I am restoring paper dolls to where they started, a product to be cut out and played with. Paper dolls these days are produced (mainly) for a community of adult collectors. The pricey vintage items, if you can afford them, are certainly not to be cut into. Collectors of newer material, taking their cue from that, leave the items intact. ‘Uncut’ is the gold standard for paper playthings.
I had a small collection of — uncut!— rarities, lovingly assembled over a good many years. I sold it forty years ago, when my life fell apart and I needed money. That heartbreak, that’s when I decided, OK, I’ll create my own paper dolls. That’s how this mania of mine started.
Maisie will be an illustrated book of either thirty-two or forty pages. I want images on every page to break up the type. No outfit can be on the backside of another. This is a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece has to fit perfectly.
The pages are oversized, 8.5 x 13 inches high. I have a book of posters from Dover Publications that size. I have no idea how much it will cost to print. When I get half of it built, I’m going to investigate. So far, I have through page eleven laid out in Photoshop as rough pages, to judge how many inches the type is going to require, and to size the art accordingly.
The image above could be the cover art, but I already have a cover I like a lot. For the time being, I’m calling this my Title Page.
I finally feel I’ve got command of a style. It only took me forty years! Lack of a comfortable style is what made me quit an illustration major and go to costume design in art school at Syracuse University.
I never thought my drawing style was a suitable illustration style. I admire the art in ‘Faeries’ by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, but that look is not what I saw for my own work.
Yesterday, searching for a particular image for the Denishawn Dancers, my Maisie-as-Bumblebee art popped up in the finds. (She had danced for Denishawn at the start of her career, I put it in the tags.)
I have many historical figures in my story, and I’ve put many a name into my tags. I have Hedda Hopper, Thelma Furness, The Prince of Wales, Josephine Baker, W.C Fields, Fanny Brice, Louise Brooks, many, many more.
It could be that my art is all over the internet. This is exciting!
Actually, the catalogues I get from the garden centers are similar to what I want. My book would be two inches taller, four to eight pages fewer, slightly heavier paper, and a heavy-stock cover, pages stapled together.
A garden catalogue can’t cost an arm and a leg to print. Maybe I can afford to do it.
This is something that I would put on Amazon, but also sell at art fairs once (sigh) the Covid has passed. I’ll continue building the print file, but I’ll sit on it until it’s safe to do.