Category Archives: doll & dolls & dollmaking & doll making

Some Simple Hacks That Make Carving Wood Safer

I don’t usually post twice in one day to my blog, but I just had a conversation with a friend on facebook that nudged me about something I wanted to talk about-

Being safe when carving wood.

Why?  Because I have caused myself considerable harm a couple of times when a moment of mindlessness let my knife slip, with almost fatal consequences.

I talk about it in this little video:

 

Here are some specific things that I use to keep my hands safe while I carve:

 

The square of wood with the enhanced corner is a carving support that my husband built for me.

See how the lip hangs over the edge of the desk?

It sits on anti-slip fabric to prevent it from skidding around.

Another square of the anti- slip fabric is on the carving support to keep the piece from skidding while I am carving it.

My lovely husband made it from various scraps of wood we had around.

Make it any size that works for you.

 

The piece of wood with bark on it is a great way of holding down a piece of carving with my left hand while I carve with my right hand.

The knife, chisel or file can easily slip and plunge into the hand that is holding the work in place and I would rather skid into a bit of wood than my hand.

(I’ve had more than my fair share of stitches over the years!)

 

Tottie Tomato is modelling rubber thumb and finger thingies that are usually used for filing papers, but they work great as finger and thumb tip protectors on my left hand.

Can you see how the nubbinses are almost all gone?  That’s from interacting with knives, chisels, sandpaper and files.

Better to nip the finger protector than my finger.

 

The 2 leather things are thumb protectors that I made from leather by trial and error to get the fit and shaping right.

I cut an oval of thick leather that I had in a drawer in the studio and punched holes around the top to gather it and also 2 holes in the tabs to tie them into a comfortable fit.

You can see that the lighter color one is almost done… it’s really notched up – and none of those cuts made it to my precious thumbs! Yay!

It started out looking identical to the darker colored one (same leather), but the hard use and lots of slices have taken the finish completely off it.

I sometimes wear the second one on my left hand, but not often.

I NEVER carve without wearing the protector on my right hand thumb.

You can see why, as it’s so beaten up by just a few hundred hours of carving.

 

Power Tools: 

ALWAYS wear a face shield when working with electric tools, and a dust mask and ear protectors and anything else that is going to keep you safe, smart and out of the emergency room!

This is only friendly advice from a person who has done damage to herself when NOT wearing safety equipment and I really don’t want you to hurt yourself.

BUT I also have to make the usual disclaimer… I don’t know your situation and I mean well, but I am NOT an authority on safety issues, just a concerned and loving person.

So, my friend, USE YOUR THINKY BRAIN AND DON’T DO DUMB STUFF, okay?

hugs ❤

 

 

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Tottie and the Starspoon Sisters

We are in the throes of a huge winter storm.   We had one in November, but have had almost no snow since and remarkably warm and pleasant weather.

Luckily, we are blessed to be safe and warm, and this morning in the studio, Tottie Tomato had visitors.

She heard a sound at the Story Door, so she went to investigate.

It was the 3 Starspoon Sisters with a delivery of stars to add a little sparkle to a grey and stormy day.

Birch Starspoon was joined by her sisters,

Basswood Starspoon and

Cedar Starspoon.

The Starspoon Sisters and Tottie were all feeling a little chilly from the raging winds outside the studio windows.

So, they all had a cup of tea while I went off to carve more dolly spoons.

Stay warm and be safe, be well and be kind ❤

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I forgot to Mention that a few years ago I carved a new Tottie Tomato doll for my blog

Oh my goodness, how can I have forgotten to mention that the original Tottie Tomato doll that I made oh so many years ago had to retire because she wore out?

She’s living happily with friends in comfort and ease in my studio-

When it became clear that she was in tough shape, I set to work carving a new incarnation of Tottie Tomato. (See my About page for the story of how Tottie Tomato originated).

Original Tottie supervised my carving of New Tottie.

And the painting, and the finishing, and the jointing, then the crochet and tatting of Little Tottie’s new dress.

The smaller incarnation of Tottie Tomato is fine and fiesty and

Retired Tottie approves completely.

Tottie still goes off to the Story door-

and enjoys picnics there with friends –

She watches carefully while I create more friends for her….

and loves getting to know them…

Tottie Tomato is pleased that I have finally- FINALLY- given her a PROPER introduction and she sends you her hugs and love ❤

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Respite from world events in carving spoons with love

This difficult week that our world has gone through made me want to carve out images of love, delight, sweetness and joy.

And, so I did.

My son upcycled trees that had died and had to be cut down, and made me blanks for my carving.

A Manitoba Maple from the yard of the parents of friends has re-incarnated as a mermaid.

I could feel the Mermaid in the piece of Maple, and so I carved this Mermaid spoon.

I wanted her to look like the ocean carved her, even when it was me who did.

My son rescued the wood from a dead chokecherry tree and made me spoon carving blanks.

The chokecherry wood became heart and hand spoons, 2 sweet little sisters and a woman who dreamt of dancing with the moon….

The chokecherry wood is almost translucent while it’s being carved and takes lots of coats of oil and several days of resting after it’s carved to start changing color.

Heart and hand images are dear to my heart and I find it very healing to carve them.

The first one is a spoon that is like a magic wand, asking to be waved in the air to stir up common sense and loving, calling out to appreciative hearts, full of compassion and gratitude.

The chokecherry tree died awhile ago, but it’s heart lives on.

It really wanted to be another Heart and Hand, and this one called to me to add color by including beads.

The pebbles in the palm of the hand and the bowl of the heart are not attached.

They just jumped in because they wanted to be in the pictures.

A whole lot more heart and hand carved spoons are waiting in a pile of upcycled wood from trees that have died, but are living on as carved spoons!

Two darling little sisters called out to me and asked me to carve them as spoon dolls.

The first is a sweet bunny who is excellent at giving bunny/upcycled chokecherry tree hugs.

I carve the arms on my spoon dolls from sections of wood that I cut away while I am cutting out the rough outline with the scroll saw.

It’s important to me that I carve their arms from the exact same piece of wood that they are made from, and of course, I have to make the arms moveable.

All the better to deliver hugs when the world is needing so much love….

I am enchanted by these little wooden beings who reveal themselves to me as I carve them.

I am guided by what they want.

No, I am not bonkers,

I don’t hear voices 😀

but I do feel that I am guided by the spirit of the tree in asking me to do what it wants and to let it be what it needs to be.

Birds obviously must have loved the chokecherry tree that now lives on in my carvings.

I am sure of this,  because as I was carving the wood from the dead chokecherry tree,

a little bird asserted it’s claim to sit upon the head of the kitty who is clearly the sister of the hugging bunny.

The kitty is quite happy to listen to all the little bird has to say about sunshine and  wind and rain and other stories the chokecherry tree still whispers of it’s days of bloom in spring, berries in summer and autumn and cold roots in winter.

Sometimes, a piece takes me totally by surprise.

I thought that this was going to be one thing and it turned out to be something totally different!

At first, after many many hours of carving the chokecherry wood, I thought that I had completely failed and that the spoon doll who was fighting me was destined to become firewood.

I tried to give up and go to bed, but no way, she wasn’t having any of that!

I could feel the wood trying to get me to see what was supposed to be happening, and I was drawn in, hour after hour, carving and carving and carving until finally at 3 am, I had an ‘aha’ and felt like I had gotten to where I was supposed to go with this spoon doll.

I jumped out of bed the next day, after not enough sleep, and immersed myself in this spoon doll, but this time, knowing what she was asking for.

She wanted me to see that she was a dreamer, dancing with the moon on her head.

Perhaps the chokecherry tree had loved feeling the touch of moonlight on it’s branches?

The spoon doll made it clear to me that she wanted NO embellishment, only to be allowed to shimmer in the light of the moon.

Okay.

I did, however, allow a little pearl to sneak into the photos. The Moon Dancing Dreamer was fine about it. Gracious, in fact.

I am utterly captivated by the joy (and challenges) of carving ‘raw’ upcycled wood that might have ended up at the land fill or simply being burned as firewood.

It’s alchemy to listen to the wood and let it lead me in transforming it in ways that surprise and delight me.

I look forward to continuing this adventure!

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Tiny Woven Snowmen are so much fun

One of my most favorite things to do at Christmas time is to make ‘the ornament of the year’ to give to family and friends. I usually end up making a LOT of them and it’s totally delightful.

This year, I have been weaving up a ton of tiny Snowmen- I designed them last year and made a video so other people can make them too.

Here’s the link to the ‘how to’ video:

https://youtu.be/a-9cfTzd4QI

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How to Make a Tutu for Dolls Using Upcycled Cloth Tea Bags

For links to video on how to upcycle cloth tea bags into Teabag Yarn, and how to weave triangles with it,  please go to: LINK

I love finding fun and unique ways to upcycle things, and so I have had so much fun turning cloth tea bags into yarn and weaving with it, to make tutus for the Merrie Sunshine and Mermaid Minnie Moonbeam dolls.

For the main page about Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam dolls, please go to: LINK

Here is the video that shows how to make the Upcycled Tea Bag Tutu:

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How to Make Simple Doll Clothes from Woven Triangles

Here is a video tutorial about how to make sweet and simple doll clothes using triangles that are woven on small triangle or pin or potholder looms.

The video shows the doll clothes being modeled by the Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam Mermaid wooden dolls, but the clothes will fit other dolls that are around 8 inches/20 cm tall.

For more information about the Merrie Sunshine and Mermaid Minnie Moonbeam dolls, please go to L I N K

HERE ARE A WHOLE BUNCH OF VIDEOS ABOUT HOW TO WEAVE TRIANGLES ON SMALL LOOMS:

This video shows how to weave triangles on 2 inch pin looms, but the technique is the same on any size square pin loom:

Here are 2 videos that show how to weave a triangle on the Potholder loom using yarn:

and

and here is how to weave a triangle on small triangle looms:

 

And how to weave a triangle on a Weave-It style pin loom: Note that you will need to weave 2 triangles and stitch them together to make them large enough to make the doll clothes in the video:

 

Here’s how to weave a triangle on the Martha Stewart loom:

No matter what loom you weave your little triangles on, I hope that you will find delight in using them to make simple doll clothes!

Happy Weaving and Happy Doll Making! ❤

 

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Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam Wooden Dolls

I have loved wooden dolls all my life and have made many, many of them throughout my life.

More than 20 years ago, I began a series of flat wooden dolls that I called: ‘Merrie Sunshine’.

I’ve worked with Merrie Sunshine off and on for all these years, but until the pandemic unfolded, it didn’t occur to me to make a mermaid sister for Merrie Sunshine.

I’ve been working on larger articulated wooden mermaids and it was these dolls that brought Merrie Sunshine to mind,

and then inspired me to give Merrie Sunshine a mermaid sister.

Here are Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam with my most recent wooden mermaid (the inspiration for all this)

I asked Donna and Gary McFarland of Dewberry Ridge Looms if they would be interested in making

unpainted, unfinished Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam dolls that people would then be able

to make uniquely their own.

They said that they would, and so here are what the dolls look like fresh out of the envelope from Donna and Gary:

MERRIE SUNSHINE: LINK TO ORDER from Dewberry Ridge Looms

and

MINNIE MOONBEAM MERMAID: LINK TO ORDER from Dewberry Ridge Looms 

I have made 4 videos that show how to paint or color or decoupage the dolls to make them uniquely your own and how to stitch the dolls together

LINKS TO “HOW TO ASSEMBLE AND EMBELLISH MERRIE SUNSHINE AND MINNIE MOONBEAM DOLLS’

PART 1- How to’s for the Face, Hair and all kinds of things:

 

PART 2- More Embellishing 

 

PART 3- How to use Washi tape and origami paper to dress the dolls:

 

PART 4- How to stitch the dolls together:

Here’s a little inspiration for the Merrie Sunshine Dolls”

and a glimpse of how I have embellished some Minnie Moonbeam Mermaid dolls:

And, dolls need clothes, right?

So, I have designed an eBook of CROCHETED DOLL clothes for Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam

Available in my etsy shop- LINK

AND  a book of KNITTED DOLL CLOTHES for Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam

Available  in my etsy shop at LINK

AND a book of Doll Clothes WOVEN ON THE 2 INCH PIN LOOM

Available  in my etsy shop  LINK

 

Here is the link to the  facebook group for the Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam dolls  LINK  🙂

How to make Tutus for Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam:

 

How to make shawls and other wraps for Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam:

Watch this page for more links to fun things for Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam.  😀

I hope that Merrie Sunshine and Minnie Moonbeam will bring you as much joy as they have brought me! ❤

 

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How to Make a Simple Mermaid Doll with Yarn

Mermaids are a beautiful metaphor for staying afloat, no matter how hard the waves may crash upon the rocks.

This video tutorial shows how I took the idea of Yarn Baby (Tassle) dolls and created Mermaids with a little bit of yarn, a whole lot of love and a little bit of head scratching.

Oh, yes, also a few sneezes are included with love from our aged rescued Chihuahua mystery mix dear old dog who seems to respond to the making of video by coming into the studio and sneezing loudly whenever the video camera is turned on. Why? Who knows?

Anyhow, I hope that you will enjoy making Yarn Dolly Mermaids!

Here’s the video tutorial:

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Mermaids mermaids Noreen makes mermaids

One of the members of the Peg Loom weaving group on facebook just asked what people were weaving on their Peg looms, and my response was ‘Mermaids!’- which is a very normal response for me.

In fact, recently, a friend introduced me to her sister’s kids, saying- This is Noreen- she makes mermaids. Indeed I do!

I love to weave mermaids and to carve them in wood.

Here’s a video of a ‘swoop’ (I just made that up as a way of describing a group of mermaids) of new mermaids that I have woven up using a pattern that I designed for my etsy shop.

Here’s the link: to the pattern: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/91030975/pdf-pattern-for-mermaid-woven-on-the?ref=shop_home_active_1

The Peg Loom in the video is from: https://www.dewberryridge.com/products/peg-looms-1

A few years ago, I made a little video showing a different ‘Swoop’ of Mermaids. Here’s the link to that video:

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