Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The past fortnight

After the degree show SAAS cut off my loan because technically I'm not a student anymore, so I've been finding myself majorly out of pocket. Not only that but my boyfriend, Rob, went on a lovely wonderful holiday to France with his family - and I am so gutted I couldn't go. He's studying to be a chef and looooves cooking, so I just give him some money every week to pay for my half of the shopping and he cooks for me. I've picked up tips but when I have no money all of a sudden AND I loose my personal cook, it means I'm sampling from the tesco value menu for the first time in years. Tonight I had beans on a potato.

My graduation is this Thursday, slap bang in the middle of the holiday, then on the 29th I'm going to London for an industry week with D&AD. Roll on the copious amounts of business cards. It's interesting how my priorities run right now. first comes business cards, then stickers for new doll packaging, then more materials to make dolls, THEN food. Yup, living it large on the tesco value beans right now!

Anyway that means I've been TEARING through my commissions at an insane rate. Now I don't have to focus on other projects and I don't have enough money to go out drinking, all I can do is sit with the lights out (no money for electricity), drink some water and sew. As much as I've been complaining, it's actually really relaxing.

SO what we have lined up!

A faerie dragon from World of Warcraft

A winged black/yellow panther (commissioners character)

Haku from Spirited Away

and probably another winged canid from the same customer as Haku.

I'm really looking forward to doing Haku, I LOVE that film (who doesn't?) and even though for a long time I wasn't a fan of japanese dragons, they're starting to grow on me. It's probably something to do with how easy it'll be to turn them into dolls.

On the other hand, faerie dragons from WoW are NOT easy to turn into dolls, it turns out. The body wasn't so hard but the wings are driving me mad! Here are some photos of failed attempts. Oh the one request the commissioner had was that the light shone through them, I think she's looking for a stained glass attempt.

These were the first attempt. They're a wire outline of the dragons wings with the same fabric used for the body, spray painted with a diffuser and acrylic then details painted on by eye. They're super fragile and look really dull, the light isn't glam when it shines through them either. At all!

After that attempt I decided to go out and read some tutorials on how to make fairy wings and found most of them involved 'fantasy film', which is essentially cellophane but when you heat it it bursts into different iridescent colours and shrinks. Fantasy film is hard to get here in the UK so I opted for normal cellophane and painted it, then shrunk it with my new heat gun. The light shines nicely but as pointed out by some other people, they look shiney, plastic and fake. And also terrible on the doll.

These are getting a lot closer, these are white tissue paper papier mached onto a wire frame with more tissue paper, then painted with inks. It works well and looks good on my cutting mat but when you hold it up to the light... Oh dear, looks awful. I tried so hard with that paint job too, I'm gutted.

Since then I read more tutorials and decided printing onto acetate then glueing the wire on with PVA would be the best option. I tried it on some acetate I had lying around but the ink from my printer never dried so I went to the local art store and they don't print on acetate and only in black and white on tracing paper. (With the tracing paper I can rub baby oil into it to make it see-through.) SO i bought some ink-jet friendly acetate and I'm just waiting for it to get here.

If when it comes it doesn't work either, I've had a few other suggestions from other doll makers, such as using tights/nylon pulled over the wire (my concern is that the wire is too flimsy), using liquid fimo on the edge of hand made paper to give a beautiful effect or casting them out of resin. The resin option is just totally impractical and liquid fimo is horrendously expensive. I can't afford to spend £10 on a 30ml bottle of fimo when I could eat for a week with that! Especially if all it takes for me to crack these wings is some more work with the tissue paper.

So while I mentally turn this one over I decided to go ahead and make a few dolls to relax a bit. (Each of those wings took me a day - I was going mad.) I made the crazy cheshire cat doll:

and I'm currently making the winged black/white/yellow panther. She's been sculpted and furred so expect to see pics soon...!

Okay I think I've got down most of what's happening! I always seem to write these when I'm either about to go to bed or procrastinating... It's 00:45, I'd better skidoodle.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Degree Show

The Degree show opened yesterday and hundreds of my postcards and business cards have been taken, so I think an update is in order! Just a short one because my dad is visiting the show today and I have to go and meet him.

For starters my contact details are
Mobile: (+44)7805 988160
Email: maddy.norval@gmail.com
Website: magweno.com

I got a 2:1 for Scuttle the animatronic brownie and all my work this year which has made me SO HAPPY! It really has, I feel like nothing could get me down right now. There's been a lot of partying in the class and a lot of good, fun, happy times. I'm really going to miss everyone when we graduate and leave Dundee.

My special effects work in Khaled Al-Hurby's interactive zombie film got some interest from the BBC but I was a dumb dumb and didn't give Khaled any business cards so I think I missed that opportunity. I sold one resin bug yesterday to the head of the departments daughter, but I think everyone elses prints sold like hot cakes, the shop was heaving!

There are commissions on the go as well, poor Galidor still hasn't been finished and after that I have Nebel the grey gryphon to make, which should be pretty straightforward. After that I'm going to take a break for a little bit and make some non-commission dolls because I want to experiment with techniques and designs a little.

Okay I'd better hop it, if you're reading this after visiting the show then thanks for coming!


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Coming Soon...


A lot of things in the pipeline right now: commissions; a website; folio reviews...

The most exciting news is that my insurance agreed to replace everything that had been stolen.
  1. Wacom Intuos4 Medium
  2. Nikon D5000
  3. iPod nano, 6th gen
  4. Sennheiser headphones
  5. Panasonic Lumix camera
  6. Nintendo DSi

Considering these are all upgrades (I had a D40, an I3, a 3rd gen nano and a GBA) I am really doing a jig. I also got a cheque for my Diana Lomo camera and I should be getting a cheque for my handbag as well. And my excess was only £25! The policy only cost £45 at the beginning of the year as well so I paid £65 to have nearly £2000 worth of stuff replaced. Woohoo! That should be arriving within the next hour - you have no idea how excited I am!

Since the last post I finished a doll and three commissions, Luca, one I haven't mentioned yet and the magpie. I'm really sorry I didn't post any progress pictures but I was panicking about time and having my stuff stolen really threw me off balance. Here are a couple of pics to tide you over until I announce the new website which has loads of progress and final photos on it - It might even have videos!

Both have been posted.

In addition to Luca and the gryphon I made a little doll when I was hungover while watching the Antiques Roadshow as a sort of time kill. He went down a storm with DA and also sold within three hours of being put in my Etsy!

I called him Porphyrios because my classmate suggested it.

The third commission was one I got through Etsy. She said she liked hummingbirds, wolves and snow leopards so I came up with something quite butch then decided it was too butch and did something alittle more graceful, which she loved so we went with it. I called him Biscuit because that's what he told me to call him - honest.

I absolutely LOVED making his wings and working with those beautiful feathers - they are french partridge and come in a huge variety of colours. I will buy some more and experiment.

So What Happens Next

Well I have more commissions, my slots are all filled! As you know I have the kirin doll to do, who has been baked and is patiently waiting for the art shop to order in yellow fabric dye. Then I have a lammergeier gryphon called Ozzyfrage to make and a blue dragon called Galidor. Galidor's owner asked me to make him roughly the same size as Luca, which I said would cost more, but she was adamant.

There was another person on the list but they asked to be dropped to the end of the list so they could decide whether or not they really want a commission. If she does she'd like a grey and black gryphon.

Galidor and Ozzyfrage both came just after I changed my commission prices. That's right, they went up. The amount of time and effort I spent on Luca made me realise that I should be charging more for these. I spend more time working on them than my uni project, so the prices have gone up to:

£50 for a doll without wings
£70 for a doll with wings

The reasons are because I felt what I was charging before wasn't covering the materials I was buying. The feathers and fur really are high quality and the change in price reflects whether or not the quality will stay constant. Also as I mentioned before, I spend a lot of time on these. There's love in them!

Things Other Than Dolls

Oh there's not much of that... :]

Okay so the next post will be proudly announcing my website!! I'm so excited!