This month’s artist of the month is the lovely Squishdellia! Not only does this amazing artist make wonderful clothes for Pullip and other dolls, she also makes amazing photos of her dolls. We are absolutely enchanted by her unique style, so we wanted to get to know the artist behind the dresses!
How did you discover Pullip, and who was your first doll? Why did you choose her?
I first discovered Pullips through the BJD community on Flickr, I found the dolls to be cute so I began to look into them. It was in 2011 that Pullip Tiphona made her way into my collection. I loved her outfit so much and she had such a sweet face!
What do you like most about the Pullip family? What sets them apart from other dolls?
Pullips offer something very special in the doll world, and it’s something that they do very well: design.
Pullips boast such an impressive diversity of themes, color palettes, and genres, it’s amazing the amount of work that must go into these dolls. What I love about Pullips are how all the releases have vastly different faceups, giving so many looks to just one sculpt. When looking at the Pullip lineup, you begin to realize the amount of research, time, and thought that must have been put into each and every release. Hundreds of dolls, and they are all so amazingly different!
What is your favourite part of the Pullip community?
I think Pullip’s uniqueness brings out something very special in the Pullip community as well. When looking at all the available Pullip dolls and seeing all the possibilities, people realize… “Pullip can be anything.”
The Pullip community has become a very creative bunch, and it’s what I love about the hobby. I enjoy seeing everyone’s interpretations of their doll ideas with photography, sewing, face painting, stories, customizing, or even just their excitement over getting a new doll!
When did you start making your own doll clothes, and what made you start?
One day, my sister received this big package in the mail. It was a giant resin doll. Oh hey, that’s cool I guess, looks interesting. Some time later, I started playing around with the doll and I felt this endearment and… just wanted to start making doll-sized things. This is a feeling I’m sure many doll collectors are familiar with. I soon had my own hoard of dolls and started learning to craft things. Wigs, props, clothes, I even bought a camera. I tried a little bit of everything, but I discovered I really enjoyed making doll clothes. And I was really bad at it!
In the years since my first dolly adventure I’ve put a lot of hard work into practicing, researching, and making mistakes to improve my sewing ability. It wasn’t always easy, but I think I can now finally manage to make a half-way decent shirt. I still consider myself a student of the craft and I’m always looking for new things to learn to improve my skill.
What is your process for making new outfits?
There are two ways I tend to design outfits for dolls, I guess the best way to describe the the methods would be “top-down” and “bottom-up”. For top-down outfits I will begin with a concept I want to make, for example my galaxy dress to fit a convention’s theme, and I will draw out on paper several designs. It isn’t until I have my final look that I begin another process that many people don’t realize takes a lot of time — shopping! Sometimes it can take a while to find quality unique materials, but once I have them in hand I can quickly begin making patterns and sewing the design.
When designing using the bottom-up method, I start with the materials. I will go through my stash of fabric and trims and put together a color palette I find works well, and try to include different textures and elements to make it interesting. I will draw up designs and then choose which one will work best for the materials. Usually this takes a few times going back and forth, and sometimes I will change a design during the middle of construction.
For me, the part that I find requires the most effort, and also the part I enjoy the most, is the actual designing. It can sometimes take many trials and failures to achieve a final outfit, but I feel so happy when it’s finished. The thing I love the most about sewing is being able to bring to life the ideas and inspirations in my head.
Your doll clothes feature a lot of very natural colours. Do you find a lot of inspiration in nature?
Actually, yes! Nature is my biggest inspiration when it comes to designing. I love the outdoors… plants, flowers, mushrooms, insects, minerals, reptiles… I’ve developed a big appreciation for all of them so naturally they work their way into my designs. I might see a flower I find very beautiful and unique, and try to make a dress based on it. Or I might see a late autumn treeline and want to work the umber and sienna colors into a design.
I don’t try to limit myself to one theme though. While I take heavy inspiration from nature, I will keep an open mind to other styles and colors — you never know when you might become inspired! Being open to learning and trying new things, even if it seems uncomfortable or difficult, is key to improving any skill.
You make some amazing photos not just of your dolls, but also of the clothes you make. What is the main thing you pay attention to when photographing doll clothes?
I am still a beginner at photography, so I am trying to learn new things all the time about taking photos. When taking doll photos, I mainly just focus on making sure there is enough light, and that it is indirect light rather than direct, it helps give it a softer feel. I avoid taking photos at noon, and prefer taking them later in the day. I’m really just a novice at this though, I have a lot to learn!
What is your opinion on the most recent dolls? What sort of release do you wish to see?
I really like some of the newer releases, and I’m always excited to see the next new doll. Pullip has come a long way from the beginning, and I think the line is always improving. I like Dal and Byul, so I’m a little sad that they haven’t had many new releases, I hope they get more versions in the future.
As for my dream doll, it would be any of the Pullip family dolls released in the mocha color, or even new colors like grey or green.
What tips would you give collectors who want to start making their own doll clothes?
The best tip I have for doll clothes making is that you must start with quality materials if you want to end with a quality piece. Cheaper materials make it so much more difficult than it has to be, especially at the small scale with doll clothes. I try to avoid synthetic fabrics, because they do not crease or drape well at doll scale. I use natural fibers like cotton or silk, they crease easily with an iron and are easy to work with.
Making doll clothes is a fun and great hobby, but many people tell me they are too scared to start. Sewing really is one of those things where “practice makes perfect” applies. The best way to learn is by doing. Always try new things, even if you think it will be hard. Don’t be discouraged if your item doesn’t come out how you wanted, because next time it will be better. Just keep practicing and eventually you will be amazed at what you can do!