We are thrilled to have Miss Emily Martin's new book,The Black Apple's Paper Doll Primer: Activities and Amusements for the Curious Paper Artist which is brimming with exquisitely drawn paper dolls, clothes, a toy theater and scenes (!), and more—all ready to be cut out, loved, and played with. We have two copies in our house, one for cutting and one for reading and looking at. It's that good. And talk about quick gifts—these are all frame-worthy illustrations, so cutting a favorite page out and popping it in a frame would make a lovely and super easy gift.
Full disclosure here, Emily is a dear friend, also shares the same book publisher as myself, Potter Craft, and I received this as a review copy. But, I would buy it anyway. That goes without saying. Except that I just said it.
So, I really like interviewing my friends. I actually used to do this with a tape recorder and a big microphone in grade school all the time. I wasn't able to bust that out for this post, sadly, but Emily was game for a good old fashioned e-mail style interview, so here we go.
me: You seemed to have so much fun drawing these amazing characters. Do you have a favorite doll? I know this is hard, but just curious. I'll let you pick two. And my girls like the Baby best, of course but Onionhead comes in a close second with the 3 year old. Alice is also quite popular. It's so hard for me to choose but the horned porpoise is pretty outstanding.
emily: Hmmm...a favorite (or two)? I'd say the ones I was most excited about were the conjoined twins, Hazel & Olive, and Boris the Bear. Mostly just because they were the most unusual as paper doll subjects. Making double-dresses for the twins, as well as a double capelet (and a double-hat that curiously got left out of the book) was one of my favorite parts of making the book. I'm sure there have been conjoined twin paper dolls before, but I still got a kick out of how special they seemed to me.
But I am thrilled to hear that funny baby was a hit with the girls - you know I did kinda make that one expressly for them!
me: I would like for you to come out with a line of children's clothing because your drawings of them are amazing. I think I have ideas now for every outfit for the girls for a long time. Were these just floating out of your brain effortlessly, or did you reference some vintage sources? They are so special. And how exciting was it to draw a page of small wigs?
emily: Aw, thank you! I share your dream of this line of clothes, except I would like them to come in grown-up lady sizes, too. It's truly sad how often I see a picture of something (a dress, some shoes) and get very excited, only to realize this something is meant for a little girl.
Anyway, to answer your first question, the clothing designs all came out of my own head...and, I'm sure, from the mental stacks and stacks of images of vintage clothing I've got stashed in my brain. And to answer your second question, those pages of small wigs are still one of my top favorite things in the whole book. I thought to myself "Even if nobody ever uses one of these tiny paper wigs, they sure are pleasing to look at all lined up here on the page"
me: The theater is very well loved in the house, playing with this adds such a special dimension to the book and its activities. Did you have a toy theater growing up, or play like this? Or was it more about the dolls and clothes for you?
emily: I never had a proper toy theater as a little girl, but (as many of us did) I loved my cardboard box dioramas something fierce. Researching toy theaters for the book was one of the most challenging tasks, but also one of the things I was most excited about. For a few weeks there, I was constantly babbling about them - my editor (our friend Mr. Thom O'Hearn) would ask about my progress, and I would yap his ear off for fifteen minutes about the Paper Theater. Then he would pause, and say "Great...but what about everything else?"
I just knew I wanted to include a paper theater from the beginning, and make the different prosceniums, and the scenes/backdrops, because I wanted the book to be a Paper Doll Book to the enth degree, you know? If we thought of something the book could contain, then we decided it must contain it.
me: I am so happy boy dolls are included. They are so often omitted, which is a shame. Were they more challenging to come up with? I suspect not, knowing your imagination. . . .
emily: I'm so pleased you're pleased by that!
Perhaps surprisingly, the boys weren't difficult at all. In fact, they were a nice break from the girly-party my work sometimes turns into. I wanted there to be lots of ages and types of dolls in the Black Apple section, so naturally, that means we have everyone from older fella, like Mr. Tom (who might bear a bit of a resemblance to a certain grizzled singer I'm known to love) to Nate, the boy cryptozoology nerd. I ended up being really happy with all of the gentleman dolls, because I feel like they each have a very distinct personality.
Plus, I really love drawing tiny men's jackets and vests. L.O.V.E.
me: Can we hope for more? Paperdoll books, projects, ideas and stuff like that? What's cookin' next?
emily: Well, since you asked - besides all the Black Apple cottage industry business and my own personal artwork projects, I do have another book in the making. It's not paper doll related, but suffice it to say, you will be seeing some fetching drawings of children's clothing again soon!
And I wouldn't ever say you've seen the last of me and paper dolls. I'd expect there will be more on that front, in time anyway.
me: You are going to have a booksigning here in Portland at Powells! When is this fabulous event?
emily: Indeed - and I can't wait! It's on December 13th, and it's going to be quite the party. Also, there will be a special, limited edition little holiday gift for everyone who attends, so if hearing me ramble and scrawl my scribbly signature into books isn't enough of an incentive: there will be food and presents!
thank you so much (I will fill in more)
Thank you, sweet friend. You were such a part of this book from the very beginning when you gifted me with those Little Women paper dolls! You're the tops.
me: No, thank YOU. This book has already provided hours of fun, seriously. It was so amazing to see it being created by you and being privy to your early sketches and ideas. Truly magical.