My journey into the world of Art Dolls has been rich in the adventures that gave me the skills I would need as a maker of figurative cloth art.
I grew up in a family of makers. My father fed his fishing habit with exquisite hand-tied flies. My mother was a seamstress, as well as a milliner, upholsterer, and an all around crafter. The antidote to any moment of childhood boredom was to make something.
Through my school years, these interests expanded into a deep addiction to creative pursuits. Art was always my favorite subject. By the time I was choosing a major in college I had decided on Fine Arts. I earned a degree from Berkeley with the intention of becoming an Art teacher. After a seven year hiatus, spent as a young wife raising my two daughters, I was able to get full time work as an Art teacher in Richmond, California, where I taught for 20 years.
My interest in making Art Dolls was percolating, and several experiences sealed my focus. I attended a quilt show and discovered a section of crafts, including dolls. It was a revelation. Here was a way to use all the fabric bits, trims, and buttons I had accumulated from sewing, and a way to express myself. I went home and immediately made a doll.
Soon afterward I attended a show called “The Way Of The Doll”. The dolls there had been made as part of a year-long class where the artists processed their personal experiences with grief. Again, I went home and made a doll, but I also started teaching creative doll making to my Art students. I promised myself that when I retired, I would make dolls full time.
I went to an exhibit by the Flying Phoebe Cloth Doll Club, and decided this was my medium. I wondered, when I came to it, what my style would be. I retired from teaching and began to find out. My first serious dolls were all built in or on containers. A teapot grew a snooty old lady drinking tea. A worried lady who’d lost her keys, sat on a purse. A snake charmer fluting to his snake emerged from a wooden bowl, with the bowl’s lid as his hat. I experimented with clay, felt, and cloth, enjoying immensely the process and the results.
My style began to change. I made cloth dolls with serenely blank faces in yoga poses. I focused on having lifelike human proportions, in strong poses, and I indulged my love of batik fabrics. After awhile, their human forms began to have animal heads. The animal heads brought me back to facial expressions. I became once again interested in making characters, as I had in my early container series.
I now do have a style. My Art Dolls are recognizable by several characteristics. Their skin is made of patterned fabric. They may be dressed or nude, but they are always posed caught in a gesture, paused in a moment of movement. They have a recognizable character and a distinct personality.
I am still exploring this creative path and expect it to yield interesting results.
Daisy said she likes to work with pattern fabrics. Here she has made her own by doodling on her doll.
Our Holiday Boutique was a huge success. We had new people attend who met us on the blog. We had 10 artists and 10 displays in my little cottage, and still had plenty of room for the many people who came to see and buy our crafts. Here are some of the crafts we displayed.
Stephanie makes her animals safe for children, but sold all of these, and many more, to adults for themselves. I guess we never outgrow a desire for a cuddly.
Her angels flew out the door so fast I barely had time for a photo. Everyone admires the gorgeous clothing she makes for her dolls and animals. It’s not easy to make a well tailored couture outfit only 5 inches tall.
Even I couldn’t resist one of her fabulous necklaces, and her polymer clay Christmas choir made everyone smile.
Kelly sculpts her tiny elves (only 3 inches tall) out of Polymer clay. She sold all of her sleeping fairies the first day and has promised to have more at our June event.
Sharon is our glitter queen. The holidays are when she really shines. People line up at her display and buy by the armful.
MARY PORTER VAUGHAN
Mary always surprises us with new things. She was definitely thinking holiday with her beautiful hat and jewelry.
ZANAIB NIA GREEN
Zanaib’s bottle dolls were a hit. Fortunately I was able to snap a picture of these before they left.
Bonnie’s dolls are always special. Unfortunately I can’t show you her wall dolls because, SHE SOLD THEM ALL!
Her new cards with embellished envelopes were a huge success. They are perfect for money gifts. How clever.
SUZANNE DURAN AND WANDA FUDGE
Suzanne and I took a mosaic class in the spring and we haven’t stopped creating since. Here is some of our first work, and you can be sure there is more to come.
This gazing ball was my first piece. A little clumsy but I’m learning.
I found this in a thrift shop.
Some people might have seen a vase, but this is what I saw.
Here she is in my garden. I named her Carmella and she has come to live with me.
Carmella was so much fun I can’t wait to make many more.
I have always loved pottery so I think I have found my new craft.
This was fun. I’ll have to make more of these too.
This is my cottage, all decked out for Christmas. Unfortunately I can’t climb up on the roof anymore to put a bow on my goose. The cottage was built in 1880 and I named it Goose Cottage when I moved in almost twenty years ago.
Have a nice holiday and I’ll be sharing again next month.
P.S. If you see something you are interested in, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org