Tuesday, December 9, 2014


As a rule, I start revving up for Christmas when I put the Jack-o-lantern back in the attic.  But Jack never made it downstairs this year because I was in Houston on Halloween.  Thanksgiving has been turned over to grand daughter, since she has a very large kitchen and a large, custom built dining table.  Not to mention a gaggle of friends.

I still retain Christmas hosting rights - my small home can handle the few family members still around.  Besides, I have a fireplace and all the Christmas stockings!  But this is the year I donate 90% of my accumulated decorations to grand daughter and her significant other.  The big wreath over the fireplace and some poinsettias will be enough to brighten my interior.

So I'll do some baking.  A neighbor gave me three huge Meyers lemons which will go to make lemon bars.  Another favorite I'll make is mincemeat cookies.  And as my son said when he was young - "it isn't Christmas until Mom makes Ambrosia".  Bags full of free citrus make that easy enough.  If you're willing to prep it  from scratch.  A labor of love in my case.

The pressure of deadlines is off.  I've decided competition is just too expensive.  I will make custom D&D figures and figures I sketched months and years ago.  A doll to-do list of ideas that seemed worth exploring in-depth.   But first, we must "do"  Christmas.                                

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Gingerbread Extravaganza!

December 1, 2014

Both gingerbread projects have been delivered - always a tense moment since the house is large and weighs close to 40 pounds.  The house was last years' project and though it didn't win any prizes, it was very popular so we were asked to protect it and return it to show again.

The drama (and trauma!) began when Mary and I were moving said house from my closet to the dining table.  Half way across the living room, my foot got tangled in the plastic cover and I went down - hard - on top of the gingerbread house.   It is a tribute to our construction methods that I sustained more damage than the house.  The scratches on my face are almost gone as are the bruises on my wrist although the impact spot is still qtuite sore.  The house lost a single, small gumdrop which the dog probably got because I can't find it.

As for this years' project, we made it quick and simple - a snowman, a fire hydrant and a wire haired terrier. The title is "Decisions, Decisions".

Tomorrow night is the reception for the artists and sponsors and awards.  From December 3 through 23, visitors will be able to bid on the pieces offered for sale.  Can you imagine how thrilled the children would be to see a gingerbread house on the mantel or in the center of the dining table?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Miss Mardi Gras won - Second place, I think.

The Gypsy Challenge had but three winners, Best in Show and two Judges' Choice.   I spent my winnings on a packet of lovely pink fabrics at the Gypsy booth.  I envisioned all sorts of lovely (doll) costumes I could make with it.  Unfortunately, Flynn Hollysharp didn't win anything but she did loose the tips of her fingers on her left hand, which allowed her bow and arrow to drop.  I'll make the repair then return Flynn to her rightful owner - my grandaughter.  I've asked her to use Flynn as a marketing tool on the D&D sites.

I've decided I can no longer afford to compete in the Gypsy Challenge.  It's just too expensive to mail a doll to Houston and back, an average of $200. + round trip.  If the prize money was enough to cover that expense I might reconsider, but a $30. gift certificate, though nice, just doesn't do it.

Despite the hundreds of vendors, I only bought three things; a little iron that looks like a toy but is the perfect size for doll costumes, some bobbins for my sewing machine and the fabric mentioned above.  But the holidays are fast approaching and I'm putting the dolls aside until the new year.  My friend Mary and I have a gingerbread snowman to build.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I'm in a holding pattern . . . .

Sister will be here tomorrow aftrnoon - I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning - can't pack another thing until Wed morning, just before we leave.  Don't want to start another doll until we get back. I'm in limbo.   So I've been cooking most of the day and freezing what I've cooked.  Don't want rotten food in the 'fridge when I get back and it will be nice to have a heat-and-eat selection on hand.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Details, details . . .

Okay, the road trip is only about 5 days away and there are suddenly a gazillion little details that need tending to. If the filled-in squares on my October claendar were all social engagements, I would be the most popular woman in town. Unfortunately, that is not so.  Most are reminders of those gazillion details.

 Will try to put together an album of the trip in a reasonable time.  That means my sisters will have to download their cameras, too.  DID YOU HEAR THAT, GIRLS?

Plus Two, Minus One.

Plus Two - my dolls The Falconer and The Fairy Queen will be published in the winter and spring editions of Art Doll Quarterly magazine.  I received two copies of the winter edition yesterday - published artists always receive an extra copy to share or keep pristine for their archives.

Minus One - the fashion world lost Oscar de la Renta.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Tension is Beginning

Houston is beginning it's faint glow on the horizon.  I'm no longer worried about dolls arriving on time or unbroken.  They've arrived and if they're broken - well, maybe I can salvage them when I get them home.

So, with the doll worries over, suddenly I'm asking myself - what on earth am I going to wear?! I've an idea if I stacked every piece of clothing in my closet, it wouldn't weigh as much as the fabric in my 45 gallon tub  of doll fabric.   It's not that I don't like having pretty new clothes, I just never find any in Michael's or Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's.  And it's well known that I HATE to shop and can't sew worth a darn.

Time out!!

Time out while I battle a flea infestation!!  This is not an uncommon occurrance during a rainey spell.  I've just managed to avoid it for many years.   Standard procedure around here is to treat the dog or pet, treat the inside of the house, the pets' bed or toss it in the washing machine weekly, and treat the yard.  Which is a good argument for keeping the dog confined to the yard.  And the battle is time consuming, because after vacating the house with pet(s) while it's fogged, one must vacuum - and vacuum - and vacuum for several days in order to pick up flea eggs and those that will hatch over the next few days.  AND, in between vacuuming, one launders everything that can be put in a washing machine.  Am I worn out?  Youbetcha!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Trick? or Treat?

Her name is Stella Skelly and she's 30 inches tall.  IF I can have her finished by Halloween, she will be wearing sheer black stockings, a black lace and silk corselette and a short, spider web lace neglegee.
And spiders.                                                                                                                                                        

Friday, September 12, 2014

They're Off!!

Today, I mailed Flynn Hollysharp and the Mardi Gras Marcher to Houston.  Praying these two dolls will arrive with no damage.  I put them in a 45 gallon plastic storage container and used an entire roll of bubble wrap on them - hope it was enough.  And one-way postage saved me about $100. this year because I will be there at the end of the show to pick up the dolls and bring them home.

Tomorrow, I will mail a CD to Art Doll Quarterly magazine in the hope that they will consider the doll photos   it contains to be good enough to publish.

ADQ.jpg (500×667)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Getting Organized - Again

I should probably strike the word "organized" from my vocabulary, because I doubt that I ever will be.  Cleaning up the aftermath of three dolls on two deadlines has presented its own problems, namely, storage.  Finished dolls are a particular problem because they must be protected from dust with large gift basket bags and  stored where the curious won't have easy access.

Fabric storage has become a problem as well.  My primary fabric storage unit is a 45 gallon plastic container  that now weighs upwards of 50 pounds.  The only place it can be stored where it's out of the way but accessible, is under my desk.   But, being a three-sided desk, there is also room (more or less) for eight copy paper boxes, four sweater boxes, one large dress box, a case of copy paper, a rectangular trash can, my Mom's old sewing box and a paper shredder.   Two arms of the top of this monster desk are covered with computer stuff, the third arm is a dedicated work surface.  Which is rarely clear of a project or two.

The rest of the room is just as bad.  It shows signs that I've tried to maintain some form of organization - but haven't quite made the mark.

Oh, well.

Monday, August 25, 2014

She's Finished - and so am I.

The queen of the Fairies had her photo shoot this afternoon after weeks of panicy preparations.  I do believe this is the first doll I've ever pulled an all-nighter for and I was still tweaking her look minutes before the photographer arrived.   She is lovely, though.  To my child's eye, she is the queen of Nordic fairies because of her very fair complexion, palest blond hair and blue eyes.   And she is tiny; the grasses and flowers tower over her.

I on the other hand, sit amidst the shambles of my office/studio - the battle zone between my imagination and my physical skills - or lack thereof.  The desk and floor are littered with the bits and pieces of bad judgement, bad cuts, wrong colors, wrong fabrics, hair I've pulled out and fingernails I've torn off.   It will probably take a week to get it all cleaned up, sorted and put back where it belongs.

Then I start all over again.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Constant Companion

My little toy poodle Sassy is an Alpha.  As such, she considers herself to be my boss. To a large degree, she is.  She has taught me how to read her signals.   If she comes to my chair and puts her paw on my arm , most times, this means 'follow me'.  So I go to the back door.  If she wants food instead of a potty break, she stops in front of the cabinet where I keep her food.  She can tell time, when her meals are served, when it's time to get the mail, that she must go sit in her chair when someone comes to the door.  I've had to insist on this, because she will joyfully jump on all visitors and most visitors encourage this (bad) behavior.  So I'm training family, friends and neighbors as well;  no fussing over the dog unless she is in her chair.

Sassy isn't a cuddler and she doesn't like to be picked up and carried around.  But she will always be in the same room with me, quite often on my desk, looking out the window, watching squirrels and traffic.  Or she will lay with her chin just as close to my hand as she can. - with out getting her nose bumped by the mouse.  I can't imagine a dog owner who wouldn't admit in a heart beat, that the mere presense of their dog in the same room is comforting.   That love is worth every minute, every cent of their care.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stepping Back

I've had to step away from this little doll that is driving me so crazy.  It's so bad I phoned my sister yesterday just to vent - even though I knew she had house guests.

I'll try to concentrate on other things over the weekend.  I have a bag of potting soil in the back seat of the car that I'll lug around to the potting bench in the lanai. There is tarragon and basil seed to start and rooted cuttings  that need to be put in soil.   If it will ever stop raining long enough for the grass to dry, I'll cut the grass in the back yard.  And, provided my back holds up, I'll pull up all the Roselle that didn't produce fruit this year.

Perhaps by Monday I'll be ready to tackle the problem doll again,

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It Happens Every Time It never fails

. . . . . . every time I get in a hurry, I screw up.  TWICE, yesterday.   I'm just glad I had enough fabric (barely!!) to cut new pieces.  If these don't fit, I'm gonna be up the creek BIGTIME!!

I couldn't buy more fabric because nearly all of the fabric I have was given to me by two friends who were both professional seamstresses.  I was thrilled to get their scraps and leftovers.  Most pieces were more than adequate for a doll costume.   And some exquisitely beautiful pieces must have surely cost someone a month's wages for a single yard.

And leftovers from my days at Michael's made a pair of beautiful fairy wings.  Like most crafters, I hang on to anything that might be just the thing I need, in the future.  Consequently, because of the boxes of 'stuff', there is barely leg room under my big, U shaped desk.                                                                                                                                                          

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pedal to the Metal!

---- realized late last night that I have a doll due on the west coast no later than Sept 15.  I'm now in full panic mode!
Fortunately, I started her months ago.  She needs sanding and all that PLUS her costume.  That's started too, but the main piece still needs a pattern and mock-up - called a muslin by real designers - but I use heavy duty napkins to work up the final pattern.
Being a fairy queen, she will have elegant wings.  They're the reason I was up so late last night - I'd finally figured out a way to make them so that they would never droop.  I will not have a fairy queen with droopy wings!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

. . . and Ninjas, too.

a Ninja doll??  Yep, for my littlest art student for his 6th birthday.  How on earth do I get myself into these fixes?  (Easy, just open mouth and volunteer!)   Afraid this 'doll' is a quick and dirty version of one of my first attempts at doll making.

I'm using black fabric for the basic doll, will use white fabric to cut out and glue on details like face and hands.  Little artist gets to paint those and whatever else he wants on the figure.  I must remind myself to call it an action figure as opposed to 'doll' although HE uses 'doll'.  Hopefully, his guy friends won't tease him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's frustrating . . .

I'm finding it difficult to maintain a more or less level work progress.  Ideas that seemed to work on paper just don't work when attempted with fabric and glue, etc.  I suppose this is part of the creative process, but it feels like trying to run in knee deerp mud.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I am Blessed

My aunt passed away last year shortly before her 98th birthday.  Still sharp, but with macular degeneration.  A terrible thing for an avid quilter and crafter.  Yesterday, I received a letter from my cousin - containing a check from my aunt.  My aunt had left a small gift to each of my sisters and I.  I was stunned - and ever so grateful.  Now I don't have to worry about paying my way to Houston and back.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Facing my Fears

---- fear of FABRIC,  Not ALL fabrics, just the ones I'm sent for the Gypsy competition or a piece I just barely have enough of to make what I want.  I love fabrics.  They can stop me in my tracks, make me salivate, do an instant project in my head.  I has to be a good thing I can't afford to buy all the lovely cloth that catches my imagination, for I would surely be homeless and starving!

All this to say I cut into the fabric yesterday, to begin making the Mardi Gras costume, a tiny Bikini bottom.  I'm trying to keep meticulous notes this time because pattern making is still difficult for me.  Not because I won't dive into the job with both feet, but because I don't know enough about pattern making.  Cut and Paste works here, too.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Long andf Short of it

     Made some progress last night; Mardi Gras (m.d.) doll now has a warm, dusky skin, sparkly purple eye shadow and glittery red lips.  When I attached her head to body last night I thought she looked great.
     This morning, was a different conclusion.  Her neck, though very graceful, was much too long.  So - off with her head!  Shorten her neck and reattach head.  She looks much better, but now I must wait for the clay to dry before I can sand and paint the area.
     I'll used this forced wait to clear off the work table and iron the fabrics I'll use for her costume.  Cutting into these limited amounts of fabrics is the scariest part of the whole project!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I Can See Clearly, Now!

Fuzzy vision is gone now.  All it took was sixty seconds of staring at a little white light while a little orange laser light blasted away scar tissue.  No pain, no burning flesh, smoke, or other scary stuff.  By bed time, all numbing had worn off and vision was nice and clear.  Now, it's full speed ahead to Houston!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Fan Club

I doubt I could ask for a more enthusiastic 'fan club' than my sisters.  Sister Marilyn attended a big doll show in Asheville and collected a card from every exhibitor, a schedule of classes, two doll magazines, PLUS a subscription to each at a two-for-one show special.  I got the magazines and cards today and I'm wallowing in a flood of creativity.  I doubt I'll ever be as skilled as these artists - but then, I don't use molds or jointed limbs.  And it will be a major miracle should I ever become a skilled seamstress!!

Sister Judy runs out and buys any Art Doll Quarterly my work appears in, then takes it to her sewing and fiber arts clubs to show around.  She also keeps an eye open for fabrics and other goodies I could use for doll costumes.  Best find so far, was two tanned nutria hydes purchased at a yard sale.  One was used to trim a medieval mans' short coat.  The doll now looks like the royalty I meant him to be.

Both of these women are wizards with a sewing machine (I am NOT) and when we get together we are a creative force to be reckoned with.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I have been chastized . .

I don't believe anyone has ever called me patient, least of all, myself.  I admit to having a rather short fuse.  But when I'm working on my dolls, I'm less apt to loose my cool.  They are, after all, small, delicate and the solid, three dimensional version of my imagination.  But last night, I lost it.

After about the fourth attempt to sculpt a tiny, pointed ear, I had it close enough that I knew a little sanding would fix it once it was dry.  I carefully laid the doll aside to allow the new ear to dry and went on to make a hand.  It was getting late.  My feet and ankles were swollen, my back ached and my fuzzy vision eye was getting even fuzzier.  When I set the new hand aside to dry, I noticed that the new ear had been mashed.  HOW?  I had been so careful!!

I grabbed up my armless, one eared little doll and marched back to the kitchen, dabbed the mashed ear with water to soften the nearly dry clay and tried to gently pry it off.  It wasn't happening.  More water didn't help.  In my frustration, I grabbed my clay knife and gave the base of the ear a viscious slice - and sent her entire head flying across the kitchen.

I can only say that because of the way I build my dolls, the damage was - not minimal, but repairable.  Her delicate jaw and happy smile came off the gourd in one cupped piece, looking like an egg shell.  I've glued her head back on, and a layer of clay to cover the cracks.  But the delicate sanding must be done all over again.  My punishment for having a tantrum.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A slow start . . .

I think I'll have to wait until after the scar tissue is removed from my left eye to do some really fine sanding.  (I've been assured my vision will improve immediately).  My efforts to put a super-smooth finish on a doll that will be showing a lot of 'skin', have been frustratingly slow.

So, like any good doll maker, I have more than one project going at a time, and just moved on to the next one in line.  There are, in fact, several more in line.  Some are no more than a quick sketch on a sheet of scrap paper, maybe with a few notes, and a couple have been started - a head or torso sculpted, or the fabrics and trims pulled.  Some times, even the gourds I plan to use are tossed into the work basket.  By the time I'm ready to start actual work on the doll the basket contains every thing I'll need except the clay.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Flynn's finished - on to the Mardi Gras!

After four days of intensive work, Flynn is finished.  She will rest in a clear cellophane bag until time to ship her off to Houston with her Mardi Gras companion.  They go in one container to one address although they will be displayed in seperate venues.  I will pick them up after the show - which will save about $100. if UPS were to deliver them.  (not to mention the very real potential of receiving damaged dolls),

So, I'll take a break to catch up on domestic chores I ignored for a week, then get cranking on the Mardi Gras girl.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's been a Girl Day

Today has been special for me because I got to spend most of it with my grand daughter.  We were working on Flynn's costume and weapons, having some lunch (honey chicken with jasmine rice and veggies), read each other's poetry, freed her Mom's computer of several thousand emails - and let conversations wander where they would. 

Though just graduated from college, she's looking for a class or course to take - writing, perhaps? " Perhaps," she said. " I can't help that I come from a family of readers and writers".  Am I surprised she feels an urge to continue learning?  No.  This is the child who wore her back pack full of books most of the summer before starting first grade.

Friday, May 23, 2014

I Can See Clearly - Soon

So - clear the desk and pull out the basket containing the goods and materials to finish the next doll.   The Gypsy Challenge this year is Mardi Gras and I may have a winner.
But first the figure must be as perfect as I can make it - which is taking some doing.  I've discovered the reason my vision has become so fuzzy is that scar tissue has grown onto the lens inserted during cataract surgery.  In a couple of weeks, we get rid of it and I'll be able to see all the flaws I'm missing today.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Art Doll Quarterly Challenge

Every once in a while, I get excited about one of the ADQ challenges - usually when a full-blown idea instantly hits me between the eyes.  Having been an illustrator for so many years, I usually need only a theme to conjure up a story or scene.  The Medieval Times challenge did that.  But no fine ladies in flowing robes and pointy hats for me.  I took my young lord, his dog and falcon to a snow blanketed field to practise the finer points of hunting on the wing.

Art Doll Quarterly is very strict about having first rights on art, so to be on the safe side, I'll not publish this doll until after the winter issue is out.  Whether or not it's used.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Plan B

The weather guy was right - we had scattered showers all day Saturday. Thank goodness my son thought to bring us a big roll of light weight plastic to cover the tables when the mist became a shower. Despite the weather, business was brisk and we made a respectable dollar amount. The high-ticket items that didn't sell will go on craig's list. Sunday was spent hauling everything back into the spare room with the idea of doing another yard sale - maybe in June or July. Meanwhile, I'm relieved to have my shop back and am eager to get back to work on my dolls. Now that grandaughter has graduated, we've planned an intensive "finish Flynn Holysharpe" day. Love working with that girl. She is so sharp and SO creative!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hope the Weatherman is WRONG!

My Going to Houston yard sale is this coming Saturday - and they're predicting "scattered thunder storms" from Wednesday to Saturday. I'm praying the storms will have played themselves out by Saturday. Groan!! I have a one car garage which is myshop/studio and no porch. AND - I just received another mega-donation from a neighbor. I'm living in a warehouse. I have enough clothing to outfit an army. I can see me having enough left-overs to do this again next month. But right now, I have to devise a Plan B.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Today, my grandaughter graduates from college. It's been a long, difficult struggle for her and I'm so proud of her for hanging in there. Looking back, I can see she inherited a generous portion of her grandfather's stubborness. Balancing that is the creativity that bubbled up at a very early age, which I encouraged at every opportunity. She has her father's quick grasp of an idea and her mother's sense of orderliness. Obviously, this child was given the cream off the top of her gene pool. To this gift she added her own good work ethic and a bubbly personality that draws people to her like a magnet. So fare thee well, my precious child. I pray your future will be filled with abundant love, happiness and soul-satisfying work; that your children will make you as proud and happy as you have made us. Our love forever, Gram

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Paper Dolls . . . again

I have an elderly neighbor who took a fall recently and is now in rehab, learning to walk again. I've not yet been to visit her and of course, feel very guilty about that. Knowing how utterly boring a long hospital stay can be, I decided to make her a creative care package and to deliver it in person. So, I'm making her a paper doll which I'll mount and make a stand for, plus a minimal wardrobe. She'll also get a set of water color pencils and a pair of scissors. I'll color the doll - maybe - but she gets to color and cut out the clothes. Hopefully, she'll enjoy it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Bucket List

I've added a couple of things to my bucket list. Hopefully, their achievment would be the result of my growth as an artist. First, I'd love, just once, to win "Best in Show" Almost any show would do. I've come close on several occaisions - but no cigar. Second, I'd LOVE to see one of my dolls on the cover of Art Doll Quarterly. That would be the thrill of a life time for me. I think these additions are fostered by the fact that in my "Golden Years" I've become very competitive whereas when I was younger, I was not at all competitive and couldn't care less who won. l

Friday, April 11, 2014

The mailing box

Of the three years I've entered a doll in the Gypsy Challenge contest/show, on two of those years, I got a badly damaged doll back.  Last year, in spite of considerable padding and a reinforced box, my doll came back to me with both legs broken in two places.

This year, I will have two dolls to mail and have been worrying about how I shall send both at the same time.  (-and save considerable money).  I found a Rubbermaid 45 gallon storage bin yesterday that looks like it will work.  It's deep enough that I can pad top and bottom as well as sides and all around each doll.  I would be devastated if Flynn were damaged because she belongs to my grand daughter. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When is a doll not a doll?

Answer: when it is a mannequin.  I only had one doll that I really loved.  During the 40's, when everything was rationed, one of the major pattern companies offered this little mannequin doll for 99 cents.  It's arms were detachable and her feet had pegs on the bottoms that fit into a wooden base, allowing her to stand alone.  The dolls purpose was to encourage girls to learn to sew.

Sixty-plus years later, I'm still a klutz of a seamstress.  But I learned design!  Prior to the mannequin doll, I had movie star paper dolls whose wardrobes I expanded with wild designs and big boxes of crayons.

As an adult, I took a pattern making course, determined to design and make my own one-of-a-kind clothes.  After about a year, my husband couldn't stand it any more and ordered me to "PLEASE, just go BUY your clothes."  Since that time, my sewing has been confined to making simple costumes for my grand daughter.  Until I discovered ART Dolls.

Below, a photo taken about 1947 on Doll Day at our Bullhead City, Arizona school - third, fourth and fifth grade girls.   That's me, top row, second from right, under the X.  My younger sister - she of the magical sewing machine - is in the bottom row, center, over the X.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Details, Details . . . .

Another productive week - for the most part.   I've finished a hand, a dog and a falcon.  Need to finish doll no. 2's hands and ears.  Ears drive me crazy because I can almost never get them placed and sized exactly the same.  I've recruited my son as weapon maker and a friend who beads to help with the individual doll's accessories.  It is good to have creative friends.

My yard sale items are starting to pile up.  A neighbor who is a seamstress - and has sold her business - gave me a garbage bag full of clothing her clients never picked up - including two evening gowns!  I nearly dropped my teeth!  They immediately went on Craig's List because it's a given I'd not get even half their worth at a yard sale.

As an aside to the above, I discovered just 30 minutes ago, that my poodle, who must surely be half billy goat, has EATEN my list of yard sale items.  I know this because she left a piece of evidence in the middle of my bed.  Earlier today, I caught her eating the sticky price labels off of the pieces I've stored in the spare bedroom.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The First Step . . .

 My sister - she of the magical sewing machine - called to tell me we now have hotel reservations for our time in Houston while attending the International Quilt Festival and 3 concurrent doll shows.  She was surprised to learn that most attendees make their reservations a year in advance.  International participants especially, would want to ensure lodging, so even us 'locals' can't drag our feet.

So, although I have almost nine months to create and submit my annual doll, it usually takes that long. Domestic chores demand attention as do doctor visits, yard work - the whole home owners' agenda.  Must get to the store before the promised down pour.

I'm on a roll

Three days (and nights) working on doll no. 3.  Laundry still in the dryer, dust piling up on everything (clay dust, especially!), cupboards are bare - must get to the store today.  I'm pleased with my progress but dread the detail days, those days of making hands and ears match in size and shape.  If anyone has a fool-proof technique, please share!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Body Parts

Doll head number three is getting a rest while I make doll number three's body more voluptous.  Today has been very productive. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Fund Raiser

I am determined to have two outstanding dolls to send to Houston in October.  But Houston is expensive any way you slice it so I'm launching a personal fund raiser.

On Saturday, May 3, weather permitting, I'm holding a garage/yard sale to earn money for that trip.  I sent a circular around the neighborhood (and other places) soliciting donations.  Doners will receive no money but hopefully, will have warm and fuzzy feelings as a result of their generosity.

Doll head number three is progressing very slowly.  I'm working very slowly!  I want this doll to personify Mardi Gras.  If necessary, I'll work on it until the day I ship it off to Texas.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A head by inches

I've decapitated more than one doll because I didn't like the way the head set on the body but to misjudge the size of the head - TWICE - on one doll makes me wonder if I've forgotten how to use a ruler.

Seems that even the thinnest layer of clay (less than 1/8") on a little egg gourd expands to an unacceptable size when the features are added.  I'm now working on gourd head number three.  I think this one will work - it's the smallest I have.  And looking through my small stash of doll making gourds, I think it's time to order some more.

When I tell someone that I make my dolls from gourds, dowels and chopsticks, almost always, they ask, "Gourds?"  Their first mental picture is of the gourd martin houses.  But gourds come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny one inch pears to four foot wash tub size.  I use egg gourds for heads and zucca gourds for the torso.  It sure saves a lot of clay.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Clay's Here

My clay arrived yesterday. I hate that I have to order it on line.  The price per item may be less than in store but taxes, S&H and the time I must wait equal little or no savings.

But it's here, I'm glad I found a source for it and am hurrying to finish jobs with deadlines so I can sculpt without guilt.

Friday, March 7, 2014

When it rains, it pours!

- - - suddenly, I'm inundated with work!  Deadlines are breathing down my neck.  Eighteen and twenty hour days are not uncommon when this happens.  They weren't so bad when I was twenty-five.
So I'll rest when the jobs are finished.

Among other projects, I've started my Gypsy Challenge doll.  She'll not be so large this year.  My biggest worry is that she's balanced on one foot and vulnerable.  Packing her for shipment will be the real challenge and since I'm entering two shows with two dolls, I plan to mail both in the same container.   Both dolls go to the same address so using only one container would save a bunch of money.  And since I will BE THERE in Houston this year, no return postage  will be required.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2014 Gypsy Challenge

I got so wrapped up in designing a new Mardi Gras costume that I’d forgotten I didn’t have a doll yet!  So, out to the shop, choose a (gourd) head, mount it on the sculpting post and gather a torso ( also a gourd) , chop sticks, etc – and started my doll.  I put her together with hot glue – and I may be sorry for that – then used home made air dry clay to reinforce the joints.  A couple of hours in front of a fan has hardened the clay and everything seems to be holding well.  Now I must wait for my clay to arrive.  It seems both art supply stores in my area no longer carry the clay I prefer to work with.  But Dick Blick does!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Revision A

Was doing a little casual research yesterday and latched on to some fantastic shots of the Carnival in Rio.  I considered some of the female costumes – then considered the sketch I’d made for a dolls Mardi Gras costume and decided I am definetley too TOO old fashioned and square!   Today, bling has been the thing almost the entire day.
Of course, designing a costume is loads of fun and the sky’s the limit.  Then you have to translate all that fun stuff into patterns and decide on the methods(s) you will use to make it happen.   This is where the fun starts to fade away for me, because I’m not always the master of my sewing machine.   At a certain point – usually when I’m near tears and using unlady-like language – I phone my sister and beg her to please grab her fancy sewing machine and drive the 500 miles or so to Jacksonville to save my project.
She doesn’t always drop everything and jump in her car, but she does let me vent, then usually offers a solution.  Don’t know what I’d do without her.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2013 Gypsy Doll Challenge

The theme for this year is a Gypsy masquerade ball.
It’s midnight, the time for unmasking. Sergio is about to steal Stefania’s mask and claim a kiss.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Another ADQ Challenge

I think my sewing skills may be improving.  A little, anyway.  My research re; the Middle Ages left me wallowing in costume confusion.  Seems the current generation isn’t the only one to push the fashion envelope.
Things I’ve learned: there’s an art to working with real fur – and I haven’t learned it.  My little sewing machine wouldn’t handle even the thinnest pelt – so I glued it in place with fabric glue.  So my doll’s costume looks very elegant – so long as the glue holds.

Monday, February 10, 2014


. . . . . akin to writer’s block, I suppose.  It’s when ideas or solutions to problems just won’t work or your eye-hand coordination seems to have taken a holiday.  It’s when you keep making one mistake or bad judgement after another until there is nothing left to do but walk away from whatever it is that seems determined to defeat you, no matter your deadline.
I’m in burnout mode at the moment.  I’ll recover, always do.  This is why I always have several projects going at a time.  It’s always good to step back from a project and look at it with a fresh eye.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Earning a Badge

My bride doll was published in the Art Doll Quarterly which thrilled me to pieces.  In addition, it was a first for young photographer Bria Broadwell who made a CD of the bride photos I sent to ADQ.
When a doll artist’s work is published in ADQ, the publisher always sends the artist an extra copy of the issue her work appears in. The artist is also frequently sent via e mail, a ‘badge’  she may copy and paste into her blog or web site – anywhere she wants to announce that her work has been published in a prestigious magazine.  So far, I’ve managed to irretriveably delete all but one of my badges, which I will now attempt to add to this post.  The badge is simply the cover of the issue in which the doll appeared.                                                                      

Friday, January 31, 2014

Flynn, armed and still in her shift

I have my grand daughter’s permission to present her D&D ‘persona’ doll at the In Celebration doll show. We plan to have persona Flynn Hollysharp armed and beautiful by show time.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Stay indoors!

Good grief, I can’t believe how COLD it is here in the ‘Deep South’! I’d stay in and sculpt like crazy if I could, but the heat pump chose yesterday to freeze up. Seems the defrost panel and sensor gasped their last. Hope to get them replaced today. Meanwhile, I think this would be a good day to make some bread and cookies and – - anything I can make to keep the oven going.
I’ve been working on my ADQ Medieval challenge doll. Still have details to add to the figure – ears, hands, etc. but the costume pattern making is moving along very well. (so far). I’m fortunate to have seamstress friends who donate ‘leftovers’ to my fabric stash.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Friend indeed!

Yesterday, my friend Joyce arrived from California to spend a few weeks with me while she house hunts. I mention her because she is the angel who sent me a LARGE box of pure silk fabric she had purchased in Singapore years ago. Of course, what I got was left overs from her dress making, but one doesn’t need yards of fabric for doll costumes. Joyce also sent a smaller box of ribbon, lace and trims which will last the rest of my life. It is good to have creative friends.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Treasures of the Gypsy

Yesterday, I received my entry package for this annual doll show held in Houston each fall. This is always an exciting surprise, because although I’ve known the theme of the show for months (it changes each year) and may have even made costume sketches – the fabrics and trims in the entry package have the final say.  The fabric pieces are  are small, about 12″ by 18″, the trims 12″ to 18″ long as well.  And each fabric and trim MUST be used – along with your own fabrics and trims.  Depending on your personal ‘stash’ of fabrics and trims, this can add up to some awesome costumes! This year’s theme is Mardi Gras, so you can bet the show is going to be mind blowing!!

Friday, January 10, 2014


O’mygosh, did I make a boo-boo!  In a previous post, I wrote that I’d been invited to participate in the All Dolls Are Art competition.  Wrong show!  I was invited to participate in the Celebration of the Doll show.  Both of these shows run concurrently with the Treasures of the Gypsy doll show . . . AND these three doll shows run concurrently with the International Quilt Festival at the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.  This year, from Oct 30 to Nov 2.
SO. If you find yourself in Houston during that long autumn weekend, check out all the shows at the convention center. It’s a great way to get your booster shot of creativity.