To Launch our new segment In-DIY-Between The Lines, Bam Too! Layout assistant Evette brings to the Outhousers/ZineSmiths her other passion and craftmaking. Introducing "Evette Makes Things!"
I'm Evette and I make things. Recently, I quit my job as a Graphics/Web designer to have a go at following my artistic and creative dream. I'd like to share with you one of the things I love to make: Stuffies. Also classified as dolls or toys, I usually make them out of felt fabric, and sometimes with other fabrics and materials for embellishment.
I have been sewing and making stuffed animals since my teens. Thanks to the internet, which became a thing when I was in elementary school, I was always able to find free sewing lessons and patterns whenever I felt like making something. My first original stuffed animal, a turtle with colourful patches of fabric on its shell, is currently being used as my pincushion. Always by my side when I am working, it is a constant reminder about my beginnings and what sparked my creativity.
Three years ago I found free patterns online for some stuffed zoo animals made from felt and painted. I fell in love with the technique and the material, and the old-timey look of the toys. I modified the Zebra pattern and made horses, then added to it to make unicorns. I made them in different colours and added fun details like manes made from rainbow thread, and horns. I took the Dog pattern, modified it, and painted them to resemble my friends' pets.
Building upon what I had learned from those patterns and how to construct them to be three-dimensional once stuffed, I expanded into creating my own, original patterns. There is a period of trial and error whenever I am working on a new pattern, but I always end up learning more about how to build things. I include wires and design my patterns so the dolls are poseable and more fun. I like to add special details to the face and the body with thread, such as textures, navels and other features. I frequently use small beads as eyes, and stiffen tiny, delecate features such as claws and fangs with white glue. I have even made turtles with shells I sculpted from polymer clay.
I am always looking for new things to turn into dolls, and I get much inspiration from other artists. I have made dolls of characters in games, paintings and indie comic books. I have even made dolls of characters in one of my own paintings that was inspired by a local band.
My ambition is that by making local artists' 2-D creations come to life as 3-D dolls, I get to show off my own talents as well as give exposure and appreciation to the artists.
I have a long list of things I would like to make, such as more characters from indie comix and more originals. I plan to offer my original patterns for sale in the future, so crafty people can enjoy making them also. I would like to get more into making custom dolls and taking commissions, perhaps for weddings or as personal gifts. For example, I have a friend with 2 daughters on a gymnastics team whose colours are zebra stripes, green and orange. I made Zebras with orange and green jackets and medals for both of them.
Right now I am working on a line of dolls for Halloween that will include, zombies, vampires, and werewolves, and other spooks, all original designs. They are more cute than scary though, as small, fuzzy things tend to be. I really enjoy making these "toys", and with them I hope to inspire creativity, imaginative play, and warm fuzzy feelings in others. After seeing the reactions of people who have received one of my dolls, I am fulfilled by how much joy such a small, silly, cute thing can give someone.
1. Inspiration- I will find an object or material and wonder what I can make using it. Other times I will be inspired by art or other characters I have seen and wonder "can I make that?" In the case of the frog prince, I had these jewelry findings that looked like little crowns and that got me thinking about how I could use them.
2. Sketching- If it is an original design, I draw out the basic style, deciding the most prominent features from each angle and focusing on the proportions that will look the best. If it is a character that is already drawn, like from a comic book, I look up reference as a basic guide. I will then gather information from other images from the book about what the character should look like from different angles, so I can figure out how to make it look right as a three-dimensional doll. As you see in the photo, I have drawn the frog a few times from a couple of different angles and worked out the proportions of the limbs and shape of the body.
3. Pattern Development- I figure out what shapes to cut the material into to make it have the look I want once it's constructed and three-dimensional. Sometimes I will sculpt a part of the body to help me visualize how to make the pattern, much like a fashion designer uses a dress form. In the photo, I have sculpted the frog's head to help me make the pattern to make the doll's head look the way I want it.
4. Testing- I make a prototype with the pattern, noting any changes needed. Sometimes it takes much trial-and-error to get a form I am pleased with. I keep in mind whether it is a custom job, in which case I will add many details, or if it is being mass-produced, meaning I am making more than one to sell, I will revise the pattern to streamline production. This way, most of my dolls have a basic and a 'deluxe' version.
5. Production- If I am making a highly detailed custom doll, I typically sew everything by hand, with very little, if any, machine sewing. Special details will be made of different fabrics and beads. If I am producing things to sell, I modify the pattern so as much as possible can be done by machine. There will still be some hand-sewing involved, but fewer details that I typically glue or paint on the doll, which still look good. The finished frog prototype in the photo is half hand and half machine sewn, and I have sewn on the heart, 'crown', lips, and bead eyes. The frog is about 3.25" tall when sitting.
I currently have an Etsy shop, Facebook page, and a website, and I hope to sell at craft fairs in the near future.
Evette Makes Things Facebook Page
Evette Makes Things Twitter
Evette Makes Things Website
1. A portion of Evette's studio
2. Ying in progress. Here we see some of the pattern pieces and spikes ready to be sewn together.
3. A "Blessing" of unicorns
4.. A mama turtle with a dozen babies which are stored inside her under her removeable shell. The babies are only 1/2" wide.
5. Painting inspired by Columbus Ohio Band 'Anna & the Consequences', and the cat dolls based on the painting.
6. Hillbilly Werewolf based on a painting by Thee Gutbucket Art of Robert Jones
7. Bus Stop Ned, Created by Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics
9. Gymnastics team zebras.
10. Nerd test: Name that monster from a popular RPG.
11. The process of making the frog: Sketching, sculpting, creating and testing the pattern, and the finished product.
12.Vampires: 'Deluxe' Prototype on the left with special fabric and details, Streamlined production version on the right.
13.Frog: A finished frog prototype, ready for kisses!