If I had to pick a favorite fairy tale (and how could I ever do that?) than Vasilisa the Beautiful would be in the top two or three. I’ve always loved Russian folklore and this tale is a wonderful one. It has Baba Yaga and skulls with glowing eyes and a matryoshka doll that talks.
What more could a person ask for?
Actually, I think my love of the tale comes from the lavish illustrations of Ivan Biliban. As a child, my mother gave me a book of Russian folktales with his amazing illustrations. So, it was probably the pictures that first drew me to these stories, but there’s something really magical about his work.
Vasilisa the Beautiful is a tale I had mixed feelings about illustrating for the Poppets, as the heroine is a grown woman rather than a child, but since I did Rapunzel (and Rapunzel gets pregnant) I though it would be okay.
The paper doll costume for Vasilisa the Beautiful that I designed is based on traditional Russian clothing. She wears a sarafan over a blouse. Here’s a lavish version from The Met. The headscarf was inspired by matryoshka dolls who you often see wearing them.
She has, of course, her own matryoshka doll as an accessory. I didn’t draw more than one, because one seemed enough.
When I was a child, my mother had a handmade set of matryoshka doll’s that came from Russia when it was the Soviet Union. They were precious to her and I remember playing with them as a child. I’ve always wanted a set of my own to display.
Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations: Rapunzel
The Fairy Tale and Nursery Rhyme series continues today with a Rapunzel paper doll. Certain fairy tales need a doll to really share them. After all, Rapunzel is only Rapunzel if she has super long hair.
After some technical debate about how to mange the super long hair, I decided to make the braid a separate piece, so that it could be pasted to the back of the head. That way you an easily slip the tabs around the paper doll’s body.
One of the challenges of depicting fairy tales is the overwhelming presence of Disney. If you search for images of Rapunzel, the images from the Disney film Tangled overwhelm all other depictions.
The last thing I wanted to do was copy Disney and I don’t really like their version of Rapunzel, so I decided there was going to be no pink in my version.
Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations:Little Red Riding Hood
Today’s paper doll dress is part of the Poppet’s Fairy Tale and Nursery Rhyme Collection where I draw designs for different fairy tales. Today’s tale is Little Red Riding Hood. I knew from fairly early on that I would want to create a Little Red Riding Hood outfit. I don’t really feel like I need to recap Little Red Riding Hood, as it is a pretty well-known tale- girl goes into woods, girl meets wolf, girl gets eaten.
Depending on the version you read, that’s how it ends. Little girl and grandma devoured by wolf. In most modern tales, there is a friendly Woodcutter who saves the day, but in the early versions of the tale there was no Wood cutter.
The woods, in Little Red Riding Hood, are generally treated as a metaphor for growing up or recognizing a space where the rules of civilized society fail to function. The play Into the Woods takes this metaphor and really runs with it.
So, I created this trim on the bottom of the hood to reflect the deep dark woods. Because of the shape of the hood, I designed floating tabs to be attached to the back of the hood to hold it onto the doll.
Her boots are a reddish brown leather and her dress is cream and inspired a little by the children’s illustrator Kate Greenaway.
Recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812, Hansel and Gretel are a young brother and sister captured by a cannibalistic witch living deep in the forest in a house made of candy and gingerbread. The two children save their lives by outwitting the witch and their own cruel parents.
The story is, like a lot of fairy tales, a bit dark.
When I was working up my list of fairy tales, I had not intention to originally include Hansel and Gretel. It’s just not a fairy tale that I really love.
However, it is a fairy tale with a child protagonist and a pretty strong female character, as it is Gretel who pushes the cannibalistic Witch into the oven.
So, it seemed like a fitting on to do.
I wanted to use the colors of ginger bread in this Gretel costume, so I stuck with brown, cream and red. The edge of her skirt is decorated with gingerbread men and peppermint candies, mostly because I knew I could draw them.
The shape of the jumper is based on braces used with lederhosen. I don’t know a lot about Bavarian clothing, ain’t gonna lie, but I’ve always liked the suspenders/braces that go with lederhosen.
Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations:Snow White
One of my long term projects this year has been drawing fairy tale and nursery rhyme inspired Poppet paper dolls. You can find them all under the creatively named Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhyme Poppet Series. Today, there is a Snow White paper doll. Other fairy tales I have been working on are Hansel & Gretel and Little Red Ridinghood. I’ve already posted Little Bo Peep and the Princess and the Frog (though I did that one long before I started the series.)
In some fairy tales the look of the main character hardly matters, but Snow White is not one of those fairy tales. The 1857 edition of Brother’s Grimm contains the tale of Snow White and it opens like this:
“Once upon a time in midwinter, when the snowflakes were falling like feathers from heaven, a queen sat sewing at her window, which had a frame of black ebony wood. As she sewed she looked up at the snow and pricked her finger with her needle. Three drops of blood fell into the snow. The red on the white looked so beautiful that she thought to herself, “If only I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood in this frame.”
It seems somehow wrong to create a Snow White paper doll without giving her super pale skin, black hair and red lips. Her skin isn’t actually white, but it is fairer than any of the other skin tones I have ever done for the Poppets. So, she won’t be sharing shoes that show flesh with anyone.
For her dress, I wanted to show some of forest elements that are so integral to the story, hence the trees and butterflies. In the 1857 version of the tale there are three attempts on Snow White’s life.
The first is with a bodice lace (like a shoe lace but for a corset) that is laced so tight it strangles her. The second is with a poisoned comb and the third is the apple attempt. I did not draw a comb, but I did was to give my Snow White paper doll a lace up bodice to reference that first attempt.
Of course, the 1857 version also ends with Snow White and the Prince torturing the Evil Queen to death with red hot shoes. As usual, older Fairy Tales are a trifle violent and rather dark.
Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations: Vintage Little Bo Peep Illustrations Like This and This
While I have abandoned my sets, I haven’t really given up the whole themes for paper dolls idea. The truth is that I like themes. They help me keep my head on straight and they give me something to draw when I don’t know what to draw.
At the end of 2016, I asked my Patrons what they would like to see in 2017. I got requests for fairy tales from several of them. Well, fortunately, I already had plans for introducing a Poppets Paper Doll year long Fairy Tale and Nursery Rhyme theme.
This might last longer than a year, but I am aiming for a year. Who knows? I can be fickle.
I am starting the series it this Little Bo Beep paper doll printable. It’ll fit any of the Poppets paper dolls, of course. Most, if not all of us, known the nursery rhyme Little Bo Peep. The version I remember goes like this:
Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
and can’t tell where to find them;
leave them alone, And they’ll come home
wagging their tails behind them.
I knew I wanted to do something that felt a little vintage and old fashioned without actually being historical. The nursery rhyme was first published in the early 1800s, but the exact age is unknown. I wanted to be traditional in my depiction of Little Bo Peep. Also, I got to draw lots of tiny sheep.
You can check out my Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes board on Pinterest to see some of my inspirational images. Plus, there are hints at a few other fairy tales and nursery rhymes I am planning to feature over the course of the year.
Which brings me to my next point, is there a fairy tale you’d like to see the Poppets get an outfit from? Let me know in a comment.
Like a lot of kids, I grew up surrounded by fairy tales. Long after I was “too old” for picture books, I would settle down in the fairy tale section of the children’s department of the library and devour version upon version of my favorite stories. I was fascinated by the variables of each story and how they would change and how they were illustrated.
Today, in what maybe the last of the Flock Fairy Tale series (or at least the last one I have planned), we have Morgiana from Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. In case you’re wondering why this is the “last” of the fairy tale series, it is because I am out of Flock magnetic paper dolls. Starling, Wren, Phoebe, Oriole, Dove and Swan is the whole family. So, either some of them get more than one fairy tale or I need to drew some more friends to join them.
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is an interesting tale for a lot of reasons. It doesn’t have any known origins in Middle Eastern sources and the earliest text version is French. The tale was added to the story collection One Thousand and One Nights by the French translator, Antoine Galland, who called his volumes Les Mille et Une Nuits. Gallad’s work was published in several volumes between 1704 and 1712. There has yet to be found a legitimate Arabic or other textual source before Gallad’s version. (Interesting fact: Gallad also added the famous story, ‘Aladdin’ and there are no known versions that predate his version either.)
Whatever debate might be had of the “authenticity” of the tale, the story is at least three hundred years old and certainly has a strong female character in the form of the slave girl Morgiana. Morgiana not only ends up stabbing the last of the thieves to death, but outwits most of them. I won’t summarize the whole thing here, I like these two versions of the tale, but there are plenty of others around.
I confess that I didn’t make a t-shirt for Oriole as Morgiana, not for any specific reason, just because I forgot. However, she does have a book (unlike Cinderella who I forgot to give a book). Her wardrobe is mostly based on belly-dancing clothes and has, of course, a little bit of a steampunk neo-victorian vibe.
So, it may not be obvious but all the fairy tale flock paper dolls are done with a base color scheme of about a dozen or so colors. The idea from the beginning has to been to have a fair but of mix and match options, though- as it has been pointed out to me by a few friends, some sets mix and match better than others.
I keep meaning to do a sort of “filler set” of just clothing pieces without any specific fairy tale in mind which would give more clothing options in more solid colors for the flock fairy tale magnetic paper dolls, but it keeps getting pushed onto the back burner. Perhaps if I write it down, it will force it a bit more towards the forefront.
I love fairy tales. I have always loved fairy tales. I have fond memories of, far past the point of being able to read complicated books, sitting in the library reading picture books of fairy tales. I love the lavish illustrations, but I also like reading many different versions of the same story. These days I still like doing that, but now I like learning why and where the different varients of Cinderella or the Twelve Dancing Princesses come from.
Today’s paper doll set is an ode to one of my favorite fairy tales. The Frog Prince or The Princess and the Frog, depending on which version you read. A princess loses her beautiful golden ball down a well and a frog retrieves it for her only if she will marry him. She agrees and then backs out of her promise. The story goes from there.
In the end, I think the moral is supposed to be “keep your promises” or “don’t judge on appearances”, but it could also be, “don’t drop your precious golden ball down a well.”
Disney did an interesting adaption of the tale recently, but I will always picture the Princess how she was drawn by Walter Crane in the Frog Prince. Walter Crane is one of my favorite children’s illustrators. I was inspired by the pseudo-renaissance look for my own paper doll’s costume.
So, there is a frog, a golden ball, and a beautiful gown for the Princess. I am not much an animal artist, but I did my best to make my frog cute and palm sized. I always thought the Princess in the Frog Prince was a little spoiled, but then I suppose that’s just how fairy tales go sometimes.
Wow, it’s been a while since I posted one of these paper dolls, hasn’t it? My last set was East of the Sun, West of the Moon which I was quite proud of. I took a little break from the Flock dolls and now I’ve returned with a Cinderella set. To be honest, my return was partly inspired by Paper Doll School’s fairytale paper dolls and by the Toy Box Philosopher’s wonderful reviews of the Ever After High dolls that Mattel is making (though they include characters that are not fairytale characters… Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is NOT a fairytale…)
Anyway, for my Cinderella, I decided to stick to the Grimm version of the tale where Cinderella is a little more proactive. The Grimm version of the tale includes three balls, no pumpkin, lots of birds and eventually people cutting off parts of their feet (ewww). Actually, like a lot of Grimm tales it is a pretty… well… Grimm tale.
One of the challenges of all the fairytale Flock sets is trying to figure out which parts of the tale make logical symbols for the paper doll set. For Cinderella, I chose to use birds and clocks as my two thematic elements, since both play a major role in the tale of Cinderella.
This magnetic paper doll set has the honor of being the least well known, I suspect, of the fairy tales I wanted to do, but it also happens to be my favorite fairytale, or at least one of my favorites.
East of the Sun, West of the Moon is a Norwegian tale which I like because the protagonist is not a princess and she largely saves her prince, rather than the other way around. I love the idea of the mythical castle that lies, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” and when I was a child, I owned a lavishly illustrated edition. This posted ended up really long, so I put a break into it.
The story goes something like this:
One day, a white bear who offers the poor farmer a huge dowry for his lovely daughter. The daughter is reluctant, but eventually agrees. The bear takes her off to a fancy castle where she lives with him. At night, he takes off his bear form in order to come to her bed as a man, but she never sees him.
After a while, she gets homesick and the bear says she can go home as long as she agrees that she won’t speak with her mother alone. Of course, there wouldn’t be much of a story if she didn’t speak with her mother alone. Her mother, worried the Bear is really a troll, gives her daughter a candle so she can see what he looks like at night.
The daughter lights the candle, finds out he’s a hot prince, but spills three drops of the melted tallow on him. Waking up, he tells her that he has been cursed and now must go marry a hideous troll who lives in a castle East of the Sun, West of the Moon.
In the morning, the castle has vanished and the daughter sets out to get her man back.