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Topic: Amka the Ijiraq (Inuit Shape Shifter) Art Doll  (Read 849 times)
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EriChanHime
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« on: May 29, 2019 12:43:51 PM »



Meet Amka! I made her for cmarion3 in the most recent Art Doll Swap. Among other cool things, my partner listed "raven/crows," "tall, gangly artsy women," and "fantastical creatures" as themes she was hoping for, along with mentioning a love of earthy colors. I decided to bring these all together for this doll, which gave me the opportunity to build an art doll from scratch with techniques and materials and styles I had NEVER worked with before! I took my inspiration from the indigenous cultures of the American Pacific Northwest (the Inuit, the Tlingit, the Haida, and others). They incorporate ravens, and wings, and masks, and flowing clothing so often into their traditional dances, and that's where my brain went. Here's my original sheet of inspiration images from a variety of cultures!



After extensive research, and sketching, and planning, but before I got started, I gave a her a name, a personality, and a little story to help guide the process (I did tweak it a bit when I was finished crafting, but not much!):

Please meet Amka, an Inuit name meaning one with a friendly spirit. She is an Ijiraqa wild shapeshifter from Inuit myth. Her species can be dangerous, but also playful, curious, or even helpful. Amka loves dancing more than anything and often changes into a girl so she can sneakily join the Raven dances in the many cultures that span the Alaskan and Canadian coast. She incorporates art from the Inuit, Tlingit, Haida, and others as she goes. Shes a bit young and inexperienced, though, so she confuses the dancing masks for parts of the people, which is why she seems to be growing her own! Please take good care of her, and dont forget to share your favorite dances with her, too!

For this doll to really live up to my vision, I got stuck on pose-ability. All my previous cloth art dolls have been button-jointed, so they can pose but not stand or hold poses on their own, and I wanted to do that differently. Clearly, she needed an internal skeleton of some kind. (Insert hours of fun rabbit-hole research on doll and puppet jointing systems...) After tons of craft wire experimentation and breakage, I settled on galvanized picture wire from Home Depot! The stuff is SOLID! Holds shape, holds weight, bends reasonably easily, and still doesn't snap after extensive bending in the same place. I wrapped the wire around itself to build her armature.



In order to pad her out, I began wrapping her skeleton with long strips of regular doll batting. If you are careful when you pull it out of the bag, you can unroll it into filmy sheets, which I then tore into strips. Her chest shape is supported with two wired-on wooden beads, so it won't collapse, and her hips, thighs, and behind were made of more tightly rolled fiber fill.



I added thinner wire armatures for fingers and wrapped them in the same manner, using much thinner strips.



Once her fleshed out skeleton was complete, I began building her "skin" from a random, unidentified fabric I found at Walmart! It was a 4-way stretch knit with a suede-like texture on one side, and since she's only passing herself off as human, I thought it was a soothing color and feel. It was also surprisingly cooperative to machine sew, which I wasn't expecting.



I traced her limbs onto paper, then used that to cut out a folded rectangle of fabric, then sewed around the paper pattern pinned to the material. After the stitching was done, I cut out the "skin socks" and pulled them on her like stockings! At each joint, I folded the raw edge under and whip-stitched the fabric to her batting layer.



Hands up to put your torso on!  Cheesy Fortunately, she is VERY flexible, so she was able to contort herself to get into all the tight spaces of her final skin piece, which I then tacked down using invisible joins. I was delighted to see how well the mystery fabric hid all the finishing stitches!



I wasn't sure originally if she was going to be fully humanoid or not, but in the end I decided that she would have the traditional style dancing mask for her whole head! I used bake-able Fimo in an off-white color to sculpt her head based on this specific Tlingit dance mask: http://www.thecobbs.com/auction-2015-11-15-lot-29.html. After baking, I gave it a few coats of acrylic paint and then sealed it several times! I used E6000 to secure her head to her neck; this is the only part of her that isn't completely pose-able, but we must make some sacrifices for beauty. Wink




In order to have realistic animal hide clothes, I went to the Auto department of Walmart and bought a giant piece of chamois! It's cute and sewed very easily, and I will definitely consider using it for suede-look doll clothes again. I free-handed the pattern pieces for the skirt and bodice, and then hand-embroidered them in a variety of free-form shapes.



In order to make the fringe on her garments - a must for any dancer! - I very carefully hand-cut individual strips from the bottom of each skirt piece. This took quite a while, but was also strangely relaxing!  Grin



Her final garment is her Chilkat blanket, a traditional Tlingit item of clothing for royalty and dancing. It's supposed to be a woven garment, with the extended warp/weft pieces creating the fringe, but needs must! I made the body of the blanket first from chamois again, and used Sharpie markers to free-hand the expanded raven design on it; it's a simplified raven face from blankets I found online, crossed with the wing patterns you see on the inspiration sheet dancers. Once I was happy with the art, I sewed on additional chamois shapes around the edges, and then hand-cut the appropriate fringe.



And here she is in all her glory, showing off how well she can pose and dance! She can even hold things in her fingers.



A final look at her front:



And at her back:



I absolutely loved making her. It was an exciting and unique set of challenges and learning steps all around. I am delighted that she has now gone to live in such a wonderful, inviting home. Cheesy
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2019 12:53:23 PM »

Excellent work/design and I loved seeing all of the steps (particularly the construction of the body) and reading your design thought process.  You put a lot of time, love, and effort into your creation and it shows!
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2019 05:27:32 PM »

I truly admire and appreciate all the work you put into your piece but I literally COULD.NOT. stop laughing at your post. I'll have to go back and reread it. Serious this time.

Edit: yeah, you are a talented lady! Thanks for sharing!
« Last Edit: May 29, 2019 05:32:31 PM by JoyfulClover » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2019 05:55:23 AM »

Beautiful, fascinating, breath taking, well researched, and stunningly crafted.  Thank you for sharing not only your finished creation, but your process as well. 
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2019 07:20:53 AM »

This is simply fabulous! Thank you for sharing your process.
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EriChanHime
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« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2019 08:26:42 AM »

Excellent work/design and I loved seeing all of the steps (particularly the construction of the body) and reading your design thought process.  You put a lot of time, love, and effort into your creation and it shows!
Thank you, Patraw! It was so exciting to try something so completely different. One of the things I love about a community like this is all the opportunities to learn from other people's processes and experiments. I'm so happy I found something that worked and did what I wanted, and I hope it helps others, too. Smiley

I truly admire and appreciate all the work you put into your piece but I literally COULD.NOT. stop laughing at your post. I'll have to go back and reread it. Serious this time.

Edit: yeah, you are a talented lady! Thanks for sharing!
Grin I'm so glad you were tickled, Clover. I had fun writing it up, and yes, there were many shenanigans during this build... *smirk* I didn't get pictures of all of them, sadly, but some!

Beautiful, fascinating, breath taking, well researched, and stunningly crafted.  Thank you for sharing not only your finished creation, but your process as well. 
Thank you so much, Mistress Jennie!! This was such a fun learning experience, and I LOVE the research part of crafting and creating. There are so many amazing things out there to see and read. Cheesy

This is simply fabulous! Thank you for sharing your process.
Thank you, rackycoo! I enjoyed documenting it, and I hope it's helpful to others. Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2019 06:39:21 AM »

Congrats! This has been chosen as a Featured Project! Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2019 07:46:05 AM »

Wow! Thank you so much, everyone. *hearts* And thank you, rackycoo, for organizing these for us this month. Smiley
« Last Edit: June 06, 2019 07:48:03 AM by EriChanHime » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2019 06:50:11 AM »

I just found this and she is mine. She's a lovely spirit in the house though you have to watch out when she's dancing! The detail is amazing and seeing how she's made, even more amazing!
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2019 09:05:53 AM »

I just found this and she is mine. She's a lovely spirit in the house though you have to watch out when she's dancing! The detail is amazing and seeing how she's made, even more amazing!

Thank you, cmarion! I am so glad you are enjoying each other's company. Cheesy
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