Monday, December 27, 2010

Got a kick out of this...

This afternoon, Jonica purchased a doll pattern in my Etsy shop and left me the absolute best note of all time. I got such a KICK out of it.... I've got to share.
Here it is:

"I love your work!!! I have wanted to make a santa doll for many years, and your dolls have given me the kick in butt I have needed. Thank you!"

Jonica purchased the Tikvah doll Pattern. You can find her here if you are interested!
Thanks, Jonica, you made my day!
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Doll Coming Along (?)

I started a doll today. Yeah!
I found this old photo...and it spun me around and lit off that light bulb for me. The perfect stepping stone.
It was kind of like seeing the inside of a very old house that needs a lot of work and a LOT of money. If you have the eye, you can fall in love with it and see the potential. This photo made my imagination go wild. It screams "Victorian." Perfect for a steampunk-themed doll.

Here's what I've got going on so far:

This is not good at all, so far. It needs a lot of work. The neck is too wide, the shoulders are all wrong, and I'm having trouble figuring out what to do with the bottom. I don't want a stump doll. Also don't want to make the legs in such a way that they wrap around the back of the torso to form the "seat." I'm a little stubborn and instead of making a doll, it looks like I am going to end up with a science experiment.

I'm building the doll on an old sculpting block. I like the shape of it. Although you're supposed to sculpt a head on it with clay, you'll laugh at what I'm going to do.

Here's the FRONT

This is the SIDE

As you can see, I've tied the torso onto the sculpting block. The sides are flat. I drew blue lines on the sides where I'm going to try to develop a "bikini line."

I'm going to take this pattern off and then use clay to build a "bottom" on the back of the sculpting block. (A tushie, I mean!) Then I'll figure out how to incorporate that into the torso pattern. I guess I'm thinking along the lines of a pair of undies filled in (?) I don't know what direction I'm going in. I think I'm just playing mercilessly. Hopefully not wasting time!

If this works out, I'll work on the torso and make it look more like that photo. As I said a second ago, this could be a complete waste of time and it might not work at all, but I want to make something totally "different." Stay tuned. I hope it will be worth it!
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Friday, November 12, 2010


Here is a great way to make a doll stand alone- NO hidden doll stands, no rods up the leg.
All you need is a super magnet!

These magnets are really, really small and super strong. You can fit them inside of a doll's foot, before you stuff the leg up full. NAIL a nail with a big flat head into a block of wood that you want to use as your stand, and WALLA! Your doll will stand unassisted.

Note, however, that you still might want to put an armature in the doll's legs so they don't get wobbly. Use a chopstick or some kind of bendy armature if you want to pose your doll.

I have never seen these type of magnets in a store, but you can find them in geeky gadgety online shops. Just google "strong magnets" or some such thing.

Have fun!!
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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sweet Betty

I finally [almost] finished my Betty. She has been a long time coming but definitely worth the wait. Life sometimes gets in the way between artist and art, and I have really come to accept that. I guess it's "part of life!" I rather like the way she turned out. Wouldn't you say?
You will notice that Betty still needs some shoes. That's okay. We like each other because we both like to go around the house with bare feet once in a while. Betty will get new shoes later.
I think she is as adorable as could be, with or without the shoes!

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Chanukkah Dolls in July

The new issue of Soft Dolls and Animals magazine just came out, and in it is my Draidel doll pattern. If you would like to make a doll for chanukkah, now is your chance!
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

If hair could kill...

I am proud to present my latest work of art: A blowfish.

I think I will go gesso up this blowfish and paint it. Maybe it might become Betty Boop?

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The "worst" doll I've ever made

Here's what I've been working on lately.... this is actually a sneak peek of my Betty Boop doll (which I really hope to finish soon.) She has been waiting patiently on the back burner for quite a while. I guess she won't mind... isn't she creeping up on 80 years old?! :-) Not too bad for an 80-year old, wouldn't you say?
I fished copper beading wire through the hem on the bottom of the dress, right on the sides. This makes the sides fishtail outwards a little. That should give here some "boop be doop!"

Now it gets even better.... or worse I should say. I have never made a doll quite like this. Very, very bad! Don't show this to any of the boys!
This doll is too much fun, I gotta tell ya. I am almost done with Betty's head... but I think it would be wicked to make another body with some other head. It's just too much fun!

I had to "get creative" with the dress because her boobs are just so - well- you know. How was I supposed to make the dress stay up? I chose stretch knit fabric because has has a little lycra in it. I'm glad I did, because I literally had to s t r e t c h it over her boobs! And to be honest, they were so big I ended up using fabric glue to make it stay. (wonder what it would be like to have THAT problem... such problems Betty has. Naughty girl.)

If you would like to try this for yourself, a pattern is available. You can find it in my Etsy shop. Honestly, I think it's a great pattern, even if you make your own head that isn't Betty. Just don't get yourself into any trouble!
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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!
Special for moms- Buy one doll pattern, get a second one free!
Today only! Visit my Etsy shop for the patterns, and come on
over to my Facebook Fan page to let me know what you
choose for pattern #2.
Happy dolling, moms!
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Shirring is a great technique to spruce up any old fabric while adding some serious visual interest without a lot of effort. Think of it as "cheating surface embellishment."Here's how it's done:
•Just take a bit of your favorite plain Jane fabric, about 10" X 20".

•Set your sewing machine stitch length to "loosey loosey" (3.5 or 4, depending on your machine)

• Sew parallel, horizontal rows of stitching on the long side of the fabric, 1/8" apart.

GATHER! Secure the threads on the” pulling side” to hold the shirring in place. Do this either by sewing a line across all the stitching, or by making knots in the thread.

The result: a visual playground of puffing between the lines!

If desired, use this technique on the front of your doll's dress bodice.
Alternatively, make a much larger sample- enough to fit all the pattern pieces of an entire dress, jacket, or whatever.

Go to town and use different colored thread if you like. You'll be amazed at how you can transform a simple fabric into something fantastic.

*This little tip is based on a tutorial from from the
Tikvah pattern. I hope you enjoy it! :-)
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dot's Booping Betty

Today I would like to share with you an amazing Betty, created by Dot Lewallen of speediebeadie.
I am utterly flabbergasted at this work. She basically made her Betty out of beads! Isn't she remarkable? Dot says, "She's ready to boop, and so am I. Boop Boop-Be Doop!-"
Dot, I'm ready to boop with you.

Betty Booping Front View

Betty Booping Back View
Recently I sent out an email to everyone who purchased a Betty Boop pattern in recent months, asking for contest photos. The contest ends on March 31- technically. I say technically because this was so much fun, I just want this to keep on going.

Press here to see the Betty Campaign
Press here to get a Betty Boop Pattern

Dot, I've gotta tell ya- you have really outdone yourself. Thank you for sharing! I'm just thrilled.
Keep the photos coming, everybody!
I'm creating a Betty photo album on the Doll Makers Muse Facebook Fan page.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tikvah is a Star

And here she is...
My doll 'Tikvah' made it to the cover of the Spring issue of Soft Dolls and Animals Magazine by Scott Publications.
More to come!
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tikvah is a star

Lucky day! I submitted my Tikvah Doll to a magazine, and apparently she made the front cover.
I don't know which issue it will be, so let's leave the rest a surprise!
The editor was nice enough to send me an "extra" photo of her. I love professional photos, don't you? I am so excited...

Tikvah is a great doll and she has a great pattern. If you'd like to try your hand, grab a pattern in my Etsy Shop!
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Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Tax Man

Uncle Sam is interested in our craft businesses, yes, he is. And an interesting question just came up for me today. I took my sewing machine in for repair and maintenance this year, and the bill was over $250. Can I take a tax deduction for that ??? If so, I wonder how much of that amount Uncle Sam will let me have- and how it's calculated ???

The answer is... YES. And I can claim it all, regardless of the fact that the machine is already several years old. Thanks, Sam!
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Sunday, January 31, 2010


Please meet Bibbie, the doll I created for the Traveling Doll Project. The thing I love about Bibbie the most right now is her tutti frutti hair. It has been floating around my stash for quite some time now (several years, actually), and I am so excited because I think it's a perfect starting point for her. What a personality it gives her, wouldn't you agree?
Bibbie was the name of my late grandmother's friend. One of the fondest memories of when I was a little girl (and my grandparents still lived in Brooklyn and hadn't retired and gone off to Florida yet), is of my grama and her friend with the funny name. They would talk in Yiddish ('Jewish' as they called it) and thought I didn't understand them. Maybe I didn't then, but I do now! Bibbie is a certain dialect of Yiddish that comes from "Boobie, " which comes from the Hebrew word "booba"- or doll. (not to be confused with Bubby- Yiddish for 'granny.') So Basically, Bibbie is Yiddish for Dolly. What a cute name, huh?

Bibbie is still completely undressed because I will be sending her through the mail to three other artists, who will interpret her according to what they see in her. She did mention that she's feeling a little co-wuld... she definitely needs some clothes. I hope she won't be too embarrassed if I show off her lovely "unshapely" body with love handles. She just had a knish for lunch and an extra helping bowl of matzo ball soup. I have to figure out what to make her for dinner. Something ge-shmock, I'm sure! (ge-shmock = 'delicious' in Yiddish.)
I know- maybe a tongue and mustard sandwich (yuck).

Here she is from behind. I think she has a very nice tooshie.
Bibbie is made of cloth with layers of different concoctions that make her skin smooth, durable, and shiny. Her eyes are made of polymer clay. I think she needs some eyelashes. Maybe one of the other ladies will give her some :-)

By the way:
Bibbie's body was made with my TIKVAH cloth doll pattern. Same doll, different hair and slightly different face. Grab a Tikvah pattern in my Etsy shop and try these wonderful techniques yourself :-)

Along with the doll, I created a traveling journal to record Bibbie's travels.
It's sort of a "green" journal, made entirely of recycled materials.
The pages are made of grocery bags that were cut and ironed (yes, ironed), and the cover is watercolor paper that my daughter "went to town with." I let her play with my Holland watercolors one day, and so I had these gorgeous samples waiting to be used for something special.

I added some lace, trim, glass tiles and a few pretty beads. That was all! It was kind of time- consuming, but I like how it came out so it was worth the effort. It was a good experiment!

Here are a few different angle shots of the front cover

This is the first page of the journal. I just brushed gesso down on the paper. It will be very interesting to see how other people figure out how to do art on grocery bags!
The character in the middle is a "blob doll." She is a rubber stamped image that I stamped onto a piece of silk I pre-treated with fabric medium. (If you don't put fabric medium on fabric before stamping it, it could be blurry). I then sewed it to another piece of silk RST, cut it out, turned it, and made a sort of flattish "blob doll." I was into the rubber stamp thing, and I happened to have this odd doll parts stamp, so I figured, 'why not?'

This is the first "entry." It's a collage I made with fortune cookie thingies that I've been collecting (it's a jewish habit to eat chinese take-out on sunday) It says, 'Good things happen to those who make dolls.'
I think one of those fortunes says that I will be rich and famous one day. I will have to go get some more Chinese food just to make sure.

Well, there you have it. Tomorrow is post office day and Bibbie will be off to see the wizard.
I can't wait to see how she will look when she returns!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Colored Pencils for Cloth Doll Faces

Recently I was asked, "What's your favorite colored pencil for cloth doll faces?"

Admittedly, this is like giving away my best secret ever. Here goes:

My absolute favorite pencil of all time is

These pencils can be bit hard to come by. I stumbled upon them when living in Israel. Most of their art supplies come from Holland or Germany.

The thing that makes these pencils so special is that they literally melt when coming into contact with water. What's more, they don't become watery as you would expect. It becomes kind of like paint, but it seeps right into the fabric immediately. When you spray the doll's face with water and color the pencil on, it works like magic. Shading is a dream with these pencils. I find myself dipping the white pencil in water and blending right over darker colors. I get wonderful results that I could never achieve with other pencil.

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Today I am working on the face for the doll I have created for the Traveling Doll Project.

The body is completely ready. It's been painted and varnished.
I felt that have too many "UFO" [Un Finished Object] heads lying around to make something new, so I decided to alter an existing head. I chose one that originally belonged to a doll whose body and clothing was ruined. This head has been rolling around my art desk for nearly two years!

I built up the nose a bit and hid the seams with paperclay. After it dries I will set in the eyes and then work on her skin: I'll use a hardening mixture, sand it, brush on a few layers of gesso, sand it some more, and then apply more paint again. The head already had a mouth, which looks fine, so it stays.

Here are the eyes I've made.

When this is done, I will post a photo of the entire doll as well as the journal I created for the doll's travels. That was made out of grocery bags.... you'd never believe it. But that is another story :-)

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Cloth Over Clay

Recently somebody asked about the "cloth over clay" method of making faces for cloth dolls.

This is a great technique where you sculpt a face from clay, sort of like a mask, and lay it on a flat doll head. When it dries, stretch fabric is laid over the clay. It really gives you artistic freedom in creating a beautiful face that looks like it is entirely made of cloth.

I just wanted to share a couple of pointers I discovered:

Rather than using fabric glue, you can use TEXTILE MEDIUM. It's more flexible than fabric glue, and it does not stiffen the fabric. The beauty of it is, you can brush it onto the OUTER SURFACE and use a tool to get into those hard-to reach crevices- like the lips, nose, and corners of the eyes. You can completely saturate the fabric and sort of "mold it" like clay. And as I just mentioned, it won't leave the fabric stiff. How cool is that?

Try it!

You can even use it when the face is already painted, and mix it with Pigment Powder as needed.

A good resource for learning how to do cloth over clay is a book by Antonette Cely, called Cloth Doll Making. This is a very technical book and should be in every doll maker's library.

If you would like an actual pattern with step-by-step photo instructions for this technique and the flat-faced head, I do have one. It's called Niamh. Your doll's face will turn out however you sculpt it! Cloth over clay is definitely a worthwhile technique to explore.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

More Boop Progress

I have been working (slowly but surely) on a cloth rendition of Betty Boop. I am up to detailing the head. I've decided to use paperclay to make Betty's hair, rather than yarn (which is what the pattern calls for). After all, she's got these wicked spiky curls and she is a cartoon....I want to keep her looking as true to the original as I can. The curls are done on pins, which support the curls and prevent them from breaking.
This is going to be time-consuming, and probably the most challenging part of the doll. But that is ok with me. I think it's worth the effort.

I also finished up her body. It's got several layers of hard coating and gesso, and painted with acrylic paint. I also put on high gloss varnish. I like the way she's coming out so far... (sorry for the nekkid doll photos, but this is art!)

I've made a few improvements to the original (70+ years old?) doll pattern, including changes to the hands and legs, and alternative techniques. If you would like to try your hand at making a Betty Boop doll, you can grab a pattern on my Etsy shop. Have fun and Boop Boop Be-Doop!
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Send In The Clowns

This is so heartwarming I just had to share!
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Boop in Progress

I got back to Betty this week and finally got her all stitched and stuffed. Here she is so far...
Side View
I have an old beaded purse that must be from Betty's time. It belonged to my Grandmother. I love this purse and I keep it in my drawer. It's one of those sentimental things, you know.... anyhow I can't decide what fabric to make Betty's dress out of and it hit me that beading would look great. I will try to mimic the pattern of the sequins and beads on the purse.The hair is definitely going to be a challenge. The pattern says to use yarn. I'm not so partial to that idea. Hmmmm...... what to do, what to do......

This project is definitely going to take me some time! I am happy with the way Betty is coming out so far. This is one of the "funnest" dolls I have ever made!
If you would like to make her too, you can find the pattern in my Etsy shop :-)

Have fun and Boop Boop Be-Doop!

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