Last week, I was asked to help out making small wooden dolls for Cheng Ballet Academy‘s Nutcracker performance decoration. Of course I accepted the challange… I loooove doing things like this!
The idea was to make miniatures of the Nutcracker dancers to be used as Christmas tree decoration. So, it’s like trying to make tiny tutus and costumes… It was so much fun! There were three of us in the crafting team: Naomi-san, Atsuko-san and I.
Naomi-san had an idea to use wooden cloth pins for the base of the the dolls. We use gesso as the base and use acrylic paint to decorate. Since she was the only one that still paint regularly, she has gesso readily available at home… So, she was the designated base-doll painter.
The female base-doll had faces (with cute button noses made out of gesso), hair and pink pointe shoes painted by Naomi-san. They also came wearing white leotards with the rest of skin color painted on them. For the male dolls, they came in more plain form because I would be doing all of them. So Naomi-san only did the hair and skin coloring.
We decided that I will be doing all the male dolls (except for the King Rat), and a few females that requires a lot of painting. Naomi-san and Atsuko-san focused on the tutu girls and weird-shaped characters, like the rats and Clara herself.
These are my dolls:
They are, from left to right: The Marzipan couple, the male Chinese dancer, the girl Russian dancer, Soldier, the Nutcracker Prince, Drosselmeyer, Harlequin Dolls, and the Cavalier Prince from Act 2.
I did both the girl and the boy. The boy was the first one I worked on and it was mostly all painted. Aina made the little bow that was glued to his trousers.
I had to do the tutu of the girl Marzipan twice, since at the beginning, I couldn’t find a ribbon with pink-and-white stripes. I tried to do it with foam sheet wrapped in stripey fabric tape, but it didn’t look good. So I decided to more effort to look for the striped ribbon…
Aina made the little ribbon on her tutu, and the super tiny hat was done using thick paper and hot glue, painted black and gold glitter.
I think, she’s my favorite. That’s why I took so many pictures of her.
Chinese Boy Lead:
He actually had a partner, the Chinese Girl Lead. But the girl doll was done by Naomi-san, so I didn’t have it with me when i took these pictures. But I eventually took pictures of them when we are doing the window display later.
The boy was the second last doll I made, because we forgot that we had to make him. Oops. He was a fun doll to make, although a little tricky… his top was supposed to be bright purple, but I didn’t have the color and didn’t have time to buy more paint either. So he ended up wearing the dark purple top.
Aina helped making this braided hair, and his hat was fun to make 😀
There should be a boy version as well, but this time, we totally forgot to make it. Actually, this doll was the third last one I made, because we almost forgot her too. I guess, since it wasn’t a lead role (this one is a corp-de-ballet role), it was okay to leave the boy out… sorry!
The head ornament was the most fun to make. It wasn’t as hard as I imagined it would be. Aina helped cutting the shape, while I drew and pasted it on to the doll’s head. I was happy the way she turned out. It was my first attempt at making a girl with a long-skirt and I thought she looked okay.
This almost became my favorite. His face was so cute and friendly, which was why i like him… His hat turned out better than Drosselmeyer’s, because it was my third hat after making one for the Nutcracker Prince. I also liked the way the painted uniform looks. The feather was a bit crooked when pasted onto the hat though….
This is the main character of the ballet. But I had so much trouble to make him look spectacular. His get up was quite a bit plain compared to the soldiers, and they look a bit similar. Naomi-san suggested to add the shoulder decoration, which helped. The real character ended up not wearing the hat, but I think the hat helped in making the doll stand out better. I pasted it on a bit crooked though… Oops.
Drosselmeyer was fun. Here, I also learned how to make the nose, because he was the only doll that wasn’t based-painted by Naomi-san. His hat was also the first one I made, so it was kinda an experimental. I screwed it up a few times, but I got better on other boys’ hats later.
Aina helped me a lot on this. I made the girl’s mask using gold tape and an X-Acto knife, and Aina wanted to try… So she learnt using X-Acto knife and made the boy’s mask. After that, she got addicted to using the X-Acto knife and started to cut everything around us, so I asked her to make and cut the even-more-tiny diamond-shaped patterns on the girl’s tutu. The rest of the diamond-shape patterns on the bodies were painted.
Unfortunately, the photos for this couple didn’t turn out well, and by the time I realized, the dolls were already on display… So I couldn’t retake the photos…
Cavalier Prince (Act 2):
This doll was the last doll to make. Yes, we forgot to make him, too, even though he was one of the lead roles. He is actually the Sugar Plum Princess’ partner… Atsuko-san made the princess, which turned out very pretty. So I made sure that they have matching costumes. I will post it on the next post together with the Cavalier Prince.
There were other dolls that were made by Naomi-san and Atsuko-san, and I’ll post them in the next entry, where we put them all on the display shelf in Cheng Ballet Academy, before the real performance begins in December.
The Nutcracker 2017 by Cheng Ballet Academy
1st Show: 1 December 2017 @ 7:30PM
2nd Show: 2 December 2017 @ 6:00PM
Victoria Theatre Singapore
More info in CBA’s Facebook Event page.