This Nightmare before Christmas Jack Skellington doll was commissioned as a gift to another. I very much wanted to do something special. Because gifts have to rock.
There were so many firsts for me with this doll. I had to create a whole new pattern. The head was a mathematical feat, which I handed to The Man to figure out and then I created a usable pattern from his calculations. And I had to figure out how to hold up his bobble head.
Full body armature. Wired hands. My first chain stitches.
There were a few late nights. But I made the best of them.
Jack evolved my thinking. I started out trying to make him as realistic as possible but quickly discovered that exact replication of a clay figure in fabric was not only impossible, it wasn't even desirable. What I wanted to do was interpret his character and infuse this cloth, wire and paint with Jack's paradoxical nature, both his native joie de vive and dark brooding.
I put in a bit of intentional roughness to his stripes and stitches. The fabric Jack is not as slick as his clay version. I like his stripes. They scream hand painted, each long long long line.
This is the first doll that I can say is truly not a child's play thing and can not be roughly handled, which freed me to add more delicate elements. The stiffened fabric bats wings with the head formed from polymer clay. The tiny little 1950s vintage button from my great aunt Adeline's collection to close Jack's jacket. (Remind me to show you Adeline's buttons. I could spend a lifetime sewing them and probably never make my way through all of them.)
I have never turned fingers so small. Or wired them. It was an entirely new game.
Oh, did you notice Jack is sporting a pair of roller skates? They're Bonts to be precise. I believe Jack would wear a pair of custom speed skating Bonts. He'd have to, his tiny, boney feet would be very difficult to fit with any off the rack skating boot.
Normally, I would be looking at my finished work and my attention would be drifting towards the imperfections. Perhaps it's the spirit of Jack's indomitable optimism, but I look at him and I can't help but think, I did a damn fine job on this. Better than Jack did of Christmas.
He's a master of fright,
and a demon of light,
and he'll scare you right out of your pants.
To a guy in Kentucky
He's Mister Unlucky.
And he's known thoughout England and France.
And since he is dead,
he can take off his hea-
No, wait. That's not right. Do not pull off his head. Is is not easily reattached.
Maybe that will be a first for the next time.