Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Paper Gladiators

Often, when working on a post, I have something specific in mind. Sometimes it works out as envisioned. Other times, I'm forced to rip things up and start anew. And then there are those rare times when things exceed my expectations so much so, I will remove an element out of the original theme and consecrate an entire new post on that item alone. Such is the case today.

By extension, this post is part of the one before, "Going Green." I found an old package of metallic doilies in a drawer and decided to see what I could do with them. The challenge, quite naturally, is creating something of "quality" from a horribly cheap material. Things can easily go very wrong. But au contraire! I was quite pleased with the results of this craft project. And though I'm not a huge fan of Donetella, these fashion items could very easily parade down one of her Versace couture catwalk shows.

Each packet of doilies will be different in design. This exercise shows how to start as well as the design decisions I made putting the garments together. Should you be tempted to make any of these paper treasures, just be aware that paper doilies are VERY fragile and rip easily. On the other hand, I only needed two doilies to make all four elements pictured. If need be, any mishaps are easily repaired! (And the mistakes don't show!) Think decoupage. Just keep gluing!

Ideally you should chose doilies that have lots of rosettes and/or medallions. For the long corset, I wanted the doll's "skin" to show through. So this garment is thin. I began by wrapping the doll's body with a little bit of plastic wrap (to protect it from glue).

Start by taping a medallion to her torso.

For the conical "bra," I folded over one of the spokes so that it becomes more 3-D and fits over the bust. I use a toothpick and some white craft glue (that dries clear). Continue to cut the medallions out and paste onto the other medallions in place until the doll is covered. If needed, cut the medallions so that they will conform to the doll's curves. By itself, a single layer structure is way too fragile. So you will need to keep adding and gluing on medallions on top of the original structure. This will provide a more "hammered metal" look. Be sure to glue on rosettes to secure fragile joints.

When it comes to the back... the medallions should over lap in the back.  I added two more sets of medallions at the point I designated to be the closure.

When you are finished. let the glue dry. Check to see that everything is well glued, adding additional medallions. When dry, cut the plastic wrap down the center back and carefully, very, very carefully peel the plastic away. If it sticks, it is better to use scissors to cut around the stuck parts. I used a small square of Velcro in a single spot to close. Or......

I made a second corset using the same method. But this time, I cut two strips of stretchy nylon (from some old  lingerie which I glued to each side. On the inside of the corset, over the point where I glued the strap, I added another medallion. If you can live with a tie at the back, it's perfect because all of the stress of closing is absorbed by the stretch ties and not the paper!

Then I decided to do a "girdle" which could be worn over a dress. The 1st two garments are too fragile, so this garment begins by first creating a girdle made of air-dried paper clay (found in crafts stores). Roll into a ball then press directly onto the doll to form this girdle. (Those FR dolls with the wasp waists have the perfect silhouette to wear this accessory.)  I let it dry a bit, then carefully remove it from the doll's body, allowing it to completely dry. Paint it the color of the dress it will be worn with (while it is off the doll). Now cover the doll's torso with plastic wrap and slide on the girdle.

Add the central medallion. Since the girdle is made of paper, you can use straight pins to hold it in place while you decide how you want the design to go. Then glue a central medallion in place, then add additional medallions or rosettes. Sometimes I cut the spokes so that the medallions conform to the girdle smoothly.

Continue until you are happy, adding additional layers until it is complete. When all the glue has dried, carefully remove the plastic. Since the girdle stays up by itself, you don't have to worry about any closures.

I could not stop there! So I made a pair of spats. I was afraid, however, that with all of the manipulation of getting the doll's leg in and out of this accessory, the paper medallions would not stay glued to the fabric.

So I created the basic form using air dried paper clay. You roll it in a ball and press over the doll's legs until it is thin enough to have a nice shape, but not so thin as to break. (It will look like her legs are in casts!) Since it's made of paper, you can use scissors to trim it. Let them dry and remove from the doll's legs. Paint. Then add the medallions. Though I loved the open-work of one layer, I still felt  additional layers of rosettes and medallions needed to be added for the illusion of hammered metal.

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  1. I'm speechless April......I don't know where to begin with: the idea, the fashions or the quality of this tutorial....
    You're a volcano!!!!

    1. Thank you Billa. This blog is very good for me. Knowing I need to come up with fresh ideas really pushes me to think out of the box.

  2. This is fantastic! We don't have paper clay and doilies like these but I suppose this could work as well with papier-mache and some types of lace.

    1. With the paper clay, there is a little bit of bend. So if you use papier-mâché use a base that won't dry too hard. I'm sure this project can go in directions I have yet to explore!!! I would love to try lace, paper and a few other types of materials!

  3. Brilliant!!! The spats, the girdle, everything, it's just brilliant :-). Thanks for this tutorial!!!

  4. Hi April, I would like to pass the Versatile Blogger Award on to you, I hope you like it! (in my latest post you can find the info :-)).

  5. Hi, I nominated your blog for the Versatile blog award:


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