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 Subject: Critics
Where Angels Fear to Tread !!
 Author: Sue Farmer    Profile / 2003 Doll / Webpage
 Date: Sun Jul 13, 2003

      Back from my trip and so glad to see that Sherry has left the list open - at least until I've had a chance to toss out a few thoughts & words about this so enjoyable Challenge. I almost had cold feet about writing to the list, but in the end I hope it will stimulate a bit of discussion - it wasn't really possible at the start to talk about what others were doing and why (did you even know?) but now it would be good to see a few close-ups of the dolls, and some information on how you went about doing what you did!

     I also felt that it must have been a bit of an anti-climax for some people - all that work and "nary a word said". The winners at least knew they'd done something right but what about everyone else...?

      Few of us would deny that a lot of the pleasure derived from doing a Challenge is the feedback. (This being my second). We all set ourselves out there to be judged...and even a bit of criticsm, as long as it is constructive, can be appreciated. (For some of us, as children, the pat on the head from a teacher was all that kept us going...)

      What makes me think I'm qualified to comment?

     1) I'm just like everyone else - mad about cloth dolls.

     2) I enjoy putting thoughts down on paper /screen.

      3) My field is costuming, but having tried out most of the advice given on the lists, in books and from helpful dollmakers I think I am beginning to know something about this totally addictive world as a whole.

      4) Seems like no-one else is going to do it!!

     When Sherry asked us to vote for the People's Choice I groaned - how do you compare apples and oranges? Well, at least People's Choice was really "which doll you liked" - we didn't have to worry about "Use of Theme" or "Best Embellishment". So I went back to the website and took a really good look (truth be told, I went back 8 times).

     A few things struck me right at the start...

      First - how important it is to take good clear photographs so that viewers can really appreciate the doll. This is the only opportunity for them to see what you have worked so long and hard to create. I went looking for information on how to go about taking good pics but it was all way too technical - so later on I will post how I go about it as the owner of a digital camera, without having any fancy lights, umbrellas, etc, and hope that others will add their comments too.

      Second - understanding the "theme" of what was, in fact, a fairly open Challenge (in that one could use any pattern or medium). I went right back to the early digests to see what information we had been given. The wording for the Yahoo website includes the phrase "a fashion doll". In my book that means a doll dressed in the fashion of the period, but Sherry did say to "let yourselves go..." which I think is why we ended up with such a diverse selection (apples & oranges). Heaven help the judges though!

      Third - deciding which category you belong in. “Newbie” speaks for itself, much the same with “Professional” (though even here, there is a likely to be a great variation in skills). How do you decide whether you are an Intermediate or Advanced? I think I'm an Intermediate because this only my 14th doll since I started last year and I am still using someone else's patterns. I still have problems with stuffing smoothly, and every doll seems to have had 4 heads!! I do have an advantage, being a “real-size” pattern-maker….does this then mean that I’m really Advanced? I felt decidedly uncomfortable about this. Even reassurance by Sherry didn’t really put my feelings at rest. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I’d really like to open a discussion on this to see if there is a way to form a guideline for future Challenges entrants.

      Since this is such a long email, I've split it up into parts, so you will have to wait for the next installment!...meantime, if this gives you something to think about...please feel free to add whatever you want - sharing is what this community is all about. (If, on the other hand, you want to lambaste me, you can email me off-list!)

      Hugs, Sue (in South Africa - the Rainbow Nation)