Can I level with you? I like you all, so I think I can level with you.
I drew two Aisha paper dolls when I created her. I figured one contemporary sorta neutral design and one fun cyberpunk design would be handy. I did not plan to post these two one a week from the other. I really didn’t.
But somehow between classes ending and homework (so much homework) and real work and travel, I kinda got way behind on my paper doll drawing habits. So, I have four B Pose paper doll outfits, a new A Pose doll (Maybe named Abigail? Still deciding) and two A Pose outfits all in process, but none of them are done yet.
Some will probably be done tomorrow, but they aren’t done tonight. I figured I could stay up for a few more hours trying to get them done and then posted. However, that tends to lead to mistakes and sleep deprivation.
So, I am sharing cyberpunk Aisha a little sooner than I had planned to. But no harm in that, I do love my cyberpunk. The white and pink strappy top was the first thing I drew for this outfit and then the rest of the design kinda followed. For the record, I think I wouldn’t mind living in a world where one could painstakingly match your hair to your outfit.
Also for the record, I am super lazy when it comes to dressing and if this was an option, I would probably never do it.
Xavier and Yumiko are modeling these flower fairy paper doll looks and you can find more paper dolls with those same faces as Xavier and Yumiko, if you want them.
Just like with Yumiko’s fairy version, I tried a few different skin colors, before I settled on the blue color. It reminded me of the color of the summer sky.
I do worry that he looks a little girly, both because my male paper dolls always feel a little effeminate to me and because the whole flower fairy theme tends to lend itself to a more girly look anyway. Still, I tired to keep him a bit buff with his boots and jacket and kilt made from petals.
In my head, flower fairies are just the size of a deck of cards and could fit in the palm of the hand. How do you imagine flower fairies? Tell me in a comment.
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Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations: Ravens, this Gold Corset, and 18th Century Hair Styles
I love Ravens. I grew up in Southeast Alaska where there are a lot of Ravens. We also had a fair number of Crows, but I hate Crows for being loud and annoying, so I refuse to draw a paper doll gown based on them.
Ravens are some of the smartest birds in the world and they can do fairly complex problem solving. No unsurprisingly, they show up a lot on myth and legend. In Tlingit stories, Raven is trickster who frees the sun, moon and stars. In Norse mythology, the god Odin is depicted as having two ravens serving as his eyes and ears. They are named Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). In Ancient Greek myths, ravens are associated with Apollo, the god of prophecy.
And of course, there are always the ravens of the Tower of London who, should they ever be removed, would foretell the fall of the Kingdom of England.
So, if you want folklore heavy animals, it doesn’t get much better than the Raven.
This is the most fitted of the gowns. There’s something mysterious about Ravens and I wanted the masquerade gown to capture some of that mystery.
Hope is based on the styles at the end of the 18th century. So, something major happened around the 1789 in France. It was, for those who weren’t asleep in high school history class, the French Revolution. To say that “everthing changed” wouldn’t be an understatement and the ripples of the events in France spread across Europe in dramatic ways. It is tempting when looking at the end of the 18th century to simply assume that after 1789 everyone just jumped into Empire styles and that was the end of it, but the reality is that there was a very slow evolution to the high waisted gowns we think of as “empire” or “Regency” dress.
So, I was less interested in worrying about the Empire look and much more interested in the every transitional styles that are easily forgotten and often ignored.
This all brings us rather neatly to Hope. Hope is our paper doll model for the later part of the 1700s. Her dresses will never get up the high waisted styles that characterized the transition into Empire. Rather, I think of her as being a woman of means right before everything gets radicalized. And, for her sake, let us assume she lives in England which was always behind on the fashions a bit anyway and a much safer place to be than France at the end of the 18th century. They don’t call it the Reign of Terror for nothing, after all.
Hope’s hair is done up in a style known as coiffure à l’enfant. This was a style popularized by Marie-Antoinette in the early 1780s. The style is a frizzy halo of hair with several longer strands curled, braided or left straight. Here is a portrait that shows off the hair style from the Met and here is a fashion plate featuring it from the V&A. I have to confess that I am not totally pleased with her hair. I fear that it looks a little bit too “mad scientist” for my comfort.
Moving away from her hair for a moment, Hope has undergarments, of course, and then a gown known as a Redingote. Redingote’s started their lives as actual riding coats, but eventually transformed into women’s gowns which were coat like and then cut away to reveal the petticoat underneath. The word “redingote” is believed to be a French transliteration of the English term “riding coat”. Hope’s redingote was based on this gown from LACMA circa 1790. The term “redingote” sticks around into the early 20th century as a term of long coats.
I think that’s all the sources I need to list for Hope. I might have forgotten something, but I think that’s everything. Next Friday, there will be the last set of outfits for the 18th Century Pixie Series all from the later part of the 18th century.
Sometimes, I get started on projects and they don’t seem “insane” and then a few weeks later I find myself further into them and I am thinking, “Was I crazy to start this?” and, of course, “Will this ever be done?”
So, over the next seven weeks on every Friday, I will be sharing pieces from a historical paper doll project that started with a simple, “I should draw some 18th century clothing for the Pixies.”
It kinda grew a bit unexpectedly.
My original plan was to do three Pixie paper dolls, all with different skin-tones, and each would focus on the first part, middle part and then last part of the 18th century.
No plan, as they say, survives contact with the enemy.
Instead of three clearly defined sets, I ended up with three paper dolls and four pages of dresses and only one set, my late 18th century set, seemed clear cut. So, I did what any rational paper doll artist would do, I said, “Meh. I’m just going to go forward anyway.”
Today I am pleased to present the first of my three Pixie paper dolls and for the next six weeks, each Friday, there will be another Pixie paper doll or a set of dresses for the 18th century Pixies.
As you can see from my 18th Century Color Palette graphic above, I knew I wanted to use a consistent color palette through all of these seven pages of paper dolls. I chose to based my colors on a stomacher, also from the V&A Museum. I wanted all the colors to be fairly soft, but also rich, reminiscent of what you see in portraits of the era.
Today, I am pleased to present Faith, the first of this seven week series.
Faith wear’s her hair in a style known as tête de mouton (or “sheep’s head”) and it was extremely popular in the 1750s. She, of course, has her hair powdered, through powder was not universally worn, despite what some people seem to think. Her underwear consists of stays and hoops. As with many of my forays into historical underwear, her undergarments won’t fit under all the dresses of this set. Her stays are based on Stays from the V&A Museum . These type of wide narrow hoops were usually used to support the wide skirted formal gowns of the 18th century, but Faith doesn’t have a formal gown on this page. Instead, she has a riding habit. Her riding habit is based on Riding Habit from the V&A museum dated between 1750 and 1759. Her small hat is a combination of a hat from the Met Museum and the hat in this portrait of Princess Marie-Thérèse-Louise de Savoie-Carignan which was sold at Christie’s.
The colors of her garments were, of course, influenced by the original riding habit, but also by the stomacher I showed above. I wanted a consistent color scheme across all these paper doll pages, for maximum mix and matching possibilities. Playability, a word I am not sure is a word, is something that I value very highly in my paper dolls. While I rarely cut them out and actually play with them, I like to think about how people would cut them out if they were going to do so.
Tune in next Friday for a page of dresses and then the next week a paper doll and then a page of dresses and then… well, you get the idea. 🙂
Something about the fall makes me introspective. Maybe it’s the grey days or the excuse to pull out my favorite tweed trousers again or the fact that I can feel the end of the year looming, but even here in Alabama where it’s hardly cool enough to feel like fall- I can see the leaves changing colors and I know that fall has arrived.
Fall introspection takes different forms for different people, but for me it usually focuses on the blog. It’s a little terrifying to think the blog might be turning four in January. If it was a child, it would be in pre-school.
Last week, we got to see today’s paper doll in black and white and here she is now in color. I wanted to go with a shabby chic color scheme and a break from the usual “Steampunk=Brown” mentality. As I always say when I post a paper doll like this, I’m not really sure how one decides if something is steampunk. Never the less, I’m very pleased with how she came out. She’s a Margot paper doll, because I thought Margot needed some love.
Thoughts on where the blog is? Where the blog is going? How it should get there? Please let me know. I know I don’t always respond to comments as quickly as I would like, but I do read every one and I love getting them.
We still haven’t had much snow here, but I don’t mind. I’m able to walk home from work which is just about a mile and a half and it’s a nice walk to do when the weather isn’t too cold. I’m dreading when it gets colder and I’ll have to decide between wait ten minutes for the bus or walking 25 minutes in the cold. It’s a hard call and depending on how horrid it is, I usually decide right after work.
I’ve been playing around with color pallets a lot lately. I realized, I’d never done a sort of Norse/Anglo-Saxon/Medieval fantasy paper doll in a pale color scheme. Somehow that lead to this and then the idea of giving the paper doll blue skin came to me last minute. Once the paper doll was fully colored, I knew she had to be some sort of other worldly winter fairy or something. She might be smiling, but I get the feeling she might be very dangerous. Not someone you’d want to cross.
And, in case I haven’t mentioned it or you haven’t noticed, there’s a poll. Feel free to vote or tell me what you think in a comment.
I wanted to play around with bright colors and when I play with bright colors, I like to use a darker skintone on the paper doll. I think it looks lovely with the bright greens, blues, pinks, oranges and purples which make up this set. Colors inspired, I confess by those runt candies. Remember those? I loved Runts when I was a kid.
Candy Coated Couture’s skin tone is the same as Book Loving Princess, so they can share shoes- should you feel the need to give the princess some rocking multi-colored platforms. (Who doesn’t need rocking multi-colored platforms, I ask you?)
There probably won’t be a Dictionary Girls update this week, because I don’t have one ready and I’m traveling on Wednesday to visit family for the holidays, there will, however, be Shadow and Light up on Friday and a one-shot paper doll to make up for the lack of Dictionary Girls.
I showed this paper doll as a sketch about a month ago, the reality is that it can take a long time before a paper doll goes from sketch book to blog. Largely, because I tend to draw a lot for one doll, lose interest and move onto another, so the drawing always happens in fits and starts.
I post on a schedule since I think it should be more even for the dolls and since it helps me not have long gaps in my posting. Plus inking is really boring, so I tend to do it in while I’m hanging out with people (who don’t mind chatting with me while I’m bent over a sketch book), watching TV or have an extra half an hour between classes and no homework to get caught up on. I have learned though that if I don’t keep up with my inking, I suddenly find myself with 15 pages to do and that always seems utterly overwhelming.
While these dresses have no real relation to historical costume, I did do a lot of reading up on the 18th Century for my Marisole paper dolls for the 4th of July and I used those books here too. Below I’ll talk about the books I used and why I used them and what I thought was helpful and not helpful about them- for paper dolling, I mean. This isn’t about academic costume research (though many of these books are good for that too).
I might have an addiction to exhibit catalogs. An Elegant Art: Fashion and Fantasy in the Eighteenth Century is older from an exhibition catalog produced by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for an exhibition in 1983 on 18th century costume. The number of lovely full color photos show off the costumes and a full listing of the exhibit in the back allows you date everything. Close up of fabric and shoes and particularly nice. Shoe research is really important to me, so I’m always looking for good photos of historical footwear. The text has several essays on 18th century life, including one on movement which I found fascinating.
Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail is part of a series of books from the Victoria and Albert Museum costume collection. The upside of the books is that each garment has a clear line drawing of the front and (sometimes) the back. The downside is that the only photos are of detailed sections giving you a clear beautiful photograph of a button hole or embroidery, but not of the entire garment. I wouldn’t recommend this book on its own, but with other books that give clear all over photographs, it’s a great text and the line drawings are wonderfully clear and easy to work from. If I was going to give a numerical score, I would say eight out of ten. It also covers the 1600’s as well as the 1700’s which is useful (1600’s costume books can be hard to find).
Despite some really catty reviews on Amazon.com, Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques is a pretty good book about corsets. There are patterns, flats (which are useful since they show the backs of the corsets) and one full color photo each of the corsets in question. The text isn’t written to be an academic study, so don’t even go looking for that- it’s a book written by a costumer about corsets, with photos, a bibliography and a really nice range. The regency corsets are what made me pleased with it, but it also shows several different sets of stays from the 18th century. Good as a supplement to other books on this list. I do wish she’d given the full citations for her museum examples though… but that’s just the librarian in me.
Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century is the catalog from a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each room of the exhibit depicted an aspect of aristocratic life, with costumed figures talking, getting dressed, making music, and other activities. The scenes follow the plot of the novel Dangerous Liaisons, but you don’t need to know the story to enjoy the images. What is delightful about the book is that it places the often over the top dresses of the era within their context in period settings. The posed figures sometimes make seeing the costumes clearly a little difficult, so I don’t consider it an ideal book for paper dolling, but it’s a lot of fun to look at and there are some nice essays included on the culture of leisure in the 18th century. It’s not the first book I go too when I need source material, but the full color photos put it in the top few.
Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses & Their Construction C. 1660-1860 is not just a book of patterns, though it includes patterns for all of the garments shown. It is a wonderful book about historical costume with beautiful pencil drawings, lots of black and white photos of primary sources and excellent text. It doesn’t have the visual appeal of some of the other books on this list, but it does have some really useful images and each item shown comes with a detailed description. I used to avoid Janet Arnold’s books because I thought they were nothing but patterns. In reality, the patterns are only a part of the great material. It has no color photos though, so look elsewhere for eye-candy.
If I could only own one book on 18th century dress, I might just pick Revolution in Fashion: European Clothing, 1715-1815 from the Kyoto Costume Institute. The text I can take or leave, but the photos are outstanding. Despite the title, the clothing is really more from about 1750 to 1815, there isn’t anything shown from really early in the 17th century. The costumes shown include formal, informal, underwear, accessories and, my favorite, shoes. I also love this book for the regency period costumes it shows. Because it’s from 1990 and because it was a short print run to start with, the book is really expensive on the secondary market. I have not cross compared, but I believe the same photos were used in Fashion from the The Kyoto Costume Institute which is not insanely overpriced on the secondary market. In fact, it is still in print.
Lastly, I’d like to mention one of my favorite books about 18th century costume that has very few photos and isn’t useful at all for paper dolling, but it is a lot fun and that is Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. The subtitle alone makes me really happy, but the book is a wonderful non-fiction work about the history of costume in the 18th century, French politics and Marie Antoinette, who was more sympathetic then I ever thought she would be.
And this was a really much longer post then I had intended… I suppose that is what happens when you let a book lover talk about favorite fashion books. I hope it is helpful to anyone who wants to do a little research into what they used to wear in the 17th century.
Obviously, I have been playing around with shiny a bit lately. I did it for the Marisole Superhero post. I have another shiny post in the early stages of work. I rather like the shiny effect, though there should be a more effective way of doing it then what I have been doing. I just don’t know what that might be at the moment.
I am really lucky to have supportive friends. When I sit around while we watch movies or hang out and draw paper dolls their reactions are usually, “That’s neat.” Rather than making fun of me for being a mid-twenties graduate student whose drawing paper dolls.
When I was in high school and through most of college and I drew paper dolls, it was a tightly kept secret I shared with only a few people. I did say I collected, but it was always- because I have since I was a child… I never wanted to confess I really did still enjoy paper dolls.
I’ve gotten over it. Maybe it’s time or maturity or something else, but I no longer get nervous telling people about my weird hobby… most of the time. It’s still not something I advertise.