1910 Pink Evening Gown with Black Lace and Cream Sash and Gloves based on The Intrusion of Jimmy by P.G. Wodehouse

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

I just finished listening to The Intrusion of Jimmy by P.G. Wodehouse. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but I love listening to Wodehouse, because his stories are light and simple enough that I can miss parts if I get distracted by housework or chatter, but engaging enough that they keep my mind from dwelling on the dullness of dishwashing. Anyways, I’m always up for a story where boy meets girl, everything that can possibly cause boy maximum humiliation and trouble happens, but all comes right in the end.

The thing I liked best about this book was Jimmy’s character, because although a lot of Wodehouse’s heroes are rather more like Jimmy’s friend, Lord Dreever – the kind of laid-back fellow who pre-empts criticism by describing himself as “a bit of an ass” – Jimmy himself was curious, capable and generous. Now, the first two of those are rare enough, but he also seemed to have a darker side than any of the other Wodehouse heroes I can recall. At the beginning of the book, Jimmy makes a bet that he can break into someone’s house, and later that night a burglar happens to break into his own apartment; Jimmy disarms him, convinces him that he’s an infamous European jewel thief and gets the man to take him along on a burglary, all without turning a hair. It’s not like he views it as a lark; rather, he takes the whole thing quite seriously, breaking into someone else’s house almost as much out of curiosity as he did from the desire to win the bet. I guess his background as a reporter made his ability to keep so calm plausible, but still, that’s all pretty cold-blooded. Things like that made me feel that, as much as I liked him for his curiosity and wit, there was something about him that wasn’t quite right, and even though he never expressed the desire to steal so much as a rhinestone brooch, there was something about him that gave me the feeling that he very well could go in for a life of crime if it was interesting enough. It turns out that in the original story that the book was based on, Jimmy really had been a jewel thief! I somehow feel like he makes more sense to me now, although I can’t really hold his past incarnation against him.

Jimmy falls for a lovely girl named Molly, and taking the standard meet-cute love-at-first-sight Wodehouse pattern to new heights, he doesn’t ever actually talk to her during this process, but just admires her over the course of a five-day trans-Atlantic trip. I always figure that the Wodehouse heroines have the most marvelous, flattering, feminine clothes possibly available to humans, because eligible young men are always falling instantly in love with them, so it’s a disappointment for me that Wodehouse seldom describes dresses in detail. The book is from 1910, so here we have a 1910-style gown, with black lace over a pink dress. I do like the dresses I’ve seen from this year – the shape seems like a nice balance between the Edwardian shape and the straight-up-and-down lines that are coming.

By the way, I’ve never thought to look up what P.G. stood for; it turns out to be “Pelham Grenville.” Might have to swipe that one for our firstborn.

Prismacolors used: Kelp Green, Pale Sage, White, French Grey 10%, 20%, 50%, 70%, Light Umber, Dark Umber, Tuscan Red, Black, Cream, Pink Rose, Clay Rose


Gloranthan Woman’s Dress in Blue and Sea Green from King of Dragon Pass

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

One Valentine’s Day a decade ago when I was in college, my boyfriend gave me a computer game called King of Dragon Pass. I may have looked a little askance at a Valentine’s gift that didn’t come in a heart-shaped red box, but after playing a bit, it became clear that this guy had an excellent sense of what made me happy. (Reader, I married him.)

King of Dragon Pass is a strategy game where you manage every aspect of an clan, making decisions such as which gods to sacrifice to, which of your neighbors to ally with and which to attack, how to amass wealth and respect and how peaceful (or otherwise) your clan is, all while solving day-to-day problems with the help of your clan’s council. It’s set in a fantasy world called Glorantha, which I gather has a long history as a setting for board games and role-playing games, so there’s a whole pantheon of gods and customs to learn about while you pay attention to things like setting up trade routes and training warriors. I love games like that, with so much that needs paying attention to, and I also like that there are so many different events and things to find that even I haven’t seen all of them. (And I loved that game to little tiny pieces, let me tell you.)

Somehow, I always ended up playing the same way: my clan winds up as a fairly peaceful and prosperous bunch of Ernalda (earth mother) worshippers. When I try to be all warlike and propitiate Humakt (death god) and bully my neighbors, I never really get anywhere. Even still, there’s always so many things to take care of and new situations that it never gets old to me. Plus, I love the art: the game itself is text-based, but each event has a beautifully drawn image to go with it. (You can buy some of the original art, although I think all things considered, I’d rather not be hanging that particular chaos monstrosity on my walls.) If you like simulation or strategy games at all, I really recommend it – it’s got a steep learning curve, but with patience, it’s a very rewarding game.

King of Dragon Pass has been on my mind because, more than a decade after it was released, the developers are working on versions for the iPhone, iPod Touch and possibly the iPad! Now, I own none of these devices, but I’m excited anyways, because I love this game and I’d be really happy to see it get popular on those platforms.

Sadly, I haven’t played King of Dragon Pass for many years now, since I haven’t been able to find the CD even though I’ve looked everywhere for it. I think the last time I saw it was three or four apartments ago, and every so often I will have an overwhelming desire to manage cattle and I’ll look for it… I can’t imagine that we got rid of it, even accidentally, but we don’t really have too much stuff… I dropped some hints (on the order of “Hey, you should get this for me, OK?”) to Brian that I wanted the Mac version for Christmas, so he ordered it for me, but hasn’t heard back from anyone yet. I hope I get it soon!

The women generally wear long dresses with a different-colored tunic, belted at the waist, although there’s a fairly good selection of outfits, since women can take on a lot of jobs including trading, hunting and fighting. This is just a generic outfit that’s not really based on anything in particular.


1863 Ball Gown in Yellow with Green Ribbons over White Lace Skirt with Harvest Trimmings for Thanksgiving

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who are celebrating it today! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I’m really happy to be celebrating it with my family this year, now that we’re all in the same state again. Most of my extended family is in the Pacific Northwest, but when I was young my mom, dad, brother and I moved around the country on account of my dad’s job, and so for me Thanksgiving dinners remind me of a very small group around the table, stuffing in the crock-pot and Alice’s Restaurant on the radio. This year, as I understand it, there’ll be a bit of a crowd, but that’s fine too — it means more people to admire my baklava, for one thing. (A friend of mine from Turkey taught me to make exquisite baklava, but my baklava-related self-esteem has taken a bit of a hit since my husband took pictures of it after it came out of the oven. Somehow, the pictures turned out rather alien due to the way the phyllo dough crinkles up and his penchant for close-ups — and then he adjusted them to look vaguely green and called it “Night of the Living Baklava.” I am not so sure I will let him have any.)

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, so for today’s dress I have an 1860s-style ball gown with harvest motifs. I hope you like it, even if you’re not celebrating Thanksgiving today!

Why not — silly poll time!


November Birthday Gown with Chrysanthemums and Topazes in Orange and White, and an announcement

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

If I get distracted and don’t update, eventually people start to worry if I’m ever coming back. This makes me smile. I call drawing paper dolls a “hobby,” but it seems to have more in common with a curse. When I’m on my deathbed, I’ll probably be drawing the outfit I’ll be buried in — or maybe the one I wish I was being buried in, which will have 90% more pearls.

That said, trying to post something almost every day has obviously come to be untenable. If I’m just coming up with an outfit, it takes from five minutes to an hour to decide what I want to draw and what it will look like, and if I’m researching something like a particular year’s fashions, it might take an hour or two to get a sense of what the styles were like, then that five minutes to an hour again to come up with an original drawing. The time I spend drawing has increased over the years, easily hitting three hours for something with a lot of detail, and then there’s the time involved in scanning, cleaning up and writing a post – an hour, maybe two depending on the post. My job is part-time and the hours vary wildly, so sometimes it’s actually not all that unreasonable for me to take that kind of time working on something, and then just as often I get scheduled for a lot of hours and feel busy again.

Besides the actual work involved, a lot of other factors come into play: do I have a great idea or am I feeling really uninspired? Is there something else I’m really involved in at the moment? Have I put off drawing until it’s fairly late? Would the thing I want to draw take a long time to research? If, after work and chores, I only have time for one interesting activity, do I really want it to be paperdolls? Are my Prismacolors organized, or are all my blues rolling around my desk drawer because I stole one of my plastic bags I use to sort them for a trip through airline security? Do I much feel like sharing myself with the world today, or am I content with keeping to myself, hermit-like? Do I have time to write a good blog post, as well, or will it just be a couple of sentences I pad out so that it doesn’t look so unbalanced next to the dress? What about all those things I said I’d do and didn’t? (If I never heard the phrase “twelve dancing princesses” again it would be way too soon.)

In short, I expect too much from myself, I don’t prepare myself well, then I psych myself out and end up using my time elsewhere or really phoning it in. It’s frustrating and unfulfilling, so I’m going to try a different tack. Here are my main goals:
1) To draw three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
2) To write blog posts that aren’t just afterthoughts
3) To integrate my drawing hobby with my interest in Japanese

The first two are pretty self-explanatory; the third one is something I’ve been thinking of for quite some time, and I think I’ve come up with some good ways to do it.

Well, we’ll see how I do. Wish me luck! And thank you, as always, for your patience. Sometimes I wonder if I unconsciously sabotage myself with unreliable behavior so that I can deflect notice, hoping to drive people away so I don’t have to add their expectations to the already ridiculous weight of my own. Whether it’s that or just plain old laziness, either way you all are much better readers than I deserve.

Today, a November birthday dress with chrysanthemums and topaz accents. How many more of these do I have to do? I know I’ve skipped rather a few…