Thursday, January 24, 2008

Akira Blount - DVD

A review of Akira's Heads and Hands DVD.


Agnes Iley said...

Agnes Iley

Heads and hands video workshop by Akira Blount

At Christmas I decided to threat myself to the “heads and hands video workshop” by Akira Blount. I love Akira’s style of doll making; the clean crisp faces and delicate coloring really speak to me.
Firstly I have to compliment Akira and Larry Blount for putting out such a professional looking DVD. Where a lot of arts & crafts video’s I’ve seen are at best comparable to a home video, this is a very professional looking DVD. Picture and sound are great and there are no sudden cuts or breaks when you go from one chapter to the next. And there is lots of eye candy in the form of Akira’s finished dolls to inspire you.

When I was thinking about buying this DVD, I was wondering……just heads and hands……so there’s no complete doll to be made, will this be enough make me happy buying this?
What swung it for me is that I tend to buy patterns to learn new techniques, but seldom make the actual doll. I try to learn the techniques and then run off with it and make my own dolls.

The DVD was a revelation to me. I live in a country where cloth doll making is unknown, so I’ve never actually seen anyone make a cloth doll. To see Akira work makes things so clear, the old saying is true……a picture does say more than a thousand words.

The DVD starts with some general information about the fabrics and tools used and then moves on to the head section. This quickly showed me that my concern about the lack of a pattern was totally unfounded. Akira’s head shape is very easy to draw. She uses a two part head in a t-shirt knit. This may sound to simple, just two pieces, a pancake head? But these two pieces make the most shapely heads I've ever made! And I’ve made a number of these since getting the DVD.
I also found it easy to adapt this head to whatever style I like, a stronger jaw-line, a more rounded face, more pronounced cheek-bones, it only takes a little bit of practice and you will be able to do it. The chapter on needle sculpting is great; I just followed her directions and ended up with a really nice looking face first time around. And since this is a cloth-over face none of the unsightly sculpting threads or seams are visible.
The coloring section shows you how to get that subtle look Akira’s dolls have got, she very gently builds up the colors and mostly uses pencils for this. Now I can’t paint or draw to save my life, but following this chapter step by step made me understand how she works and gave me a really nice result on the dolls head I was making

The hand chapter shows you how to sculpt mitten-hands; my first thought was that this was a bit disappointing. I only make hands with individual fingers, even for my smaller dolls. This has resulted in trying to turn fingers that where so tiny that I could barely fit a darning needle in them. Simply because I never liked the way mitten-hands turn out. They can look so clumsy and un-elegant. But when I watched the chapter I understood.
Akira does touch on the subject of individual fingers, but what is there to tell about those....
After all reality is that you sew them, turn them, curse, sew another pair and maybe curse some more?
Instead she shows how to make and sculpt a mitten hand. And she has converted me! I’ve made several of these hands now and they can look as delicate and elegant as my other hands. Her way of sculpting the fingers is different from the usual “sew down the middle” approach and really makes for lovely hands. When she attaches the hand to the arm she also shows how one single stitch can shape the palm of the hand in the best way I’ve seen so far. I will definetely be using these hands for my smaller dolls.

The chapter on attaching body parts is interesting as well, if you are like me annoyed with the often visible stitching when attaching arms and legs this DVD will show you how easy it can be to do this invisibly.

Overall this DVD may not be suitable for absolute beginners, but once you’ve made a few dolls and are starting to think about how to execute your own ideas. Then maybe it’s time to have a look at this DVD. It really helped me to create the heads that I could only picture in my mind before. I absolutely recommend this DVD.

Cheryl said...

I really appreciate the thoroughness of this review. I had casually thought about purchasing these, but also thought, how different can it be from any other? This review has made me with I had this video now. I too hate to make mitten hands for the same reasons. Thanks for taking the time to write this. I have to save up to get this now.