Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Fashioning the Fab Four (Part 7): Marketing the Image

All successful music groups need to market their product. Finding a unique image helps them to stand out from the crowd.  My Amigurumi Fab Four certainly needed an image of their own. Faces and hair would be a good start!

At the end of July 2012, the jumble of completed bits and pieces were resembling little characters at last, like bald Amish dolls. The next decision: how to embellish them with hair and facial features. I was looking forward to the hair–“doing the ‘ ’do’s”–and considering the use of a different method and style to Monica Rodriguez Fuerte’s original pattern photos.

I tried to keep all the dolls the same size by using a ‘production line’ method (refer to Fashioning The Fab Four (Part 6): Production Time) but despite the most careful work, there was a slight difference in heights and arm lengths etc. amongst them with a half centimetre margin of error. 

It didn’t matter. Like a real music group, the members are alike in their clothing and style to present a unified image to their audience yet each member is an individual. Why not exploit the slight variations in dimensions to give each doll that individual identity and appeal.

Thus began the research phase…What were the heights of the original Fab Four in their heyday?  How can I vary the facial features to give each their individual identity?  Should I be more specific with the hair instead of the same ‘mop top’ for all?

I went looking for clues…examining closely all the album covers or photographs I could find.  Although there are many photos around, I was very surprised that it was very difficult to find full length pictures of the Fab Four together in a picture good enough to compare height differences etc.  Most of the photographs were portrait shots.  Pictures of the band on the bandstand weren’t good enough because the drummer was on a riser and sitting down. 

Eventually each of the amigurumi Fab Four was identified with a specific member of the real Fab Four according to differences in dimensions. A different coloured stitch marker was assigned to each character as a reminder.  Later I basted a tiny coloured stitch on the inside back of each jacket for posterity.

Next, it was time to get the hair sorted.

The original Fab Four earned themselves the moniker “Mop Tops” because their hair was long and would look like a mop top when they shook their heads, but in all of the promotional photographs, their hair was highly coiffured. Very modern and edgy for the day when short back and sides were ‘respectable’. Although the hair was long, it was deliberately styled to reflect the trends on ‘the continent’ and the style would influence the new fashions of the swinging sixties’ youth.

"Margarita" amigurumi
(my version, 2011)
Which technique do I use: a shaggy mop top, or a smart coiffure?  I really liked the idea of a specific style. I had previously completed an amigurumi “Margarita” doll (pattern by Mia Zamora-Johnson*) which used an embroidery technique to achieve this–It was a lovely way to style the hair with precision, and secure.  Perhaps I should use the same technique for my Fab Four?

Mia Zamora-Johnson explains the embroidery technique in her Margarita pattern which appears free on Petite Purls’ Summer 2011 blog edition*. It was relaxing to work and almost meditative because once started, the hair tended to follow it’s own way. It was a discovery to see where the hair wanted to go, similar to the way we don’t get a choice about the hair we are born with, it will be what it will be (<Jodie sings> “que sera sera!”…ahem!)

Rear view of "Margarita" Fairy
showing hair and wing details.

Monica Rodriguez Fuertes’ pattern suggests that the Fab Four’s hair be made of individual strands joined at one end to the head to emulate the ‘mop top’ look.

At the time I described my dilemma to friends, “I was going to do my fab four amigurumi with expertly coiffured Stuart Sutcliffe hairdosvery 60sbut in the end thought the shaggy version of the moptop will be more fun. Trying to find a happy medium.”

I noted that the hair on Margarita Fairy was fiddly (although a superb result) but I had also learned that amigurumi in lots of pieces was very fiddly and I was losing patience!

The most popular response from people around me were the mop tops, and it would be quicker for me, so I decided to do very long mop tops and then work out how to style it from there.  If I make a mistake, it is easier to undo and replace (although the thought of having to undo anything after all this time was abhorrent!)

By the beginning of September 2012, the hair had been added (but not styled) and the dolls were all looking like Bob Marley! Their faces were embroidered but I still wasn’t too sure about dark red mouths–they looked like lipstick and a bit ‘girly’ and even a touch ‘Michael Jackson-like’ with the long locks falling over the face. Should I change them to black? I called on my Ravelry friends from the Art, Like Bread* group who had some very useful and thoughtful suggestions:

Cami: These are really cute! I think the mouths look fine because they are dolls. If you were really worried, you could maybe try a black mouth, which would make them look more like cartoon characters. Or you could try a pink mouth. I think they look fine and they don’t look girly.

Rayna: Can you photo edit them to change the mouth color and get an idea of the finished look before actually trying it? Although personally I think they look fine as is.

Jodie: Now THAT’s an idea! I never think of using the new technology to solve problems like this.

Cami: I think it would be really cool if the Beatles had Bob Marley hair back in the day, but that probably wouldn’t fly, eh? haha. It looks really cute!!!!

Thanks so much to all of my Ravelry friends! This collaborative discussion is one of the things I love about Ravelry.

Paralysed by indecision (24 September 2012)

Two months had gone by and I still wasn’t sure how to cut the hair! I was searching for examples and toying with ideas, too scared to make the first cut for fear of spoiling it and needing to start over.

Again, I called upon fellow crocheters and knitters for styling suggestions. Cheryl thought, “neat and trim at the back with shaggy fringes at the front would capture their fun essence.”

I reported “At the moment they don't have ears…if I do it too short I will have to add ears which equals more fiddling…but that's probably nothing compared to all the fiddling around already. Thanks for the idea…sounds sensible.”

Obviously, I was ‘over-thinking’ it. I even got to the stage where I was seriously considering taking them down to my hairdresser to get her opinion on how to approach the cutting without wrecking them!

Whenever I get stuck on a decision, I try to ‘sleep on it’, put it aside for a little while and usually the answer becomes plain in time.  The Fab Four Amigurumi went into a patchwork bag (handmade by local artist Althea from Gallery M*) and were hung on a hook where I could gaze at them in bed, in the hope that there will be an answer by morning.

I took a photo and posted it to my Ravelry friends.

I just put my Fab Four Amigurumi dolls up where I could see them every day while I ponder further haircuts for them. They looked so cute that I couldn’t resist taking a new photo of them to share with you. I hope it makes you smile.

*Further Information
Art, Like Bread
The “Art, Like Bread” blog belongs to teacher Caissa “Cami” McClinton who is passionate about arts and crafts, including crochet. “Art is essential to life. It is food, water, air, and blood. It is everywhere. It is for everyone.”

Gallery M
Gallery M is an exhibition space in the south-west of Adelaide, South Australia which supports local artists.  There are all sorts of exhibitions all year round including textile arts from time to time. The current exhibition (July 2013) includes Quilt Art by Linda Niewand which should satisfy the stitchers amongst us.
Gallery M is also home to the best gift shop in the area, full of hand-made goodies by very talented local artists.  If you are looking for unique, beautiful, high-quality items, this is the place to visit. I just love it (and not just because it sells knitted and crocheted goods either)! 

“Margarita” amigurumi by Mia Zamora-Johnson

Find the free pattern on Petite Purls’ Summer 2011 blog edition:

Mia’s Hair Tutorial

Mia Zamora-Johnson has a Flickr Photostream as a set called “Crochet and Amigurumi” which is a series of photographs showing her process for making hair for her amigurumi:

Mia Zamora-Johnson

Mia shares free patterns for the cutest amigurumi on her blog Owlishly (entries go up to December 2010):

You can also purchase Mia’s patterns through her online stores where you can see more of her designs.

Petite Purls

A great online magazine if you are interested in knitwear (and crochet and sewing etc.) for children and babies, including some of the cutest dress-ups–just inspect the current issue (#15) "Little Heroes" :


  1. I love you, Jodie Bodie! Thank you!!

  2. Oh my goodness these are stunning and what an excellent post too! I hope you are feeling better now. xxx

    1. Thanks M. After a full week of doing not much I am feeling much better and able to catch up on some cooking and mundane household chores. I also have vegetable seedlings to plant out (weather permitting) and more blog posts to write! Thank you for your kind thoughts. :-)