Paper Dolls

I’m not sure where this paper doll process is going in an artistic context. It’s a bit like heading off for a walk with a lot on your mind, but no actual destination. Some of the thoughts that were in my mind at the time included:

• Children love dressing paper dolls. It’s fun.

Jane ARden wardrobe

• Men have been dressing women for centuries, shaping them into an art-form irresistibly pleasing to their eyes. I can see why.

• Women have also participated. Some Chinese women broke their own daughter’s feet and bound them until well into the 20th century. (How did they feel about that?) Modern woman sometimes chooses to totter on high heels (me too), making herself both physically and psychologically vulnerable.

• People have participated in a similar art-form breeding dogs (and other animals) for a particular look. Sometimes when breeding didn’t perfect the look, they trimmed off bits of the animal.

• Men and women have done the same thing with flowers and fruit trees. Sometimes we have lost some of the original flavours or genetic material altogether.

This may all sound very sombre and didactic. But really I was just playing around on the drawing board for a few minutes, and the thoughts going through my head fed into what I was doing.

I took some inspiration from Swiss fashion of the early 19th century and sketched a woman (very loosely) and began to dress her. Piece by piece.

It’s definitely fun. And as with all my hare-brained wanderings, it’s very messy.

Did she look better before or after she was clothed in bulky layers? She certainly looked different after the clothes were added.

Don’t we change ourselves so much, with what we wear?

blob tone

blob tone

The woman

The natural woman

My lines have made her doll-like. I’m not sure that was deliberate. I was still in continuous line-drawing mode, so this was a big part of it.

a bit of red for a skirt

a bit of red for a skirt

skirt hands

skirt and tunic added

whole woman slip

still looking fairly natural

head and torso slip

still a fairly timeless woman

piece by piece she is clothed

adding the ornamentation that begins to create the look, the shape of a particular time and place

whole woman no sleeves

piece by piece she is decked out



whole woman near completion wet

I haven’t done her shoes yet. I didn’t have any black paper. Perhaps this little bit of freedom I will leave her with. Feet on solid earth.


skirt with blood red wet crepe paper.

head and torso near completion wet

wet with glue, weighed down with drapery

bare head

Phew. That was fun. Now I’m going to have a shower and get into my soft stretch cotton pyjamas.



5 thoughts on “Paper Dolls

  1. Pingback: Imago Mundi | endpapers

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