Thursday, March 17, 2011

Design Idea: Easy to Make Fun Personal Figures

It's a foggy morning here and while Denise is in her studio (aka the garage) working on a piece for the Long Beach Flea Market this weekend (hopefully we won't get rained out) and I've decided to put up our first design idea.  I did this project a few years ago for my Grandmother Helen's 80th birthday.  Her birthday is October 30th and she decided she wanted to have a big Halloween Costume/Birthday party.  We started planning for the party the summer before which was key because it was going to be a big event. I took several photos of her in a witch's costume which I then used as the invitations - these invites were old school made out of cut paper- no evites.  I also used the witch photo of her to order custom postage stamps, that way invited guests had a little clue when they got their invitations. 

The party invitation was a Trick-or-Treat Bag 

In lieu of a doing a slide show of my grandmother through the years at the party, I decided to do two things. First a scrapbook of her for guests to view and actually sign,  that way they could sign on a page where they remembered her or sign and write a note on a page where they were in a photo with her.  The second idea was to put my grandmother's face through the years on a variety of three dimensional Halloween figures. 

My grandmother's face around 1927 on a Halloween Figure

This first face is of her as a toddler.  These 3-D stuffed characters are really easy to find at discount stores (I paid less than $10 for each one) or you can pick them up for just a couple of dollars at thrift stores.  I scanned the original photo of her into the computer, blew up her face to the approximate size I needed to go over the face of the character and printed it on Avery Ink Jet T-Shirt Transfers.  For this character I was not able to just iron over the existing face, (it was originally a giant bright orange pumpkin head on this body) but rather I ironed the transfer onto a cotton/muslin like fabric large enough for me to hand stitch around her face and neck. I removed the original pumpkin head and stitched on her head.  I reattached the original character's hat of leaves and that was it.  The whole process for this one doll took about 2 hours.

My grandmother's face when she was in her 20's on the body of a scarecrow

This scarecrow doll was made the same way as the first one.  Since these earlier photos of my grandma were obviously in black and white, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of color.   I scanned her photo into the Paint program on the computer where I then added features like the nose, the stitches in the corners of her mouth and the extra eyebrows.  I'm not the best at using the computer for design work and I probably would have just painted these features onto the transfer with acrylic paint if I had needed more detail.

My grandmother's face at age 79 on a witch doll form

My third doll was of her face at the time of her party and I was lucky to find this witch form since she was dressed up as a witch for her Birthday Party.  I was so busy organizing the evening that I didn't even take any pics of the dolls there, but they did make fun, unique and personal display pieces for an 80th Halloween Birthday Party!  The best thing about this project is the time frame, it would obviously take much longer if you had to hand make the entire body of each doll.  Part of the fun is to see what characters you can find to fit your theme and match the faces to them.  Just make sure whatever characters you do find that it will be fairly easy to attach your desired face to the existing body.  The T-shirt iron transfers have been around for awhile and many of you are familiar with them, but if not, once you've practiced with the first one, it's a fairly easy process. You could apply this same idea to really just about any theme - princess, pirate, 40th birthday, retirement or anniversary party, holidays (I think I'll do this project with my girls' faces next Christmas and put them on elf bodies) the possibilities are endless! Hope this is a fun idea you can use!

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