Making Koschei

Making Koschei

After getting a taste of making a standing doll, I couldn’t wait to try again and maybe improve! When I was posing Granny in the forest, I noticed that the “skeleton” of her legs and feet would wiggle around inside the felt, making her more difficult to balance. So, I set out to make a doll with more substantial legs.

Koschei the Deathless is a character from Russian folklore who keeps his death hidden in an egg inside a hare inside a coffer under an oak on an island in the sea. However, I suspect this guy might keep his death in his bauble.

Ingredients:

  • four chenille stems
  • wool-blend felt (body, legs, and clothing)
  • wool roving (arms, hat, bauble)
  • cotton embroidery floss
  • stuffing (cotton and polyfill)
  • watercolor paper
  • ten tiny buttons
  • two oak twigs
  • acrylic paint

To start with, I twisted two pipe cleaners together to form the legs. Then, I wrapped them in a layer of cotton so they would be more snug inside the felt.

I had the cotton left over from when I tried to make spun-cotton figures. I quickly realized that while the texture of dry cotton sets my teeth on edge, the texture of wet cotton is even worse. So here it is, providing a nice even wrap where I’ll not have to touch it again.

The next upgrade was sturdy soles for the feet (I used some scraps of thick watercolor paper). This time around, I was also able to improve the shaping of the feet! I traced the pieces I cut, and maybe I will be able to put a pattern together.

As you might imagine, I could not slide the cotton-wrapped skeleton into the leg as before. I sewed the leg around the cotton first, then stitched the top of the foot to the leg. It was not much harder than sewing the pieces together first. Finally, I glued on the paper soles and sewed on the bottom of the foot. As usual, I love to use blanket stitch to get some contrasting colors and textures.

I liked the needle-felted arms on Granny, so I decided to do it again. This time, I used two twisted pipe cleaners instead of one, and did not add a thumb in the skeleton (only in felt). I didn’t really measure (surprise surprise) so he has super long arms!

His first foray into the forest was unclothed save for his diamond decorations, but I did plan an outfit for him. I sewed his suit with wool-blend felt, and a needle-felted his hat. Next on my list is making some finger protection, as shaping the hat meant I kept poking myself…

Once he had his hat on, he was even more ready to take on the world.

Finally, I made him two accessories with some oak twigs. I embellished a larger staff with red paint, and used a smaller painted stick to support a bauble. I hot-glued a bit of felt wrapping around the top of the stick after painting it, then felted the bauble’s head and hat around that. Since I don’t have a local tiny-jester-bell supplier, I used little buttons tied to the ends of braided embroidery floss to embellish the bauble.

I decided to name him Koschei because, standing next to Granny, there is very much a Baba Yaga/Koschei the Deathless effect… the Harlequin version.

That’s all for now!

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