Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Make me! The Kewpie doll angel

Or, explaining the transforming power of pretty.

Excuse me angel, but my, you sure are pretty!

There is a game I play whilst completing my quotidian duties.  Grasping errand and shopping lists in hand, I secretly people-watch as I add items to my supermarket trolley or wait patiently in line in a store to be served.  (There is my compulsion to tuck exposed clothing tags back into the shirt or sweater of the stranger in front of me, but I suppose that really ought to be discussed in another blog).

My game involves finding an element of natural beauty in each woman around me; the arch of an eyebrow, the gentle tilt of a neck, a throaty laugh, elegant hands, high cheekbones, kind eyes, a warm smile… Often times the women I see are oblivious to that lovely element of their personage; or have lost themselves in the endless daily routine of waking, showering, dressing, shopping, fetching, washing, driving, waiting, tidying and the getting through of each day… somehow.

I am quite sure these ladies have convinced themselves they are not worth looking at.  These women are ‘disappearing’ themselves; this may be deliberate or unconscious but it makes me sad to see it.  Sweat pants, a shapeless t-shirt and flip-flops are depressing both to wear, and to be seen in.  If you are at the point in your life where this is all you think you can manage to dress yourself in; admit to yourself you are in a sad place.  Most of us have chores and errands and children and bills and family issues. That’s life, and these things must be done.  Just not in a livery of gloom.

One can re-emerge from this sadness. You don’t need money, youth, innate style, or to be a slave to fashion.  Make no mistake; this is not encouraging vanity.  This is about finding your trick to feeling pretty.  Feeling pretty helps.  It helps you get through the day, it helps when you’re feeling flat or down or hopeless.  Work out what makes you feel pretty.  It doesn’t need to be much; a touch of blush, a sweep of mascara, a slick of gloss, sweeping your hair into a high ponytail, or a spritz of your favourite scent.  (Oh,... I nearly forgot to add, never save scent for an ‘occasion’, your occasion is NOW!)  Take one minute of your day to think of something simple and quick that you could do right now to make you feel pretty.  Take one more minute and DO IT!  That’s a total of two minutes from your day.  Not one soul would begrudge you that…

Pin this to remind you if you have lost the habit of finding time for pretty.

My beloved Russian grandma always wore red toenail polish (or varnish as she used to say), and she never left the house without lipstick; (the thrifty soul she was, she had the same tube of lipstick for over 20 years; she would use a tiny brush to paint just the right amount of stain to colour her lips).  There was a long mirror in the hallway and Grandma would allow herself a quick overall glimpse to check all was in place, (no vain lingering ‘selfie’ styled poses, this was the 70’s after all).  A little spray of scent and she was ready to face the world outside.  Helena felt pretty, and I always thought she was beautiful.

Plastic Kewpie dolls are a perfect visual metaphor to explain the transforming power of pretty.  How seemingly plain they are straight from the packet; but a little blush, some lipstick, a ‘do’ on the eyelashes, a pretty frock:  Gosh! From pretty 'plain' to pretty 'lovely', pretty-quickly!

Instructions follow on how you can transform a Kewpie doll into a pretty angel pretty-quickly… Why not add Her Prettiness to the top of your Christmas tree?  After the Christmas season has passed, our Kewpie doll angels will reside in the bathroom for the rest of the year, as a visual cue to add just a bit of something to make both Sylvie and I feel pretty.

Best wishes, and remember to do something to make you feel pretty (if you don’t already!)
Lara-Jane. xx

Click here for the:
Kewpie doll angel wing pdf pattern

For one angel you will need:
A plastic Kewpie doll (they come in two sizes, 14cm and 17cm)
A fine Sharpie pen (to write the date and any sweet message you like)

Here she is, pre-pretty transformation.

Adding the ‘pretty’ to your angel’s face
Turps or water to clean the brushes (depending on paint type)
Paint brushes (one ultra fine for the facial features, one slightly larger for the hair)
Gold paint
Pink paint
Red paint
White paint
Black paint (I use model aircraft paints and these colours are part of my crafting arsenal)
Ultra cheap fake eyelashes from a discount store

Items required for adding the 'pretty' to your Kewpie doll's face.

For the angel’s attire
Gold pipe-cleaners x 2 for the halo and to secure the frock
Plain wire to hold the halo in place
A small length of white tulle (see below ‘And now, for the dress’)
Fabric scissors to cut the tulle
Glue gun & glue sticks
Charged electric drill and very fine drill bit

Items required for the angel's attire.

Wings to make wishes with
A clean 2-litre milk bottle
Kitchen scissors
Pencil/biro to mark out wings on plastic
White feathers (from a craft store), I made-do using an old white feather boa
Glue gun & glue sticks
A print out of the wing pattern (either large or small) glued to light card (think cereal box)

Items required for the wings.

How to transform your Kewpie doll into a pretty angel.

Here she is, out of the packet and washed clean of paint flakes.
Her hair needs attention!
Every angel needs a halo
Take a half-length of a gold pipe-cleaner and turn into a circle to form the halo, twist the ends around each other to secure.  Take a 5cm length of wire and twist around the joins of the pipe-cleaners.  Take the electric drill and make a hole in the top back of the doll’s skull.  Insert the wire of the halo into the hole and secure with the hot glue gun.  Let the glue cool.

(At this stage of proceedings ask yourself this: will I be hanging this angel on the tree as a decoration?  If so, drill a hole into the centre of her head also.  Cut a 2cm length of wire, fold and twist at the ends to make a hanging loop.  Insert the ends in the hole so just the loop remains and then add a small dob of glue to secure. You could also experiment with the larger sized crocodile clips and hot glue them to the smaller Kewpie doll’s feet so she could be clipped onto a Christmas tree branch, I have not tried this however, it’s just an idea, let me know how it went if you have tried it).

Augmenting her coiffure
Touch up the manufacturer’s gold paint on the hair, and paint over the lump of glue that holds the halo in place (and any hanging arrangement made if she is destined as a Christmas tree decoration).

Time for the pretty
It is entirely up to you how you choose to pretty-up your Kewpie doll angel.  I added more black to the eye (sometimes the paint was unevenly applied in the factory).  After the black dried, I added a white dot as the iris.  Pink cheeks were applied as simple circles and I gave the angel cupid’s bow lips (think flapper-era actress Clara Bow).  Cut some of the eyelashes to length and apply.  Once glued in place, trim the eyelashes to a shorter length.

Clara Bow... Those lips! Just a few small brush strokes are all that is required on the Kewpie doll to mimic this look.
Nearly completely pretty, waiting on eyelashes...

Making up the angel wings
Take a length of milk bottle plastic (see the link to this project for how to prepare the bottle to use it).

Click to take you to instructions to prepare the milk bottle plastic (from my February 2013 post, "Make me! The milk bottle Easter bunny").

Line up the wing pattern so the straight edge is on the natural fold of the milk bottle plastic.  Trace around the wing pattern you made using a biro or Sharpie marker (I prefer the biro that doesn’t leave an ink mark, just a faint score line that you can cut by in good light).  Firmly hold the folded plastic in your left hand and cut out the wing.

Open out the wing and using the hot glue gun, begin to glue the feathers, covering both sides, I preferred the downier feathers that lends an ethereal soft effect, but you may choose to use down at the top part of the wing and finish on the edges with the tapered feathers (many illustrations and paintings of angels follow this semiotic angel cliché).

(Ask yourself this:  is the angel being crafted as a tree topper?  If this is the case, you will need to add some wiring to the doll’s waist, and have it hot glued in place before you dress her).

And now, for the dress
This can be über-simple, that is, in my example which is simply the tulle and gold pipe-cleaner to hold the dress in place, or you could bead the skirt or dip the bottom edges of the skirt in PVA glue and add gold glitter; it’s up to you.  Whatever you think is... pretty of course!

Measure the body length of the doll and double it.  Cut a length of approximately 1 metre by the height  of the doubled body length.  Fold in half lengthways to a single body length.  Lift the doll's arms upward.  Gather up the tulle around the angel by hand (like folding a fan) and secure with a gold pipe-cleaner around the waist, holding the doll in your left hand and spreading out the gathers with your right hand. The join should be in the back.  Once the pipe cleaner has been wrapped around the waist and tied firmly at the back, trim the excess pipe-cleaner.  Pull and tug at the skirt above the waist line to give and good shape to the 'bodice' of the dress.  In you left hand, gather the skirt at the ankles and trim to an even length. Add a generous amount of hot glue at the back waist to secure the skirt to the doll.

Attaching the wings
Again, using the hot glue gun, attach the wings (tips of the wings facing down).  The wings should cover the globs of glue added to secure the skirt.  The wings should be placed so the natural “memory” of the fold from the milk bottle is facing out from the back (you’ll see, you want the wings to sit away from the back, think butterfly).  (You will need a glob of glue at the waist band and one just above the nape of the neck in the lower part of the hair).  Hold the wings in place for a minute or so until the glue has cooled somewhat.

A close up of the smaller sized Kewpie doll angel, this one hangs from the tree.

Grab your Sharpie pen…
And write the year on the underside of her foot, perhaps a “for (insert loved one’s name), “with love from” (insert your name).

All pretty gorgeous I must say!

Note the longer skirt, the length is up to you!