There are so many things to love about today's guest post by Merrilee of Mer Mag! Degas! Ballerinas! Paperdolls! It all begins with her favorite book choice, Chasing Degas :)
I'm a big fan of both Edgar Degas and Eva Montanari so naturally Chasing Degas, by Eva Montanari, comes to mind as an immediate favorite children's book. This picture book follows the journey of a young ballerina, whom Degas was painting, through the streets of Paris as she tries to find Master Degas to return his paints in exchange for her ballet bag. The illustrations are gorgeous and give a nod to Degas' impressionistic pastels. It was these such impressionistic ballerinas (and an inkling to do something for little girls for a change) that inspired the craft that I will be sharing with you.
We invited Little A's friend, Little J, over for a play-date and some ballerina fun. We started out with some fine art watercolor paper that I had on hand (cut down to roughly 13x22 - but you can use any number of fine art papers, such as watercolor or Canson pastel paper), two coordinating colors of crepe paper, pastels, a charcoal pencil and this ballerina template.
Trace the ballerina template once on one end of the paper. Then accordian fold the rest of the paper, being careful to match up the paper at the elbows. Cut around the figure, going through all layers of the paper, while leaving a portion of paper attached at the elbows (one of our last ballerina's lost a bit of her elbow but we kept her in the bunch just the same). As the paper is so thick, I would suggest doing this part yourself as it could prove to be too difficult for little hands).
Unfold the dolls once you are through cutting. Then using the charcoal pencil, you or you little one can add faces, cheeks and hair to the dolls.
From there you can move on to outfitting the dancers. I would suggest limiting your color palette by choosing just a handful of coordinating colored pastels.
From there you can let your little one color and create the leotards and ballet slippers.
I did a simple demo to show how to use the pastel on it's side for a broad stroke to cover a large area (such as the leotard) and then demonstrated how to use the tip of the pastel to create the straps and laces, etc. I then let our little friend take it from there.
After the dolls are complete, you can move on to the crepe paper tutus. Simply run the crepe paper through the sewing machine (or hand stitch if you don't have a machine) and it will naturally bunch up into a ruffle.
From there you can cut up the paper to the desired tutu sizes. You can then adjust the ruffle to how you want it by pulling the threads at either end.
Finally, adhere the tutus with adhesive or Elmer's glue (so that the child can do it) or use hot glue (as I did, as that was all I had on hand at the moment).
You dolls are now complete! Now hang them up in your little one's room and adore them for days to come.