Aoife and Mochta

Once upon the earth lived a variety of deer so large they stand at nearly twice the height of a human. Their antlers spanning more than twice the height of man. They were known as Megaloceros, the giant Irish Elk. Today, they are no more.

But, legend has it that one giant male still roams the planet. He walks alongside his master and protector, the Princess Aoife, a mythical being from the woodlands.

During the time of year when the sun favors the Southern hemisphere, it is said that they can be sighted roaming the woodlands in various parts of the southern world. But, when the time comes for the sun to move toward the Northern hemisphere, the duo return to the tundra where they prefer to live.

It is only during the northern summer that they desire a brief relief from that place where winds and wolves howl, permafrost and chilling snowdrifts occupy all the days of the year, bright white snow and cold dark skies prevail. This is a place where no man can survive for long, only legends can exist. The chills are relentless and the winds merciless. For Aoife, life with Mochta can be harsh and gruesome. But, she wouldn't have it any other way because her sole responsibility is to protect Mochta, the last great giant, from going into extinction.

And so, legend has it that the earth is still graced with one single, remarkable giant Megaloceros and his guardian, the Princess Aoife.

Aoife and Mochta represent the essence of this time of year, when the Northern hemisphere is adorned with flurry white and frozen air gifted by Father Winter. There is nothing more magical than this.

If you were around for the blog post titled "A Woodland Warrior Princess," you know the story and inspiration behind the creation of Mochta. Mochta and Aoife are a dream come true thanks to my mama who requested a custom involving a reindeer. From this idea, the great Irish Elk and his protector evolved. And how happy and thrilled I am that they came to life. But, they have been through a long journey and their creation has been nothing short of adventurous and full of lessons learned. I enjoyed every step of the process, so thank you, thank you A.K. for giving me the chance to play and experiment and bring this beautiful duo into the world.

AOIFE (pronounced Ee-fa)

The name Aoife is derived from the Gaelic aoibh, which means "beauty" or "radiance." Aoife is a Wee-Bee Mini Elfcup doll. She stands less than 6" (15 cm) tall. She is made with all natural materials. Her doll skin is made with premium quality cotton interlock milled in the USA. She is firmly stuffed with bio-wool also made in the USA.  Her seams are sewn twice for reinforcement.  She has embroidered facial features and the most beautiful emerald green eyes I've ever seen. Her facial structure is sculpted giving her a sweet little heart-shaped face with an itty-bitty chin, round chubby cheeks, deeper set eyes. Her cheeks, nose and various body parts are blushed with red beeswax.  She is a sitting doll with sewn joints that are made flexible for easy movement and changing of clothes.  But, with some posing she is able to stand on her own. She also has a belly button and a bum.

Aoife's luxurious locks are made of a fine wefted suri alpaca crocheted into a wig.  It is so lovely and fun to style into a number of coiffures. Just use your imagination and the possibilities are endless. Note: Her locks can be styled gently to your heart's content, but take heed and do not comb or brush that magnificent mane. Suri alpaca can get very static-ky if handled too much and it can felt if not handled gently and lightly.   

Aoife comes with two sets of clothes made fit only for a Princess.

Her wintry wear consists of a warm white cap and a shoulder wrap, both hand knit with brushed suri, a yarn blended of baby suri, merino wool and bamboo. They are extra fluffy and warm, much needed in the tundra. Her shoulder wrap is reversible. Her purple dress is made from 100% cotton and decorated at the hem by a beautiful embroidery motif of flowers. The dress opens fully on the back with two nickel-plated snap buttons. She comes wearing a pair of tiny undies made from 100% cotton. Her lacy legwarmers are hand knit with a fine 100% alpaca yarn. Her winter boots are made from 100% Belgian wool felt.

Aoife's princess wear consists of a hand tatted crown made with cotton floss and embellished with tiny gold beads and a gold flower adorning the front of the crown. As a princess she is cloaked with a beautiful golden brown lace capelet hand knit with a Japanese yarn blended of kid mohair and silk. Her dress is made of 100% cotton, hand embroidered at the front with a pretty doodle motif and strapped with a delicate 100% swiss cotton trim. The dress opens fully on the back with two nickel-plated snap buttons. Her second pair of boots are made with a 100% wool fabric and hand crocheted trim made of a kid mohair and silk blended yarn from Japan.

MOCHTA (pronounced Much-ta)

Mochta's name is derived from Irish gaelic and it means "great." Indeed, he is a great one! The making of Mochta was a magnificent learning process for me and I had a blast at it. Here's what this great creature is made of.

Mochta's enormous Megaloceros skin is made of 100% cotton linen and a 100% wool fabric. He is very firmly stuffed with 100% bio-wool made in the USA. His magnificent antlers are made with the same cotton linen used on his body and lined on the backside with 100% Belgian wool felt. It is detailed with a beautiful motif of pine needles drawn and hand embroidered by me. It is supported by a network of cloth covered floral wires and this allows the antlers to have the ability to be shaped and bent slightly. His ears are made of 100% cotton linen on one side and lined with 100% Belgian wool felt on the other side. His face is embroidered with cotton floss. His bottom side is graced with a sweet tail made of a 100% wool fabric and lined on the underside with a hand knitted piece made from a yarn blended of baby suri, merino and bamboo. His legs are supported internally with silver wire extended through the foot. The hoofs are wrapped securely with floral tape and a 100% cotton linen fabric. Because his legs are supported by the internal wires, they have the ability to be gently and slightly bent.

Mochta comes with a warm wrap around his neck and chest (the tundra is very cold, you know). The wrap is hand knit with a Japanese yarn blended of baby suri, merino wool and bamboo. The wrap is secured with a functional button wrapped with a 100% cotton crocheted cover. Mochta has reins made from crocheted chains of 100% cotton floss.

There we have introduction and welcoming of Aoife and Mochta into the world...may they never go into extinction.

The Making of a Great Irish Elk - Adventures in the Art of Soft Sculptures

The love and intrigue I have for the art of soft sculptures grow more and more deep with each creation. It began with a simple banana leaf created for Varsa Nabhas at the beginning of this year and it continues today with the creation of the great Irish elk by the name of Mochta (pronounced Much-ta).

I love combining the art of doll making with the art of soft sculpturing. They are not so different, really. There are many facets around soft sculptures that draw me closer and closer with each creation. I love the process of making things from scratch. I love that I can find inspiration from an idea, doodle with the idea on paper and then go through the challenge of cutting a pattern from this and turning it into a three dimensional concept using a variety of mediums.

For me, the creative process often begins with something I've experienced in my personal life that I want to recreate with fibers. Varsa Nabhas and her banana leaf umbrella were inspired by my love for rain, my time spent living in Kenya and my time traveling in India.

Benja and her great big clock were stimulated by my love for gears as my background is in mechanical engineering and math and physics education. I also have an obsession with time, which leads me to marvel at one of the greatest modern time keepers in the history of humankind, the Big Ben clock at the Palace of Westminster in London...hence the inspiration behind the making of Benja's great big clock.

Cicindela and her firefly were spurred by my twice-charmed encounters with the magic of fireflies...once when I lived in the midwestern United States and another time during my two years of living in Kenya.

Piper and the beautiful hummingbird, Scout, were inspired by a customer's chance encounter with the amazing tiny birds that linger here in California and coincidentally are one of my favorite birds of all time. No matter how often I see them, whether they are buzzing high overhead or a few feet before the eyes, they never cease to stop me in my tracks and take my breathe away. This tiny, true-to-life-sized hummingbird is the most favorite of all the soft sculpture projects I've tinkered with.

Now, I introduce the latest exploration in my soft sculpture adventures...Mochta, the great Irish elk. In August of this year, while hiking the beautiful coast of California at Point Reyes National Seashore, we had the great luck of encountering a herd of Tule Elk, endemic only in California. We saw them early in the morning on our hike in, while they were feeding and battling in the distant hill behind a curtain of fog. I've lived in California for eight years and this was the first time for me to discover Tule Elk nearby. I will tell you that they are the most magnificent and majestic creatures to encounter. When they walk, they are graceful, enormous and profoundly enchanting with their chest and head held high and proud. When they are in battle, antlers locked and clicking with one another, they appear gentle and slow yet their head-to-head tug and dance is anything but gentle for the power behind each head lock is fierce, aggressive and much too intimidating to view except from a distance.

Since that hike, I have been yearning for the chance to bring an elk to life. So, when this current custom request came in turn and I was asked to make a doll with a companion reindeer, I could not help but bring forth my elk encounter as the inspiration for my making.

The chance to see these creatures in person was nothing short of entrancing, enchanting, beautiful, magical and majestic. And so, this moved me to bring to life a creation filled with all of this...enchantment, beauty, magic. But, I also wanted to take it one step further and make something even more majestic and mystical and that once was but can never be found again....and that is an extinct species of deer, called Megaloceros, otherwise known as the giant Irish elk. These enormous, prehistoric deer species were the largest of the deer ancestors and walked the earth so long ago. Can you imagine? 

And though, the vision and the end product of a soft sculpture creation will have the elements of enchantment, beauty and magic, the process of making them can be anything but this. As delightful, thrilling and challenging (which is an element that drives me) as it is to draft a new pattern, the work in progress can sometimes be frustrating, tedious and consumes a lot of time.

First, there must be something that moves me deeply. The encounter with the elk herd at Point Reyes was indeed the inspiration for this creation.

Then, there must be the vision of how this inspiration can be molded from fibers. So, there has to be a sketch, a picture in mind. I am not an artist and my sketches are limited to basic lines and curves. Vintage illustrations of nature and wildlife are a consistent source of information and inspiration for the drafting of my patterns. I use library books, old books or vintage artwork to gather ideas on how to draft proportions, stances and shapes.

From here I can begin to make the basic sketch for my patterns. Version 1 is always the most comical to me. They never come out the way I think or want them to come out. And it is only from drafting and then mocking up the pattern, meaning I cut the fabric and sew it together as a mock-up, can I truly realize that things are not what I intended.

It doesn't get better with Version 2 of the pattern. A second iteration of the pattern make-up can sometimes go very this one. An idea on paper may seem very nice until it is pieced together in fiber and then....the realization that weight has a large bearing on the end result.

So, back to the drawing board for adjustments. By round #3, I begin to learn a few things and my mistakes make me a little bit more knowledgeable each time, which is the part that feels very rewarding.

Version 4 arrives after many hours, sometimes days (if I take a lot of breaks) of sketching, moving sketch lines, curving some, sharpening others, adding markings, making the pieces fit together, working asymmetrical pieces with symmetrical parts, lengthening and shortening parts of the pattern. And luckily, this time around, I am satisfied with Version 4. 

The fun part comes when the final pattern is done and the final fibers are to be chosen. I like to use the best and most natural materials I can get my hands on and these don't come cheap. So, when the time comes for planning out the fiber selection, I like to be prepared and efficient with material selection in order not to let any go to waste by first planning out notations on my sketch what textures, colors and materials will be needed. This is an extremely satisfying step in the making.

Alas, the time comes to bring together the tools and materials and fashion the creature.

But, the process doesn't end there. Having the right proportion in pattern-making is the key element that hones the aesthetics of the final product. In the case of this majestic Irish elk, I went a little far with his antlers the first time around and even the second time around...too large and too stuffed, making this Megaloceros not only odd looking but also bound to keel over from the weight on his head.

In Version 3 of the antlers, I am satisfied with the size as it is now proportioned more appropriately with the size of the elk. I have also reconsidered the design so that it is much lighter and created so that they can be shaped to mock the real form of the Irish elk's headgear. The detailed embroidery on the antlers are to represent the beauty and magic of the creature. Without the embroidery and further adornments, I think Mochta will come to life much less majestic and he must be given a life with nothing less than magnificence, nobility, and resplendence. 

But beauty, nobility and resplendence comes at a price, called time and detail. So, time and detail are put forth to add to the "majestic" nature of his highness' headdress....5 solid hours of hundreds of small embroidery stitches on two magnificent antlers supported by a network of wires sandwiched between linen and wool in order to provide structural integrity and the ability to be shaped and curved.

For me, each step of the creation involves an intentional decision making.

A lace capelet requires a decision on the appropriate lace pattern or color, weight and texture of yarn that will look dainty, elegant and majestic but not too over-powering, loud or ornate.

A crown that is proportioned correctly for the size of the doll...something involving the likeness of royalty and fairy tales but not too sparkly or gaudy.

A head cap and shoulder wrap that give the impression of extra warmth and coziness but still offers a rugged sense of nature and life in the woodlands.

A dress and pair of footwear fitting for a woodland princess would involve simple colors but adorned with beautiful hand embroidery, the most delicate vintage swiss cotton lace, neatly designed fine textured fabric and detailed hand crocheted trim.

As such is the way that I work, the final details of this Irish elk will also unfold with each step of the process involving an intentional decision making.

So, slowly, but surely, the Princess Aoife (pronounced Ee-fa) and her great giant elk, Mochta have manifested themselves. And soon, very soon they will be ready to greet the world. 

Often Times... takes a lot for dreams to come to realization.

It begins with a concept.

You put down on paper your idea. You sketch. You scratch. You try again. You draw some lines. You erase. You add some marks. You take away others. You keep on repeating this pattern until you're satisfied with transferring what was in your head onto a space that makes it more concrete, more visible.

And even then, somehow, in the dreams it was always more beautiful, more elegant, more fantastical. Such are dreams...they are never perfect in realization. You know this.

But, still, it's worth striving for.

Once the floating thoughts are put into concrete lines in a place where you can see and adjust things, you get to put on paper ALL the visions that you had. There are no ideology, that is.

Drafts are fun because you get to see what you want...

and then you get to make decisions about some to incorporate structural support where needed, how to sew more creatively, how to change proportions so that things look the way you envisioned, how to attach parts...essentially the beginnings of a puzzle piecing.

Sketches are also so much fun because you get to color. How often do YOU color? If your answer is never...I encourage you to give it a try some time. It's really quite relaxing and meditative. No wonder Tibetan buddhist monks spend countless hours laboring with infinite detail over sand mandalas.

When you color a sketch, it helps give an idea whether the colors and prints you wanted to use will work or not. In some cases, what you had in mind may come out looking better than you thought and sometimes it may come out looking all wrong.

Sometimes, you dwell on the ideas for so long that you're just ready to go...grab the jacket and hat and just head out the door and jump with a leap of faith.

And even then, patience holds fast and you just have to sit on the idea and dwell a little longer...maybe the stash of fabric you had in mind is not the right dash of colors, maybe you need to give more thought on that structural support, maybe you need to work out some more details, maybe you need to spend more time learning a sewing skill that you don't have so that you can make certain parts of your idea come to life...maybe, maybe, maybe, what if, what if, what can go on forever.

At some point you must decide that it's time to jump the plane, free fall and let the adventure begin.

So, here's to bringing this dream to realization.....A Boy and His Gypsy Moth....COMING SOON!

The Beauty of Doll Making..... this.....

Take a construction that is exactly the same, change the skin fabric, even just slightly and you will have either a slightly tighter constructed face or a slightly more expandable face. Change the eyes.....the decorative features of it, the shape of it, the size of it and you create two characters that hold completely different souls. Change the nose.....the location of it, closer to the eye line or a bit below, bigger or smaller and you have a brand new persona. Change the cheeks.....make them plumper, rounder, and change their placement relative to the rest of the facial features and you will place a face with an age. Change the mouth.....the placement of it higher or lower on the face, wider or narrower and you will have emotions attached.

Such is the beauty of bringing a doll to life. You only need to experiment and play and you will find that the possibilities are infinite.

In borrowed is the next sweetheart to come to life.

She likes chic, shabby, pink and cream. And she's head over heals about what I plan to make her. We'll see if I can pull it off. (Giggles)

What's Coming

Hello, friends! It's been a while. I thought I'd pop my head in to say "hello" and to give you a quick update on the world of Scarlet Elfcup. Lots happening around here.

First, a bit of reflection. I'd like to show you this transformation of Scarlet Elfcup's 6" doll....from Gardien released in April 2014 when Scarlet Elfcup came to the sculpted Wee-Bee Mini Elfcup today. Fun to see, isn't it?

Now, for the juicies....this past week was spent in the abyss of bliss...working away on some custom requests AND:


Cutting. Sewing.


The world of crafting dolls has just changed for me with the ability to sculpt to my heart's content. Imagine a wide open door into a whole new world of creativity. So, this made me wonder to myself...will I leave the world of Waldorf where beauty and imagination lies in simple and expressionless? It gave me the pouts to think of that, so I have to say, "No." Scarlet Elfcup dolls will continue on with many creations made of the undecorated, un-ornamented and expressionless face that so defines the idea of simplicity and imagination. At the same time, I will also venture on further and deeper into different levels of creativity for my wandering and curious mind. Hence, taking on new and different ways to make dolls. Very exciting! It's all an adventure.

And now for the big news...a new pattern is in the works for an 8" doll.

Here's the 6" Wee-Bee Mini Elfcup. I love love love making the Wee-Bee Mini Elfcups. After making so many tiny ones in the past couple months, my hands are familiar with nothing more. It just feels so right to hold and handle the itty-bitties. I love making the 6" dolls for so many reasons...they are cute, tiny, sweet. And more so, they give me the chance to really fly into the world of imagination. To create the extras that go with the 6" doll is one of the most enjoyable parts of making a tiny doll. In other words, small things leave room for big imaginary worlds. If you haven't seen it already with past creations, you will see more of it for upcoming creations.

With all that said about my love for making the 6" Wee-Bee Mini Elfcups, I still want to explore the world of dolls on a pinch of an inch....or two more. Therefore, the coming of an 8" doll.

The 8" doll will give a tad bit more inches to work with the clothing design a bit more flexibly. At the same time, it's still small enough to leave room for big imaginings and creativity. And still small enough to fit in the cup of the hand. So, here you have it...the 6" Wee-Bee Mini Elfcup standing tall next to the upcoming 8" doll.

I have yet to work out some small kinks of the 8" proportion. But, the pattern is almost complete. Then, when the time is right, the official announcement will be made regarding the 8" doll.

For now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go fetch a small fairy from the forest. Wish me luck and hope that I will resurface next week from the other world with a fairy in my hand.

One last note before I leave....alongside a number of custom orders, I am working on a small batch of sweet little ones that I hope to have ready and placed in the shop by March promises, but, that's the hope. For to fairyland.