Thursday, 25 July 2013

Babies for all Seasons - Dress-up dolly project (multicultural)

Luke and his outfits


During 2004/2005 I spent much time producing artwork for four baby figure dressing up books, featuring little multicultural baby characters and their outfits to dress, aimed to appeal to girls aged 4 - 7 years. And for a year or two that followed, and before I actually completed the format for all four, I tried to attract a publisher to take on the project but was not successful.  Now, with the wonders of blogging, I am able to self publish the little blighters so all is not lost after all!

So although the book format is abandoned and unfinished and in various states of incompleteness I am still able to introduce my 'babies'.  One baby for each season and I even gave them names to suit their ethnicity. For spring, the red haired Abi, the summer baby sweet Saffiyah, autumn the seriously cute Lenny, and the winter baby - Luke.


I used all kinds of 2D painting and drawing techniques to produce. I compiled simple and catchy stories, for each doll, in rhyme, to be read aloud enabling the child in play to become familiar with them and to dress their dolls made of card, in an outfit that connected with the story lines. Is that terribly old fashioned? I'm not sure, but my daughter (now 20) has always said she would have loved this set of books as a child. I also included three pencil sketches  in colour and it is this sketching activity where I shine, even though I say so myself.

The babies are cartoon-like and have been created to look a little dis-proportioned intentionally. Each baby and their outfits are hand-painted using acrylic; gouache, watercolour, (or a mix of). Wax resist finishes feature and artwork has been edited using Photoshop.

Abi - spring baby

Baby Lenny

I thought I had been on to something taking the the multicultural angle : I did not set the themes on any one particular religion. Arguably, in Abi’s– story, there is a reference to egg hunting, and this doll has a rabbit outfit to wear, yet spring represents new life, and the egg is regarded as a symbol of ‘new life’ in other religions, as well as Christianity. Easter is not mentioned however; neither is Christmas in Luke’s – winter tale. And some devout Christian families choose not to join in with Halloween, so there is no reference to that festival in Lenny’s autumn. 



I have put together a slideshow below featuring Abi, whose story has a springtime theme. It gives some idea as to how I envisaged the pages of the books looking.  And remember, the moral of the story, is never give up on a project, keep it on hold for a bit and you never know! Perhaps in my case I could always make a living designing baby clothes. Any takers?

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