Alabama Babies by Deanna Hogan

July 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm (Tutorials and how-tos) (, , )

Something about ODACA artist Deanna Hogan’s work reminds me of the nostalgic South. She lives in the northwest, so maybe it’s just the power of suggestion, since she has made several dolls based on the antique Alabama Baby, but to me her chubby play dolls and nostalgic adult figures are reminiscent of folk music and rural life.

Although her dolls are technically cloth dolls, many of them have fabric faces glued over polymer clay masks. Pictured above on the left is one of her Alabama Baby-inspired dolls, Viola Ruth. Viola Ruth has a polymer clay mask and cranium joined by paperclay over a cloth stump. Then Hogan glues cloth over the whole unit, gessos and sands it and paints it with oil paints. She has a tutorial for her process on her Picturetrail account.

Although she isn’t preoccupied by fairies and wizards like so many of us, Hogan’s work is fantastical in its own way, reminding one of childhood toys and fairytales. The seated doll above is from a pattern she sells called Averill, and includes bead-joined knees and elbows and button-jointed limbs. I wonder how many of her patterns are purchased by grandmas to make for their lucky little granddaughters.

Some of Hogan’s adult dolls are just a little bit bluesy, as exemplified by her Bob Dylan portrait above, and Delta Dawn, who was inspired by a song about a woman who was left at the altar. As you can see, they’re full to the brim of character, and I just love her choice of fabrics for Dawn’s dress. Check out Hogan’s blog and her website for more pictures of her work.

Have a great weekend. I spent all week trying to move this blog over. Yikes, what a chore!


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Update — Butterfly wings, ball joints

July 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm (my work, Sewing and costuming) (, , , )

Hi, just a couple of things for you to check out.

I have a confession to make. I found out about Adele Sciortino’s doll costume newsletter way back when it first started up last summer, but I never really got around to reading it until this week. Boy, was I missing out! Each issue takes a specific topic in dollmaking costume, whether it’s a genre like fairies or clowns or a historical period, and gives you specific instructions for making such a costume, illustrated with the work of other professional artists, like Marianne Reitsma and Martha Boers or Charie Wilson.

The first issue, Summer 2007, included general instructions and patterns for no fewer than eleven types of doll wings, including flower-petal angel wings like the ones seen in my report on Sleetwealth Studios. So, for those of you who are following my search for fairy wing tutorials, go and sign up for the newsletter.

The newsletter is free; you just have to sign up. Go take a look, it’s worth the trouble of signing up just for the fabulous pictures of Reitsma and Boer’s work. There are also book reviews, articles about organizing a studio, using silk flower petals in doll costumes, and more.

Finally, while surfing today, looking for the next doll artist to feature, I discovered a pattern on CD for what seems to be a ball-jointed cloth doll. The artist is Allison Marano and the link is here — scroll down to Henley the House Gnome. The description says his hips and shoulders are button joints but his elbows, knees, wrists and ankles are “bead joints.” I’m not sure if bead joints are the same as the ball joints I’ve been working on, but it sure looks like it. If anyone has made this pattern, can you leave us a comment about how the joints work?

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Ahoy 2007

November 5, 2007 at 4:29 pm (doll events, sculpture, Tutorials and how-tos) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Ahoy 17

Today I’d like to share some pictures from the Ahoy International Doll Show in Rotterdam. These pictures were taken by doll artist Marika Spijkers, who has kindly supplied the names and web addresses of the artists. I’ve selected my favorite pictures from this show, but please check out the longer list at PhotoBucket for even more. The show was full of fairies, mermaids, trolls, dragons, castles and Arabian princesses, but the first prize went to Claudine Roelens‘ Ballet Dancers, pictured above.

Ahoy 01 Ahoy 08

Above are two fairy palaces: Dreamworld by Marij Van Der Ham, and Arabian Dreamworld by Annelize Bos, which appears to have working lights. Below are a pair of adorably life-like babies, a fantasy mermaid and her baby by Joyce Kelder, and a charming fairy child by Edith Taylor:

Ahoy 16 Ahoy 03 Ahoy 04

There were lots of nonhumanoid critters at the show, too, including this fiery orange dragon by Joan Coster, a Blue Dragon with lovely fantasy film wings made by Paula Daling, and this hilarious turtle reminiscent of Christie Friesen‘s work by Netty Stege. I love how the shell looks like it’s made of plaid fabric!

Ahoy 05 Ahoy 02 Ahoy 11

Then there were gorgeously-sculpted and delicately posed fairies. From left to right, the first two are by Astrid Mulder; the third one, whose wings I adore, is by Hannie Sarris; and the fourth is by Saskia Hoeboer.

Ahoy 14 Ahoy 13 Ahoy 07 Ahoy 06

Here are a stick puppet by Nannette Schenk and a mermaid with a really fascinating tail fin made by Astrid Mulder again (apparently I’m a big fan of hers, maybe I should feature her sometime.)

Ahoy 18 Ahoy 12

And, last but not least, there seems to have been a challenge relating to Arabian Nights, because there were quite a few belly dancers, Arabian princes and genies, including this fabulously posed sword dancer by Iris Linstra, a well-costumed pair of Arabian ladies, and a charming prince with his princess. Both of the last tableaus were made by Margriet Nijs and are actually sculpted from hard media but painted like cloth dolls.

Ahoy 10 Ahoy 15 Ahoy 09

You can look at the rest of the pictures here, and some photos of the artists with their dolls here. Oh, and be sure to check out Marika’s dollmaking tutorials.

Happy November!

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Fairy tutorials from Patricia Rose

June 13, 2007 at 4:12 am (Tutorials and how-tos)

Patricia Rose tutorial   Patricia Rose Tutorial 2  Patricia Rose Tutorial 3

Sorry I haven’t been posting this week, but I’ve been really busy. Since I don’t have much time to write today, either, and it seems like many of you are searching my blog for tutorials, I decided to pop in with a page full of fairy tutorials from the extremely talented artist, Patricia Rose. Enjoy!

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Marina Bychkova

May 15, 2007 at 10:12 pm (Tutorials and how-tos)

Marina Bychkova 1

The exact definition of a “doll” is a topic of continuing interest to me, and one that will probably crop up in this blog from time to time. Today’s artist can be found both on Flickr and on her own web page, and on the Flickr site her significant other, Chad Isley, responds to a surprised comment about the fact that the dolls can move with this: “That’s why it’s called a DOLL. She doesn’t make figurines.”

But oh, if only all dolls looked like these. Bychkova’s pieces are made of porcelain and remind me of those gorgeous ball-jointed dolls coming out of Asia these days. The difference is that each of Bychkova’s dolls is completely handmade, including the fabulous beadwork on the costumes. I’ve done enough of this kind of work myself to be completely in awe of Bychkova’s skill and artistic vision. Porcelain is not an easy medium to work with.

Part of me agrees with Ilsey; despite the trend in the doll world to describe our art as “figurative sculpture” in order to gain more acceptance in highbrow art circles, there’s something different about dolls. Sculpture is just for looking at, but dolls are for touching. I think that’s the paradox many of us struggle with. I gave up the fight a while ago and started making fixed sculptures, but perhaps Bychkova will inspire more of us to experiment with the tactile, interactive side of doll art.

If you’ve been inspired, too, here’s a tutorial on sculpting ball-jointed dolls.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but you’ll just have to follow the links to see more!

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Easy Breezy 2

April 19, 2007 at 3:02 am (Sewing and costuming)

My kind and wonderful husband was good enough to take some pictures of my dress dummy, Niente, wearing the pieces of my new blouse. These aren’t sewn together yet, except at the side seams, so don’t judge that, please, but it gives you an idea of how the fabric reads. (Also, please try to ignore my messy bookcase behind her!)


The gray fabric reads much too blue in this picture.

I’m starting to think that maybe plaid wasn’t a good choice for a blouse that will be gathered at the top, but I’ve already cut it out, so I guess I’ll have to make do. When I cut out the pieces for the top, I thought, whoa, this is way too big! But when I put it on Niente, it fit just perfectly around her bust. Sigh.

The yoke is crying out to me for some delicate black lace to go around the edge. However, I haven’t got any in my stash and am reluctant to go buy anything for a blouse that is essentially a prototype. And I already bought some black sequins to use for this project. So maybe I’ll stick to Plan A.

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An easy breezy summer top

April 13, 2007 at 9:41 pm (Sewing and costuming)

I love studying historical costume, but I have a lot of trouble making the actual outfits. I’ve decided that part of the problem is that I don’t have really good sewing skills, so, for practice, I’ve decided to make myself some street clothes.

I recently bought some patterns for some simple, breezy summer tops from Simplicity. Yesterday I refurbished my dress dummy, Niente, and got started on Simplicity 4589. I’m making view E, which is the one shown in the cover photo. It has a great little round yoke at the top, which I plan to embellish, and it reminds me a little of my favorite nightgown.

Simplicity 4589

According to the back of the pattern, my measurements make me a size 22 (proof positive that pattern sizes are different from off-the-rack sizes; I’m approaching a size 12 in off-the-rack!) but due to my busty figure, that probably means the shoulders will be too large. Usually I measure a pattern and adjust it before I cut any fabric, but this pattern is kind of weird, being gathered at the top, so I’m just going to go ahead and cut out a muslin of the yoke. If it’s close enough to fitting, I’ll go ahead and cut the fabric, then adjust it as I go along.

I have the perfect fabric to start out with; it’s a yarn-dyed gray and black cotton check that makes me think of the cotton shirts my mom used to make for my dad. I don’t really do little-girlie styles, and this is a girlie top, so I’m hoping the masculine fabric will class it up a little. I also have some embroidered motifs on order which I’m going to place at center front on the yoke.

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Apples and Pears

April 12, 2007 at 4:20 pm (Sewing and costuming)

In the last six months, I’ve lost nearly 40 pounds due to health concerns. Naturally, none of my clothes fit anymore, so I’m going to have to buy or sew an entire new wardrobe over the course of this year. In anticipation, I refurbished my adjustable dress dummy, Niente, yesterday, and after considering my new measurements, I realized that my general silhouette has changed. I’ve always thought of myself as an hourglass figure, but as I’ve slimmed down, I’ve turned into more of an apple (top-heavy) body type.

So I got online yesterday to look for information on how to dress an apple, and discovered that there was some really crummy info out there (I don’t care how much you want to distract from your waistline, tapered pants under a top-heavy figure will make you look like a lollipop!). So I wanted to share with you the best site I found: It also includes info for pear-shaped, or bottom-heavy, women.

Another great resource is Besides offering some really gorgeous clothes designed for real women instead of scrawny models, they categorize everything according to body type, so you can search for all the dresses recommended for an your shape (click on “Z-fit shopping”), and use them as inspiration for making your own clothes or shopping. I’ve only bought from these guys once, and I wasn’t disappointed with my purchase, but that’s as far as I can go in recommending them as a vendor.

I’ll share my sewing adventures with you in this space, but in the interests of keeping my posts short, I’ll end this one here.

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