Happy Birthday to elinor today! Isaac's mom's in town for a few days and she brought along this funny little doll, inspired by a drawing by my niece, Lily (who'll be here on Wednesday with Laura & Luke (not of the soap opera variety), but not before Evie's family (another of Isaac's fun sisters) gets here on Monday). Isn't she fantastic? I love her skinny, mis-matched legs (the doll's).
A few months back, I led elinor to a couple of Softies groups that had formed on Flickr and to Softies Central and the Softies Awards blog after she declared that young women were not interested in making dolls. So not true! She couldn't believe what she saw. Elinor has been a many-decades pillar of the cloth-doll-making community and neither she nor her friends knew what a doll-making revival had been taking place amongst younger (generally, I think) men & women .
Her overview of "Softies" or "Stuffies" (new words for her) pointed out the naive and quirky nature of many of these stuffed creations, as well as the broad influence of Japanese illustration and design. She was impressed by the creativity, adventure and general silliness of it all. Aren't we all? C'mon, stuffed food and sea creatures, fabulously silly. Many of the best dolls remind me of children's illustrations, playful and light-hearted.
So, anyhow, elinor's new Lily doll brought us back to that conversation and in revisiting the discussion I realized that perhaps "Softies"- makers don't exactly know yet what a resource they have in "Doll"- makers. Softies-makers are often hunting down used books from the 70s for stuffed-animal and doll patterns, but perhaps don't realize that there are Doll-makers today that can show them how to create their own vision in 3-D. Maybe they don't even know that the Doll-makers exist. My MIL, for instance, has several booklets on designing dolls -- Let's Face It! (designing faces), Big Fat Hairy Deal (hair tips, techniques & ideas), The Rag Doll from Plain to Fancy (body shapes, contouring), etc.
There are some fantastic techniques out there, like the joints on this Lily doll, or how to dart a foot to make a heel (these doll feet don't have any darts though). I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess you could say that I'm excited to see what will happen with Softies when some of these techniques are discovered. There's some inspiring creative energy being poured into the genre as it is. Will added technique kick things up even more or will Softies lose their wacky edge?
You know, the night I met my husband (I was 16, he was 21), he asked me what I liked to do and after a long pause I blurted, "I like to make dolls." He replied, in a perfectly matter-of-fact fashion, "My mom likes to do that." At the time, I supposed he was trying to repair an awkward moment. I later learned that he was 100% unflustered by my answer. Of course. (And, holy cow, what an understatement... "My mom likes to do that!" ??) Elinor is dolls.
The Softies movement has been a hoot to follow, it brings me back to the crocheted banana slugs and Santa Frogs of my own quirky childhood ambition. Softies, dolls, whichever term you prefer, they're a fun place to play.
Happy Birthday to elinor, who's been saying it all along, right mom?