What brought me here today:
I was planning out the rest of my month when I suddenly noticed an important birthday. The 9th of September. Forgetting this first birthday would have been a major slip-up for me. It’s been almost a year since I began creating stories for a little Finnish doll named Marielle. I thought that today’s blog post would be a good place to look at what I’ve accomplished with Go Marielle, as well as where I would like to take it in the future.
Picking the right doll:
In the summer of 2020, I began to think about using some of the dolls I had been creating for a graphic story telling. I was influenced, in part, by the book The Lonely Doll from my childhood. My husband and I talked about it and bounced ideas around. It was his suggestion that I title her adventures as “Go (Insert Name of Doll Here)!” This suggestion sounded right to me. Simple and to the point. I had a name for the stories.
Now I needed the right doll. I created four, 12 cm (4.74 inches) dolls, figuring that one of them would be the right doll for what I had planned. Originally, I had chosen a doll that I named Malvi to be “the doll”. I gave myself a few days to make sure that I she was the right doll for what I had in mind. The more I looked at Malvi, the less I thought she was going to be right for what I wanted. Marielle, the second choice doll got the job.
Now I needed stories:
My original plan had always been that I would simply take the doll and place her into my everyday life. Riding the bus, going for a haircut, or visiting a museum. I could then add hashtags for the stores, restaurants, museums, schools, etc., that I went to. In my mind, I thought this will be a super-easy sort of thing to do.
I was kind of wrong. The first thing I had to get over was when people would stare at me while I was taking photos. I don’t use anything too complicated. Just Marielle and my camera phone. The vast majority of Finns just looked and said nothing. It’s not in the nature of most Finnish people to be nosey. But sometimes…man! I would get the weirdest looks and stares. Occasionally, people (mostly men) would get a little too close for my liking while attempting to see what I was doing.
As time wore on though, I began to get picture taking down to a science. Marielle would be on one pocket of my dress. My phone in the other. When I saw something that looked like a good photo opportunity, out popped Marielle and the picture snapped before most people even were aware of what happened. Even when they did notice, I just learned to tune them out and get my picture!
I post a single panel post (1 to 4 panels) every day of the week. Originally, I wanted to post two longer panel stories (5+ panels) twice a week. That work load became too heavy, incredibly quickly. I moved to then to a multi-panel post once a week many months ago, but still felt it was making me force some of the longer panel stories. I dropped that before we moved to Wilmington, and have just allowed the longer panel stories to organically come about.
What do I mean by organically? Well, taking a trip to the park with Kaali and Joelle is a good example. IBetween 80 and 100 pictures were taken that day. There was no written script. I wanted to show a nice day in a neighbourhood park with Marielle and her friends. The story itself came about as I was exploring the park. Places to run. Trees to climb. Artwork to look at. I know who Marielle, Kaali, and Joelle are, so I know what they would want to do. Then I took pictures of what they did.
I had enough final photos for two long panel posts, plus several single panel posts. There were also some photos that just didn’t work within the visual storytelling format. Those photos weren’t used. Not having a concrete script allows me to be more flexible with my storytelling. It does mean that I tend to take an absolute ton of photos though!
Making the sausage:
Taking the photos can be quite a lot of fun. What’s less fun is all the processing of the photos. I’ve gotten a new laptop since the last time I wrote a blog post about how I create Go Marielle stories. I now work on an HP laptop instead of a Macbook. It’s more or less the same process when it comes to photo editing. GIMP and Canva are used for photo editing, and the creation of the individual Go Marielle story panels.
There are other programs and platforms I could be using, but the aforementioned GIMP and Canva are inexpensive. They do the work that I need them to do. I know that in the future, I may want to change what I’m using to create Go Marielle. For right now, I’m happy with what I have to work with. If you want to read more of a step-by-step account of how I create Go Marielle, you can read that here.
There are so many things that I want to do with Go Marielle! I have been wanting to build her a more permanent ‘home’ for so long. Originally I wanted to create a simple bedroom set that I could use to shoot pictures. There just wasn’t a lot of space for me in our previous apartment to create a set that was big enough. Then I thought that a folding set might work, but it never got past the planning stage.
I have so much corrugated cardboard from the Ikea furniture we bought. Some of it is the perfect size to build Marielle and her friends a proper home. I want to create the house itself using paper mâché. That will make it lightweight and easily altered if the need should arise. I also like the idea of creating more furniture for the house, as well as spaces for Kaali, Meloni, and Joelle.
Having a larger, more permanent house set will allow me to work on writing more scripts. If I plan on anything more complicated storytelling wise, I’m going to need some practice. Having a husband who is a great writer will also be a metric ton of help to me as well!
So, now what?
Well, I have a birthday photo shoot to do with Marielle and her friends tomorrow. Hopefully I can get some cute pictures! It does not seem like it’s only been a year since I first started creating stories for Marielle. There’s a part of me that somehow thinks that Marielle has been with me for years. She’s become almost an extension of myself to some extent. That seems like a post for another day though.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday!