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…