Thursday 10 March 2022

2022 Topic 04: Interactive {by Riikka Kovasin} with Seth Apter stamps

Moikka everyone, it's Riikka Kovasin from Paperiliitin blog with you today, and I'm here to share with you a project with new Seth Apter's new stamps! It's a jumping jack of sorts.

I'm not sure why, but the first thought that jumped to my head when reading the theme of "Interactive" was a jumping jack - pun not intended. It might got to do with the fact that one of my very first design team projects for another team back in 2015 was a ballerina style jumping jack or an art doll.

I somehow don't like when the legs of the jumping jack swerve around, so instead of making an actual, classical one might say, jumping jack, I opted for an art doll version. When drawing the first sketches, I came to think about the mosaics in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna and especially empress Theodora. When I was stuck in one stage of the project, this thought proved to be handy.

As you may have read from my first post, I often go with the flow and let the project lead me. On the other hand, sometimes I sketch or jot down some ideas before starting. Not that those are ruling each other out - I can have a sketch and an idea, but often in the process something happens and then the plan changes. With this make, however, I followed my original sketch quite long, until the final details.

So, my first step was to decide the shape and size of the doll. I sketched a couple of sizes but opted for the bigger one because of the size of the mechanism. I figured it'd be easier to do that with bigger parts than fiddling around with tiny ones. I also needed to take the size of the brads into consideration so the hands were wide enough for them.

As the doll needed to have the interactive function, I needed a sturdy substrate to handle the movement and pulling. I chose a thick 1,5 mm cardboard as my base and cut a pawn shaped piece out of it. For the arm parts and the pieces making up the collar later on, I chose a thinner 0,5 mm version. I also used a silicone mould to make a couple of faces. To cast the faces I used just hot glue, my favorite casting medium. If you want to see that done, please see this Reel on my Instagram.

I chose a really pale tone of Fresco Finish Chalk Acrylic paint for the doll's face and arms to echo a porcelain doll. I used Vintage Lace (FF18) to paint the moulded piece and the top of the pawn shaped piece together with the arm pieces. For the collar I used a more yellow pale tone, Fresco Finish Chalk Acrylic paint Heavy Cream (FF203). If you are wondering why there's two pieces for the collar, there's a clever assemblage reason for that, which I'll try to explain a bit later in the process. 

For the robes I chose a royal purple tone. I wanted a mid-tone as I was thinking of adding pattern on top and that would allow me to use both lighter and darker colors in the pattern. So, I picked Spanish Mulberry (FF71) for the base layer. As the collar would hide the transition between the head and the dress, I just swapped the paint without painting a straight line or a decorative transition. 

Then came the fun part of stamping and decorating the dress! I used Fresco Finish Chalk acrylic paints to stamp the patterns. When stamping with paint, I find it easiest to use a gel printing plate as my "ink pad". I brayer the color to the plate and the pick it up from there with the stamp. This way I don't get too much paint and the image is quite crisp. What I also get is extra collage material as the paint eventually gets too dry and I need to pull the print and add another layer of color. 

For the patterning I used new Seth Apter stamps. The zig-zag pattern is from one set (ESA30) and the frayed line from another (ESA29). I also used the number edge as well as a stitched cross from the other set (ESA29). {NB. Both sets available currently exclusively from PaperArtsy retailers, list of stores here.} 

Whereas the color is concerned, I started with a darker purple Fresco Finish Chalk acrylic - Purple Wine (FF202). This kind of created a shadow, the basic weave of the cloth. After this layer I wanted to add a little more texture effect to the robe so I added some stamping with Forget Me Not (FF155) and Heavy Cream (FF203), too. I added the Heavy Cream (FF203) only to the bottom of the dress for a couple of reasons. First, it was to balance the cream colored collar of the doll and secondly, it was too dominant to be added throughout the dress.

When stamping with acrylic paint, remember to clean your stamps so the paint doesn't fill the fine grooves of your detailed PaperArtsy stamps! This is easiest when the paint is still wet, so just wipe with a baby wipe or moist soft cloth when you are working. If you think you're working for a longer while and the paint might dry to the stamp, try inking the stamp first with embossing ink. That might block the paint from sticking too hard! If the worst should happen and the paint dries to the surface anyway, remember that a hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol can break down acrylic paint.

When I now had the base layer and patterning done, I used a heat tool to dry the acrylic layers thoroughly before moving forward with the project.

I wanted to make the stitched cross looking pattern of the Seth Apter stamp set (ESA29) the main element of the dress. I had stamped it to the robe with acrylic paint already, but it didn't pop up the way I wanted and over all I felt that the dress needed a little bling. So, I picked the stamp again and this time used embossing ink to stamp with. I also stamped a couple of the other cross like pattern from the other set (ESA30) to the dress and then coated them with golden embossing powder. At this stage I was still thinking of adding a huge flat back jewel on top of the bigger cross, but decided against it when I had the mechanism done. Instead I went with a smaller one.

To give the doll a bit more dimensional look I then inked around each piece using a black ink. I was careful not to put too much to the face so she wouldn't look like she's been cleaning the chimney. But the dress being of darker color could handle a bit darker shadow around the edge.

Now that I had the cardstock elements done, it was time for the assembling. I've done some jumping jacks before and usually the problem with it not jumping is that the brads are too tight. There needs to be some wiggle room for the limbs to sway and wobble. To ensure I had that, I cut a little tool out of the thicker cardboard. It was just a fork shape piece I could insert between the layers when pushing the brad in through the holes. When I then opened the back pieces of the brad, I didn't push the brad too tightly to the cardstock and thus allowed enough room for the movement! You can see my fine tool better in the next photo.

After adding the brads to the arm pieces, securing those two together, I then added the upper brads adding the arm to the collar piece. Then came the attaching the hands together and to the pull.

I first used just plain, sturdy thread to add the hands together but when trying the mechanism, I realized that wouldn't do. Usually the pull twine is at the back of the doll, hidden from sight. But I wanted mine to the front, kind of a detail to the dress or a very long necklace hanging all the way to the hem of the dress, and beyond. For this I needed the two collar pieces sandwiching the doll part between them. And for this reason a simple twine wouldn't do as when pulling down, it started to show.

Luckily this was an easy problem to solve. I just cut the twine and inserted a length of the same jewelry chain I was planning on using as the pull to the back of the pieces for the mechanism. 

If I did this doll again, I'd make the upper arm pieces longer so they could be attached higher up. As when you now pull the chain, the horizontal piece starts showing. But that's the thing with the first one of it's kind. You need to realize that it's a prototype after all, there's bound to be some trial and error along the way! If you are planning on doing something like this, too, do a couple of tries and find the best shapes. Then draw a pattern out of those and you can do as many dolls as you like!

Now that I had my jumping jack almost assembled, it was time to turn my attention to the embellishments. First I added the ruffle collar. My original idea was to sew it directly to the cardboard piece but as I had already added the mechanism, I became worried if Murphy's law should occur. So, instead I took a piece of cotton ribbon of the same length as the collar piece and sew a length of tea dyed lace to it. Then I adhered the lace piece to the top collar piece, the bottom collar piece to the back of the doll and used foam tape to adhere the top collar piece to the bottom one. This layered structure again allows better movement for the mechanism.

I also used the Fresco Finish Chalk acrylic paint - Vintage Lace (FF18) to color the top of the brads. This way the joints aren't too in-your-face while the mechanism is still showing.

The last piece still not adhered in place was the moulded head. That was giving me a head ache, to be honest. I thought the dimensional piece would look nice as it is, but especially after I added some color to the eyes, it looked like a bald baby! Not the effect I was looking for with my finely dressed lady! Two things proved to help me out of this pickle. First of all the original echos of empress Theodora and the extra collage print I pulled when adding the stamped details to the dress. Remember, I mentioned those collage prints were a big plus! 

So, in order to turn my bald baby to a fine lady, I took inspiration from the Ravenna mosaic and the head dress the empress is wearing there. She is wearing a big crown or a turban with some cascading beads in the art work. 

First I turned my attention to the jewelry parts. I picked the same cross-styled stamps (ESA29 and ESA30) I had used to decorate the dress and stamped them on top of heat-resistant transparency. The transparency needed to be heat resistant as I was using embossing ink and then embossed the pieces with golden embossing powder. I created extra pieces so I could play around and choose the best decorations for the fine dame. Using a transparency as the surface to stamp on allowed me to create embellishments with an airy feel, like it would be just the golden details floating in the air. After melting the embossing powder with a heat tool I then cut the embellishments loose. 

When I had the jewelry parts done, I used the print to cut a circle to make the turban or the headdress. The fabulous part with the print was that it had the same color scheme as the rest of the dress and a fun crackle looking texture from pulling the print. To match it even better to the rest of the doll I inked around the edge with the same black ink. After adding that to the back of the head she looked more like a lady again! 

When I started, the first idea was a Byzantine royalty, the collar on the other hand echoed the heavy ruffles of the 17th century. Now that I added the little turban like headdress, the lady started looking awfully 1930s to me! But then when I added the jewelry parts, and the golden embossed details, the strong mental image of one Poirot character of the BBC 1989 film was diminished. 

As the finishing touch I then adhered the jewelry pieces in place and decorated some of them with crystals and beads. I also added some jewelry details to the end of the pull chain using an eye pin. This was to emphasize the idea of a long pendant. 

I really liked doing this project! It's also fun to play with it, making the lady wave her arms around. Although her gesturing makes me think of panic more than just elegant waving! Maybe instead of doing a jumping jack mechanism, I should have gone with more shadow play styled design, like the masterful wayang puppets. 

What I'd do differently is the placement of the arms, like I mentioned before. That way the mechanism would be more concealed and not showing when you pull the chain. Also what the chain causes is that if this piece is upright, she has her arms in a crab like position, the heavy chain and beads pulling the pull chain down and causing tension to the mechanism. 

What I also like about this little doll is the way I could use the grungy, even geometric stamps by Seth Apter to create texture and embellishments. I hope I have inspired you with my make, thinking outside of the box and layering the same shape with different colors to make a textured look!

Xoxo Riikka 


Words and Pictures said...

She's such fun - and the moving parts are so clever.
Alison x

Seth said...

She is so cool and fun!