Sunday, 6 July 2014

Froggy's summer contest +poppy tutorial

Hello! Many of you doll blog readers are probably familiar with My Froggy Stuff. She is now holding a summer giveaway that ends in a few hours. It was on very short notice (for me, at least) and very challenging but in the end I managed to create my entry. I'd like to share some thoughts about the experience along with a tutorial for the props I used - 70 doll-sized poppies.

I have a habit of entering all kinds of contests and giveaways where I deem the requirements within my power. So imagine my excitement at seeing Froggy's new video where she had some dolls to send to any corner of the world and all you had to do was email one photo. The theme was "dolls in summer". We were supposed to create a summer scene with dolls (having fun). Well, I have a camera, I surely have dolls, it can't be that difficult to imagine some summer fun? My only problem is that I absolutely hate summer. Summer is the opposite of "fun" to me. It's "nuf".

I tried to gather, mentally, all my summery doll accessories: two MH swimsuits, a cocktail, sunglasses, roller skates. Some tiny shells sis and I carved out of a limestone well when we were kids. Sand and water... Aah! I couldn't bring myself to create this hell and make it seem like my dolls were enjoying themselves in it. I needed a believable scene, and that's when I remembered I wanted to make a big poppy field ever since my J-doll violin arrived, and pose her in it. What better chance than this? In spite of Wikipedia's statement that poppies bloom in spring, I have photo evidence of poppy blossoms from June to late August, so that's as summery as it gets. Thus it was decided: poppy field near a lake with two doll friends braiding flowers in their hair.

We'll come back to this picture later, for now let's make some easy 1/6th poppies!

Poppy tutorial

Materials needed:
- paper towels (white and red, or tint it with watercolours) 
- green beading wire
- glue
- scissors
- wire cutters and pliers
- toothpicks

I had some red Christmas towels from which I peeled a ply. You can paint plain paper towels with watercolours beforehand. It can be textured like mine, it won't matter in the end. Roll or fold it like a harmonica to obtain may stacked layers through which to cut at the same time.

Cut this shape into one of the folded edges. The idea is to create fat "8"s after unfolding the paper. 

Here they are:

You can cut some semicircles for making closed poppies. A piece of towel the size of my palm yielded enough petals to drown all my dolls in them.

Cut pieces of wire for the stems and bend a bit of one end to make a narrow hook. Make the stems as long as you like them.

Poppies usually consist of four petals in two layers with a black or white and black centre. Take two "8" shapes, preferably one smaller than the other, and connect them at a 90 degree angle.

Carefully pierce the middle of the flower with the non-hook end of the wire. Slide the flower towards the hook and let it pierce the petals again. The flower should stop at the bend of the wire. It may be tricky to pierce the paper with the blunt wire but it's doable, you have to find the right approach by trying on your own. Help yourself with a pin if the wire is too thick.

Break or cut a tiny piece of white paper towel. Crumple and roll it between your fingers to make a little ball.

This is about enough for one or two balls

Apply glue with a toothpick to the poppy centre and smoosh the paper ball over it.

The white spot is mostly glue. No worries, white glue dries clear

Turn the poppy upside down, make sure the wires are together and reinforce the petals with some glue on the underside. You can now stick your poppy somewhere where it can dry (I used a TP roll).

Here is the poppy flower all dry. I used a simple gel pen to add some black. Some poppies are black in the very centre, some have a white centre surrounded by black. Use any kind of paint or ink for this. The poppy is done!

You can make the poppy centre all black if you wish. Use watercolours to tint a piece of towel from which you'll tear chunks to roll centres.

Have all your details handy to make as many poppies as your heart wishes! Just try not to breathe over all the petals >.<

 You can make some closed poppies for variety. Bend the very end of the wire, apply a drop of glue and pierce a single paper circle with the other end of the stem.

Slide the circle to the hook and pinch the edges together. That's all.

The closed ones are super easy. Before long, you'll have a whole bunch of them.

* * *

I made a total of 52 open and 18 closed poppies. I had many leftover circles for filling up the very back of the scene. I gathered the other supplies for building my scenery: plastic wrap, floral pebbles, scissors and everything and went scouting for a suitable place to pose my dolls.

I won't bore you with many details of this unsuccessful endeavour. I wouldn't have believed it so hard to find a patch of thick grass that could be adjusted to my needs, had I not seen it with my own eyes. There was nothing, nothing at all I could work with. I thought it over again in the evening, read some photography advice and decided to look for a wide footpath on which I could dig the lake edge and set the poppies a little away where grass would be out of focus. The next day turned out extremely windy and overcast. It was impossible to do anything. This was Friday, two days before the deadline. 

I couldn't rely on chance and had to scrap the lake idea. I came up with a less impressive, but foolproof scene in which I still got to use my poppies. I went with the tried-and-true method of using a computer/TV screen as a backdrop. I gathered dad's poppy photos, some styrofoam boards, my dolls... I "planted" the poppies in styrofoam and chose an angle that hid it. Everything except the background was on a platform on the coffee-table which I could move freely relative to the TV. I placed the camera on a stand while myself shining a flashlight for some light effects. Hubby held the remaining styrofoam board as a reflector. Here is the whole setup:

The foreground up close:

I wanted to have Nikki in this shoot for her cheerful face and the "beach" feet which I initially wanted to pose by the lake. I got her ready several days ago with a new shirt to replace a flashy bra:

I have nothing to say about the shirt, it's just this piece of cotton knickers with two ribbons...

I also painted over her lips with some warmer paint, not wishing to photoshop the colour this time.

Summer is wearing a dress I had left and forgotten at Mum's. It's for a TNT body, but the print is better than anything I had for bellybuttons.

* * *
I was relieved I managed to save the photoshoot after all. Even though it didn't go according to my plan, I learned many things from it, ended up with a huge bunch of poppies, had fun shooting with hubby and felt the satisfaction of a completed job when I picked *the* picture on my computer.

I don't know if I'd ever want to pose my dolls outdoors. Nature is completely out of scale with dolls, even when it doesn't seem like it at first glance. I'll remember never to look for miniature scenery outside and build ALL the props myself. I like the comfort of my home where I control everything and I don't have to worry about weather, dirt or intruders.

This is the picture that I picked for Froggy:

As always, I invite you to write your questions, opinions and suggestions in the comments. What are your favourite flowers? Will you make poppies for your dolls? What is your experience with outdoor photoshoots? Let's discuss!

The Black Kitty


  1. This is just lovely! <3

    1. Thank you! I changed the first picture now, should be better :)

  2. Wonderful!!!! I love Froggy's videos, but your tutorial is awesome. Thank you!

    1. I'm a big fan of Froggy myself. She makes everything look super easy. I hope to make more types of flowers in the future. Thank you for the visit!

  3. This is a great photo shoot, the poppies are just lovely. I know what you mean about trying to do outside shoots - I have Ever After High dolls, and trying to get nice ones is very hard :(

    I do have a couple of nice ones of Kitty in a tree, it's a bit easier to find a scale-size tree in the yard.

    1. I agree, trees are easier! You can just use bushes :) But I wouldn't have a poppy tutorial if I posed the dolls on bushes, right?


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