textile doll art feathers and leaves
Doll Making Journey,  Doll Making Process,  Inspiration,  Seasonal Dolls

Exploring Feathers and Leaves in Textile Art and Doll Making

Exploring Feathers and Leaves

When reviewing my seasonal doll collections, I noticed a recurring theme.  Without realising it, I had become drawn to a simple motif that had occurred in both my Autumn and Winter projects.  Similarly, leaves and feathers start to resemble one and other when they are simplified. This is because outlines  can be used to convey their strong linear quality. 

textile doll art feathers and leaves

Therefore, drawn lines represent the skeleton of a leaf.  In contrasts, a line can be used to represent the negative space that is created when the fibres of the feather split.

Drawing Autumn Leaves

I really loved my photo of fallen autumn leaves. Consequently, I made some sketches to create possible design ideas for my autumn doll collection. Here, I explored the idea of incorporating leaves directly onto the surface of the body.

Autumn Colour

The Fear of a Blank Page

To overcome the fear of a blank page, I normally put a background colour down first.  As a result, I use  a mixed wash of red and orange acrylic paint.  This mixture covers the entire page first.  

Tree Figures

When transferring the leaves from my photo into the outline of the body I did not copy the image exactly.  Instead, I selected the most interesting leaves in terms of autumnal colour.  These were loosely copied using dry watercolour pencils.  I have discovered that the pencils have a stronger vibrancy when kept dry and used on top of a background colour.

Handmade Felt and Machine Embroidery 

These ideas of colour, shape and line were then translated into machine embroidered handmade felt.

Felted Autumn Leaves

Autumn Colour Felt Leaves

In addition, I explored the technique of  free machine embroidery over hand painted fabric in acrylic paint.  

Handmade Leaves With Machine Embroidery

I love the line quality that is achieved from the continuous line of a thread when using this technique.  For the reason that the sewing machine and thread  draw the veins of the leaves.

Printing Feathers

In contrast, for the fathers, I created simple prints of the feathers.  I used non-other than recycled pizza box polystyrene.

Press Print Experiments

This was surprisingly effective.  Due to the fact this process allowed me to explore printing the motif in both acrylic paint and screen printing ink.

Feather Motif

Furthermore, this process is much quicker than making the leaves using felting techniques and embroidery.  Hence I was able to make multiple feathers relatively quickly which allowed me to create this feathered surface for my doll Layla.

Hand Printed Feathers

I am looking forward to now experimenting with this further and will share the results with you.


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