Sunday, July 11, 2010

Enter My Garden

Summer calls and who would not want to step into the most beautiful garden they'd ever seen? Why Alice, of course! And, me! Having just finished the fifth Wee Alice Trunk Set, I am ready to take a little nap, perhaps curled up in a leaf in a shady corner of the garden. However, I do know that if I dally too long, I'll find myself scurrying for something to do.

One of the most unique and interesting aspects of this latest little etrenne, is that I've not created a little storybook trunk set in quite awhile. It was asked of me to use a slightly larger doll, this one being 3 1/4" tall, so I had to build her a little trunk that was larger, instead of one that has always been this doll's exact size. So 4" it became. Also, I wanted to do something different and rather whimsical. I chose the interior paste boards of the book's binding and painted all the little Tenniel characters illustrated. It turns out that including the interior of the trunk, 17 characters in all were respresented! And, then there was the garden.

After having finished painting the exterior of the trunk, it took me several days to figure out just what to do with the interior. Tenniel did not have a proper illustration of the rabbit hole, which I found rather sad. I looked to other volumes of this story by other illustrators, but I didn't feel comfortable mixing images. It came to me, then, to create the little door, or the garden that Alice finds behind a curtain at the end of a corridor. At first, this was going to be just a painted door. I messed with this idea a little, and wasn't happy with the effect. So I made the little door and naturally made a frame, hinged the door and added the door knob with the keyhole, so that it could actually be opened to the lush garden Alice so desired to step into. I used the garden from Through the Looking Glass, but at the height of 1", and the fact that this was the first book I was depicting, I chose not to paint the faces on the flowers. And, that is how this mouse found the proper Tenniel garden!

The other side became a trompe l'oiel of the Tea Party. I included only the March Hare and the Dormouse as the Hatter was already painted on the outside of the trunk. Then, I added a draped tablecloth to set the little porcelain tea set upon. I added a wee illustrated volume of the book by Dateman Books, a Drink Me bottle, the pig baby, and a tiny set of cards so that Alice could play in the settings. I think above all else in this piece, the opening door to the garden was the most whimsical and magical of the design. How many times that little door will be opened and closed, one can only wonder.

Another unique design in this set was having to give the doll stockings and real shoes. In the past I've used a lady white porcelain doll that had shoes painted on her feet. This was actually alot of fun to do and seemed to give the doll more life. One of the lovely things about the little doll is that her head turns! She is then far more poseable than the others I've put in these little settings. Wigging these dolls is a nightmare. Mohair flies as if tiny fairies were fanning the process. Add to that the glue used to affix the hair and you can get into a real frenzy! It took me three times to get it right. A bit of hairspray keeps the mohair from continuing to blow away and keeps the do just right. All in all, I was pleased with the outcome.

And, now with this little Alice Trunk Set behind me, I do believe its time to take a few books off the shelf, trot out into the sun and find myself a corner to daydream in. Next? Oh, Miss E. Mouse always has a little hopper full of ideas. Perhaps it will be to finish Bebe Balancoire! Or begin a little doll in a trunk with a small wardrobe. I know that I've been asked to make a pair of skis and ski poles for a Bleuette, and there is also a peg wooden of Caddie Woodlawn that I'd like to do...

Oh dear! If I don't run out into the sunshine right this minute, my summer will disappear before I know it!

Miss E. Mouse

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