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!



Sunday, 27 February 2011

An Eventful Week

To Begin With : The Robbery
On Wednesday a random stranger walked into my flat, went into my room and took my Wacom Intuos3, Nikon D40 then went to the hall and took my handbag, which had my Panasonic Lumix, Mini Diana and iPod Nano in it (but thankfully not my purse, keys or phone). Where was I? In the kitchen. Where were my flatmates? Ones was in his room, one was at work and the other was with me, in the kitchen. How long had we been in the kitchen? Twenty minutes, max. The front door was open because there were three of us in the flat. Can you believe the audacity of some people?

The thief left the tablet pen so he was obviously looking for shiny expensive things. The police said these people are looking for quick money, anything that looks expensive. After thinking about it, he probably could have got more from the xbox games sitting in the hall, because as far as I know gamestation don't ask questions but pawnbrokers do.

Either way it looks like I won't be getting my kit back. The realisation hadn't sunk in on the day (happened about 5pm) but on Thursday I couldn't concentrate at all. When my insurance company rang about my claim they managed to reassure me a bit though - as long as I have photos of my stuff then that's proof enough for them.

What Happened Next : Commissions
On the same day I got two commissions and sold two dolls (which is strange in itself!). Both dolls have been sent to their new owner, one was a commission and the other was a doll I listed just after her commissions which she snapped up because she said she just had to have it.

That's riiight, I finished the cat-dragon commission!

I'm really proud of how it came out. The fur was a little crispy, next time I'll just find a matching colour I think. I'm especially pleased with the furry mane and the green spray at the end of it's tail - both from the feather variety pack I got from Lakeland Fly Tying. I would never, ever have bought feathers like that but they really were useful!

The Future : Work

The two new commissions are very different. One is a magpie/snow leopard gryphon and has been painted and varnished. He looks great, but the paint is shiny and the matt spray I bought is terrible.

Because both my cameras were nicked I can't show you progress photos. (it feels like I'm missing a limb) But I'll take him into uni on Tuesday and rent a camera. If the insurance company can't get me the exact model then they send me a cheque, which means I could maybe reconsider my initial choice and get a Canon instead. I do like the Nikon d40 though, it was humble and did the job well.

While I was writing this I got another commission from a pal on DA. Here is what she would like, I think it looks awesome:

I'm thinking about using bird fur for the green sprays and I love the gold scales. She said the design is based on a kirin, which is cool because I haven't done a water horse since the Kelpie.

That commission is third in line though, here's what's coming up next:

Woof! Really exciting.

Also apart from those I have a little fun art trade going on with Claire Borwell over at Fish & Bird. She's ma homie, and I totes love her art so she's painting me a picture all for me and I'm making her a doll all for her. The animals I got yelled at me were "COCKEREL, MONKEY, DUST BUNNY". I haven't sketched it out but my imagination is running wild.

As For Uni...
Just don't get me started...

Talk to you later compadres!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Bad Case of the Moonies

When I started sculpting with fimo it was in the usual over excited manner I begin every project: running around frantically gathering supplies, telling everyone I know about this brand new brilliant thing I've discovered and then dive-bombing into the deep end. I love the deep end of the pool, I spend hours there. I used to think I was an otter when I was younger. Wait is this literal or metaphorical?...

Anyway I start everything fast. Usually if something isn't meant to be it'll get dropped within a few months. Like the owl hats and quilts ; I don't sew much anymore. Sculpting though... Now that's the future.

If only I could get rid of these stupid moonies.

These are moonies. This is a bad case of the moonies. This made me kick my oven and storm around my flat in a foul mood for half a day. This was a perfectly baked sculpt going in for it's third go when my oven decided to have one of its hissy fits and cranked itself up to 200C.

The temperature knob span off a few months ago and our landlords keep saying they've fixed it. We have an oven thermometer but I'm not going to crouch in front of the oven for half an hour just to make sure it doesn't suddenly jump to 200C. (Actually I am contemplating that now - cup of tea and some sewing, it'd be like watching telly.) I'm sick of not being able to eat roast chicken, I'm tired of being unable to heat pies, but most of all I'm furious it gives my carefully sculpted creatures moonies.

Moonies happen when polymer clay is exposed to extreme temperature change (as far as I'm aware) and sometimes when there are air bubbles under the clay. Considering my cat had been baked twice already and come out moonie-free, I'm putting it down to heat...

I'm hoping that sanding them down a bit and then painting with acrylic washes (which I was planning anyway) will hide them well enough. BUT SCULPTORS BE WARNED! There be nothing as terrifyin' to a man as the dreaded moonie....

Okay enough about that. This week I sold another doll! Hooray!

The goat is going to the Netherlands.

I also finished another doll whom I love and want to keep. He is the gorgeous fluffy Vindur, the moon gazing gryphon...

He's based on a harpy eagle and a lamb, more eagle than lamb though. You can go to his Etsy listing for more pictures and also if you feel inclined to give him a new home!

My next doll is going to be the opening picture, a commission from a BJD maker in France. Here's the sketch I'm going by, she asked for an eastern dragon crossed with a cornish rex cat, with purple, girly pink and grass green colourings.

The WIP picture is that poor moonied doll you saw above. I have sewn the fur and plan to dye it some more tomorrow evening and maybe paint it too, then glue on the feathers and extra bits on Tuesday. Can't wait. After that I'm going to start another doll. I bought a variety pack from Lakeland Fly-tying and HOBOY it's so awesome, got some really beeeaaauuuutiful feathers. And despite Vindurs wings being quite small I used two whole saddles to make them - so I reckon this pack will go fast...

Okay off to bed now, over and out comrades!

If you have a custom doll request or question then don't hesitate to contact me.
maddington.bear at gmail.com

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Awesome Discounts!

Since the DD I've had a lot of people asking about custom orders, which is great! The only problem is they've only been asking and as a jobless student I feel I need to provide a little incentive to make the deal sweeter.

So I'm proud to introduce to you, my wonderful readers, excellent commission discounts especially for you!

Click here to visit my etsy shop and put these fab discounts into effect!

10% discount for blog readers, just put CARELESSWHISPER25 in at the checkout!
10% discount for repeat clients.
Free gift with purchases over £50/$80! Secret goodies, yay!

Customs are at a fixed £40 + P&P. P&P charges range from £5 within the UK to $11 for the US.
With 10% off that's only £36 + P&P!

Wow sweet deals and massive savings!

So what are you waiting for? Go and buy some dolls! Or that song by George Michael will continue to haunt you. I'm never gonna dance again/the way I danced with you-hooo

Monday, 7 February 2011


A little update

Waa too many competitions and group challenges and stuff!
I'm going to make a little list of some I plan on entering/partaking in to keep myself all in order

Winged girl and her winged companion competition
cool fairytale competition, which I can't enter but will do anyway
Alphabestiary - what an awesome portfolio filler theme. really cool creatures too
Create by week stock challenge

I just put four armatures in epoxy too so one
something to do with this:

Also I got a Daily Deviation on deviantart a few days ago! Hooray! Fame! Sort of.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Bad mood bear

Been in a horrible mood the past week because of feedback and things. I think I'm all ranted out though, everyone in the class is pretty angry.

The long and the short of it is that I have to decide what profession I want to follow and then aim for it! Simple right? In theory yes but I really want to work in the movie industry sculpting and casting special effects. Which has nothing to do with illustration ):

So I'm going to get a low grade and my tutors can't help me make my portfolio. All by myself... Don't wanna be... Ahem

Well anyway I keep trying to pull my socks up and get on with it but I'm finding it hard. It's okay though, if I keep pulling my socks up occasionally someday they'll stay up and I'll be fine again. For now though I'm procrastinating going into uni again by venting here.

I find making creatures is the most soothing thing I can do right now. I made a gryphon and he looks great apart from a bizarre small head - I keep blaming his floofiness but I think that's avoiding thinking about how it's probably my bad sculpting. I took photos and wrote notes throughout the whole process so there is a tutorial in the works. I wrote a good half of it yesterday. Here's a sneak peek.

It's about 30k pixels long at the moment though which is mad.

I ordered some marbles the other day and they arrived. My initial idea was to polish them up a little then take a cast to use as a mould for making eyes but some of them are so beautiful I might just use them as eyes themselves! That means some big creatures in the pipeline...

I sold three creatures in the past week. Odette, the floofy hamster griff, the blue Stiltikins commission and Dikdik! Dikdik, the first cool creature I made has been sold to an amazing BJD artist in France who is very excited about getting him, which is lovely. He'll have a great time being surrounded by beautiful naked BJD girls.

Right got to pull my socks up again, I WILL try and keep this journal alive.

Over and out