Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In Which I Discuss My Future

Hello Friends! I've been sitting on something for a while now and I am finally feeling ready to share. Many of you already know that I have wanted to make Tender Arts into a real business, but have felt stifled by the demands of my "real" job, my family and my home. While these are all worthy pursuits, I knew that I wasn't being true to my definition of success. I feel that I have finally reached a point where Tender Arts isn't an "optional" part of my life. It is my passion and I want to give it a real go.

So, I've been doing a lot of research and study and confidence building (!) and I am now working on building an inventory. (Boy, it sure feels good to be putting this down here!) The night before last, I started what I have been referring to as my "Flagship Doll". These photos are all of her. She is the 14" Old Fashioned Doll again and she will be the embodiment of the aesthetic I am pursuing. Like Tender Arts Studios, she is just at her beginning, but she's getting there!

Tender Arts will not be only EFA's. It will be basically all kinds of soft goods made from vintage patterns. I am keeping my focus on mainly the 20's, 30's and 40's. I just have such an affinity for the design work of these decades. My intention at this point is to build my inventory, create a real website and book my first craft fair. Maybe even this one! But maybe that's too soon! Okay, I still have a lot of planning to do. And there are practical considerations too such as a business license and display units. I think the beauty of this plan is that I can do just a few craft shows a year to start, but as the children get older and I become more established, I can cut back my hours here at work and devote more time to more craft fairs.
So, dear ones, that is where my head is at these days. Pretty exciting, I have to say! I am even taking an online class with my local junior college on Small Business Management and Entrepeneurship so I can learn about writing a business plan and such. I do think that all my past work experiences will all work in my favor. Seventeen years in retail management and six years managing a small business should count for something!

Anyway, it's a very, very exciting time for me and I want to welcome any of you who may be so inclined, to please leave me advice in the comments! I can use all the help I can get! Thanks, as always, for the wonderful kindness and encouragement. This blog and this community are both big parts of why I finally feel ready to do this. So....thank you, thank you, thank you!
Hugs to all!
Monday, August 27, 2007

Tips for Making EFA Dolls (from one who's been there!)

I had such a nice comment from a new reader (Hi Dana!). She asked if I use muslin to make the EFA dolls. That made me realize that I could probably offer even more help than just the fabric choice. I wrote to Dana and shared some tips with her and now I will share them here.
1. Muslin is fine, but can be rather pale. The quilters cottons come in beautiful shades. Also, if you wash and dry the fabric, but don't iron it, you will find that it has some nice give.
2. Experiment with different fabrics. Edith herself preferred a Japanese chirumen which at that time (1930's), was rather stretchy. Personally, I have a cotton sweatshirt knit that I love. I made Baby with it and I love how dimensional she turned out. Sadly, my supply was a gift from a friend years ago, so I don't know if you could find it today. But try another knit. Try a heavy tee shirt that your husband has stained! The cool thing about EFA bodies is that they are quick to sew and stuff.

Baby. This one was made with sweatshirt knit. Ironically she has no neck wrinkle!
3. Don't bother being "traditional" and stuffing your doll with cotton. Do you really think that if Edith were alive and making dolls today, she would be using cotton? I truly believe she would be using fiberfill like the rest of us. One of the best reasons for using fiberfill is that it eliminates the need for an internal neck support. If you have read Edith's original instructions, you will know that she used matchsticks and nails (!) to support her dolls' necks! Yikes! Fiberfill is so bouncy, you don't need to worry about the poor dear's neck flopping over! The other filling I like is wool. If you use wool, just take a good size hank and twist it until it is a plug and use that for the neck. It should be strong enough to hold up the head just fine. Wool is nice, isn't it?
4. While we are discussing necks, let us touch upon that delicate subject of "neck wrinkles". Some dollmakers are totally phobic about having a crease across a doll's neck. Sometimes it is worth bothering over, but not with EFA's. They are charming, simple dolls and they usually have a neck crease. Let it be! Your doll will still be darling!
Edited 11/9/07: I learned last week that Edith's dolls did not have neck creases and so I have been working on my techniques. I have posted a tutorial of sorts at the website of the Yahoo! group, Edith Flack Ackley Dolls, why don't you come and join?

Rose. She has a neck wrinkle. Do you care?

That's it for now. I'm getting a little punchy! As I think of more tips, I will make a note and perhaps do a future post with more.

In the meantime, hugs to all!
Saturday, August 25, 2007

A W.I.P. to Share

Here is a little mystery....what delightful place is this? I've never seen a place where cheerful bumblebees cover the walls and daisies bloom in the window boxes.

Actually, this is a glimpse of the project I am working on for Ava Grace's auction. I'm really excited about this project. It's been very time consuming, but I think the results will be really special and will hopefully raise a lot of money for the little darling. There are tiny little EFA's who will live here too!

Well, I guess I better get back to work! I have a lot to finish! Hugs to all.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007


The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is, you have a choice everyday regarding the attitude you will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. You are in charge of your attitudes.

-Chuck Swindoll

Hello Friends! No time to talk, but thanks for all the Nurse Nancy love! I love this piece about attitude. I needed to see it today and thought maybe somebody else might be needing it too! Hugs to all.
Sunday, August 19, 2007

Doing Good

Do you know about baby Ava Grace? She was born in February and when I read about her, I knew I wanted to help out. This little sweetheart was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome and has a lot of surgeries in her future. Some of my crafting friends are hosting an auction to raise funds for her. The image below is a clickable link that will take you directly to the specifics. I am working on a fun project to donate to the auction. Little glimpses of my contribution can be seen in the photos of Nurse Nancy down below.
Click this image for more information

Nurse Nancy also likes to "do good". She was commissioned by my dear SIL, Deb, as a gift for her grandmother who has been ill. I hope Nancy is able to give effective treatment. She's pretty cute, I think!

She was made with the pattern for Character and Costume Dolls in "Dolls to Make for Fun and Profit" by Edith Flack Ackley. Of course! I made this EFA in one day! I think that's a record for me. I do hope she is able to bring some cheer to her new owner.

So, that's how my weekend is going- pretty near to perfect I would say! I hope you are all having a great weekend too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Daisy and Rose

Sisters, sisters
There never were more devoted sisters...
Well, here they are. I wish I had gotten more photos, but by the time I got them done, I just wanted to get them to their new homes! I do think they turned out so cute. They are both made from the the book, Dolls to Make for Fun and Profit by Edith Flack Ackley. They are "old fashioned dolls" and they are fourteen inches tall and their clothing is sewn to their bodies.
The parts that took the longest were the boxes! I think in the future, I will try to make that easier. I do think it's nice to have the box, but it turns out that these were not as sturdy as I had hoped. I'll have to work on that concept a bit more.
Speaking of darling EFA dolls, you have to see this beauty made by my friend, Martha of JelliesJams. She will melt your heart!
Eventually, I would like to make and sell EFA's more seriously, but time constraints makes that so hard to do! I think commissions will work for me, if anyone would like to order a little sweetie of their own. Someday I will have more time for dollies! In the meantime, I'll just do the best I can.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Vintage Fun!

New projects are so exciting, aren't they? Especially if it's something you've not attempted before. I bought this vintage pattern on ebay last week. Isn't it great? I love anything from the forties and what makes this pattern so great is that it is not completely darted and seamed. It's a wrap top and a simple skirt! So cute! The top is one piece except for the ties. Amazingly, I even had a nice length of vintage fabric. It's a lightweight cotton printed with little sweat peas. And then....I even had vintage bias trim for the sleeve edge and neckline! Dang! It's as if I was meant to have this outfit!

Of course, drastic adjustments were required! It is a size 16 which is what I wear, but in 1947 a 16 had a 32" bust and a 28" waist! Oh my! That will not do! But it is such a simple pattern, it was quite easy to change. Here's where I am so far:
And here's a little closer look at the neckline thus far:
Oh, my goodness, it is so sweet! I think the flowers are sweet peas. Does anyone know for sure? I was at one of my favorite websites this morning and saw this which really thrilled me! Wish me luck on this- I really want it to work out!

And guess what? I've lost 12 pounds so far!!!! So, yeah, I'm feeling pretty darn proud of my little self! Also, Dannielle has received Rose, but Daisy had farther to go. When I know she made it to her new home alright, I'll post photos of how they turned out.

Sunday, my little morsel, my Eric, turned 14! Geez, that went by fast! Here's the handsome young man with his cake:
His idea of birthday fun this year was to be let loose at the mall with a wad of cash and three of his closest friends! I gotta say it sure was easy on old mom!

That's all folks! Hugs till we meet again!
Friday, August 03, 2007

Illustration Friday-Missing

These would be the keys that went MISSING while we were on vacation last year. After spending too much time and money on replacing them, they showed up six months ago in my husband's uber-pockety backpack. *sigh*

P.S. I do still sew and make things. In fact I am working on "Calico Cottage" right now and I can't wait to take some pics to share!
Thursday, August 02, 2007

Illustration Friday-Moon

Talk about right under the wire! I doubt anyone will even have time to take a look!

I loved this theme. The first thing I thought of was Mary's artwork in It's A Wonderful Life of "George Lassos the Moon". While I was drawing this, the working title was "Bettsi Lassos the Moon", but as you can see, I made it a little more general after all. I just felt very powerful while I was creating this. I was feeling very close to my goals. This week has been tough, but I am still wanting to "Lasso the Moon"! I think this little cowgirl will become my new mascot!

BTW, last week's beauty was Grace Kelly! Only Sandra guessed correctly. I don't know how she could tell, but I was pleased just the same!