Russian Doll

This is an interesting project I did back in April 2018. I was asked to paint a set of dolls for actress Natasha Lyonne. I automatically assumed it would be something off the “Orange is the New Black,” but no, it would be for her new Netflix series which is tentatively titled “Russian Doll.” Since the show is still filming, there’s very little photos on hand for me to reference so the ladies ordering the set had to contact the wardrobe department or had to source the item they wanted me to paint personally. It was a lot of fun and I am beyond curious about the show now.

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Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

I have to admit I was a more than a little disappointed when the Pee Wee’s Big Adventure project was proposed but I wouldn’t get the go-ahead for some time yet. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was one of my favorite movies growing up. I think my brother and I wore the video tape out by rewinding the Large Marge scene at least a hundred times per viewing. This was also the movie that, when we were adults, shown to my brother’s potential girlfriend/future wife, we determined that she’s not the right one for him because she’d spent the majority of the movie declaring that she didn’t “get it.” I suppose my brother could not picture a life with someone he’d have to explain Pee Wee Herman to so that relationship had dissolved shortly after the viewing of the film.

Fortunately for me, and possibly even more so for the husband of the man who had proposed this set in the first place, a husband who is once again, high up on the BoBo Babushka leader board (he’s won it once before only to be knocked down by his husband shortly thereafter), covertly contacted me and gave me the go-ahead. It took a while to paint this set because, as always, I had a pile of projects to tackle first. I always ended my long painting day with this set because it just brought me so much joy, as the movie(s) and the TV shows did once upon a time.

I could not stop giggling when Roadblock Drag Pee Wee’s face emerged. That had been my favorite scene in the movie.

The Hubs was away on a month-long mountain bike riding holiday when I was working on this set and because there’s no one there to make sure I take care of myself, I often worked into the wee hours of the morning and discovered something important about myself. I am not meant to be a functioning human being before dinner time! I do my best work after 9 PM. So it was at 2 AM when I realized I needed to add one of the most important elements of the movie in the piece, and that was Pee Wee’s bicycle. I didn’t finish until 5 AM, but man, I doubt I can be that focused to paint this tiny bike at any other hour of the day/night!

Merry Christmas, Craig and Scott! You guys will always be Husbands of the Year in my book!

A Christmas Carol

What’s Christmas with the perennial favorite: A Christmas Carol? I’d been eying this one for eons now, having the tale told to me numerous times growing up, so imaging my joy when someone requested one! This is the George C. Scott version. I’ve only ever seen him in “Patton” and “The Firestarter,” the former being one of my Dad’s favorite. I never thought I would ever paint George C. Scott, especially a version wherein he sports mutton chop sideburns!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

What We Do in the Shadows

Sometimes it wouldn’t even occur to me to paint a particular set, no matter how into the movie/TV show I am, unless someone brings it up. It’s something that always baffles me but there we are. I am beyond grateful to Amy for wanting some What We Do in the Shadows dolls made, and not just a single set either, which means I get to fully immerse myself into the world of these vampires of Wellington for a few weeks. Best of all, I get to watch it again and again, and let me tell you, each viewing is a complete and utter treat.

After going through the movie carefully, I chose two of my favorite scenes featuring the vampires plus one with them wearing their “daily garb.”

The cast in these sets are the same but in different orders. There’s Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, Petyr, Anton, The Beast, and of course, Stu.

The Unholy Masquerade always cracks me up largely because it was held in a the most innocuous location possible: Victoria Bowling Club.

There are so many scenes I love (especially when Deacon was doing his dance for the others), but I loved the fact that they have all taken up artistic endeavors to while away their time, something that mere mortals tend to shy away from because our time on earth is so limited.

Well, this is the first time in a long while that I was sad to finish a project. At least I had fun painting it!

Bob’s Burgers Halloween Edition

…and Halloween mania carries on! I have recently finished a rather large and really fun horror-themed set and (which will be revealed on and around this most excellent pagan holiday of all time) and, just for fun (and also I have this set of dolls that was the perfect fit for this project), I painted Bob Belcher and his family in costume. Due to the considerable rotundness of this set, I settled on the Halloween costumes the family wore on the episode “Full Bars.”

Here we have Bob in a fat suit, Linda as a mermaid, Tina as the Mommy Mummy, Gene as Queen Latifah in her U.N.I.T.Y phase, and itty bitty Louise as Edward Scissorhands.

Just how itty bitt is Louise?

This big!

 

I thought it would be fun to include the ghost of Francine the Guinea Pig after Bob’s sat on her.

 

Hocus Pocus

It’s the most wonderful time of year in the sweat shop! I usually start planning for my Halloween sets in late August and the hardest thing to do is to put it on a manageable schedule as these are the sort of things I can only paint after the day’s work is done. Fortunately, my husband is on one of his expeditions, leaving me to my own device. His function as a husband is to make sure I get enough food and rest and go out once in a while, but without him here to mother me, I’ve regressed to my art school days (minus the heavy partying) and painting late into the night. The advantage of living this way is that I get my best ideas after 2 AM and it is lovely to harness it and jot it down while alert instead of clumsily pawing at my nightstand for a pad of paper and fumbling for a pen.

For Halloween this year I’ve been tasked with painting one of my favorite all-time horror/comedy movies in the world. This request came right after I had made up my mind to paint another fun and somewhat kid-friendly “Hocus Pocus” so I had the rare treat of working on two Halloween-y sets simultaneously. The idea for “Hocus Pocus” came about largely because I was rooting through my collection of hair and discovered I have the right shade to make hair for Winifred Sanderson. Stop freaking out! When I say I have a box of hair, it’s doll’s hair!

I hadn’t planned on making an Easter Egg surprise for this set, but after reviewing the movie again, I thought it might be fun to toss the spell book into it. The spell book was executed at around 3 am one day and I had been on autopilot at that point so I don’t quite remember painting it, which is always a great surprise in the morning when I see it, or a sad one if it didn’t turn out right.

Designing Women

There had been a lot of squealing coming from the ol’ sweatshop a month or so ago. A woman I was chatting with casually announced that she knew “someone who worked on Designing Women” might be interested in having a set commissioned. My mind immediately raced through the cast of the show I used to watch religiously after hours when I was trying to finish my myriad projects for class. Who could it be? I decided not to ask the woman who this mysterious potential customer might be and just be pleasantly surprised. But secretly I was hoping for Delta Burke. I loved Suzanne Sugarbaker and had stopped watching after she left the show.

And it was! She was very sweet and knew exactly what she wanted for her set. The icings on the cake? I got to make a wig, a pageant crown, and a pig!

This set was extra special for me because I have been dying to make a pig doll ever since I became a devout follower of numerous piggy Instagram accounts.

 

The Hobbit Revisited

When I was asked to work on The Hobbit again with Smaug as the first doll, I panicked slightly. That had been a hard one to do but then I thought about how I wasn’t exactly thrilled about how the spines turned out the first time, I buckled down one weekend and allowed myself to get carried away. In order to be able to paint the dragon, one must first be the dragon. That’s my new motto, but only because dragons are known for sitting on piles of gold and I wanted to sit on a pile of cookies while I crank this set out.

This set featured three characters from The Hobbit that I hadn’t done before so I was more than pleased to have worked on it.

Since the set I was using had yielded an extra doll, I thought it might be a riot to remove it and stick The One Ring in as an Easter Egg surprise for the buyer. The Precioussss, of course, was most definitely not made of Elfin gold so I was half expecting it to disintegrate as soon as take it out of the packaging. It didn’t, of course, but it would most likely tarnish if it’s worn.

The buyer sent me the loveliest email after receiving it. He said the set had made him cry, and his words had made ME cry, a hardened and jaded former New Yawker who only cries in darkness after watching animal movies. I started painting these dolls during a very emotional time in my life when I had to adjust to living in a new country without any physical support from friends and family. Painting the dolls had been therapeutic and amusing, something I sorely needed then. It made me happy to learn that the photos I shared of these dolls also made other people happy, although the tears people shed after seeing them were always unexpected. I hope that’s a good thing.

KiKi’s Delivery Service

My mother came home from her grocery/video rental run and handed me KiKi’s Delivery Service one day when I was home from college and told me I’d really like it. I had no reason to disbelieve her. As different as mother and I are, she knows me. “The animator is quite celebrated in Japan,” she said and left me to it. Little did I know then that Kiki’s Delivery Service was going to change my worldview completely.

The sweeping landscapes, the storytelling, the insane attention to detail made me a lifelong fan of Hayao Miyazaki and his associates. In the movie the little witch lost her inspiration and found it again when her services was needed. It was inspiring for a young artist like myself and, after I eventually got my own copy, I’d plonk it into the VCR whenever I felt a bit lost in the big wide world of illustration.

This set had been brewing in my mind for years, ever since I found out one of my good friend has named his daughter Kiki after the titular character. It was meant to be a hey-you-have-a-baby present but I felt the timing is a bit off now since the child is currently at pre-school age. Still, it’s something that needs to be done so I spent a bit of time each night working on it. I had hoped the magic had transferred from film into this set while I worked on it. It must’ve done since, weirdly enough, the main doll smelled oddly of baked bread.

As a little “Easter Egg” surprise, I made a broomstick and a radio to pop into the JiJi doll.

The Baby-Sitters Club

As long as we’re on the subject of childhood nostalgia, this one had been rolling around in the back of my mind for a long time now, compounded by the fact that I start each work day listening to the most excellent podcast by two guys discussing the finer points of one of my favorite childhood guilty pleasures: The Baby-Sitters Club books. I didn’t like the movie or the TV series at all, but I was the right age when the first books came out and it was a real treat because the girls in the books were so relatable and most importantly, they were focused and business oriented, something my peers certainly were not. At the time I had to make a decision as to whether or not to enroll into LaGuardia High School for music or Art and Design for art, a choice I knew would dictate my future and I had no one my age to discuss this really important decision I had to make because their futures were more fluid than mine. I felt that the BSC books, especially the character of Claudia Kishi had made me realize that it was okay to know exactly what you want out of life even at the tender age of 13. Looking back, I realized I did make the right decision because, let’s face it, I’d be a pretty mediocre pianist. And unemployed.

I’ve stopped reading the books after I went to high school, which meant I didn’t know who Abby was nor did I realize that Mary Anne had a drastic makeover, or that Stacey McGill’s splashy tropical themed fashion morphed into urban sophisticate. The outfits on this set are based on the earlier versions of the girls in the series.

The first doll is of course Kristy Thomas the founder and president of the BSC clad in her Kristy’s Krushers uniform rather than her other notable ensemble of turtleneck, sweater and jeans. I refused to read “Kristy and the Snobs” the second time because it told the tale of the death of her dog Louie and reading it the first time made me bawl like a baby.

My nine-year old niece and I agreed that Claudia is our favorite because of her artistic skills, creative dressing style, and a penchant for junk food and mysteries. This outfit is straight out of this description from “Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls” BSC book #2:

I’m [Claudia] wearing purple pants that stop just below my knees and are held up with suspenders, white tights with clocks on them, a purple-plaid shirt with a matching hat, my hightop sneakers, and lobster earrings. Clothes like these are my trademark.

Since I stopped reading the series before Stacey’s style became sophisticated, I compromised by painting her outfit a “New York Black.” This outfit is taken from the description from “Kristy’s Great Idea” (BSC book #1)

Stacey [McGill] had on a pink sweatshirt with sequins and a large purple parrot on the front; short, tight-fitting jeans with zippers up the outsides of the legs; and pink plastic shoes.

Mary Anne’s first makeover consisted of her getting rid of her braids, but in “Logan Likes Mary Anne!” BSC book #10 she got permission to buy a new outfit for her first ever school dance with the titular Logan Bruno and this was the ensemble, with the help of Claudia the fashion maven, that was described:

Then Claudia handed me [Mary Anne] a full white skirt with the words Paris, Rome, and London, and sketchy pink and blue pictures of the Eiffel Tower, the Tower Bridge and other stuff scrawled all over it. She matched it up with a pink shirt and a baggy pink sweater. I would never, ever have tried on that skirt, but with the shirt and sweater it looked really cool. In the shoe department we found white slip-ons with pink and blue edging that matched the pink and blue in the skirt.

Dawn’s outfit as described in “Mallory and the Trouble with Twins” BSC book #21:

Dawn was wearing this cool oversized (really oversized) blue shirt. One of the coolest things about it was that it was green inside, so that when she turned the collar down and rolled the sleeves up, you could see these nice touches of green at her neck and wrists. She was wearing a green skirt – and clogs. I’d never seen a person actually wearing clogs, just photos of people in Sweden.

Jessi’s outfit, also from book #21:

Jessi and I looked dull, dull, dull. We were both wearing jeans. Jessi was wearing a T-shirt that said You are looking at perfection. And she was wearing running shoes.

Mallory’s outfit from “Hello Mallory!” book #14:

I threw on a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt that said I’D RATHER BE WRITING MY NOVEL, and a pair of sneakers.

This was a fun one to paint and certainly took me on a long hard stroll down my formative years. Every now and then I would catch myself wondering what had happened to these girls since we’d be roughly around the same age, but then I’d have to remind myself that they’re fictional characters.