Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Warren G. Harding Doll

A few months ago I mentioned that I crochet and that I had made some replica Ida McKinley slippers. Slippers are well and good when your feet are cold, but what about when you want to crochet something less useful?

For a while now I've wanted to crochet a set of presidential dolls, but I wasn't sure how to go about it. Sure, I could probably figure it out on my own, but I didn't want to. I also didn't want to buy a pattern for, say, a Golden Girl and then need to modify it. What I wanted was a set of instructions that I could customize as needed, but that had most of the information there. Then I stumbled upon exactly what I needed: A book called AmiguruME by Allison Hoffman, the person who made the Golden Girls pattern.

Basically the book walks you through the steps of creating custom dolls. There are various head sizes, clothing options, etc. You can make celebrities, family members, whatever. ("Amigurumi" is the art of crocheting cute little stuffed toys, so the "AmiguruMe" name is a play on that.) I put the book on my Amazon wishlist then pretty much forgot about it until a copy arrived on my doorstep near my birthday. (Thanks, Mom!)

It took me a while to decide which president to start with. I wanted one with some kind of distinctive feature that would be easy to express in yarn. I also wanted it to be a president I liked. Lincoln was an obvious choice, but I rarely go for the obvious choices, plus I was a little intimidated by his beard and hat. Taft is always a favorite, but the instructions in AmiguruME don't include techniques for making a more corpulent body, and I didn't want to figure it out on my first attempt. Chester Arthur would be fun, especially with all the possibilities for different pants, but again, I was intimidated by the facial hair. So I settled on another of my favorites: Warren G. Harding. I know, I know: I do too much Harding (that's what she said). Sorry. But he seemed like he would be pretty straightforward, plus he has distinctive eyebrows. (John Oliver described them as "mozzarella sticks covered")

On Christmas afternoon, once the kids were busily engaged in their new toys, I sat down to create mine. Although the book walked me through each step, I did make some modifications.

The book gives instructions for a short, wide male head or a long, narrow male head. Harding seems to have a long, wide head, so I went with the short/wide one but added a couple rows to make it longer. I also added a few stitches to create a more prominent chin.

For about a day, all I had was the head and an armless torso. My kids thought it looked like a creepy baby (they weren't wrong) but I thought it looked like the Shah of Iran.

(Frankly, even the finished product looks like him, but I'm trying not to think about that because it's supposed to be Harding, dammit!)

Within a couple days I had added the arms and legs and whatnot.

I do wish the book had given more detail/examples for embroidering the face and creating the hair. Those were the two most difficult parts, and also the features that really make a doll like this. It took me four attempts to get the hair "right," and I wasn't quite able to get the Harding frown down. Still, I think it came out pretty well.

I gave him a lovely hand-crafted wool suit (with removable jacket!) and a bright blue tie to jazz things up a bit.

My daughter asked me this morning what I'm going to do with the doll now, and that's a great question. She said, "It seems like such a waste to spend all that time on it and then just let it sit around." I'm not sure if she's hinting that she wants it or wants me to get rid of it. For now it'll probably sit on my Shelf O' Random Presidential Crap, next to my Hoover bobblehead and Woodrow Wilson puppet. After all, art doesn't need to have a purpose, right?

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