I have a plan to put together a process book or slideshow so that when someone asks me- Why are these dolls so expensive? – I can show them. I’ve been trying to remember to take photos as I am working on some new projects. Here is what I’ve got so far.

Making a tattooed doll.

The project starts in two places. The fabric-

I am always on the lookout for appropriate fabric. It needs to be the right scale, the right color design,and  images that I like. I buy mostly on Ebay and Etsy. Besides the toile, I need plain fabric for the head and hands and fabric for the clothing.

Next, I over-dye all the fabrics. Every pot comes out slightly different! One challenge is to get some of the plain fabric to match some of the toile.

And the design is the other starting place. I have an idea in my head and I need to get it out on paper.

From the paper, I make muslin models. Tweaking is almost always needed.

When I get a design that I am satisfied with, I trace out various parts of the original to make the pattern pieces. The pieces for this one are- head, upper torso, shirt, breasts, pants, boots, arms, hands. Later I will figure out the hair.

I trace the pattern pieces onto the fabrics.

Sew everything up and when I turn the doll right-side-out, it is so exciting to see how she looks!

Next, stuffing. And then all the details. First, the breasts.

That is what I’ve got so far. Now back to work!

30 thoughts on “process

  1. It’s crazy to me that you would ever have to justify the price of your amazing dolls. I love to see your process Mimi!

  2. I can’t remember how I found out about your work but I think it was an interview that I stumbled upon somewhere…I’m elderly so forgive me for my lapse of memory:) I found it very interesting to see how you went about creating and to see your work space. So I think this post about your process is a very good idea. I look forward to seeing more posts like this.

  3. i love this. while i’ve never questioned your price point, i love getting to see the behind the scenes.

    she looks lovely, too, i look forward to seeing her completed!

  4. They are worth every penny. A good question, I suppose. However, if haggling went on after the explanation, I hope you upped the price. I think $25 for a raised eyebrow is worth it. Tack on $10 for every “Well…” and maybe $15 for every “Would you consider…” Oh heck, just double the price and call it a day! ;)

  5. With all the work you put into them, I think you don’t charge enough. But I love your idea about documenting your process. Even though someone would need to work along side you to reallybegin to understand what goes into the work.

  6. I can certainly appreciate the time and skill you put into these dolls. I’m sure if anyone else who complained about the price even tried it they would see why.

  7. Mimi- thanks so much for sharing your process – I love seeing how much work and creativity goes into your creations!

  8. People who don’t do any crafts, have no idea how time consuming it is. Anyone who questions the price of your beautiful dolls, doesn’t deserve to own one. They should only live with those who will treasure them.
    I love to see the pictures you’ve taken so far. Do you keep the muslin models with the patterns so you can make them again, or is it always on to something new?

  9. The reject muslins and paper patterns go immediately or else I get too confused. I keep the paper patterns (and use them many times) but usually take the muslins apart after a while and reuse the stuffing. Sometimes I think I should paint them, but really, the studio isn’t big enough!

  10. Dear Mimi,

    Thank you for showing this process. I love watching your creativity. I love that you overdye the fabric making it one of a kind. You are an inspiration to me to be more creative myself.
    Thanks for posting these photos. Very fascinating.

  11. You should’nt have to justify how much you charge for your beautiful dolls. What about all your years of experience and thinking time? My artist friend when she is asked by cheeky customers how long it takes her to do one of her paintings always says “50 years” (she is 50). Because it took her that long to get where she is.

    Anyhow, I love looking at your work in progress and than you for sharing it with us, it’s so inspiring. :)

  12. Love the process post, though no justifying required here. You know what’s funny….I kept thinking, “I wonder where she gets all that flesh colored toile? I’ve never seen it.” Haha. It didn’t occur to me that you overdyed it. Too funny. Keep up your great work!

  13. I think you have such patience to make muslin models. I want some of that patience. It is difficult for me to even do rip-outs and not make the mistakes work.
    I must give it some thought and effort!

  14. Wow! That’s extraordinary! Thanks for showing us. Though I agree with other commenters who have said you should not have to justify your prices. Those who understand understand. Those who don’t won’t and will probably still quibble. Do your best not to let them get under your skin.

    Incidentally, any fans of Toiles de Jouy who are within striking distance of London may wish to attend a free talk on the subject by Sarah Grant, Asst Curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum: Wednesday 16th February, 1.15pm. I believe that Sarah has also written a book on the subject (available in the V&A bookshop, Amazon etc).

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  16. I know exactly what you mean! I think that’s why so many artists have a hard time pricing their own work – THEY know how much work went into it, but anyone unfamiliar with the process might not fully appreciate all those blood sweat and tears! ;) Great idea to get some documentation for prospective buyers – a good education!

  17. Thank you for sharing your process. I enjoy seeing your posts and also appreciate your openess. It is always hard for an artist to place a value on their work. It cannot be measured by an hourly rate. Perhaps the person who asked did not mean to offend. Maybe they really love your work and would love to purchase one of your dolls and simply cannot afford it. I hope this is the case. If it is maybe they did not think that they could ask you how to make it possible, payments or a trade or whatever. I think it is wonderful that you have responded in a non-judgemental and very informing way to the question. This is a mark of a sincere artist. Keep up the good work.

  18. your dolls are NOT expensive! Art is not cheap and NO ONE should work for free! I love that you shared your process with us. I hate that someone would ask you why they are so expensive. But then again, I think we all have that happen to us as crafters.

  19. I think this is a wonderful idea. Any of us that understand the process & recognize the effort/quality put in can totally understand the pricing. Unfortunately, so many out there only understand mass production or cheap labor because that’s the type of society we’ve become ultimately. But this would be a great interaction tool for the browsers to ask more about the process instead of blurting out comments about high prices.

    I ove that you offer the notecards–love the scarf idea, etc. It’s a great way to offer something at a lower price point for those naysayers. The smart a** in me would ask the critic if he/she would be willing to spend a couple hundred on a piece of art for their living room. Because that’s what these are. Each & every one is a piece of art. They’re simply not hung on a wall.

  20. What a marvelous post! I’ve often wished I had a way to show folks exactly how much work is involved in making a doll from scratch…most don’t even consider how time consuming designing something is …never mind the actual crafting. Maybe I’ll just refer them here! ;)

  21. I agree with the others that say if someone is a maker, they understand your prices. What might be confusing for a non-maker is the seeming simplicity of your designs. But anyone who has made even one tiny doll or felt stuffie knows that getting a clean and gently curving line is actually the holy grail of making. Add on top of that your incredible attention to detail, and, well, you start veering into the priceless range.

    That said, I think it’s great for you to document your process. I can tell already from the comments that you’re inspiring people. Sometimes other makers can look at someone of your caliber and think, “I’ll never be as good as so-and-so” because they think what you do is magic and they don’t even try. But if they realize it’s not magic, its work and trial and error and sometimes just plain stubbornness (or maybe that’s just me), then maybe they’ll take a chance and try and create a little magic of their own.

  22. I am thinking of this as educating the people who come into my booth, having something for kids to look at, and a great way to start a conversation.

    And you are so correct- Making art that looks clean and simple is HARD! Think of a ballet dancer- if the dancer is making it look difficult, they are not very good.

  23. i don’t think we can ever charge what our creations are really worth but i am so glad you put at least a reasonable price tag on your amazing dolls – i don’t think they are expensive at all. a low price tag belittles the work and your work is so beautiful and your workwomanship superb!

  24. these dolls are worth every penny. I have two and they make me smile every day. The attention to detail is amazing and the creativity is beyond that.

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