Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another Great Collector's Resource

...this time for those interested in antique dolls. This is an enjoyable site to browse around, full of great written information and pictures once you scroll past the google search bar and a few ads near the top of each entry. There are handy links to current Ebay auctions. I enjoyed clicking on the various types of dolls in the button column on the left. It's interesting to see some dolls that are clearly costumed as adults but have baby faces. The host of the site, Pam, is a longtime collector and lover of antique dolls, and includes comprehensive bibliographies with her articles.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Collector's resource of note

Doll collecting expert and blogger Denise Van Patten has posted about the first day of IDEX on her blog. In an earlier post she has listed doll collector events throughout the year as a New Year's gift to doll lovers. Many of these are different events from the doll crafting conferences that I have noted here. Denise also maintains a forum, where you can ask her questions about doll collecting, including identifying vintage and antique dolls. Her shop is Katherine's Cottage.

Bear with me

I haven't shown any bears yet. Here is a doll maker who makes polymer clay and cloth dolls, and also makes very sweet antique-inspired dressed bears, with heartmelting personalities that look like they have been hugged and loved forever. Whimsymoon - what a wonderfully evocative name for a doll business. Don't be sad, scruffy wee bear; I love you.

From Russia with....imagination

Not only are Ima Naroditskya's dolls beautiful and polished examples of dollmaking, her website is extraordinarily fun too. I like the curtain pulling conceit. It adds to the fantasy element and makes every thumbnail a fanciful treasure hunt. All her characters so clearly have a history and a narrative behind them. She also designs glass figure christmas tree ornaments. (Don't fail to run your cursor over the little yellow fellows guarding the procenium.)
BTW I should give proper credit to this photo which I believe is by Mimi Kirchner.

And another convention...

From September 30th through October 4th in Las Vegas, NV, there will be a convention for paper doll enthusiasts run by OPDAG. Early bird discount registration is open until July 1st. Scroll down and find info about a Spring Gathering in Summerville, NC March 21st.

I found the info about the OPDAG conference visiting the blog of Paper Doll artist, Elaine Jackson. Her figures may be physically flat, but they carry a lot of beauty and love into the world.

Du Buh Du retro aesthetic

OMG, Christine Alvarado of Du Buh Du Designs is giving away the most beautiful, wistful doll for her One World One Heart contribution. Based on a charming Irish folk tale, she is holding a swan and is 14 inches tall. Look at her dear little detailed shoes.

Christine's figures prove what a versatile medium polymer clay is - she makes her figures (and ornaments) from pc, then paints over them to create the doll's faces, hair and personalities. Their cloth dresses have a sweet retro style simplicity, with focus on the tiny prints. I love, love, love the series holding the masks invoking fairy tales from the ages. She also has an Etsy store, where she promises more new things in February.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nancy Drew

Ah Nancy Drew, one of my daughter's favorite characters. Tonner has a Nancy Drew character doll - contemporary with lots of nice clothing and cool accessories. My daughter wants one although she is unsure if the hair is really titian blond as the books specify.

Madame Alexander created a small and briefly available line of 12 inch Nancy Drew dolls in 1965. They are very rare and valuable, dressed in the clothes of that time.

Nancy began her life as an 18 year old in 1930, the height of the Great Depression. It is interesting to see the changes in the cover art depicting her in different fashions as the different editions were published.

In 2009 she is a peripatetic modern girl in the Her Interactive PC games. And some very cool dolls appear in some of the games. In the most recent, The Haunting of Castle Molloy, a bunch of handmade portrait dolls are weird clues, one needing completion, and there is a doll house game that gives important tools. There are also antique dolls in the set decoration.

There is also a very cool puzzle that is central to Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, with part of the story being about a doll collector. In Legend of the Crystal Skull, the housekeeper has a voodoo doll in her room.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Author! Author!

Patti Medea Cularis is not only a spectacular cloth doll maker, but also writes the most luciously illustrated books about doll making. I have her Cloth Doll Couture, and I love her happy, colorful style. She has free patterns on her blog, runs classes and workshops, and travels the world sharing her passion for cloth dolls as a popular club and convention presenter. Talk about energy! And she still finds time to make dolls.

Bella bella

I love the look of Christina Bougas' Clea Bella - and she is made in the USA. There will be a whole line of limited edition theatrical and artistic characters with gorgeous costumes. Personally I'm interested in seeing the Sherlock Holmes figure being planned.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Knitted wire

Meanwhile Reina Mia Brill has just opened her new website featuring her portfolio of fanciful, colorful and award winning figures wearing knitted wire clothing and sometimes using wire as a surface treatment. Many of her figures are large in scale. They make me think of the happy side of fairytales.

Twisted wire

Another use of wire - artist Cheryl Button assembles mixed media "Lost Art Dolls" and puppets from found objects, polymer clay and wire, painting and distressing the surfaces to create intriguing yet vaguely disturbing human figures. Some are inspired by dark tales from folklore. They may not be pretty, but they have a remarkable ethereal beauty. The photography capturing the detail is rather wonderful also.

Into the Ethernet

Every now and then there's likely to be something here a little oddball. Here's a tutorial on how to make little poseable action figures from ethernet cable. This person likes making soldiers referencing action movies I think, but the principles would apply to all kinds of wire figures. (Just so you know, the rest of the site doesn't seem to have anything to do with dolls.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Madi, the Magical Fairy

Here's a nice little line of commercial 12" play dolls for 5 and up. They all have interchangeable wigs that allow the child to alter the personalities in play. Each come with an information card about nature, which I suspect parents would care more about than kids. I know my daughter would like them just for themselves because they are cute, cuddly and have sweet costumes.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tonner Convention coming up

The Tonner Doll Collectors' Convention will be held in Lombard, IL June 12th through 14. The theme is "On Film". Reservations are open now.

According to the website Robert Tonner is creating a whole new fashion doll sculpt for the souvenir doll. Ooooh!

The Tonner dolls are just plain gorgeous, and the variety is huge. My daughter has several including Hermione (pictured) and Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter collection . She also has a couple of Tyler's and they really are great to play dress up narrative games with. Her most recent gift from her godparents is the brand new Shauna with the ball joints. Very nice. Tonner's massive and varied collections deserve and will get several posts.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pro Sculptor

Polymer clay is a wonderful medium. Jack Johnston, with his own product Pro Sculpt, is an absolute master of the material. His dolls have been nominated for Dolls Awards of Excellence a ridiculous number of times. He offers sculpting workshops, has founded an Art Doll Guild and inspired and educated uncounted numbers of art doll makers and figurative sculptors. My personal favorites - portrait dolls of historical individuals.


There are some dolls that are so beautiful they almost make you cry. Adele Sciortino's cloth and embellished dolls are like that for me.

Adele also makes available for free a fantastic quarterly e-newsletter full of color photos and how to's and profiles of other doll artists from her second website about costuming. What is she kidding? This stuff is free? Yup.

Should have sent a poet.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Color and charm of Kathi Kuti

Kathi Kuti is another name surely familiar to doll lovers. A Kuti figure is generally unmistakable. Such mischief in the expressions, and wonderful color combinations in the costumes and attention to detail. I always enjoy looking at them and marvelling at how tiny they are. She says that one of her goals is to "connect with the viewer's heart and transport them away". Check.

Kathi is going to be at the Chicago International gathering of miniaturists April 3rd -5th. Oh the workshops - tiny furniture, blessed itty bitty babies, wee vignettes. Magical. Here's Lynn McEntire's "Tea for Two" workshop.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Nests of Fairies in Fabric

Happy cloth fairies with gossamer wings live in the Fairie's Nest from Cynthia Toy. Cynthia has an Etsy store (check out her timely Valentine Pixies), and also found on the Ning social network OOAK Art Dolls. More feast for the eyes.

Smiling Eyes in Beautiful Faces

Laurie Leigh is pretty much the gold standard of fashion doll repainters. She makes gorgeous portraits of celebrities and characters from pop culture. She makes painted eyes look alive, as you can see from her website's many delicious photo galleries. Read more in Haute Doll magazine.

Rusty Barn shows

This page is a list of a whole bunch of quilting and sewing art expos all around the western region of the US over the next year. Check the links list too - lots of suppliers.
The next one is in Phoenix, January 29th.
Scroll down for a admission discount coupon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hoffman Challenge 2009

Here is all the information for one of the big annual textile art and doll contests.
The entries are due by July 24th, 2009.

Last year's winning doll is by Patricia Wormuth of Oregon, interestingly a stump doll.

Jan McLean's doll designs

Jan McLean is an award winning New Zealand doll designer creating gorgeous OOAK and limited commericial editions of vinyl and porcelain dolls. They have many different personalities, but are all delightful. I like the pink hair and big eyes on this 2008 beauty. On this page of her website is great work in progress series of photos - scroll down.


Portia Sperry was an entrepreneur and crafter during the Great Depression. She created a rag doll called "Abigail" as a teaching or activity doll with buttons and ribbons, which she employed local women in Brown County, Indiana to manufacture. The doll became so popular that she wrote a book called Abigail about a pioneer family. In this picture she is holding her second doll called "Nancy Hanks", and here is a sweet article and photo about one of them being donated to the Smithsonian after being a beloved plaything through generations.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Old Souls whispering

Another dollmaker whose work fits into the primitive/folk aesthetic is Shari Enge, of Old Soul Doll Company. I have seen her dolls at the 10 Women Gallery in Venice and they initally appear deceptively simple, but quite large in scale. But they have an aura about them. Fine details and surface treatments really make them seem ancient, or at least part of a continuum through the ages, and they draw you in to looking again. She was featured in Craft magazine Volume 4.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lincoln with a dolly

Here is an illustration of President Lincoln holding a doll. I'm guessing this is a metaphorical moment rather than historical incident, but it's a nice little doll for historical reference.

This is another picture of little Mary holding a doll from the another issue of the same publication.

Presidential speakers

OK I know these are relatively lighthearted for such a serious historical moment, but in honor of the inauguration of a new President of the United States, here is a series of commercial dolls, Talking Presidents - and a few other loquacious individuals.

And to connect with the previous post: Jessica Acosta is just one of the fabulous artists who will be running workshops at yet another fabulous upcoming conference, Convenzione ZNE in Pleasanton, CA April 29 through May 3, 2009. Strictly speaking it's a mixed media artist conference, but it looks like half the workshop sessions are doll/figure related.

Really one could spend all year travelling to all the events all over the place. Oh I have a goal in life...

They're watching you

These dolls made by Jessica Acosta are some of my favorite dolls, and an ingenious use of clothespins. I love them. I love their personalities, I love how their eyes follow you, I love the teeny props, I love the delicacy of the line work and the soft coloring on their faces. Jessica makes polymer clay dolls too. Did I mention that I love 'em?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Dunny Series from Kidrobot

Little vinyl figures, I guess an offshoot of Japanese Manga/Amime art, are a whole collectible art form in themselves. My husband loves them, and they are often witty, strangely disturbing, and adorably cute all at once. Ever since the Kidrobot store in Santa Monica closed, we have to schlepp all the way over to the store on Melrose.

Here's an event even further afield (at least from us) - Custom Toy Lab has posted about an upcoming toy launch at Magic Pony in Ontario, Canada on January 22nd.

The new toy line is Kidrobot's Ye Old English Dunny series.

There are a lot of visual artists and surface design makers working with blank figures as starting points. They can be painted, altered and embellished. Or beaded, like the mind boggling work of Etsy seller elJan, Jan Huling, beadist.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

18 inch play dolls & a photo contest - sorta

Doll Diaries is running an Emily Rose photo contest - or actually it looks like it is a photo audition to continue taking Emily Rose costume photos in exchange for the prize of Emily Rose stuff for your 18" dolls (like American Girl). So if you like taking photos it's fantastic! The contest closes midnight January 30th, 2009.

I love the AG accessories, and the antique repro mini dolls all the historical doll characters have as their dolls. Personally I make lots of outfits for my daughter's AG & similar dolls. I like this free pattern from Infinite Freedom for size, and have adapted it to make other patterns, like this summer dress and headband.

My daughter dressed as Elizabeth, Felicity's friend for Hallow'een. She wore a full size version that I made of the pink ball gown.

IDEX imminent

I nearly missed posting about the upcoming IDEX 2009, in Orlando Florida January 29th through Feb 1st.

So many workshops (lots of reborning) it would be hard to decide which to attend. The exhibitor list is a genuine who's who of doll designers and vendors.

Plus a book signing with Hildegard Gunzel.

Reborn roundup

Personally, I'll probably never be a reborn artist nor collector. However I can certainly appreciate the artistry, finesse and passion that reborn creators bring to their work. The hyper-realism that is the hallmark of fine reborns, whether life size or miniature, can be astonishing.
The pictured baby is by Cathy Rowland of Cathy's Original Babies. Her rooted baby hair is so extremely realistic.
One source for information about reborning is the magazine "Life Like Dolls". It's possible to purchase for download PDF versions of back issues.

Angel Keepers is one site with many reborning kits available for sale, waiting for the artist to paint and bring them to life. The site features a re-creation artist of the month, and has handy dandy page of links to retailers and artists around the US and elsewhere.
Cloud 9 Nursery has a free Basics of Reborning tutorial, while Angels Unawares offers a number of photo tutes and a couple of nice video tutes for painting techiques, like pouncing.

Mimi Kirchner's originality

I love Mimi Kirchner's vintage style tattooed dudes which she sells on Etsy. Well actually I enjoy looking at all her dolls. But right now she is making the most adorable miniature house pincushions - tiny felt landscapes nestled in teacups. Too cute to use? Her photography is a fabulous how-to for anyone wanting to take better shots of their dolls for sale or portfolio.

She has been looking for craft interns to join her in her business, so if you live in the Boston area... I wonder if she has found anyone yet. What an opportunity. And no wonder - she is really prolific - she made 72 remarkable dolls in 2008.

Another fabulous convention

The Figurative Artists Consortium convention will be held June 11-14, 2009 in Ottawa, Canada. Registration is open now for an international lineup of presenters, including Pearl Moon (that's one of her dolls pictured). Classes and workshops, challenges, swaps, lectures and presentations, vendors and auctions, show 'n' tell display. Sigh. Makes you wish you had an unlimited travel budget, doesn't it?

Idea for Change to be presented to our new President

Many doll and other crafters in the US have been concerned about new legislation mandating lead tests of all children's products, created by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Various protests have been organized to alert legislators and the public about the possibly devastating unintended consequences to small local manufacturers, crafters, indy vendors and charities.
In some good news about the situation, Save Small Business from CPSIA is one of the top ten "Ideas for Change" being sponsored by chosen by popular vote.

Rabbit Hollow Prims

I find these primitive style dolls very interesting. I also like the website design with the clickable photos and two slideshows. Be sure to scroll down to see the busy little mice and the "Spring Dolls" featuring many strange rabbits, which play with shape and form as part of the folksy, vintage aesthetic. I have a feeling that close examination of the dolls would reveal really interesting surface treatments too. Many, included the pictured doll, are available as pre-order items.
Sue sells patterns via a linked site, Pattern Mart, that looks worth spending some time exploring also.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't call them dolls; they're historical figures

February 2nd is the last chance to hear George Stuart's historical monologue about Chinese Imperial Gardens at the Ventura County Museum.

What has this to do with dolls? Mr. Stuart makes the most gorgeous, highly detailed, and meticulously researched one fourth scale figures of historical characters as the visual aids to his monologues. I've seen some of them and they are truly breathtaking. He constructs a skeleton, adds skin and makes every part of the costume and wigs. According to his biography, available from the museum gift shop, he has slowly increased his skills over the years to make each figure all his own work, including learning millinery, beading, embroidery and miniature cobbling.

Six of his magnificent figures will be on display as part of the monologue, I believe in addition to the rest of the permanent collection. The museum is nice place to visit anyway.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dale Zentner's beautiful children

So you look at the pictures of Canadian artist Dale Zentner's adorable child figures and think that they are utterly delightful 18 inch porcelain dolls. Think again! These are pictures of amazingly detailed OOAK polymer clay figures most of which seem to be about 8 inches tall sitting. Admire their smooth skin, the embroidery and fine stitchery in their diminutive costumes, their precious tiny teddy bears clutched in their perfect little hands.

She also designs gorgeous clothing for BJD's of different sizes under the label Pink Grapefruit. I love, love, love the crochet. I want those dresses for me.

Magazine calling for contributions

Cloth Paper Scissors is calling for contributions for Mother's Day and Father's Day articles. I'm sure some of us have crafted dolls for our folks that would be good possibilities. The deadline for emailing in low res images is January 29th.

They are also offering a nice discount on the book "Cloth Dolls for Textile Artists".

Beaded Doll Contest

All Dolled Up is beaded art doll competition. This year's theme is "Earthen Mother" - there's a poem as the jumping off point. The deadline for entries is August 31st, 2009.
The site is worth checking out for the magnificent pictures from prior years, like this leaping doll called "Azure" by Ralonda Patterson.
I really must make this my last post for the day and get on with some actual doll work!

Artistic Figures in Cloth Conference

Don't wait to register at AFIC , a bi-annual conference, this year running April 30 - May 3 in Columbus, Ohio. Registration is open now, and classes are finalized by March 15. Some fill up well before that date.

Gosh it looks like fun. The Exhibition is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday for the teeny tiny admit fee of $2 and under 12 free. I love an expo that invites and encourages kids!

Don't forget to check out organizer Cyndy Sieving's dolls while you are visiting the site.

Digital Dolls

I received an email about the digital edition of Dolls magazine for February. According to the issue if your email addy is in their system the mag will automatically be forwarded to you free through May, as a trial of the new digital delivery method I guess. The email addy to contact if they don't have yours is:

It sure is a nice looking issue. Here's what I loved. When you open a page, and click on the Links tab, appropriate links automatically pop up, including to Lisa Perrin's Etsy store where you can buy a copy (without the copyright info of course) of her featured paper doll. Cool. I want to be in Dolls. I want this blog to be one their links. Hmmmm.