Friday, November 15, 2013

The "Art" of Taxes

Are you one of those lucky people who create art and make a living from your passion?  
Lucky you!

Aside from being passionate about art doll making, I am a tax accountant.  I think that makes me a geek who plays with dolls.

I'm gearing up for the coming tax season and I've been thinking about art a lot.  Dolls... tax.... how to merge that together?  Seems like pickles and ice cream or something. 

Anyway, I remember myself years ago when I first got started with Doll Makers Muse.  I didn't know the first thing about bridging business and playing with dolls!  Do you know how to account for your art business properly? Are you just starting to make money and not sure what to do next?  Do you know how to get all the tax deductions artists can get?  I mean, who wants to deal with all that stuff anyway?  I'd rather work on a doll head than take my head off trying to figure all that stuff out.  Wouldn't you?

So I know I'm an oddball of sorts.  I'm into dolls and accounting.  Must have something to do with our ability to sit, stay focused and pay excruciationg attention to detail as artists.  I don't know what it is, but it is what it is LOL!

 My website

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Happy dolls and happy taxing!
No, that doesn't sound right.
Happy dolling!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ADQ Review

Art Doll Quarterly by Stampington & Co. has been around for years, but I haven't read it for some time. That's why I decided to challenge myself and write a review. I hope you find it interesting!

I must start out by going back in time, when I first began my love with doll making and my first impressions of ADQ "way back then." Then I'll fast forward to what I find now, after not having seen it for some time. I think it will be interesting, so please bear with me!

**TIME WARP** Seattle, WA 2003
Bought an EXPENSIVE (how could I afford justify???) Husqvarna Designer 1 with a FLOPPY DISK lol! for the most amazing embroidery possible to mankind. The shop where I had just purchased this sewing machine car was unusually large and spacious, with groups of tables scattered around. This allowed for many different classes to take place at once, and was quite comfortable. One evening during a class where I was learning to use the thing, I noticed a group of women sitting around their cluster of tables, passing dolls around.
I could not help but stare at them.
How utterly shocking and intriguing- perhaps the most shocking and intriguing thing I had ever seen- grown women having a show and tell of dolls!?  I had to find out what was going on over there. I walked right up to the group. My mouth must have been gaping or something. I must have had the 'spellbound' look on my face because I left my machine parked on a table on the other side of the room and was quickly ushered into a vacant seat. Everyone was friendly, and they let me get a closer look at their dolls.
The ladies were passing around this "brand new magazine called Art Doll Quarterly." I could not believe my eyes. What, a doll making magazine for adults? Who ever heard of such a thing? Is it even allowed? Needless to say, I fell in love with the art of doll making instantly, and have been in a trance ever since!

The first issue of ADQ

 I was impressed because of the audacity of it- grown people reading about dolls. The pages were not cheap and flimsy. It felt good in my hands. There were all kinds of dolls in it from all kinds of artists. And the thing that impressed me the most is that the artists were ordinary people from all around the country and all around the world. Ordinary people like ME who can't necessarily explain why they love dolls. And don't HAVE to. Bravo!
By the way, the artist profile in this premiere ADQ is Akira Blount, who the doll making world just lost very recently, may she rest in peace.

 **Fast forward**  Some of my work was published in ADQ: Fuscia 

and a mischeivous theft-prone goblin who can only be pacified with Turkish coffee-

PAGAZ - Found Object Aficionado of the Sky

PAGAZ appeared in this 2006 edition

Nothing was more delightful than to see my "babies" printed in ADQ.

I can remember many rainy weekends picking up random issues and re-reading them for the 10th or 11th time. I drew much inspiration from this particular magazine, just knowing that there were others out there who shared my same passion. It made me feel very special.  I collected ADQ until eventually I moved to Brooklyn, NY to get married to my dear husband, David.  NYC hasn't been an inspiring place for me because of the stress of the city, and because it's so expensive to live here that I don't afford myself the time to relax and be an artist much these days.  So it was a real pleasure to pick ADQ up once again. 

 **Fast forward even more** Winter, 2013 edition of ADQ
 It's mid-November, and I'm bracing myself  (grumble) for the holiday shopping season.  I'm Jewish, and oftentimes I get very aggravated by all the advertising, consumerism and alienation that I feel during the end of the year.  "Winter wonderland" ends in December... there's no January or February!  Just kidding.  Anyway you understand.  I'm sure that my being Jewish has very little to do with it... I know people feel this way too.  It's all about selling and selling and selling, and I don't like it. It's overkill.   I just want to enjoy the season for what it is, the way it was created, in all its beauty and splendor.

So............. I open my mailbox, and there it is, in my hands once again.  ADQ.  Winter.  2013.  I get into the elevator and all these thoughts come rushing through my mind....what's in this magazine?  Am I going to like it?  How is it going to make me feel?  In a quick one-and-a-half-minute elevator ride, I was whirling around in my own mind, bracing myself and basically expecting to find a doll magazine filled to the rim with everything that I'm not interested in.  But I was wrong!

What I did find was page after page of interesting techniques, inspiring projects and the same high-quality paper and fabulously inspirational photography that took my breath away 10 years ago when I saw that first issue.  There were familiar, artists whom I have "known" for years, like Shelley Thornton, Marlene Verhelst, Annie Wahl and Adele Sciortino.  I'm particularly fond of Adele because she and I exchanged fabrics and notions across the ocean when I was overseas in Israel for a short time.  I loved Marlaine's article about creating facial expressions. 

I was mesmerized by Connie Smith, whose work is 100% new to me.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about (and seeing!) her anthropormorphic dolls.  WOW.

I was touched by Julie Branch when she talked about a woman who "flabbergasted" her by asking [about her dolls on display, perched all around her] "So why do you make them?"  This is a question we all must ask ourselves.  She beckoned me to read further into the magazine.

I found myself unraveling, going back into my expressive, curious artist self.  It felt so comfortable.  Turning the pages, I was delighted to see the "song dolls."  What a perfect idea! Rod Steward "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" made me CRACK UP.  This was not something I was expecting to find in a winter wonderland!

 I did see some elves, but these were cute LOL!  In the Show and Tell section, there are these funny winter frogs named Ralph and Justin, by Cheryl Riello. Winter frogs?  What a sense of humor!

Would you believe there was a Hawaiian Santa?   I think he's brilliant.  Despite my original apprehensions, he really appealed to me because I got a very positive message.  It was like saying, "I'm not like everyone else, but I still belong here and I have a great time and I'm beautiful!"  He hit the nail right on the head.   Thank you, Becky Supon for creating him (and the seahorse!) and thank you, ADQ for choosing such a brilliant Santa inclusion. 

There were many other interesting artists, dolls and ideas in this issue of Art Doll Quarterly.  If you haven't seen it yet, I suggest you pick it up.  You might be in for a nice surprise!

Happy dolling,

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

My Visit to Etsy

Have you ever wondered where Etsy is?
So have I!
My husband and I were cycling around DUMBO, Brooklyn today, and so I decided to find Etsy and have a look.

Etsy is located in a relatively new-ish neighborhood in Brooklyn called DUMBO.  DUMBO stands for 'Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.'  I say 'new-ish' because for years, this place was seedy, scary and pretty much abandoned.  But recently it's been on the up and up, with stunning NYC waterfront views, cobblestone, old trolley tracks, and charm.  It's truly emerging as part of the "Brooklyn Tech Triangle"- the 'silicone valley' and arts hub of NYC.

I looked up ETSY on my GPS, and followed the directions to 55 Washington Street.

Here is the street.   You can see the Manhattan Bridge in the background.

mom and girl with balloon

me on my bike

I was going up and down the street, looking for Etsy. 
55 Washington Street....
I was expecting to find an amazing old remodeled industrial building.  But I found that ETSY is housed in a large glass office building.  There are no logos outside at all!

I didn't go inside the building, but I did continue wandering around the streets for a while.  It's such an interesting place!
Plymouth street, around the corner from Etsy.  Brooklyn Bridge in the background

Here I am directly under the Manhattan Bridge.  Someone made some fun graffitti on old (abandoned?) buildings. 

Continuing up the road I come to the waterfront promenade.  See the Brooklyn Bridge in the background?

Just look at this view!

I had such a wonderful time looking around this beautiful place.  This time I got to see the outside of Etsy.  But I can't wait to find out what it looks like inside!

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Virtual Course in Dollmaking

I am pleased to announce my first online course in a looooonnnng time!
I'll be teaching the art of cloth dollmaking, with a focus on some complex but not-hard-to-master techniques that you will want to practice and use again in many of your upcoming projects.

To learn more, please follow this link

Class begins this Monday, June 3.
I hope you can make it!

This class was fun but it's done :-)
If you would like to make the doll on your own, look for "Niamh" on my website or Etsy Shop.  You can download the pattern and instructions there.

Happy dolling!
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Friday, May 17, 2013


Please meet Cassie, a sweet 20" doll that I created several years ago in Seattle, WA.

Cassie has been lovingly stored in a box for a while, and I recently started to really miss her.  She definitely does not belong in a box.
Cassie is what I like to call my "pivot doll."  Deanna Hogan came up to WA State to teach a course using her pattern, "Verity."  It was during this class that I was first introduced to the gel medium/modeling paste overlay technique that I'm so partial to.  In fact, each time I create a new art piece, I can't stop myself from using it again.  This doll was truly the turning point in my doll making endeavors.  I really admire Deanna Hogan.  She's a wonderful artist and a great teacher.

If you are interested in reading more about Deanna Hogan, visit her website at

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Monday, April 22, 2013


Please meet Avigayil, sweet doll with timeless charm. 


 Avigayil is a 25"cloth doll, lovingly and carefully "done up" with a variety of mediums,  paints and varnishes to achieve a mock porcelain look.

Her dress is Victorian / Edwardian-ish, maybe slightly "steampunk" but more "Rivkah inspired" if you know what I mean.  I just started playing with fabric and ideas, and this is how she evolved.  She's a modge podge of stuff I like, and I'm pleased with the way she turned out.

Here she is in all her glory:

One of my favorite parts of Avigayil's outfit is her boots.
 The "buttons" are made of Swarovski crystal beads and pins.

This doll is the culmination of five years in waiting.   She was sewn up in 2008 and remained unfinished until now.   As my mother always says,  "good things come to those who wait!"   I'm sorry I neglected this beautiful girl for so long,  but I'm so glad she's finally complete.
I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!

Thank you for looking, and happy dolling!
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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Old hose, new hose

Ooh La La Fishnet Stockings 

I have these great fishnet stockings with mini holes - great until they got runs and became unwearable.   Well... unwearable for me, that is.  I think they will be just the perfect touch for a doll, don't you?

These hose been in my drawer since last summer because I just like them and can't get rid of them.  You know how it is.

Here's a closeup showing how the hose looks in action.  Oooh la la!

I'll fiddle with it a little, and add some details to these boots.   Stay posted and I'll show you how it turns out.   Her hair will be next!
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Monday, March 04, 2013

Repurposed and Rejuvinated!

I wanted to share the progress of my new "done-over doll" :

After- painted face
Before - cloth face with colored pencils

I'm completely amazed at the results so far.  I can barely believe that this is the same doll!  It's amazing what a little TLC can do.

I still haven't decided what to do with her hair, but I don't' think she wants be a black-haired girl again.    I haven't given her eyebrows or lashes yet because I'm still thinking... No false eyelashes this time! And, she might lose the hat.  I don't know.  I'm a slow thinker and that is okay. 

This is what I am using (not these colors, just showing you the brand and type of paint):

I like it because it's got unsurpassed pigment and quality, and it's not too expensive.
My list of paints are as follows:
  • titanium white
  • titan buff
  • quinacridone violet
  • quinacridone red
  • carbon black
  • burnt umber light
  • yellow ochre
  • primary cyan
  • green gold

I always tend to gravitate toward these colors.

These paints are not too hard to come by.  If you need to get them online, you can find them here, among other places.  

The skin color is a paint that is sold on The Clay Alley website.
I really like it and I just keep a nice sized bottle around, so I don't have to keep mixing colors to get a good skin tone.  It lasts a long time and doesn't dry up over time.

One last thing that I have to say about acrylic paint is that it dries pretty quickly.  It's nice to be able to work relatively fast and not have to wait long for your layers to dry.  That is a definite advantage.  I think for the next doll, I would love to try oil paint.  I used to be kind of impatient, if you  know what I mean- waiting for the layers to dry and all - but I think my tastes have changed.  I like the idea of taking my time.  :-)

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

Please allow me to introduce you
to one of my favorite and
best-kept-secret doll making tools:

The diamond file.

I love this tool because it allows me to get into the tightest of spaces and file down the tiny bumps wherever they may be.

I have two files. One is square and the other is round. The round one is great on curves and the square is great when I need a tiny tool on a tiny flat surface. The. Best of all is the tip on both tools.

Diamond files are meant for glass. Once upon a time, I wanted to try my hand at making jewelry.  That's when I got these tools.  I tried it once and decided I'd had enough jewelry making!  LOL!
I gave the jewelry to my daughter and repurposed the files for my dolls.

Much better!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I'm starting a new doll!  

Well, not exactly...  

Rather than starting a brand new doll, I decided to work on an old girl that I never really finished.  

It's been quite a very long time since I've created a doll, so I wanted to work on this one since I've been thinking about her for years and I know I'll be thrilled when she's finally done.  Have you ever made a doll and felt it was taking too long, so you just wanted to hurry up and finish it already? We'll I think that's what happened with this doll. She's pretty but I always felt she could be beautiful. Really beautiful.  Somehow I just love her more than most of the other dolls I've made, and I felt the time was right to give this doll a chance to reach her full potential. She has waited patiently for almost 4 years.  I am so excited to begin this project and I can't wait to see how she comes out (this time I'm not rushing!)  

This Monday afternoon, I got on the subway and went straight into Manhattan - to Pearl Paint, the biggest and oldest and best art store in NYC. I've never been there before, but I felt it was the best thing I could possibly do!  I bought paint, brushes and art stuff I'm missing, so I can get straight to work.   I gave away a lot of art supplies when I moved to NYC from Seattle so "the cupboard was bare." I almost "went shopping" online, but I decided not to.  I'm so glad I took the trouble to get on the train and go.  It was absolutely invigorating and it felt so good to just be there, in the midst of so many art supplies and materials.   I felt like I was sitting on a giant palette that was flying like a magic carpet.  

This is going to be a big project with a complete transformation.  She is a fabric doll, but that's about to change :-)  When we are through, she will look like porcelain.  It will  get a little tricky since she's already got clothing, and I can't remove it.  I can take her legs off but her arms are not removable, either. Sorry honey, but off with your hair!  

Here she is, sleeves rolled up and sporting her beautiful body bag.  What a good sport she is! 


I've already rushed ahead of myself and gotten started on her head and neck.  Let me show you the whole process.  Let's hone in on the legs.  Those were easy to remove! I'm laying down the first of three coats of a mixed media mixture that will prevent the paint from cracking on the soft fabric over time.

 Here is the recipe:
Mix 1 part of gel medium and 1 part modeling paste.
Brush the mixture on 3 times, allowing it to dry for a few hours in between coats.
Sand each coat with fine sandpaper.  
When done, paint with skin colored paint and then apply glossy glaze.

The technique was developed by Helen Pringle and taught to me by Deanna Hogan. 
I love this technique.  It allows us fabric doll lovers to achieve a certain look for our artwork that is usually found in porcelain dolls.  I also love painting, and now I'm not afraid that the soft fabric will cause the paint to crack or peel over time.

Back to my project!  :-)

Before laying down the protective undercoating, I actually added a some paperclay to improve her needle sculpted nose.  I also built up the area where her lips will be, and a little on the brow above her eyes. In addition, I "smeared" paperclay over the seams so they would disappear under the paint.  I let the paperclay dry before brushing on the undercoating mixture.

By the way, here is a little tip when using this method:  Dab a bit of fabric glue onto the fabric before putting the paperclay down.  This really works.  If you don't use the glue, the clay could just fall off when it dries.  It also makes it easier to get it on there in the first place.

 I think I can see her smiling underneath the undercoating.  Can you?

Next I'd like to work on her hands.  I think I can improve them.
This is the original hand with seams running down to create the fingers.  I love the unusual shape of the [sewn] hand, but I don't really like the way the fingers are all one length.  Here is my chance to change that. 

I added some paperclay to the tips of the fingers.   I found it a bit difficult to control the clay because the area is so small, but I think I can get it to work.  The index finger is a little on the fat side. (the picture above shows it better).  I'll just have to deal with it... nobody's perfect.

To suggest fingernails, I cut a straw on an angle.  I'm pressing down into the clay to make indentations.  When it's dry, I'll paint them.  Should I use magenta like I'm wearing?

I feel I'm off to a good start.  I hope you enjoy reading about this transformation as much as I an enjoying the process.  I will post more photos as she progresses..  Come back and visit again!  

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