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Topic: A Howl's Moving Castle Doll--NOW with in-process pix and a tutorial!  (Read 12525 times)
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« on: November 26, 2006 02:04:39 PM »

A friend of mine thought Howl, from Howl's Moving Castle, was a real doll, a total babe.

I secretly agreed and decided she should have a loveable, huggable Howl of her own.

I'm delighted with how well he turned out. Every step of the process was botched, my sewing skills are atrocious and I've never made a doll before.

The entire figure is roughly 20" tall, with polymer clay head, arms and legs and a cloth body. His costume and jewelry was handcrafted by myself. I purchased his wig--I know my limitations!--but I'm fairly certain it was handcrafted as well.

I created the harlequin fabric of his cape by painting the material with watered down acryllic paints. It has a red satiny lining and gold braid. I invented the patterns for his shoes, shirt and cape but used a pattern from a book to make his body and his slacks.

The jewelry is gold, garnet and glass beads. The earrings have real posts and could be worn by a human. The necklace has a clasp and is long enough that it could be worn as a bracelet. The earrings are secured with poster tack so they can easily be removed.

When I finally finished him, my husband and I strung him up with fishing line and posed him all around my folks' place. I was very pleased with how Howl's expression seemed to change in different lighting and positions.

It was my husband's brilliant idea to have Howl fly, like his animated and literary predecessors.

For more pictures, go here:

And please, any questions or comments will be most welcome! I learned a ton doing this project and would love to share. I also hope that someday soon I can give dollmaking another go and would welcome some advice.


Here are a few pix of the "making of" process...
This is Howl's head, as I was finessing the scuplt job.
His head, arms and legs are made of a blend of Sculpeys. The blend was nice for pliability, but the end strength and appearance wasn't satisfactory. The arms and legs are sculpted to about the elbow, with a wire running through them for support and attachment. The head was sculpted over an aluminum foil ball, with a "breastplate" sculpted to the middle of his chest and sewn on to the body in four places.

The body was made of a jersey knit. It has an armature made of different types of wire, including pipe cleaners. This all was wrapped with nylons and stuffed with a polyester batting. I should have used a much heavier weight of knit, although the stretchiness was good. I also should have not used pipe cleaners but a heavier, more flexible wire.
This is his body, before limbs and head were attached. The white things sticking out of his arms are the pipe cleaners

The second photo, I've drawn lines to illustrate where the armiture supports are. The "I" shaped part in the torso was made of a heavy, strong wire. The hot pink lines represent the pipe cleaners, which were folded on themselves and looped through the heavier wire. I'd hoped the pipe cleaners would make him flexible, but really they made him rather...well...flaccid. None of my armatures did much of anything to support the weight of the polymer parts.

Here's Howl with his limbs shoved in, but not actually secured.

I've done some drawing to illustrate what the sculpted parts had looked like before attached. I will scan them in the next couple of days and add them in here.

I've scuplted another Doll's head and created a tutorial for it here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=138998.0. I'm sorry I didn't put it here, but I thought this post was already a bit cumbersome.
Thanks for looking!
« Last Edit: October 20, 2007 01:35:41 PM by bookishgrrl - Reason: Photos no longer showed » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2006 04:43:51 PM »

Well, my jaw just hit the ground! That is awesome, you've made him beautifully, and kudos to you for doing it at all. He certainly doesn't look as if "Every step of the process was botched, my sewing skills are atroctious and I've never made a doll before."

I love the book and the film, and you have a very lucky friend!

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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2006 04:52:05 PM »

Wow...very impressive.  The flying picture is just way too cool.

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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2006 04:58:48 PM »

Oh. my. god. That is amazing. I'm hitting "this rocks."

Btw, how awesome a friend are you? That's an insanely incredible gift for your lucky lucky friend!

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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2006 05:22:36 PM »

He's gorgeous! I definitely gave this a "This Rocks". His face is fantastic, and I'm really impressed with the accuracy of the details. (I'm kind of a stickler for accuracy.)

And I've got to agree with Kaos - your friend is hella lucky!

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« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2006 05:51:16 PM »

thanks so much for all the kind words! so nice to get such sweet feedback after getting so immersed in a project.

I'm the lucky one to have a friend so cool that I felt compelled to spend five weeks making a doll for her. She buys me champagne most of the times I visit. She agreed to drive me to Georgia to because I *had* to see Flannery O' Connor's house. She insists that I don't need to lose weight. She reads my rough drafts. Good woman.

And I swear I made mistakes. I made the clothing so tight it's really almost impossible to remove them. But this will prevent my buddy from giving into the urge to tear his clothes off.

I had to take some liberties with accuracty, too. for one thing, I just didn't like the pink and blue harlequin jacket that Howl was wearing. Every hero needs a cape, no matter what Mr. Incredible says. He also doesn't have his ring...perhaps he's already given it to Sophie?
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2006 05:56:51 PM »

And I swear I made mistakes. I made the clothing so tight it's really almost impossible to remove them. But this will prevent my buddy from giving into the urge to tear his clothes off.

*laughs herself off her chair*

She sounds like a great friend and I'm sure she'll love it!

« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2006 06:00:16 PM »

Oh my God, he is so amazing. For this being your first go he turned out beautifully. Dollmaking is definitely something you should pursue. Your friend is uber lucky. I must say, when I saw the movie, I developed a bit of a crush on him too.  Wink

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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2006 06:20:48 PM »

very impressive!  Great work

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« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2006 08:31:19 AM »

Whoah! (said like Keanu Reeves)

What a talent! The facial likeness is perfect! You need to work in/for the movies.

This definitely ROCKS!

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