper dolls like Sophia are a good idea. There’s no real way to fit more than two full dresses onto one page and with one or two pairs of shoes that really only renders up two to four outfit options.
On the other hand, I really like both of her dresses and I think, particularly the one with the leaves on the sleeves, are really beautiful. I don’t want to stop drawing such things even though perhaps Sophia isn’t as versatile a paper doll as say Kandi (who has 18 outfit options). So instead I just assume Sophia will raid the closets of Gianna, Grace and Masquerade. She’ll have a nice set of dresses once she’s done.
I just realized, linking to all those other Pixies, that I haven’t done enough fantasy maiden Pixie paper dolls. Clearly this is a problem I shall have to fix. Though perhaps not immediately, I have next weeks Pixie printable paper doll already finished. And she’s a cutie.
By the way, I have a drawing for a custom paper doll going on. Enter if you haven’t.
So, first of all, I want to thank everyone whose entered my drawing and asked me a question. The questions have all been really interesting. It’s fascinating to think about what maybe I have or haven’t said on the blog that perhaps I should have said… and if that’s not the most convoluted sentence ever… I don’t know what is.
The drawing is open until next Tuesday and then I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner.
And now…. A few words about the printable paper doll of the day….
The Shadow and Light paper dolls are drawn in a style I developed in college after complaining that most black and white paper dolls needed to be colored to look good. I wanted to draw some paper dolls that were graphic enough to stand alone without being colored, plus I was reading a lot of comics in those days and had a love of the heavy shadowed style of Frank Miller’s Sin City and Marcelo Frusin, who was drawing the Hellblazer comics at that time with Mike Carey was writing it. I stopped reading comics when I got to graduate school, far to much to do and not enough time to do it in, but I hope to get back to them and at least finish Lucifer which I never did get done with and darn it, I wanna know how it ends.
Okay, I know how it ends, but I still wanna read it…
This particular paper doll has “flirty eyes” which is a term used to describe dolls that look to the side rather than forward. It’s a pretty common term in antique and collectable dolls and “flirty eyed” dolls were particularly popular in the 1900s with Googlies and Lenci dolls.
The thing I like about the Dictionary Girls is that they have very few outfits per post. And I enjoy getting to color retro inspired clothing, though I have plans to expand into some other styles in the future for them. Tie neck blouses are a fashion stable, even I own a few.
The truth is that I “rediscovered” this set of paper doll clothes under another pile of papers on my desk.
I am not a terribly organized person. I try to be. I’m a librarian, so people always assume I’m organized, but the truth is that I live in a pretty much constant state of chaos. I love watching home decorating shows, because I admire people who are organized. The truth is that I am surrounded by piles of papers most of the time. I live, at the moment, in a tiny graduate student apartment and the result is that my desk (and often my couch) is covered in piles. I try to at least clean up the piles once in a while, sort of through them and look at what is stacked up.
On any given day, I might have old drafts of school work, half finished letters to family (which I write and then forget to send.. a bad habit) and then, of course, paper doll things. I collect around me things for ideas. I’m always low on them, so I need to have inspiration at hand. I buy fashion magazines and also those hair style magazines. I usually have a few rough drafts of doll poses and xeroxes of dolls in need of clothing. My world is full of fragments of this obsessive hobby of mine.
I’m moving soon, so I guess they’ll be the time to organize my paper doll supplies, other art supplies and school things. So much to do…
Oh, by the way, I’m having a drawing. Enter if you haven’t.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like all my posts are sort of sounding the same.
Blah blah blah paper doll blah blah blad dresses are pretty blah blah blah weather is nice blah… which is kinda bothering me.
I mean, yeah, this is a blog about paper dolls, but it should be a little more interesting I think… so I’ve decided to ask all of you for help.
Ask me a question in the comments of this post. Pretty much any question. If you ask a question, you’ll be entered in my drawing.
The prize is a paper doll drawn to your specifications. Previous winning paper dolls have been a Steampunk Marisole, a Chinese Street fashion Marisole (which has a mis-used apostrophe that bugs me…. I should fix it sometime) and a pair of Pucks in suits (normally, the prize is one paper doll, but since it took me so long to get the Pucks done, I was feeling guilty and did two). Drawing will be open for two weeks.
I’ll use the questions to spark ideas for blog posts. So, even if you don’t win a paper doll, you might get your question answered. And that could be cool, right?
The thing about this blog is that writing is hard. Drawing is hard too, but somehow less hard then writing. I think it’s because I draw in stages- pencil and then ink and then shade and then scan and then re-size. Sometimes those events occur in a slightly different order, but I always have multiple pieces in multiple stages of work. Yet, writing I find I stare at a white screen and have to think of something to say.
Ideally, something intelligent and nuanced to say… Okay, maybe not nuanced, but at least intelligent. Or coherent. I think I at least get coherent. Usually.
Boots wrote a really wonderful post a few weeks ago about momentum and how hard it is to keep it up. She’s right. When I get into a groove I can prep several paper dolls in a row and schedule them all and feel like I’m getting somewhere and when I’m not in a groove… well… it all takes much longer. Enjoy this pastel spring like Marisole. This paper doll is also available in black and white which I posted last week.
Normally, I do my futuristic, cyber-punky sets in blacks with neons, but I wanted to play around with white as a base color, rather than black. Since I was using white, the citrus candy colors seemed proper to accent the clothes and the candy colors gave this paper doll her name- Kandi. Her dark skin tone was chosen to contrast with the white and pink scheme. I’m mostly pleased with how she came out, though I have some mixed feelings about the hair. It was originally black with pink highlights and I wonder if perhaps I should have kept it that way.
In the end, I’m fairly pleased with how she turned out. I like her clothes and her hair is okay, though I’m not totally pleased with it.
So… this is practically late. I mean… it’s like 11:50 here in Illinois, but I really really wanted to get a Shadow and Light doll up since it’s been a while since I did one and I have been feeling bad about that.
Back in the 1980′s I was pretty young, but I remember wearing overall shorts, which were the latest thing, and having a weird affection for when I was old, because I was going to wear thigh high boots. I don’t know why I was so into the idea, but I remember drawing lots of paper dolls sporting thigh high boots and miniskirts in elementary school. Perhaps I saw Pretty Woman at too young of an age…. Oddly, my mother was never concerned as far as I could tell with my thigh high boot obsession.
As an adult, I have never worn thigh high boots… a pity perhaps.
Needless to say, my love of shoes was founded young and even now I love shoes (which I think comes through on my paper dolls.)
And, as you might notice, our pirate is sporting some pretty darn sexy boots.