I have been asked by a few authors to make dolls of the main character in their books. What a fun assignment and how lucky am I? I wrote about one of the books here. Two more are due out in the spring.
Recently I made a Pidge doll for the book “Where is Pidge?” by Michelle Grimes.
As I was emailing back and forth with the author about the details, the book arrived in the mail—it was handsome, with gorgeous typography and fun illustrations.
Pidge is a middle child, often left behind and forgotten, decided to run away to prove that her family won’t miss her. My son is a middle child, sandwiched between two daughters who get a lot of attention, so I got it.
Before I make a character doll, I mull for a bit. How do I best represent an illustration as a doll? It usually cannot be literal. There are liberties you can take with drawing that you cannot with creating a “person” out of fabric.
You also need to represent the clothing. Pidge’s changes of clothing seemed part of the story, so I made all of her clothing. Her clothes, her nightshirt, her brother’s football jersey and her sister’s tutu.
The author also had two requests that initially made me hesitate— freckles and lace up shoes. I had tried tie shoes before and wasn’t happy and freckles, which are central to the face, made me nervous. If they didn’t work, could they be undone.
For the shoes, I had tried to make high tops with grommets. I wasn't so happy with the results. Felt cannot support grommets, it has a tiny bit of stretch to it. This time I tried tiny button holes for the laces instead of the grommets. The buttonhole thread was just enough to stabilize the pull of the lace.
For the freckles, I first did a practice face and several floss weights and colors. And then Photoshop for trying variouis placements. This took some of the risk out of the endeavor and allowed the author to be a part of the decision.
And Pidge’s hair, well, that was pure fun.