Thursday, August 27, 2009

The next item up for bids is....

O.K. I've listed a few of my dolls on eBay. Just letting you know. I will NOT make sales promotions a habit. However, if you can't toot your own horn, who's gonna? Anyhoo, here's the link to the first (Madame Butterfly):
You should be able to click on the view seller's other items for the rest.

The poll results are coming along nicely and it looks unanimous so far for 40's era screen diva. Thanks for the votes so far. It's sort of scary, giving up control, huh.
Anyway, I just sculpted a "plump" female face yesterday and got her hands, feet, torso, and legs painted and ready to assemble today (took most of the day). I'll assemble it tonight and start costuming Saturday. I have massage work lined up all day tomorrow so I'll work on "big bodies" for a while and then come back to the little ones later. Have to make some money to keep myself stocked in supplies (lights and food too, but supplies first) until this gains a little more momentum and starts to be self supporting. That'll be good enough for now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Help me design and create this doll!

O.K. so I learned how to do a poll on this blog. COOL! Now it's up to you. There aren't too many followers yet, so this should be easy. You all let me know which of the choices you think I should go with...Next Monday (august 31st) I'll tally them up and post the results and start work. I'll take polls throughout the process to see which direction you all want me to go with costuming, wigging, etc. Here's your chance. Let me be your hands. Let the fun begin... If you want to share another suggestion other than those listed. Do it by leaving/posting a comment. Oh F.Y.I. I think I sculpted my first really good African American face last night. It just appeared when I was playing with the clay and I went with it. I'll post pics tomorrow once I've refined it a little and taken a casting to smooth it up. On with the poll...

Saturday, August 22, 2009 Dreamweaver........

Alright everyone, I know I was working on the mage/wizard and I'm sure you were all just bunched up waiting to see what I did with the arms as far as costuming and so forth. All will be revealed. Let's just say that not many things can get me up and even temporarily out of bed. . A cold dachshund nose attached to a bladder the size of a tic tac is one of them (Bless his little ol' heart). Dream inspiration is another. If and when I get a clear image in my sleep, I can't just wake up & write it down. That's not very "artisty", now , is it? Hey, if you're gonna talk the talk, right? When I have an image in my mind, I have to quickly grab tools and, in this case, scissors and just have at it (the figure)until it matches what is/was in my head. If I wrote brown leather or tree bark, I may not know how dark the brown or how rough the bark is/was. Anyhoo, I did just that the other night and this is what became of the mage/wizard.....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wise Elders in your art and in your life!

Well, I did it. I resigned from my last part time pilates teaching/training job in order to grow my massage practice and focus on my figures and dolls. Scary in a way, but the "pressure" is just the stimulus I need to get out of what had started to be a very deep and stagnant personal rut. today I am posting progress pics on my mage/wizard (NOTE: focus on the costuming progress, not the hair right now LOL!). I got his undergarment assembled and attached. I sewed a simple funnel type tube which fit over his body and draped down to his boots. I am also trying to come up with a sleeve material and design which will accentuate the theme and be (sculptable) moldable. Cat Wingler ( IGMA Fellow) told me a couple of years ago that costuming is just an extension of the sculpting process. She stressed the importance of treating the material as another medium like the clay to be manipulated to create effect and maximize impact". Listen to what the experienced "elders" (referring to wisdom, not necessarily age) of this art form have to tell you. Soak it up, people! It will save you SO much otherwise wasted time and effort (and resources). Get over your own ego and take what they are offering. Especially in the miniatures industry, there is so much priceless experience that people are eager to share. There is a genuine desire to see new potential artists succeed. It will be worth every moment and/or penny spent to learn what they have to offer. Give them credit every chance you get and thank them. One day, it may be your turn. Imagine how you'd like to be treated. Everyone likes to feel appreciated (especially when they deserve it). Oh YEAH! I have something really fun for you all tomorrow. A chance to help me finish and design a doll that I've gotten a basic sculpt for. she's cool!!! On with the pictures...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Persistence and 2 of my Character Doll Favorites

Whew...the last few days have been a roller coaster for me (personal stuff..yuk) Anyway, I'm back and on with the sharing, yes? I wanted to get out of my studio for a moment (it's freakin' hot up there!) It's like I don't have to bake the dolls in an oven... I just turn the ceiling fan off and they're fully baked in about 15 min. LOL! I just wanted to post some more photos of dolls I've done in the past and get your thoughts, suggestions, experiences, or just have you take a look at what soemone else is doing. For those of you out there who are working on getting better at making dolls or miniatures or whatever your passion is, don't get discouraged when things don't seem to go the way you think they should. Trust in that drive you have to keep working and when it finally does turn out well, the feeling will be even nore precious and well earned. You know when you've done well with something because you can feel that sense of ...WOW that came from me (even if no one else sees it at the time, they'll come around). I've said it before...I had never thought about or even wanted to make dolls when I stepped into Jamie's class years ago. Who would have thought I could ever care enough about it to spend a huge amount of time working on it and writing a blog. Until a month ago, I wasn't even exactly sure what a blog really was. I would just nod when people talked about this one or that one. Well here I am and so far, so good. I'm still enjoying and the amount of good and constructive feedback has been humbling. Enough with the blah blah blah... on with the pictures. The photo quality is not that good as at the time I didn't realize how important good picture taking was as valuable a skill as wigging when it comes to being a semi-professional doll maker (Even though Jamie KEPT telling me!). I know better now and have been brought into the digital age (thank you Martha). Here are Mrs. Slocombe from BBC tv's Are You Being Served? and Edward Scissorhands. You figure out which...ha! I did NOT make these for sale (copyright nazi's take note!) I would never try and make a profit off of someone else's property (intellectual or otherwise) without permission. I've had it done to me and let's just say it hurts everyone involved. But seriously, folks, don't let things knock you what you know is in your heart to do and be true to that. The rest of it is just someone else's drama.
Peace, love and sooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuulllllllllll(train).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to the clay!

Alright... I've burned my fingers way too much, grabbing spotlights that are WAY too hot to touch! I need to start producing again. I have to send 5 figures to the International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA) for consideration/application to become an Artisan in October. It's tough, but it will move me one step closer to become a working, professional artist. I have to send my best pieces. The criteria are pretty strict, but I've been studying them and refining my technique with an eye toward meeting and exceeding them. AND I want to have at least 12-15 figures ready to sell at the trade show which is 3 days before the deadline for Artisan application.

I need more dolls! I will not, however, start "cranking 'em out" just for the sake of having them. Once I start doing that, I might as well just hang it up because I won't enjoy it and it will come through in the work and they won't mean anything to anyone because they won't mean anything to me.

Moving on...O.K., so, here's a picture of the latest one in process. He'll be a sort of a winter wizard/shaman with leather overtunic and he'll have long blue/gray mohair. I am rather proud of the face I did for him. Lots of detail. As always, speak up and give me feedback, folks. It means a lot. Mike

Friday, August 14, 2009

Photo Quality!

O.K., I can make the figures, but can I take publishable pictures of them? I have put down my clay and taken up the halogen spotlights! My Mom, Sandra, gave me a really great light tent with halogen spopts for taking good pictures for eBay, Etsy and (hopefully)websites and print work (magazines, brochures, etc.) I am extremely fortunate and grateful to have help coming from experienced artists and photojournalists who are being VERY patient with me. Here are some of my latest dolls photographed using new backgrounds and new lighting and a better camera! Feedback is always
Here are 2 new photos. The first is "Butter Beans & Ear Rubs". The other is "Fresh Bread" They're recent figures I made for an upcoming show in October. I hope you like them. They're definitely more traditional dollhouse and/or miniature scene figugres. I do like to do normal stuff, too, everyone ;)
Take it easy and do something unusual and creative today. It brings the fun back to your life!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Commission Mission part 2

Hey!! Back sooner than I thought. Wanted to show you 2 more commissions I made (one quite recently). The first is a French Revolutionary period Marie Anoinette inspired figure I made for June Clinkscales. June is one of my favorite miniature artists. She makes the most fantastic, dramatic, and unbelievable furniture and accessories. Her furniture inspired me to make the figures for that period; the french nobleman pictured on my first blog page (aug 12) and this one. If you haven't seen her work, then get on over to and check it out. Even if that period is not your thing, I promise you, something will catch your eye. she does all her own woodworking and is quite the power tool afficionado as you can tell. Besides that, she is one of the SWEETEST people you will ever have the pleasure to meet. If you get to see her at the shows (Philly, Chicago, California area) tell her that Mike...her "doll maker" said "Hey!" (I'm from the southeastern part of N.C., by the way). Anyhoo, the second doll is a fairy that I mad for the same lady for whom I made the "old lady who lives with the fairies". (I'm trying real hard with the grammar here, folks! tee hee). I used real (cleaned and sterilized) cicada wings (and yes, the cicada had expired naturally when I procured said wings with surgical scalpel, forceps AND latex gloves.) I felt like a surgical asst. Because I'm a boy who grew up in the south, It was powerfully tempting to just pick it up, pluck 'em off, and slap 'em on with a dab o' glue. I am aware, however, of the hygiene and/or ethical issues involved in passing dirty bug wings on to an unsuspecting client and their loved ones. ~LOL~ Yes, Mama, I have indeed grown up. {Said the 40 yr. old man who makes dolls:-}

My Commission Mission

Hello Again! I wanted to add a few more photos so you can see the range of figures and dolls I am making as commissions. I always enjoy taking commissions as it helps me to expand my artistic reach and learn new lessons in costuming as well as sculpting technique. The doll to the right was a commission for a friend of mine who has a house full of fairies in various sizes and poses doing all sorts of things. She needed "an older lady who lives with and takes care of the fairies. " She wanted a dreamy, whimsical quality for the character while keeping her decidedly human. This was the first time I had sculpted bare feet in anything other than a flat on the floor position. I was glad she challenged me to come up with this. I think it adds a rhythm and movement to the doll that I could echo with the trailing ribbon and rolling hemline (trick I learned with a little wire in the hem!) Voila.. I didn't want to give this one up when she was done! Oh well. On to the next new thing, right. Speaking of that, later today I'll put up a couple more commission pieces I've done. Back to the studio for now.....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More photos!

This is Patsy Stone from BBC's Absolutely Fabulous. Did it for fun and to experiment with necklines and cleavage as well as hair styles. Those of you who are familiar with the character with recognize the ever present vodka and cigarette! LOL. She now resides in a private collection, too.

Patsy Stone

Wizard Greenthumbs - Fantasy character. Did it strictly for the enjoyment. This one will stay with me. I used grapevines for his staff and wand. The coat is molded leather embellished with tiny paper ivy leaves and faux fur ribbon trim at the bottom egde of his under tunic. He masures 5 inches (5 feet) tall. He's one of my favorites.

New Blog for my character figures

Welcome to my blog! My name is Mike Barbour and I'm a "doll-maker". More specifically, I hand-sculpt and dress 1/12 scale character figures. Most of my figures are used in miniature settings in standard dollhouse scale of 1"=1'. For example, a 5 foot tall person would be a 5 inch figure. I have been working with miniatures for about 6 years and dolls/figures for about 4 of those years.

Above: Guild School 2009

I Never, Ever thought I would be making and costuming dolls. The thought never occured to me. It just sort of fell into my lap and events conspired to take me in this direction. Once I made my first one, though, under the expert guidance of master doll maker Jamie Carrington, that was all it took. I look at the whole world differently now. I assume this is what artists must feel like when they see everything in terms of how they can express what they are perceiving through their artwork. I just happen to want to do that through clay, wires, fabric, leather, and paint. I'll be sharing about how I come up with some of my pieces and things that inspire me as well as some of the more challenging things I learn as I try to keep getting better. I hope you enjoy. I'll post a few pics regularly as I go. Here are a few to start off.

"StoryTeller" (in a private collection)

French Nobleman (in a Private collection)