Professional Product Photography

Have you ever tried to make an idea happen only to find yourself hitting your head against a brick wall? This is what happened to me in January of 2010 when I first started Rag Dolls Rising.

Having been a graphic artist for many years it was not difficult to come up with a logo and other identity graphics for my business, but I had one visual that became difficult to obtain, professional photographs of my dolls with kids. It seemed like it would be helpful for people to see the scale of the dolls in children’s  hands and would be a great marketing tool.

I called around locally, the photographers had the equipment but not the kids. I called modeling agencies, they had the kids but with a contract to hire them for a minimum of one day, plus make-up and wardrobe- yes, I am not joking, this was more of a commitment than I was ready for at the time. . .  so I kind of gave it up.

October 2013, I receive an email from photographer Jessica Fitzgerald. Jessica had seen my dolls on Etsy and felt they would make a good addition to her children’s photography props. When I looked at Jessica’s work I was instantly blow away. Her images of kids in the sunshine with earthy tones was exactly how I pictured my doll, in a perfect world; in the arms of a child running through fields of grass. A connection was made, I would supply Jessica, (DBA Adella Photography), with a doll in exchange for professional photos.  I absolutely love what she came up with, and how did she match the dolls dress to that wallpaper? I couldn’t be happier with the pictures that Jessica supplied to me.  Visit Jessica’s facebook page to see more of her wonderful photography.

Patience does pay off!

Art Fair Weekend

It’s Tuesday, John and I have finally unloaded the truck and car from the weekend Craft Fair. What an experience it was!

On friday we were allowed to set up our displays at

the Summerlin Community Park. We arrived around 11 a.m., found the closest parking space we could and checked in at the organizer’s booth. We were handed a packet with an artist parking permit and a map to our space. Next we unloaded the truck and began what was a very interesting weekend.

Ready

Ready

Saturday, just as predicted, was a clear and sunny day. The festival drew record crowds, which was good for us.

Sunday started out breezy, we soon realized why 200 lbs. of sandbags was a mandatory requirement for each tent. Keeping a sense of humor was important as my dolls flew off the shelves with gusting winds. John’s wooden boxes weren’t really effected so John was able to help me “hold down the fort” on my side. Around 1:00 things calmed down, we set the dolls back up to a sitting position, (we told the little ones they were taking a nap while it was windy). Then the sky started getting dark, and darker, and clouds, then RAIN! This time John was more effected as the hand rubbed finishes on his wood work did not take kindly to moisture. The vendor in the tent behind us peeked over and said “what next, locust?”

Clouds moving in

Clouds moving in

At the end of the weekend we had a great experience to look back on, and yes we did have good sales, we would defiantly do it again. Below are some notes to myself about what we did right and what to work on the next time

What we did right;

  • Make my shelving go all the way to the ground, eye level to a child is pretty low

  • Marked the price on every item

  • Let kids pick up and hug the dolls

  • Used Paypal Here to collect payments, worked very easy

  • Did some doll construction demonstrations at the tent

Things to work on next time:

  • Didn’t bring enough business cards, I had no idea how many I’d need.

  • Wrote the inventory number on the back of price tags, all of these numbers were confusing to  folks.

  • Keep better track of what sold, spent a lot of time after the fact figuring this out, yes that’s what the inventory numbers were for which I forgot to write down.

  • Took too many tables, the one in front blocked our tent off

  • Bring a box of wet wipes for the kids who did chalk art and were eating cotton candy

Ramping up for the Craft Fair

It’s been quite a while since John and I entered the 13th Summerlin Art Festival. That’s right I said entered, I never knew there was such a stringent selection process to entering one of these craft fairs. I thought all of those crafters and artists just paid some fee and got a space, we’ve since found out that’s not the case, so when we heard in early September that we were accepted, it was a reason to celebrate. So this is what we’ve accomplished up to this point.

On Memorial Day weekend we bought a 10′ x 10′ white tent at Big 5 Sporting Goods.Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.47.58 PM

I bought canvas drop clothes and sewed together two side walls and table covers for our tent.Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.51.53 PM

Had two banners printed with our logos and names, Woodworks By John and Rag Dolls Rising.

my banner

my banner

Set the whole thing up in our living room. The weather was bad so we  set it up inside, we looked like nomads for about 3 weeks. We took photos of the set-up and us doing our work to send.

Made the submission online, and waited….Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.58.46 PM

Now what do we need to do?

Make an inventory of  all the rag dolls for the fair, number and price them. John needs to do the same with his boxes.

We are learning about the Pay Here program from Paypal that will enable us to take any type of payment with a cell phone.Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.54.17 PM

John still needs to make some cement filed pipe weights for the tent. I think that’s all….. but probably not. On Oct 12 & 13 we will see how it all comes together to experience our first craft show!

Featuring Kids and their Dolls or Dolls and their Kids

It’s such a thrill when someone sends a photo of their child holding their new Rag Doll… but backing up to the beginning… after the initial idea of what a new group of Rag Dolls are going to look like I pick out the fabrics, cut out the pieces and start the construction process. Working assembly line fashion, because after getting machines and tools set up to make a certain part, it only makes sense to assembly all dolls I’m working on up to that stage at once.

After the dolls are stuffed I slow way down. Each doll is an individual, the hair, face, clothing details develop as I realize their personalities. I’ve been asked how long it takes to make a doll which is very hard to answer, I just keep working out the details until it’s complete.

O.K., yes I admit it, I talk to the dolls, especially when I’m packing them up to ship them, I tell them I enjoyed making them and that they are going to a wonderful new home, and when I receive pictures like these… it just make it all worth it, thanks everyone for the photos!

Background as Photo Prop

Textured background on doll photos

Textured background on doll photos

Sewing up a group of rag dolls is only the beginning. Next comes taking the photos so that I can upload them to my Etsy store.

There’s always been a controversy over using colored backgrounds behind your shop items or plain white. Of course white gives your store a uniform look, but it’s also a lost opportunity to express some personality, the background in your photo is really another prop.

The new Police Officers dolls just seemed to need something urban behind them. I began trolling  the internet for an urban brick pattern.  It wasn’t long before I found several sites that offered free high res. textures to download, here are a couple of my favorite ones, texturez.com and lostandtaken.com. , manipulating your photos within the computer editing program is also an option but much more time-consuming.

These are the steps I took to get those textures from the website to use as a prop in my photo set up:

1. Go to free texture web sites and download a high res texture to your computer.

2. Open the background texture in Adobe Elements, (or a photo editing program that can crop images to size), and crop to 11″ x 17″, I’m using 11″x17″ because that’s the size OfficeMax offers for full color copies on tag board.

Texture cropped in Elements

Texture cropped in Elements

3. Choose show guide lines, pull out a guide line, placing it at the halfway point vertically, and one for the horizontal, it’s now divided into fourths, which will give you a 22″ x 34″ background when assembled.

Background texture with guide lines

Background texture with guide lines

4. Save this image as texture-guides, so that you can come back to it. Now grab your crop tool and crop the upper left quarter of the image. Save this new image as upper-left.jpg and close it.

Cropping upper left corner

Cropping upper left corner

5. Open up the texture-guides file. Repeat the process cropping the upper right corner, than lower left and finally lower right. You now have 4 separate files to put on a disk or drive. Take to your nearest OfficeMax, Office Depot etc. for printing.

White strips trimmed off

White strips trimmed off

6. Trim the white borders off your prints and assemble them on cardboard or foam core, you’ve got a 22″ x 34″ texture for under five dollars.

Attaching each print with double stick tape to board

Attaching each print with double stick tape to board

There are so many different textures online, grunge, plastic, paper you could have a lot of fun and get creative!

Police Officer doll Rusty in front of a "brick wall"

Police Officer doll Rusty in front of a “brick wall”, whoops- going to work on making the seams seamless next time.

Showgirl Rag Doll Justin’s Adventure

Justin3-lrJustine grew up in Las Vegas, attending grade school, middle school, and high school there. She made many friends along the way, Justine was just a very likable doll.

When Justine turned 18, a neighbor, who owned the Blooms & More flower shop downtown said she would be more than happy to give Justine a job as a delivery driver. Justine accepted her offer gratefully. She had a very hard time finding someone dependable to make the flower runs, which always seemed to result in losing clients. Three big companies had just changed florists because of inept drivers.

Weaving in and out of traffic all day didn’t bother Justine. Whither dodging tourists with tall margarita glasses or having a tour bus lay on their horn because she wasn’t going fast enough, nothing seemed to frazzle her… nothing… except the Las Vegas summer.

The delivery van had top-notch refrigeration in the back for the flowers, but up front, there was none. On a regular 110 degree summer day it was hard to be cheery with no air conditioning.

It was mid July, a sweltering 115 degrees when Justine was ready to end her route by making her regular drop off of 20 dozen lilies to the backstage door of Hallelujah Hollywood at Bally’s Hotel. Pushing her dolly brimming with flower boxes, she nodded to Dot, the backstage manager. “Justine you look awful”, she caught her reflection in a mirror and almost scared herself. Her face beet red, limp hair hanging in her eyes. Dot motioned for Justine to sit in a chair, while she returned to a pensive phone conversation, than SLAM! she hung up.

What’s the matter with you? said Justine. Dots eyes focused on Justin with a sudden sparkle. Justin, you’ve been coming here for years, a delivery girl that looks like a model, are you ready to make a change? Justin replied, honestly, I have been thinking along those lines myself. Dot grabbed a Showgirl costume from a hanger, put this on and meet me stage right behind the curtain. Feeling somewhat refreshed after resting, Justine thought, what do I have to lose?

tita-150x150

Every night at 6pm and 11pm the grand finale number would included sinking the Titanic . Each chorus girl represented a piece of the ship. It seems Pam, one of the girls in the show had just quit, Justin was to be her replacement.

Justin1-lrA short time later Justine emerged from the dressing room looking every bit a Las Vegas Showgirl. Scurrying up behind her was Dot with Justine’s piece of the Titanic.

The curtain rose, the Titanic once again had four smoke stacks and Justine had a new career.

Showgirl Rag Doll Sandy’s Adventure

Sandy1-lr

This is the first of the new rag doll showgirls, Sandy. I thought you might like to know more about her.

Sandy was lucky to have a very talented mother who loved all things to do with dancing. Many mornings Sandy would wake up to the most beautiful music danceplaying on the giant record player in the middle of the living room. There would be her mother, gracefully floating across the oriental rug, spinning around in her ballet pointe shoes.

Sandy knew what she wanted to be when she grew up, and that was a dancer like her mom.

So began her many years of dance lessons which did eventually pay off.

As a young adult Sandy and her family moved to Las Vegas, which also payed off because Las Vegas is a great place for a dancer to live.

One day Sandy heard that the MGM Hotel , (at that time located where Bally’s is now on the strip),was holding auditions for their show, Jubilee!

She tried out and of course landed the part.Sandy5-lr

Sandy’s favorite part of the day is getting ready to go on stage, maybe someday you can see her show! If you can’t make it you can always see her in our Rag Dolls Rising Etsy store!

A Cowgirl Rag Doll Adventure part1

sa443

There once was a little rag doll Cowgirl named Sam. She lived in a two-story farm-house with her family in South Dakota.

blogmtr1They lived so close to Mt. Rushmore that on occasion the whole house shook when George Washington scratched his chin on the roof.

Sam liked her chores around the farm, especially when they included taking care of the animals. Every morning she brushed the ponies until their coats were as shiny as the kitchen floor after mom waxed it with the new Zamboni.blogzam

Every afternoon she flung fist fulls of grain into the rickety pens as the chickens ate it almost before it hit the ground.

But Sam’s favorite chore came every evening. She would fill a ceramic bowl with ice-cold milk and put it in the grass under the only tree in their little yard. blogdrink11Sam knew if she counted to twenty, Molly, the big orange farm cat would show up for dinner. . . continued next post

Sewing Gloves for a Rag Doll

glovesEver began sewing a  rag doll and thought you’d like to do something different?

How about sewing gloves on her or him? Sewn on gloves makes a lot of sense since they won’t fall off.

The gloves could be mittens made from thrift store sweaters or socks. Maybe garden gloves for a “nature girl” rag doll or how about evening gloves for a more sophisticated rag doll.

My current project, showgirl rag dolls, made me start thinking about the possibility of elbow length gloves. These are the steps I used to create this look.

1. First I took my pattern pieces for the rag doll arms and photocopied them, you could also trace them if you don’t have access to a machine. Draw a line across the arm where you’d like the gloves to stop. Cut at this line, you now have the pattern pieces for your gloves.

2. I chose a stretch velvet and sparkle dance wear fabric. These are great because they don’t unravel when cut so no need to hem. If your fabric does ravel, be sure to add 1/4″ fabric past the line for turning under.

glove image 2

The fabric appears different when turned upside down

Note: when working with velvet remember that there is a nap to the fabric, cut all your pieces the in same direction, see the picture.

3. Cut out fabric pieces for gloves and place on arm fabric of rag doll, right side of doll arm to wrong side of glove fabric. Put a small dot of fabric glue at the

IMG_1132tip of arm and press arm to glove, this helps to keep things from shifting.

IMG_1133

Walking foot

4. Use a walking foot, sew across the top of the glove, joining gloves to arms. If you added a seam allowance because your fabric unravels, turn it under before sewing.

5. Right sides together put one arm front with one arm back, pin in place. Sew from center of lower edge up to top, turn over and sew the other side from lower center up.

gloves turn

Partial turn

Note: If the fabric is very thick you might want to do a partial turn, which is to stop sewing about 2″ up the second side, turn the tip of gloved hand inside out, than continue up the second side, (this gives you a good start when turning right side out).

6. Trim seam, clip curves and turn right side out!

finished-gloves

Done and stuffed!