I am so pleased to be featuring for the next month or two, Irma of Pabernukublogi as my Featured Paper Doll Artist. Irma is an art student who has also spent time studying music, recorder and organ. She enjoys reading, though is not a fan of romance novels. Pabernukublogi, her bilingual paper doll blog in English and Estonian, has been around for almost five years. Pabernukublogi has always been an inspiration to me. Her paper dolls have a vintage nostalgic quality which I find compelling. Irma’s line work is wonderfully crisp and smooth and there is something almost European folk art feeling about the faces of her beautiful paper dolls.
An Interview with Irma of Pabernukublogi
How does your blog title, Pabernukublogi, translate into English?
I am so impressed that your blog is bilingual in English and Estonian. I have to ask, how do you say “paper doll” in Estonian? And are paper dolls a common toy in Estonia?
Paper doll is in Estonian ‘pabernukk’. ‘Paber’ means ‘paper’ as usual and ‘nukk’ means ‘doll’.
When we grew up with my sister we had lots of paper dolls. I am not sure how popular they are today but as one can still find them in stores there should be some demand.
What made you start drawing paper dolls?
As I said we played a lot with paper dolls as children with my sister, so we also drew new clothes for them. But I wasn’t never completely satisfied with my own creations for dolls then as I found the store-bought dolls and clothes much prettier and perfect. At the age of 14 I started to draw paper dolls more dedicatedly. The mother of the girl who sat by my side in school had been making paper dolls from fashion albums as a girl and I liked that idea so I started to draw my own dolls like this too. Hedwig is one of those.
Old fashion albums and magazines were for the dolls like Hedwig, Wilhelmine and Valerie. Emilia started from old illustrations too but as I couldn’t get a book I was looking through to stay open as I drew I got fed up and just draw what I fancied. (That is probably a very silly reason.) When I want to draw from old fashion plates I try to copy the style and the pose of the doll from there too, so it would suit with the clothes better. That is why these dolls look different. (I’m afraid I went a bit wrong with taking Wilhelmine’s pose from a lingerie sewing booklet.)
For Johanna the inspiration came from a music video I happened to see. There were young man and woman traveling through some woods and meadows and seaside.
Galena got ideas for her clothes at first from an traveling exhibition of late 19th century – early 20th century fashions I saw in Riga. But her wardrobe is only loosely inspired of history.
Do you have any “rules” for designing paper dolls? What do you believe are characteristics of a great paper doll or a really poor one?
When drawing a doll I try to make sure that the clothes fit.
I don’t think there are universal characteristics for great paper dolls. A poor one might be a doll that has been done negligently, but so is a poor house.
What made you decide to start your site about paper dolls? What do you find challenging or rewarding about sharing your work on the internet?
I saw Liana’s and later your paper doll blog and wanted to start my own. I find sharing my work on internet quite scary as I’m nervous and tend to worry much more than would be necessary. Another problem is that I get from time to time fed up with my blog or just loose interest and then I don’t post anything for weeks. But the friendly comments I get are rewarding.
Can you describe the process you use for drawing paper dolls and dresses? What mediums do you use?
I draw the doll with a mechanical pencil on some ordinary paper used in office. The first sketch is usually too messy with to much pencil led on a paper so I take a new sheet and copy it and then ink the copy with fine felt tipped pens. Sometimes it takes only one first drawing but if I’m not decided about the pose yet it takes more with the first one having lots of arms and legs. Also, as drawing a doll is hardest part for me, it takes a lot of time and I start scribbling on the page, so it usually ends up a big mess.
For the clothes I take another sheet of paper and copy with a mechanical pencil lightly dolls contours in the places the clothing might cover. For instance when I want to draw a dress with wide skirt I don’t copy the contours of head and legs. Then I draw the clothing with pencil and ink it as I did with the doll.
When I’ve covered a sheet of paper with drawings for a doll, I have it scanned. I open the file in Inkscape and use Trace Bitmap tool. And then I tidy the drawing up. That might take a lot of time, especially when I’ve drawn some complicated pattern, so I drink a lot of tea at this step. And finally I make a png file of the doll.
So, I noticed most of your work is in black and white. Is there a reason you like to work in black and white?
I like the contrast of black and white drawings. But as I now think of it, I do not know why my dolls are mostly black and white. When I draw something else I like to use a lot of colors. Lately I have become more interested in hatching and patterns for paper dolls.
Do you have any favorite paper doll artists? Who are they and why?
I find Kwei-lin Lum’s work and thoughts behind it very interesting.
Thank you so much, Irma, for being kind enough to let me interview you. Be sure to check out her blog, Pabernukublogi.
Check out the Other Featured Paper Doll Artists, Each with a Free Printable Paper Doll or Outfit