Monday, September 8, 2014

How Dasia Becomes My Maya

Internet-captured photo of Dr. Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928 - May 28, 2014

After the death of author, poet, actress, dancer, and singer Maya Angelou on May 28, 2014, who was also one of my favorite African American female personalities and writers of works I enjoyed reading, I wanted to capture her likeness in doll form.  I decided Big Beautiful Dolls, Dasia, would be the perfect doll for this creative undertaking. 

I contacted Georgette Taylor, one of the creators of the Big Beautiful Dolls line to inquire about the nude Dasia's she mentioned having when we communicated about her guest post here.  She still had some!


Big Beautiful Doll Dasia in all her full-figured nude glory!
Within a week after ordering her in July, Dasia arrived and lay nude on a credenza adjacent to my personal desk, where I usually place to-do or unfinished doll projects.  As long as these things remain in sight, whatever intentions I have for them eventually get accomplished.

Selected face image of Maya Angelou with brown border added; I printed two in case a mishap occurred with the first.

I gathered several headshot images of my favorite writer and later selected the one I felt would be most appropriate in doll form.  I definitely wanted one that captured the dazzling smile that was unmistakeably hers.  I measured Dasia's facial dimensions before inserting the image into a WORD document.  Resizing and printing were followed by using Microsoft Paint and GIMP to create a border that would extend to the doll's ears and neckline.  The goal was to cover the entire facial area once the image was transferred to the doll's face.

The image was ironed onto the sleeve of a white T-shirt (purchased for 99 cents at a beauty supply store specifically for this purpose).

The image was flipped horizontally before printing on T-shirt transfer paper and ironing it onto a sleeve of a white T-shirt (as shown above).  Trimming was next.

Initially I had planned to glue the transfer directly onto Dasia's beautiful face, but decided to try another method that would preserve the doll's face and still achieve the desired effect.  (As much as I wanted a Maya doll and even though I have two other Dasias, I just could not handle permanently changing any one of my Dasia's faces.)

I created a mold of Dasia's face, similar to the wig cap molds I have created in the past:



A plastic baggie was wrapped around Dasia's head and secured with a rubber band at the neck.

A piece of the white T-shirt was placed over the plastic-wrapped head and also secured with a rubber band.  Layers of Aleene's Tacky Glue were applied over the fabric and allowed to dry for 24 hours.  This created a head mold.

After removing the mold, enough of the facial portion that would extend to the doll's ears was cut away.  The transferred image of Angelou's face was glued to the mold and allowed to dry.  Next, thumbtacks were inserted into the mold in the earlobe area and directly into Dasia's pierced earlobes.  The thumbtacks remained in place until the mold fully captured the shape of the doll's face.  In the next image, the thumbtacks have been replaced with earrings, which serve to hold the face over of Dasia's face without the use of glue or other adhesive.



The doll's hair was fluffed into a curly Afro allowing the front and sides to cover the edges of the new face. Since edges of the neck area remain a little crimped and jagged, I fashioned a neck scarf (seen in the next image.)

Clothing and shoes posed a problem initially due to the doll's fuller figure and width of her barely arched feet.

Illustrated above is the shape of the doll's feet along with the neck scarf and shoes I made.

I fashioned a red dress from a toddler crew sock (already on hand in my grandsons' sock and underwear drawer).  Shoes were made using other materials on hand (black leather for the sole, black foam for the innersole, and white elastic painted black for the two straps on the forefoot and the strap that extends around the sides of the doll's foot.  The shoes are shown two photos above.  The dress is shown next:

Red knit dress made from a toddler's crew sock

The toe portion that I cut away from the sock served as a temporary cap to give the hair the desired shape and length appearance.  (I did not want to cut Dasia's hair, which is now Maya's!). 

Sock cap used temporarily to shape the doll's hair.

To cover her exposed shoulders, I cut the end away from the sock material that had been used as a cap.  This created a loop of fabric which I turned inside out so the rolled edges would not be exposed.  The doll's arms were taken through each end of the loop to create a shrug.  Her back is exposed, but I am sure Maya does not mind.

My Maya doll poses with an autographed copy of one of the real Maya's last written works, Mom & Me & Mom.  I won the book in a contest conducted by author, Jo Maeder, shortly after Dr. Angelou passed.  Entrants of the contest had to post on Maeder's Facebook timeline her favorite Maya Angelou quote (shown below).  After several tries, I posted the correct quote and won the book, which is autographed to Jo, whose autograph and inscription to me appear below Angelou's.


I will eventually find a better fashion and shoes but for now, thanks to Dasia and my heavy dose of determination, my Maya doll-creating mission has been accomplished.

***

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. ― Maya Angelou
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23 comments:

  1. This is amazing! I really like this technique.

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    1. Thanks, Muff. I might eventually reprint the face. I was and still am receiving warnings that my color printer ink is low. But being as frugal as I am, I never change it at the initial warnings, particularly when color printing still looks okay. So after I change it, I will reprint the face again. If i notice better definition, I'll complete the face-making process again which should have better results since I now know what to do and what not to do.

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  2. I am so impressed with your creativity! You've done fantastic work here. I love that last photograph.

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    1. Thanks, Roxanne! I am slow but steady. It took me from July until last week to finally begin this process because I know I have to be in the right frame of mind without any foreseen distractions before trying something new and as important as this was to me.

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  3. Debbie you are amazing! Your creativeness leaves me speechless and inspired.This is an awesome project! I have wanted an Oprah doll and think some how this could be done for her..

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    1. Thank you C. Yes, the possibilities are endless. All you need is a photo, T-shirt transfer paper, the doll, and of course patience.

      A Dasia doll would work well for Oprah. I think Georgette has more nude dolls available. I will ask her. If she does and with her permission, I'll include that information in a comment to this post.

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  4. She is great. You did a wonderful job. It was very creative how you did her face. I did not know aleene's tacky glue could be used for molding. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you, MDW.

      Aleene's Tacky Glue cannot be used alone for molding, but with fabric (over plastic to prevent the glue from sticking to the object) wrapped around the item you'd like to create a mold of, it works. Initially I used Mod Podge, but it did not seem to harden like I knew Aleene's Tacky Glue would, from past wig cap making experience. So for Maya's face, I added Aleene's over the Mod Podge I used initially. I left that information out because I do not recommend using Mod Podge.

      There are a couple of past posts where I used Aleeene's to make wig caps for dolls onto which synthetic hair was added.

      Here are a couple of links:
      Dreadlocks wig
      Short gray wig

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  5. What an innovative technique for creating the face mold! Thanks for sharing it. Maya Angelou and Dasia are both insipirations so combining them into a doll that honors Angelou's legacy is very powerful. Way to go!

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    1. Thanks, P.! Your "Way to go!" gave me smile.

      The technique definitely needs to be tweaked to avoid the wrinkles that occurred at the neckline, but as Angelou would appropriately say, "When you know better, you do better."



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  6. This is fascinating! I'm trying to decide if I have the nerve to attempt your technique on an Experimental Subject.

    The sock dress actually looks fabulous on her figure. I can see tweaking it later (all things get tweaked later) or trying a cloth jacket, but knit dress = fantastic.

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    1. Thank you, Smaller Places!

      I'd love for her to have a full jacket or a "whole" shrug that covers more of her shoulders and her entire back. I might try to fashion one using the mate to the crew sock, which I still have. This is coming from a person who does not sew, except hem or mend a tear. That's about it in the sewing area for me.

      Thanks again!


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    2. I meant to add: I think you should give it a try. The possibilities are endless. One doll can have many faces, if desired.

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  7. I love it, I get such great ideas from your blog.

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    1. You're welcome, simsgrl and thanks for letting me know my posts are helpful!

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  8. All I can saw is WOW! That is truly creative. I wonder how a more rubbery material like the iron on material for dark T-Shirts would work? It irons on T-shirt material, but it is thicker and the fabric lines don't show as much as on the regular iron on transfer papers. The printing results are usually sharper too. Just a thought!

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    1. Wonderful idea, Phyllis. I never thought about that and I believe I saw the transfer for dark T-shirts when I purchased the light transfers. I wasn't familiar with the dark so I opted for the light transfer paper. Hmmm. I must do some investigating. I probably wouldn't need to create a mask either. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  9. This is awesome Debbie!!!!! Wow! I am so impressed. That quote is one of my favorites from hers.

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    1. Thanks, GG.

      That's one of my favorite Angelou quotes, too, but it was about the 4th or 5th quote I entered before winning the book, and to think I was not going to enter.

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  10. Congratulations on your impressive juxtaposition of doll and author. Dasia is definitely Maya Angelou now. I like how you joined your two interests. Thanks for sharing the how to for doing so.

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    1. Thank you, D7ana and you're welcome for the how-to.

      Determined,

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  11. I glanced at this post prior to getting my Dasia doll. This is interesting process. How did you come up with it? That quote is so true. I have told too many of my single girlfriends that same thing in different words. I love the dress and shoes!

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    1. Hello Ms. Leo,

      The desire for a Maya Angelou doll was the impetus for me to use critical thinking to develop this process. I am also familiar with antique cloth dolls that were made using lithographed realistic faces. You can see an example here. I have always wanted one of these Topsy Turvy dolls, but their cost has prohibited my owning one. The difference in the antique doll and mine is that Maya is not all cloth.

      Anything is possible with enough desire, critical thinking, determination, and the willingness to take action.

      Thank you for the compliment on my doll's clothing. My daughter saw her for the first time yesterday and asked me why I had Maya dressed as a hoochie mama (just because her dress is form fitting). I think she is tastefully dressed and I always like using what I have on hand until what I want is found. I'll find her something better soon, but for now, she's "werking" that red dress and a new black shrug that I made her using a black headband. The new shrug covers more of her arms and her back is not exposed.


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Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!