My dear cousin Miriam was preparing a workshop for kids aged from 1,5 to 3 years. It was based on a children’s book by L. Palo: Where is Africa? (this link is simply because it is the only one I have found which has pictures of the illustrations from the book). She asked me if I could make a real-life Rhino (the main character of the book) for it. Of course, I was hooked right away. Loved the illustrations, they are so sweet. And loved the challenge :-)
I bought some cotton fabrics that looked already dyed and at first I thought I’d just do it the easy way and just go with them as they were. But as I was looking through the illustrations again and again to sketch a pattern and define which body part would be out of which fabric, I just grew more and more restless about the fabric and how plain it suddenly looked. Not only is Rhino on every page of the book somewhat different (which was great in a way, at least it gave me enough freedom in his design), but I also loved splashes and dots as if he were sprinkled with ink or colour.
So I just had to get that look. I tryed around a bit until I got a little piece of fabric on each sample that I was satisfied with. I tryed painting the fabric with fabric-paints, splutter ink on it, and I don’t know what anymore… But in the end what worked best was after all the easiest way that I tried as last. :-) Making the fabric a little wet and then sprinkling a little bit of marine blue and black dye on it. Sometimes I would also wipe it with my fingers around a bit here and there. I then tied all the fabric patches and cooked them in hot water for about twenty minutes. Then washed them normally in the washing machine. Let them dry, and voila! Finally I could start sewing. :-)
Funny thing, I think this preparation part took up about half of the whole making of Rhino.
I then sewed him together, put padding into it, sewed the body parts together (by hand) into one lovely Rhino… watched a nice movie (A Little Chaos) while doing so :-)
Then I made his dress. Or shirt, if you like. Made it with a velcro and dreadnought on the side, so you could undress him. I actually made a second dress/shirt out of dark blue dyed fabric and a red collar after that, since I thought it might look more boyish than the red shirt. On the workshop they actually put both shirts on top of each other with the dark blue on top, which made it look really cool. I really liked that. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. :-)
The eyes are hand-painted as last.
I was so happy with the way Rhino turned out. Liv loved him too, of course. She would run around our flat and my parent’s garden with him, not wanting to let him go, giving him hugs and a lot of kisses :-) I guess I’ll have to make another one for her from the left-over fabrics.