Monday, 6 May 2019

Sasha Celebration Weekend 2019 - Part 2

This is the second of my 2 posts about this year's Sasha Celebration Weekend.

One of the highlights of every Sasha Celebration Weekend is the raffle - there are always lots of prizes and there is a separate table for the gold ticket prizes (ones which are extra special or valuable).  I didn't have much time for making anything this year but somehow the raffle prize I devised grew and grew, thank goodness my younger daughter helped with some of it or it would not have been completed in time.  This year, due to the SCW Charity Course doll project, we were asked to provide some raffle prizes for the large course/studio dolls along with prizes for the 16" production Sasha dolls.  So I did both in one prize, which became a gold ticket prize.

We made a set called 'My Favourite Things - Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes'. It consisted of:
Clothes for Sasha:
Dress and sandals set for 20” Sasha doll
(studio or course doll)
Dress and sandals set for 16” Sasha doll
Each set consists of
1 sleeveless pinafore dress with blue satin sash
1 pair sandals with kumihimo braid straps
1 crochet headband
1 pair panties
White stars fabric with satin ribbon sashes and sandals
Matching clothes for Sasha’s doll:
Dress and headband for 6.5” American Girl mini doll
1 sleeveless pinafore dress with blue satin sash
1 crochet headband
White stars fabric with satin ribbon sash
1 American Girl mini doll (Luciana, 2018) with her
complete original box, dress, boots and book
Picnic items
Picnic mat
Pink fabric with machine embroidered edge
Mini tea set and mugs for a picnic
Crochet headbands handmade by DollMum’s daughter
Kumihimo braids for sandals made by DolllMum and Dollmum’s daughter
Dresses, sandals and picnic mat handmade by DollMum
(Miranda, our blond Sasha girl models the 16" Sasha dress in the following photos, she was not included in the raffle prize)

Miranda in the 16" outfit 'Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes'

Back view of the dress
The 'My favourite things' set

The list about the 'My favourite things' set

Closer view of the 'My favourite things' set

The mini AG doll in her white dress with blue sash

Close up of the 20" dress showing the stars in the fabric
The raffle was originally set up in the room where the doll making took place on Friday and Saturday so people could see all the prizes during the day, to encourage raffle ticket buying.  However because of the extended length of the workshops this year, it wasn't possible to hold the raffle during its usual afternoon slot before the Sales tables, so it was held after dinner on Saturday instead.  This meant a small group of us moved all the prizes to the dining room (which had a lot more space).

Gold ticket raffle prizes in the workshop room

Gold ticket raffle prizes in the workshop room

Gold ticket raffle prizes moved to the dining room

All the other raffle prizes in the dining room
There are always some dolls on the dinner table at Sasha gatherings.

The dolls on our table - at this stage the twin babies were on their best behaviour

Laura with her new toddler, bought at the sales tables after the craft workshops were over (Laura lead the embroidery workshop)

The twin babies getting up to mischief
Before the main raffle the Christine Toyne photo competition winner was announced and the special international raffle prize draw was made - both were live streamed by Alan so those from overseas who had entered the competition or bought tickets could join the fun. My daughter had entered the photo competition, which had the theme of ballet, the prize was £50 donated by Carol in memory of her mother who loved Sasha dolls. The international raffle prize, a doll with eyes painted by Janet, and wearing a bespoke ballet outfit, was won by Carol, which seemed rather fitting.

My daughter's photos are below, she took them with her new camera she had saved up to buy, she didn't win but enjoyed participating:


DollMum's daughter recreated the cover of Ballet Shoes for Anna

Nina learns to dance while Reuben and Melanie supervise the budding ballerina (patience was required by the young photographer when she was setting up this pose!)

In the main raffle to get through all the prizes in good time, Diane called up people a table at a time to draw the tickets from the bag while Madeleine checked the winning tickets before winners went to choose their prize.  Every so often it was announced that the next ticket would be a gold ticket and the lucky winner could choose one of the top prizes.  Our raffle donation was won by Gillian.

We won a few prizes on the raffle, including one gold ticket raffle prize near the very end. In addition to the raffle were vintage fabric donations - each person who had made an SCW Charity Course doll was called up one by one to choose a fabric. I chose a packet of fabric which turned out to be seven fat quarters of different patterns in turquoise shades.

There was a presentation to Janet from everyone to thank her for 5 years of Sasha Celebration weekends, as she stepped down from organising them.

Tricia presenting Janet with her card, gift and flowers
Another element of this SCW was the doll exhibition - this year it was a mini me display or alternatively depict a mini version of a famous person.  My girl and I picked a photo of to recreate, this is what we displayed with Laura and her doll:

Laura - Sasha Whitedress and a mini American Girl doll
In 2012 we attended our first Sasha doll festival which was held in the UK at Stratford upon Avon. Miranda was the surprise doll I had bought secretly a few weeks earlier in preparation for the festival.  I made a dress for my younger daughter and a matching dress for Miranda to wear for the Friday evening meal at the festival. This photo shows 8 year old DollMum’s daughter enjoying her first Sasha festival with Miranda, in their matching dresses.
Sadly, little girls out grow their dresses and although we still have the dress, it is far to small for a 15 year old!
We decided to recreate this photo—this time Laura wears the dress which had been made for Miranda and I made a new matching dress for the mini American Girl doll.

DollMum’s daughter made the miniature bows for the mini doll dress and the tiny headband.

Laura with her doll in the dress made for Miranda (photo Alan Hinchcliffe)
On the Friday evening I took my mini me to dinner as I was wearing the sweatshirt which was part of it, subsequently this is what we displayed about Louisa and teddy when they joined Laura the following day in the display:

Louisa - Gotz Sasha toddler
2019 is 50 years of the The Open University where DollMum has worked for nearly 26.5 years! 
Besides being an Open University graduate, it just so happens that DollMum shares the same birth year as the OU.
The OU at 50 mini t-shirts in white and blue come on OU teddy bears, one of whom has kindly loaned the blue shirt to Louisa, while DollMum wears her new OU at 50 sweatshirt.

The hotel was so warm it wasn't possible for me to keep wearing the sweatshirt all weekend!

Louisa in her OU at 50 t-shirt and OU teddy at dinner on Friday night
The following are my photos of the Mini me dolls, taken on Saturday and Sunday:

Mini me dolls 1

Mini me dolls 2

Mini me dolls 3 - Louisa, teddy, Laura and her doll (joined by Ed Sheeran and Luke Skywalker)

Mini me dolls 4

Mini me dolls 5

Mini me dolls 6

Mini me dolls 7

Mini me dolls 8

Mini me dolls 9

Mini me dolls 10 - Sasha Morgenthaler and her party dress doll

Mini me dolls 11

Mini me dolls 12
It was a wonderful weekend - we had a lot of fun, loved meeting with familiar friends, making new friends and being creative together in the craft workshops.  There are plans to organise the SCW in the future to continue what Janet has started, with several volunteer enthusiasts staying behind afterwards for a discussion about working together across the miles to make the SCW happen again at the same venue during May next year.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Sasha Celebration Weekend 2019 - Part 1

This year's Sasha Celebration Weekend (SCW) was a little different from the 4 previous events (which had several different craft workshops) and the culmination of Janet's 5 years of artistic guidance and organisation of the event.  Janet negotiated with the Sasha Morgenthaler heirs for permission to use the patterns for the Sasha course dolls so the attendees of the weekend could make their very own course dolls, in the tradition adopted by Sasha in her studio (she often taught small groups of people to make dolls). It was agreed with the heirs that the dolls made would not be called Sasha dolls - they are not licenced to carry the name, so they are officially called SCW Charity Course dolls (each person making a doll paid for the materials and a donation to a children's charity).

Each person making a complete 20 inch course doll in the space of one weekend was never going to be possible, lots of preparation work had to be done in advance, with the added complication that some people making the dolls did not have much sewing experience beyond some basic hand sewing.  Therefore Janet worked out that the doll bodies had to be machine stitched in advance by some experienced seamstresses, the plaster head moulds had to be cast and dried, then the fabric (sourced overseas) stretched over them and the faces painted.  Theresa cast all 30 head moulds from a mould which had once been cast from an original Sasha clay head mould Kendal had owned. Tricia, Petrana and I sewed the body parts ready for turning and stuffing and Janet stretched the head fabric over the moulds and painted the faces.  Each person making a doll was given various painting styles and eye colours to choose from so each doll face was personalised before we even arrived at the SCW on the Friday afternoon (though one was not painted as the person making the doll is an artist and wanted to paint her own doll).

All the kits were labelled and compiled by Janet and Theresa a month before and handed out in special bags provided by one of the other attendees as we arrived on Friday. We all had to buy and bring microbeads (used for filling teddy bears) for some of the filling and a large quantity of stuffing was donated by someone who wasn't able to attend.

On the Friday evening after dinner, instead of a talk or setting up displays for the next day, those of us making dolls got started on the heads while Laura got the others started on designs for their embroidery they did on Saturday which they did instead of doll making.

In the doll kit was a polystyrene ball which fitted inside the head mould. The fabric had to be fitted over this shape, and stitched in place, with stuffing smoothing the join between the edge of the mould and the back of the head, to complete the head shape.  This was a tricky thing to do, with guidance provided by Janet and Tricia (who had made their dolls as the prototypes before the event).  After making a good start, my daughter and I took our doll head back to our hotel room to finish off after 10pm.  My girl and I made our doll together, she was the expert at smooth, firm stuffing, I did the hand stitching of the fabric and together we succeeded in making a reasonable head shape before we went to bed.

Tricia demonstrating how to shape and stitch the head fabric on Friday night

Janet demonstrating her method for shaping and stitching the head fabric on Friday night

DollMum's daughter busy inserting stuffing around the forehead rim

Lying on her bed while continuing her magic with the head shaping

Stuffing the head

Finishing off the head

The completed head stitching

Head stitching looking like the doll had brain surgery!
On Saturday after breakfast everyone was keen to get started on stuffing the limbs.  Once again Janet and Tricia demonstrated and guided us through the process, there was plenty of chatter and singing (Nellie the Elephant!!!) during the morning as we busily got on with the task of constructing the dolls, with a stop for lunch at 1pm before fitting the heads to the bodies then stuffing the bodies.  

DollMum's daughter turning an arm the right way out and pushing out the thumb

Saturday morning doll making - all deeply engrossed in turning and stuffing limbs

Saturday morning doll making

Saturday morning doll making
The legs and arms were mostly filled with microbeads followed by some stuffing before being stitched along the top to seal them.  Some of us used the remainder of our microbeads in the bottom of the torsos to give some sitting weight, followed by lots of stuffing (though the shoulder plate part of the head had to be inserted into the neck hole early on and the remaining stuffing done via a hole in the side seam.  Some hand stitching was done around the shoulder area to close up the neck hole, securing the head in position.  Then the limbs were stitched to the torso and suddenly the dolls just needed their wigs.  Most of us had made or bought wigs in advance, there wasn't time for wig making on the day. This was an exciting moment - the realisation that the doll was almost complete ready for dressing.

The underside of the head and shoulder mould with Theresa's signature and date

Inserting the shoulder plate into the neck hole of the torso

Limbs all stuffed awaiting the torso

Janet and Jane W discussing doll making

Lunchtime laughter at our table as the first doll (made by a child and her grandmother Pam) is completed and admired

Jocelyn with her completed doll (called Renny) showing the white underwear by Jenny

Jane S with her completed doll
Some people had made outfits in advance, others bought outfits on the day at the sales tables after the doll making was complete.

Our doll was one of two boy dolls made (the other has long hair).  Ours has a synthetic light ginger short haired wig, blue eyes, brown eye brows and freckles - he follows a tradition of making dolls dedicated to a particular person, though isn't a real life portrait doll. This is his story:

While I was growing up in Cape Town, I was known as the craft minded, doll enthusiast of the family, for this reason as a Christmas gift in 1985 I was given a doll making book by one of my two elder brothers "Dolls and how to make them" by Margaret Hutchings - he wrote a Christmas message to me in the frontispiece.  I used the book as a techniques guide and inspiration rather than following any of the projects in it from start to finish, one of the techniques illustrated and described is stretching fabric over a head mould which I never tried myself.  Now, a few months after my brother's death, I have made a doll dedicated to the memory of our shared childhood spent in the sunshine on the beaches and parks of Cape Town.

My brother was fair skinned with straight light ginger hair growing up in a sunny hot climate in the days before sunscreen was widely used (sadly this increased his chances of developing that melanoma).  The doll needed a smooth straight haired wig so I decided a synthetic hair wig was a better option than a wool or mohair wig.

The synthetic hair light ginger wig on our boy's head just after we finished it, alongside the photo of my brother as a child at the beach
Our boy's clothing (which I made before the SCW) is based on a photo of my younger sister, brother and I on Blouberg Beach rocks with Table Mountain in the distance across the bay. We are all barefoot in the photo, however we often wore slip slops (flip flops) on our feet during summer (4 pointed devils thorns and round burr thorns were a curse in the grass of our suburb). 

I wanted our doll to have feet which could wear our childhood footwear, so Janet sent me the foot inserts in advance and I cut the big toe shape with a gap for the slip slop thong and stitched the same shape when I was sewing the feet (for this reason I had kept back one set of body parts when Theresa collected the other machined sets to take on her visit to Janet when they compiled the kits).  Our two Australian Girl dolls Matilda and Belle have spare pairs of slip slops, one pair now belongs to our boy. I stitched lines to indicate his other toes and did the same for his fingers.

The foot inserts with one marked for the toe, along with the Australian Girl doll slip slops
The toe shape cut in the foot insert

The toe shape stitched in the foot before turning right side out

The empty legs and feet wearing the slip slops

The stuffed feet wearing the slip slops

His shirt is made from one of my late father's old office shirts and the boy also has knee length denim shorts. My brother would not have worn the underwear the doll wears (except perhaps in a school play) - Jenny had made traditional combinations for every doll as a gift.  Gillian crocheted multicoloured scarves for every doll too and Florence handed out little necklaces for them.

DollMum's daughter holding our newly completed SCW Charity Course doll with the photo which inspired his clothes

Our boy (photo by DollMum's daughter using her new camera)
As the dolls were completed people added them to the long table below the photo competition photos.  Our boy was one of the last to be completed and didn't want to push into his space (so many girls and only 2 boys)!

Our boy in his bright yellow slip slops just completed in the line up of SCW Charity course dolls

Closer view of our boy among the girls!

The following are my photos taken on Sunday morning before the big group photo outdoors. Each doll is unique, with different eras and designs represented in their clothing and hair styles.

SCW Charity Course Dolls 1

SCW Charity Course Dolls 2

SCW Charity Course Dolls 3

SCW Charity Course Dolls 4

SCW Charity Course Dolls 5

SCW Charity Course Dolls 6

SCW Charity Course Dolls 7

SCW Charity Course Dolls 8

SCW Charity Course Dolls 8 (including 'Teddy' the other boy - Jenny had stitched his knees so he could bend his legs more)

SCW Charity Course Dolls 9

SCW Charity Course Dolls 10

SCW Charity Course Dolls 11

Photos by Alan Hinchcliffe, taken in his photo booth - it seemed appropriate that it was a beach scene backdrop.

Our boy standing up (with the help of a doll stand) at the beach (photo Alan Hinchcliffe)

Our boy with the photo of my brother, my sister and I which inspired his clothes (photo Alan Hinchcliffe)

The big group photo outdoors by Alan Hinchcliffe (not everyone was in it unfortunately, so a few dolls and people not included).

SCW 2019 group photo (minus a few important people and dolls) (photo Alan Hinchcliffe)
I would like to thank Janet for negotiating and co-ordinating the creation of these SCW Charity Course dolls, Theresa, Tricia and Petrana and others for their part in the preparation work and everyone at the SCW this year for their infectious enthusiasm for this project despite the pricked fingers, difficulty getting the thumbs out and late night cranial surgery!  It was a cathartic experience to create a very huggable doll with my younger daughter, in our case in memory of my brother Russell, and I am grateful that everyone at the SCW (and in the wider doll enthusiasts online group) was so supportive and understanding as we stuffed and stitched together. 

I'm not sure what my brother would think of us making a doll in his memory - he would probably laugh, tease and say this was typical of me! One of my most cherished memories of our days together in November last year was of him referring to me calmly knitting socks while he dozed as comforting to him after a morning of pain and stress. So maybe he would be pleased about the doll.