Friday, February 27, 2009

Going for Gould

Last post for today I promise.

Even more reasons to travel: an upcoming exhibit by beautiful cloth doll and prolific fiber artist Jennifer Gould at Forest Hills Fine Arts Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan over March AND another invitational in Malvern, Victoria, Australia in April/May.

I have to admit to a fondness for buttons as textural design element, but I like all her figures and stump dolls, and her nicely organized website.

New Doll House Museum

Here is somewhere fantastic to visit next time you are in Danville, Kentucky. The Great American Dollhouse Museum opened in October 2008, and features an immense and beautiful international collection of doll houses and miniatures, and a playroom for children's play. More reason to travel...

Plush Show

The hard and fast deadline to apply for Plush You, the annual softie show at Schmancy in Seattle is swiftly approaching - March 17. This year the fun will begin October 9th. For instructions on applying and updates visit the Plush You blog.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spread the comfort

Here's a worthy project for doll makers of any skill level. Pat Winter in Indiana has created the Comfort Doll Project, to spread love, compassion and encouragment in the form of 6 inch or smaller doll and spirit figures to battered and abused women. I'm going to send a couple of dolls along. I hope you all will too.

Dollhouse blog

As promised, this is where I found that beautifully dressed Indian Barbie picture, the Dollhouse blog of Samaiya Mehreen. Now it's not a new blog - the last post was September 2006, but it is very heavy on pictures of miniatures and doll houses and has many links which I found tend to be working. So it's a very nice portal to even more miniature places on line. Happy surfing!


Slumdog Millionaire won a slew of Oscars(tm) and other awards this last awards season. In honor of that both disturbing and uplifting film, here are some websites about Indian dolls.

At Dolls of India, you can find what they describe as "cute" cloth and wood dolls, in traditional costumes of both India and China (lots of these). I think they are cute actually.

Worth perusing is the Library link, which has a feature on doll making and an article about Madhuri Guin (which is easier to find by clicking here than there). She also customizes Barbies. (More on where I found this photo in my next post)

For a very wordy site, but still interesting information try here. There is a bulleted list if you scroll down, that turns out to be links to more pages, only without the usual underlining. As an aside, this site is a great example of how to make a hard to navigate website, a what-to-avoid if you will. I had to be really determined to peruse all the content. But if you were interested in some fine detail about regional traditional doll and toy crafting in India....

Might be easier just to get a book or two.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Cynthia Davis's doll workshop is mentioned on the blog of doll artist Sherry Burton Ways, who also has a website for her doll making venture, Sankofa Doll Artistry. Sherry makes vivid OOAK mixed media and cloth dolls in the spirit doll genre.

On the blog Sherry also tells of a Black Doll Show and sale next Friday and Saturday in Hyattsville, Maryland. The event has free admission and features an exhibit of pioneering African American actress Dorothy Dandridge memorabilia.

Dolls of Hope workshop

For those in the Los Angeles area in February and March, there is a temporary exhibition of cloth dolls called Dolls of Hope at the William Grant Still Community Arts Center. The exhibition, part of Black History Month celebrations, is in conjunction with a series of doll making workshops conducted by health educator, doll maker and HIV activist, Cynthia Davis. The next workshop will be March 21st. My neighbor and her two children attended one recently and had a great time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sherry's new corner

Sherry Goshon has a very pretty brand new website with a nice gallery of dolls. She also continues to maintain her blog as well. I especially like her big, luminous eyes, painted and 3-D.

Fairy Wings How-To

Debbie of DebiDesigns has a lovely pictorial tutorial on her blog about creating delicate fairy wings using soluble stabilizer and thread. Her dark fairies are great too.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Centenery of sorts

This is my 100th post on this blog, after only two months. I'm having a great time and enjoying exploring the world of dolls and figures, and I hope providing a useful service to others. Tonight is also the night of the Oscars (tm) which are special to our family, personally and professionally.

We have one of the golden statuettes living happily in our house standing on one of the few horizontal surfaces that is tall enough for it amongst a bright crowd of my daughter's collection. It was awarded to my late father-in-law, James Coburn. The Academy allows heirs to inherit the statues, but they can't be sold unless they are offered to the Academy first for $1. Not that we would ever, ever want to sell this. It's a long story, but my husband has very few things that were his father's, even fewer that were meaningful and not just "stuff". This is one of the very special things.
As a figure sculpt, they have very clean lines, and a sense of timelessness. The original design was drawn by Cedric Gibbons, art director at MGM at the time, and the original sculpt by Los Angeles artist, George Stanley (here's more of his work in the Moderne style of the time).

And yes the guys really are very heavy.

12 inch High Fashion

I was lucky enough to see Randall Craig's work in person at the Barbie Convention here in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. His knitwear is wonderfully delicate and fine. I like the high fashion glamour of his doll clothing designs and the quality of the realization. I can and do sew dolls clothing, but I can't knit to save my life, so I am very impressed by someone who can do things in as fine a guage as Randall Craig manages.

Online Doll Store

Here's another source for purchasing dolls for collections. Joe's List has many current releases, but also some harder to find items such as convention specials and vintage dolls from many sources. Some of the pictures are just fun to look at - and plenty of movie star dolls too.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Upcoming New Book about Cloth Dolls

I guess today is book day. I've already mentioned the lovely Barbara Willis Designs in an earlier post. However today I was looking around Amazon, making my doll and fiber art wish list (time on my hands this early, early morning? No just procrastinating cleaning the kitchen floor) and I found this new book by Barbara Willis, Cloth Doll Artistry available for pre-order. Looks nice eh?

Kit to go

Ellen Lumpkin Brown of The Doll Loft makes 22 inch tall "Fashionista" dolls from 100 % wool felt. She has written a how-to book with DVD, and also sells patterns and an all-you-need kit that comes packaged in a rather nice looking reusable tote bag. I think it might be a nice resource for someone just starting out in doll making or sewing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Misery

I get kinda excited when I find a doll or figure artist I am unfamiliar with. If you like the doll figures in Coraline and Tim Burton's aesthetic you will definitely enjoy the painted epoxy resin figures of Kathie Olivas. Her "Misery Children" are really cool. She also makes custom altered vinyl toys.

Vinyls of significance

Middleton Dolls started by the late Lee Middleton over 30 years ago helped establish vinyl as a collectible doll medium. They continue to be one of the largest producers of baby doll lines in the US offering life size baby dolls, reborns, and large scaled realisitic costumed child character dolls both for collectors and as play line dolls. They also sell reborning kits.

Meanwhile Lee Middleton Moments are dolls made by The Doll Maker and Friends recreating some of Lee Middleton's original sculpts with new clothing designs. One, "Balance of Life" (pictured), was nominated for a 2009 DOTY.

I'm not sure what this all means, except that people who love collector child dolls made from vinyl, have a lot of wonderful choices.

Ute's Trolls

Ute Vasina makes unique trolls and dolls from cloth with a lot of personality in their needle sculpted faces. On her website she offers fabrics, eyes, hair, patterns and CD's for sale, as well as showing several free patterns for pin dolls. She will presenting some workshops at AFIC in May.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dynamic Duo

Jodi and Richard Creager collaborate to make beautifully detailed OOAK figures and miniatures. They have been doing this for over thirty years! What a wonderful partnership. What a wonderful life.

This 1/12th scale Mad Eye Moody is a diminutive 6 inches tall. Amazing detail.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Historical Miniatures

Teresa Thompson in the UK makes historically costumed miniature figures in 1/12 or 1/8 scale that display her comprehensive knowledge of clothing through history. The dolls are fabric over a wire armature and many of the fabrics are vintage and repurposed. When you visit the site be sure to click on the "My Dolls House" link and scroll around...especially if you happen to be a member of Doll Street Dreamers and participating in the Discworld challenge.


I'd love to be able to name the artist behind these small (8-9 inch) wire jointed polymer clay dolls, but I can't find any name but "Dollings" . Many of them have a bleak outlook on life, that doesn't stop them being beautiful. We need pessimists in the world too, as well as happy little bunnies. So many of Shakespeare's great heroines came to sorry ends.

Needle and Clay blog

Here's another blog doing something similar to what I am doing here, but with more pretty bells and whistles and not as frequent posts. Tea Rose features artists, and notifies us of online tutorials. There just can't be too many lovely blogs about doll art, can there?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gourds galore

Here's a nice looking how-to book about gourd dolls. "Making Gourd Dolls and Spirit Figures" By Ginger Summit & Jim Widess, looks rather comprehensive, to judge from the preview pages posted on the Caning Shop website. The photos look clear and the variety of dolls for inspiration huge.

Toy Fair

The 2009 Toy Fair is happening in New York this weekend. There is a video on the website showing some of the new toys that will be shown this year. I eagerly await the hearing about the Toy of the Year winners, which will be announced later today, Sunday. The List of nominees includes Madame Alexander's 18 inch cloth Fancy Nancy in the Specialty Toy category.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Neanderthal Figure Model

It's not strictly about dolls, but the description of the latter part of the process sounds like reborning, including silicon casting, detail painting and rooting individual hairs. Scientists at the University of Zurich doing computer-assisted Paleoanthropology are using what sound like programs related to CG animation to fill in the missing parts of fossilized bone fragments to create skulls and then build molds for figures from that. I think it's fascinating.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Etsy Valentines

In honor of Valentine's day, here is a selection of heart, love and valentine related dolls in Etsy stores....

Shelly Marioposa has a lovely felt Queen of Hearts.

Flirty Rose offered by Quirky Dolls is a diminutive 3 inches tall and can be a pendant or pin.

Naked Peggies has a Be My Valentine Kokeshi doll that is sweet.

Susie the Pink Polka Dot Sock Monkey by Elegant Hobbies would bring a smile.

Nutella97's flirty Liza Kelly Fairy is a slighty naughtier OOAK with wings and a skimpy bikini.

CutieFlair makes a cuddly cloth child's doll from her original pattern , with a beautiful hand painted face called Emma.

Wwoodbury makes pairs of Lambs and delightful clothing for them including some with hearts.

Not your usual pretty-pretty, but very interesting and cool, Loopyboopy has a polymer clay OOAK called Julia with the tag line "Be gentle with my heart."

Lucy Blaire presents a Red Naugahide Bunny, cute with an edge.

Charsdolls shows a Valentine face pin amongst her other dolls.

Ferragamo Studios makes felt, cloth and embroidery matryoshka shaped dolls including a saucy winking one name Laura. Well maybe not saucy, really just good humored. You be the judge - that's her in the picture.

Great newsletter

Mary D's Dolls & Bears & Such is a store for doll collectors with a great e-newsletter. I just received my most recent edition today. It is full of info, pictures and links including reports about new doll lines unveiled at IDEX. I love that the store was started in response to the owners being drawn into the world of doll collecting by their little girls' love of dolls, just as I was brought to art doll making through my own daughter's fascination with every kind of doll.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

April Digital Dolls

Oh and just in passing the March/April digital edition of Dolls magazine has just come out and is delicious, full of previews of 2009 upcoming collections. Still free, but not for long. Worth subscribing to, for sure.

DOTY winners announced.

The DOTY Industry Choice awards have been announced. A full list of the winners has been kindly provided by Denise Van Patten on her blog. I'm happy to see some movie star characters amongst the winners, including Tonner's Bette Davis and Integrity's fictional golden era star Gene Marshall Olympia (pictured). I hope to showcase more of the winners over time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Elsita at NIADA

Happy, happy news! The 2009 NIADA conference website is up. It sounds like an incredible, immersive event, in Tennessee, September 8-13. One aspect that is cool is that workshops are open to non-conference attendees for a slightly higher fee, still requiring pre-registration. So if you were only able to make one day... Some of the offerings are so grand they leave me speechless. I gather admission to the sales floor is free too.
Elsa Mora is the keynote speaker. Often featured in crafting magazines, she makes beautifully shaped and colored soft toys, dolls and remarkable cut paper sculptures. Plus she has an Etsy store which makes her feel like a kindred spirit.

Ball Jointed

Ball Jointed Dolls have the capacity to inspire the same kind of willful suspension of disbelief in their adoptive family as reborns. They like to be carried around to places and visit, wearing either very contemporary youth fashions or fantastical fantasy outfits. Highly poseable they lend themselves to dioramas and photographic stories.

ElfDoll Inc is a South Korean company that makes BJD's. Their Rainydolls are large in scale (58cm or close to 30 inches) and have beautiful face sculpts. However they also manufacture miniature BJD's and have teamed with a BJD and vinyl doll designer, Charles Stephan, to produce his Alice Cherry Blossom tiny "anthro" figure. Aw she's just such a cute little thing. Her nose is an upside down heart.

Charles' Creature Cabinet is based in the Netherlands. The website is very pretty and fun to visit with plenty of work in progress photos and stories. Also sooooo sweet are his limited edition Woodling Baby Fauns, micro (8cm or about 2 inches) ball jointed pixies. Charles Stephan is going to be First Guest of Honor at GoGaDoll, ABJD doll party and convention in San Francisco, June 19-21. Expect cosplay and magnificently costumed dolls.

Ruby Lane

Ruby Lane is an antiques and collectibles online auction store with member stores including one called Old Babes that specializes in estate dolls and doll memorabilia. They currently have 40 antique doll related items including tiny purses and Shirley Temple Soaps.

There are several other doll stores within the Ruby Lane umbrella listing 13,060 doll items. Well I'm not planning on counting them, but that sounds like a good place to start looking for your next antique doll for your collection. Here's a Disney's Snow White from 1939.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blue Heron

Every industry has it's A-listers. A few people whose artistry and experience earns them the highest respect within their profession or vocation. Including doll making. I've mentioned some already, and will feature more over time. And here is another well known name, Deanna Hogan of Blue Heron Dolls.
Recently she placed a very nice tutorial on her blog about creating finger and toenails, that certainly illustrates the level of thought and attention to detail that explains why Deanna is one of the top in our field. Many of her dolls have a vintage repro feel, remarkable illusion of depth in the painted facial features, while other faces are made three dimensional with fabric over clay masks. I want to say that her dolls have purity of line and clarity in their faces and costumes that highlights the craftsmanship of the manufacture. Plus she really takes wonderful doll photos which stand as examples for all of us.

Magical Beans

Just look at the adorable personality in these dolls' painted faces. Colleen Babcock has designed and made these. She maintains a delightful blog, The Magic Bean, that includes the generous Freebie Friday showcasing links to free doll, fiber arts and crafty stuff.On her Etsy store are a pattern and a kit for making your own Gather Ye Rosebuds figure. You would swear they just giggled.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bead On

Dot Lewallen is an amazing bead artist. She participates in a monthly Bead Journal Project, embellishing (inadequate word) found soft objects like toys with an encrustation of beads making the mundane and mass produced into something unique and amazing. This odyssey she chronicles on her blog and this year intends to add the extra layer of using only recycled objects as the foundation for her work. Meanwhile on her SpeedieBeadie website, pictures of her past adventures in beaded and other dolls are there to inpire us all.

Dot happens to be a member of a doll club with a cool name, Guilded Lilies, in Columbus, OH. Part of the membership requirement is to make one doll for charity each year. Good on you, ladies.

Creative Girlfriends Challenge

Here's another doll making contest opportunity: The Creative Girlfriends Pop Daisy Fabric Challenge at the Quilting, Stitches and Crafts Expo in Reno, NV May 28 - 30. The cash prizes are Viewer's Choice, and there is an address for obtaining these summery pretty challenge fabrics. A bit of each has to be used in your challenge object.

World's Tiniest Teddy and more

But seriously folks, not content with encouraging you to travel all over the USA for conventions and museums, now I have found somewhere fabulous to visit in Cumbria, UK. It is "A World in Miniature" museum and it looks absolutely breathtaking and mind boggling. Everything is 1/12 scale. Luckily we can take a mini tour (no pun intended, at least at first) on the website.

Congratulations Kate and Mickey

Kate Winslet won a Best Lead Actress British Academy Award earlier tonight. In honor of her, here is the Titanic Rose Barbie doll wearing a recreation of one of the costumes from that nice little movie ten years ago.

And in honor of Mickey Rourke winning Best Lead Actor for "The Wrestler", here is cinnachick being creative with wrestling action figures and (!) on her flikr site.

I'd love to post a picture of the Randy the Ram action figure props created for the movie, but so far I haven't found any.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


In my search for off the beaten path dollmakers, I came across a doll and marionette maker who carves her doll's heads from hardwoods like Maple and Manzanita root. Debi Knight Kennedy also makes found object dolls, and performs with some of her puppets in Alaska.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dada dolls

I am always attracted to mixed media assemblages and found object sculpture. Here are some wonderful figurative pieces made by artist Elaine Benjamin from recycled found objects and materials not usually associated with dolls. I found them very engaging. They have fanciful little stories too. (Her chairs are cool too.)

Classes and patterns and repros - oh my

This is a link to a page of self-paced Cloth Doll Classes that are offered by Crafty College and part of The Doll Net. There are fairies, babies, mermaids, whacky and wonderful figures, cloth Bleuettes and millinery. Scroll down to the very bottom to find several mini-classes for free, including a great tiny cloth hand tutorial, by Judi Ward. Thank you very much indeed.

I am particularly intrigued by Judi's antique reproductions in cloth, including the pictured faux wood doll. Many of these have patterns available from the site. She also makes and offers patterns for a number of toy dolls for children. So cuddly.

Run away to the circus

Ankie Daanen is porcelain art doll maker working in the Netherlands. Her dolls have a recognizable distinctive set to the eyes, proportion to the faces and ear position. They are exquisitely costumed, as the website describes. They are adorably charming and lively, seeming to inhabit a magical children's carnival.

Unsurprisingly Ankie Daanen is a member of NIADA. According to their website in 2008 she created the souvenir doll for the NIADA conference in Las Vegas. That must be a spectacular event. **I have to make a correction here since receiving my Spring issue of Art Doll Quarterly. The doll Ankie was presenting was called "Souvenir Doll". There's a beautiful picture of it in the magazine.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Beaux Arts

What is especially gorgeous about these dolls is the finesse of the costuming. Esther Brassac is a textile artist whose brilliance extends beyond art dolls. But her dolls are beautiful, delicate creatures. The website is originally in French, which just adds to the elegance, but luckily there is an English translation. Much of the site is devoted to historical information about lace making, paper mache and other traditional textile arts that Esther incorporates in her doll making practice.

Hollywood Royalty

Jason Wu, of Integrity Toys, is in the process of launching a wonderful new line of Hollywood Royalty. His gorgeous Lana Turner is already available. I wanted to wait until the new website was up in Spring, but I also wanted to include him in my movie theme for the month. Ah to be so torn. I like the Josephine Baker doll, pictured, too. More to come...

Anyhoo, the Integrity Toy dolls whether collector's editions or play line are always of the most amazingly high quality. We have two of the Monsieur Z dolls, and five Dynamite Girls. How he can do the DG's - especially their clothes - at this quality for the price is completely beyond me. My daughter has made her Jett Dynamite a detective, like Nancy Drew only cooler, and she writes very amazing mystery solving scenarios with the dolls. We incorporate a SilkStone Ken when she needs a fellow.