Over the course of two years now, many people have asked “How long does it take to make a Jester?” and we argue over how long it DOES take to make a Jester. This is a break down of the steps involved for an individual Jester. Keep in mind that we are doing these on a scale of literally dozens in one step at a time, but each step does take time, effort and thought. I will try to divide into the phases for each step.
Yards of fabric are first cut into “halves” for each body, creating the body portion, the sleeve and hats (three types – Jester, Clown and Sleepy)
Each half is pinned together and laid out in the storage area for fabrics.
After about 1,000 halves are cut in up to 300 fabric types, the halves are spread out and matched into “outfits” with about 60% going into Jesters, and 20% each to Clowns and Sleepys. Once paired, the two halves are sewn together on the “center line” stitches, then sleeves are attached and sides sown with lastly the hat being stitched. Each is then clipped and trimmed and turned right-side out. Gathering stitches are done at the wrists and ankles to create the “ruffs” look after hands and feet are installed.
Hands and feet as edge-sown, the feet on my machine with a hem stitch and the hands by hand with a loose gather stitch. Each part is then stuffed and a dowel secured into the stuffing to make the appropriately shaped hand and foot for each doll. This is, individually, the most labor intensive part of the doll as there are no short cuts to be taken in any sense! After being made, hands and feet are attached to the outfits and the ankles and wrists gathered and tied off.
Each painted head starts as a blank wooden ball. Each is drilled and a dowel added to create the neck. Then, three coats of a base are applied and the head prepped for design. The faces are sketched onto the blank only using a template for placing eyes, nose and mouth for consistency. The flowers, flames, tears and other elements come from the mind of the artist, Sean, and give the blank personality. Then the painting begins, with each step being color-focused and lots of stops to let elements dry before continuing on. Once finished, they are set aside for a final dry before getting coated with a protective layer to preserve the face against drops, moisture and the like.
Molded heads are poured with polymer and let set before being taken out of the casting. After curing each is drilled for a dowel-neck and then sent over the painting and finishing before becoming an Igor, Yorick or Death.
Once heads and outfits are amassed, we start the pairing up side of the work. Each head has an outfit selected for it. This can be both the most fun and the most frustrating part of making a Jester. Sometimes, no outfit fits what you envision for the head, which usually results in a trip to the fabric store for a couple more yards of material and more sewing. Each Jester must come out “right” or neither artist involved is satisfied and happy. Once pairings are done (with many tags and markers to preserve the matching!) assembly can begin.
I can say that we spend a bit of time on each Jesters assembly. Thought goes into each “do dad” and addition. Even picking out feathers for the hat can take time as you debate whether it will be too much, too little, and too over-the-top. Decorations are added and applied, using all sorts of things to attach stuff! The final fun step is selecting a song that fits the personality of the Jester, then adding the hat to the head (after stuffing it!)
Lastly, we name them and enter them into the rolls of Jesters, a growing list of each little person we have built to share with those who will love and cherish them.
Overall, if we stacked up minutes of “real work” into each doll, we clear the six-hour mark on most any of them and some labor toward the ten to fifteen hour mark. It is impossible to “stop watch” the methods used, as we do group things up. But each minute put into a Jester is a minute of focus and love. We hope that as our selection grows, and we have more followers and fans, the dedication to each doll will speak strongly of “our product” which truly is more than just a doll.
Thanks for letting me share.