Monday, August 8, 2011

Thai String Dolls Tutorial



I still have so many projects to share with you from my summer workshop series, but I'm skipping this gem to the top of the line up. Our young adult librarian had suggested making Thai String Dolls, and after a little research I realized that it could be an accessible and popular project. I had a blast making these dolls with a half dozen great teens.


Traditionally Thai string dolls are made by looping a thick cord skeleton that is wrapped in thinner cord. I knew that there could be an easier nontraditional way to make the dolls. I immediately pulled out my box of chenille stems (pipe cleaners). Starting with the big head, I spiraled a chenille stem into a ball shape to form the 'skull'.


To add mass I wrapped two more chenille stems around the first one. It doesn't matter what color the chenille stems are, as they will be completely concealed in 'string'.


Fold your fourth chenille stem in half and trap your skull in the fold. Twist the chenille stem ends together under the skull to make the neck. Then fold the remaining lengths in half to form the arms.


Fold a fifth chenille stem into the letter 'W" to make the legs. Hook the center of the 'W' over the shoulder section of the arms. This might feel a little wobbly but the chenille stem will be firmly connected by the yarn wraps.


Thin cotton blend yarn works best for this project. I had a super collection of  Plymouth yarns Wildflower D.K. left over from designing projects for Soft and Simple knits for Little ones. The colors are fabulous and the weight is ideal. Working directly off the skein, place the yarn end against the chenille skull and begin tightly wrapping the yarn around the head. Make sure you constantly change directions, if you make too many rotations in a single direction, the loops may fall off. If that happens simple unwind the dropped loops and rewind tighter in a different direction.


When it comes time to wrap the arms and legs, bring the yarn down to the elbow or foot first. Unfold the chenille stem and tightly wrap the yarn where it was bent. Be careful to completely conceal the chenille stem with your wraps.


Refold the arm or leg and over wrap the folded chenille stems together. Repeat the process with the remaining limbs.


Wrap the top of the legs together to form the base of the torso and make crisscross wraps across the chest. If your doll's head doesn't look big enough bring the yarn back to the top and wrap it some more. Once you're pleased with the proportions cut the yarn off the skein and use a dab of hot glue to anchor the cut end against the body.


I supplied Darice 9mm solid black safety eyes, you won't need the clear anchor piece (although one clever creator used them for the eyes). Simply push the screw end into the head. If you wrapped tightly it will take some effort and wiggling to get the screw end lodged into place.


I had stiffened felt scraps on hand (left over from the monster stuffy project).  Stiff felt is incredibly easy to cut and hot glue in place. If you're ambitious you could thread contrasting yarn colors into a darning needle and stitch a mouth, eyes or other embellishments onto your doll.


Simply over wrapping your doll with other string colors is a simple way to dress them up. I rolled a tiny grey ball of string for this rabbits tail. This open ended craft is ideal, your imagination is the only limit to the characters and animals you can create.

7 comments:

  1. OMG LOVE IT!!! there too cute, I'm gonna have to make some for my girls they'll be thrilled to play with them, nice tutorial too thank you

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing your methods. I too work at a library, and am currently prepping for our teen Halloween bash this Sunday -- your chenille innovation made this instantly accessible for me to teach -- no winding around pins

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your tutorial is a little confusing and needs work. In one step you have one pipe cleaner and then all of a sudden you say something about a fourth pipe cleaner in the next step. It doesn't make sense.

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