JJ Buch – doll artist interview – part two

Q. Did you play with paper dolls as a kid? Do you have a favorite vintage paper doll that still makes you smile?

JJ Bush's doll, Vanessa, Latin dancerA. Yes, yes… the Ginghams little girls from the 70s, and Betsy McCalls from my Grandmother’s magazines. I made a paperdoll of my Grandmother in her honor, it is called “Amazing Grace”.

I was a tiny tot–not even two, they said–when I sat on her kitchen linoleum and made a paper coatdress for my doll out of the waxy paper liner from a cereal box. It was primitive, a basic rectangular shape with two carefully torn holes for the doll’s arms to go through. I know, it’s not exactly a paper doll per se, but I think it counts.

Q. What’s the most rewarding part of being in the paper art doll business?

A. The responses! Sometimes as an artist I think, “Well, I wonder if my art is as good as they told me it was?”

You know people won’t say it’s awful even if it is, so I wonder…Am I really a good artist?

The responses to my art have been overwhelming, just beautiful! I’ve made friends and they make me feel like making more art. Even if it never gets me famous or rich…even if I die a pauper, I made someone smile! I made them love me! That’s really all it is.

Q. If someone wants to pursue this as a career direction, what’s your best advice? What are the best books to read, if any?

A. First, go to eBay. Look at all the types of paperdolls there are, what sells commonly, and what is considered “rare”.

Realize that there are stupid people who won’t recognize true art but will pay ridiculous sums for things that can be easily mass-produced and resold on auction sites.

Then realize that one day you may be one of those stupid people because you’ll pay a million dollars for a tattered old stained copy of a Ginghams girls paperdoll booklet. Heh heh.

Then notice what the original artists’ works are going for; it may be exciting or depressing. I felt both.

You may notice other things selling by the same artists in other categories, such as art or books or jewelry. This is common because it’s very very rare to make enough money creating paperdolls alone, without a side business to help support it.

Most paper doll artists, serious ones, also make things to be sold at paper doll conventions, paper doll parties, and online at their websites. They have newsletters and fan-based groups to help support their promotions. They give programs or speeches at doll clubs.

Some famous paper doll artists are collectors or experts in related fields, such as regular dolls or dollhouse miniatures.

The really savvy artist will make use of all these things together to bring new viewers to their work.

Here are some important points:

  1. Make a website. Title it with the word(s) “paperdoll” in it, and submit it to the major search engines.
  2. Join several webrings to bring traffic to your website.
  3. Begin a list of contacts and send them updates on your latest works, life, everything! Let them get to know you.
  4. Also start a paper doll collecting group in your area. This helps with networking and keeps you busy!

From there it’s up to you. I wish you the best of luck!

Aisling’s note: JJ has generously shared one of her fun paper dolls, here. Right-click on that link to save it to your hard drive, and then print it at 200 pixels/inch. (216kb) To use it at a larger size, I recommend using VectorMagic.com to vectorize the image, then adjust it to the size you want.

Be sure to look for JJ’s websites for more of her paper dolls and related art. As of 2020, I don’t have a current link for her work. If you do, please leave the link in a comment, below. Thanks!

The following links were part of the original 2005 article. They may not be current.

JJ on Webring (was there in 2005 – if anyone knows where she is, now, leave a comment with her new URL)

 

 

 

 

$1 Download Paper Dolls by JJ Complete Catalog w/ Viewable Thumbnails http://www.angelfire.com/fang/jjspds/thumbs

Owner of “Portrait Paperdolls” To join, send an email to: [email protected]

Owner of “Ephemera Restoration” To Join, send an email to: [email protected]

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JJ Buch – doll artist interview – part one

JJ Bush holding a small paper doll (older photo)In January 2005, I had the great good fortune to interview paper doll artist JJ Buch.

She’s one of my idols, because her art has a very clear “voice” and her concepts are consistently innovative and often delightfully witty.

Here’s the interview*, on two pages:

Q. How did you get started with paper dolls?

A. In 1998, after receiving the grim news that I would never bear any children of my own, I was surfing the net for distraction. I happened upon the OPDAG (Original Paper Doll Artists Guild) website and saw all the inspiring paper dolls and artists there…I said to myself, “I can do that”, and made my first official paper doll.

The doll got rave reviews from my friends so I made another, then another, and now I have over 100 sets under my wing.

Q. What inspires you? Why paper dolls… instead of some other medium?

A. Emotions and anything that draws them out…the news, counter culture issues, the black market, tragedies and also victories of science and, yes, even religion. But moreso spiritual things than religious ones.

I feel more inspired by caves and tunnels and falling down gorgeous old architecture than I do cathedrals, but gorgeous stained glass does take my breath away.

It’s only things of beauty that are already perfect, that don’t seem to stir my creative urge as do things more carnal and dark.

I do love children, I feel very protective of all children. I do not think all of my paperdolls and art are appropriate for the little ones. But I do nevertheless make dolls of all ages and wages, heh heh.

By that, I mean dolls representing all incomes and ethnicities.

Also big women and voluptuous, even figures with overflowing flesh and aged to perfection…real life and unreal expectations: both the holy and the hideous, the innocent and the ones who’ve “seen it all, kid.”

Paperdolls are low cost to make, so no boundaries there. I made the first one out of a church flyer taped to my front door, a placemat from the local IHOP, and ink pens my husband brought home from work. Snip, snip… voila!

Q. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take the bare minimum of supplies to make paper dolls… what would you consider “essentials”?

A. Scissors; it’s very tedious to tear out the dolls by hand. I suppose one could use berry juice and a stick to draw them on dried palm leaves…

Q. How long does it take you to create one of your fabulous doll sheets?

A. Ooo, a black-and-white one-pager only takes an hour or two. But to finish it out and make it flawless, I use a computer graphics program and I scan it with a scanner. I print it out with a good quality printer, and make back-up files on a CD.

To make a custom one-page 8 1/2 x 11″ full color paperdoll plus, say, 2 outfits and the background accessories, I can do it all in a week, or a few days if the pay is good.

Q. Do you sit down and the ideas flood your creativity, or is it something where you get the basics down, and then you add a little here & there as it occurs to you, until it’s done?

A. No, I am always thinking of things and they all go into a mental kitchen where there are always things cooking up in various stages of ready to finish.

The new ideas always go on a back burner to simmer UNLESS it is something for a paid commission or a publication.

Then, it gets a front burner and I move all the other pots full of ideas back, to make room.

Money definitely gets a paperdoll moved to the front and it will get done first!

I am a starving artist but do not intend to remain that way; I have a husband and 3 fat dogs to feed, after all.

Q. What would you tell someone who wants to find their own creative “voice” in paper art dolls?

A. Hahah! Don’t go into it without a job, or someone who is willing to support you financially and emotionally because the money that does come, has to pay for materials and postage and to pay the bills… to cut back on when the water won’t come out the faucet, the electricity won’t make the lights bright, the mortgage holder is going to come take the house away, and you’re so sick of ramen noodles you could throw up.

NOW! If–after all that–you don’t care to make a living with them, and just want to enjoy making them for fun and for love? It’s beautiful…you just keep drawing them and coloring until you realize one day, “Hey! My paperdoll art is really good! I like it… No I LOVE it!” And there you go.

I really like the first 10 dolls I made, before I saw all the other artists’ work.

Your own ingenious designs are always more authentic and more… BETTER… than after you’ve been influenced too much by other opinions.

Finding your own voice, is just not listening too much to the other voices. and let me tell you I am bipolar (manic-depressive) so I know all about other voices, Ha hah!

* Aisling’s note: When I interviewed JJ via email, she replied in mostly lower-case. I wanted to leave it like that, because I generally write in lower-case, myself.

But, to make this more readable for website visitors — and with very mixed feelings about doing this — I edited it into a more traditional format.

But, be assured that JJ’s unique “voice” in emails is just as clear as it is in her art; it’s another reason why I admire her tremendously!

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Alice C. W. Dennis – doll artist interview – part three

Q. If someone is new to dollmaking, what’s your best advice?

Go for it. Don’t worry about how it is done by others. Experiment first, create your style, then read what others have to advise.

Some of the best things I have done I have done not knowing the correct way. I feel there is more creativity when there is more freedom.

Sure there are some things you will need to know for some projects but take a look at the best known doll artists their work is unique.

Do your own thing. Be unique.

Q. What book or books would you recommend to a new dollmaker?

Any and all of Susanna Oroyan’s books : Anatomy of a Doll, Designing the Doll, Finishing the Figure.

Q. What tools or products do you recommend for the best possible results?

For needle-sculpture–good value NEW nylons, never support hose. Or, a very stretchy swimsuit fabric, or loose weave linen. A small-eyed slender long strong needle, and upholstery thread.

The glues I prefer are for fabric, Fabric-tac by Beacon. For gluing embellishments of different materials together, I like E-6000 or Goop.

I don’t like to use hot glue because it does not stand up to temperature changes. Many times my wreaths are hung outdoors.

Q. How and where do you sell your dolls?

I sell my dolls at fine art and craft fairs, and I have a booth at a local craft mall. I will soon be opening a portal at the www.CNYDAG.com. I have received a few orders from people who are members of the doll lists as well. (I would like to sell on eBay, but haven’t yet.)

Q. Where do you see your dolls going in the foreseeable future?

In the future I  hope to take part in selected Fine Art and Craft shows. I also hope to be able to take part in a doll conference.

The portal at the www.CNYDAG.com website will link the viewer to my www.picturetrail.com/whatanexpression site. In the future I hope to have my own web-site.

I would like to have photos of my work in national publications. My long, long term goal is to be a dollmaker that is as well known as elinor peace bailey! I want to continue to make more expressive wreaths as well as design more one-of-a-kind dolls, each with a full body.

I want to expand the media I use. Of course I will continue with cloth and needle-sculpture, but also want to do more with polymer as well as other clays and papier mache’.

I love the Bossons Heads that I  purchased a couple of while we were in Germany. I would love to do a line similar to those… only “ala Alice”.

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Alice C. W. Dennis – doll artist interview – part two

Q.  What’s your greatest influence today?  Do you get your ideas from other dolls, other art, or something else altogether?

I read Soft Dolls & Animals, Art Doll Quarterly, and I belong to several internet doll lists. I love all of these, but things and people influence me the most.

Things?  Well, here’s an example:  Once while shopping, I went down the cleaning aisle. I stopped at the Chore-Girl display and picked up one and stood there studying the copper fibered scouring pad. I envisioned the pad unraveled and as hair on a cleaning woman wreath. She was hilarious and got plenty of laughs.

People? I am a people watcher. I love studying faces and expressions. Expressions say more than words ever can.

Q. When you make dolls, do you tend to include consistent elements such as striped legs, glittered hair, wings, etc?  Has this changed?

I think it is the expressions of my creations. That is where I got the name for my business–“What an Expression!”

When searching for a business name I asked my husband for advice. He said, “Why don’t you call it what everyone says when they come into your booth–“What an Expression!”

Needle sculpture was my only media but I have begun working with clay and papier mache’ as well. (I entered my first all-polymer clay doll in an internet challenge and won beginner level–since it was my first in clay–plus best of theme and people’s choice.)

Q. Tell me about your design process:  When you design your dolls, does the idea pop into your mind fully formed, or do you sketch it out, or what?

Oh, wow…hmmm…  Usually, I have an idea. It stays in my head until I can envision it completely. I may spend hours, days, even months, thinking about it, and getting to know it, until it becomes “real.” Then, I make it. I don’t sit down and sketch it first because I can’t sketch. Well, sometimes I have drawn a stick figure, but my mind can see it better on its own.

It is funny because it may only take a day or so to “make,” but that is not counting months of thinking.

Q. If you were in the cast of “Survivor” and could take just a few dollmaking supplies with you to a deserted island, what would they be?

Just My Size nylons, poly-fill, upholstery thread, needle-sculpture needles, scissors.

Q. What do you like best–and least–about dollmaking?

Best:  I like making faces. I love to sit and make faces all day. LOL

Least:  Making the rest of the doll. That is why I like making the wreaths.

Q. Do you collect dolls by others?

I have dolls that I have received in swaps and one from a round robin.  They mean a lot to me.

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Alice C. W. Dennis – doll artist interview – part one

Alice C. W. Dennis makes art dolls with wonderful facial expressions.  In this interview on three pages, she shares her insights, inspirations, resources, and recommendations for new dollmakers.


dolls by alice c. w. dennis (c)2005

The interview starts here…

Q. How do you describe your dolls?

I sometimes have difficulty with this. My “creations” are of everyday people, mainly. I am known for my “people wreaths”. These wreaths are wall art; busts of people.

Using a wreath for an armature, I do a caricature of a person of a certain occupation, interest, hobby or character. I needle sculpt the faces from nylon or swimming suit fabric. I use gloves for the hands. I either paint the eyes right on the fabric or sometimes make them from polymer clay.

Q. Are your dolls intended for play, or mostly for display?

Display mainly, although sometimes I do make dolls for play as well.

Q. Did you play with dolls when you were little? Do any of them influence your work today?

Yes I had dolls. The only one that really impressed me was also the only handmade one I had. It had been made for my older brother. It was a cloth doll sailor, with an embroidered face, and tight curls for hair that I think were made from french knots.

Q. Are your dolls “real”? Do they seem to dictate how they are created, what facial expression they wear, and what you name them?

Definitely! They evolve with each step. Once I thought I was making a sea captain. Boy was I surprised when It turned out that I was making a likeness of Dame Edna!

The older characters I make seem to be full of stories. I feel like they are eager to sit and talk for hours about their experiences. When finished their name seems apparent, as if I have always known them.

Now and then I do see the actual people who have influenced the faces. I have seen them in the line at my bank or at the coffee shop. It always surprises me when I realize I have needle-modeled a face from a person I might have seen often but don’t really know.

Q. How long have you been making dolls? How did you get started?

The Christmas eve after my first child (a daughter) was born, my mother gave me a sewing machine and a book on how to sew.

The first thing I made was a rag doll for her. I used a pillowcase for the fabric for the body and old clothes of mine for the fabric for the doll’s clothes. I found an old foam pillow and tore it up to use for the stuffing. LOL what a lovely doll it was!!!

I continued sewing and made dolls and stuffed animals for gifts over the years.

In 1981, I bought a little old lady face magnet. I looked at it and thought, “I can do that.” I began experimenting with needle sculpture.

In 1984, I bought Judy Mahlstedt’s pattern, Emily. I learned so much from that pattern. I showed the first Emily I made to some friends and they all ordered one! I got permission from Judy to make and sell the little puppet baby. I have continued making that little puppet baby for these past 20 years.

The success I had with Judy’s pattern gave me the confidence to experiment more and create my own dolls. Often people asked if I couldn’t make something in the line of home decoration. I made life size figures, which people bought for antique cars and front porches, and living rooms. I made vacuum cleaner covers as well as tree ornament angels, tooth fairies, and “angels of the month.”

One day while watching the Carol Duval show, there was a young man that fashioned a scarecrow wreath. He gave it a simple muslin head. I saw it and thought, “That is it! I can make people wreaths using my needle-sculpted heads and give them much, much more detail!”

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Barbie, Clearasil and ‘Green Ear’

Note: This article was written many years ago. There may be new, better products available now.

clearasil - a fix for barbie green ears

I have a great, vintage Barbie® doll in a red swimsuit and her original box, complete with stand. However, Barbie had green spots–stains in (not just on) the plastic–where her earrings used to be. It was a developing tragedy as the green spread a little more each year.

Then, I read that Extra Strength Clearasil will remove most of the green (but sometimes the skin dye, too) by leaching out the color. To the best of my knowledge, nothing will remove all of the green discoloration. The active ingredient is Clearasil’s organic peroxide.

The cleaning process can be slow, taking up to a month, sometimes longer. First, I scanned Barbie’s head so that I’d have a permanent record.

I changed the Clearasil every few hours, after each application had dried. I don’t know if this makes any difference. The most dramatic reduction of green appeared after the first application, in about two hours.

I’ve heard that the green may get worse before it gets better, as the green inside Barbie’s head is leached out, and becomes visible. We’ll see.

And, before you choose one approach to the ‘green ear’ problem, it’s not wise to mix treatments if one doesn’t work. (The plastic can turn brown.)

Because the Clearasil may leach out dyes as well, I was advised to apply the Clearasil with a toothpick or Q-Tip, just to the stain and avoiding any painted areas, or “just fine” skin-colored areas.

But remember, most doll restorers say that the green stains cannot be fully removed from most dolls.

Important: I accept no responsibility for results you may have, so please test the Clearasil on a not-important part of any stained doll (or other vinyl item) that you want to clean. This is strictly for items where the staining is so severe, you have nothing to lose, and safer choices haven’t worked.

Also, Twin Pines of Maine makes “Remove-Zit”, a product with organic peroxide that is intended specifically for treating plastics safely.

I would not consider selling this Barbie, and I’m delighted to be able to (mostly) restore her so that I can display and enjoy her!

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a guideline, not as specific advice for your dolls. The author assumes no responsibility for your repair & restoration efforts, and speaks only from personal experience, providing opinions about repairs.

If you have any questions, please consult a qualified doll hospital.

Related Links: (From the original article – links may not be current.)

And, if you want to customize your Barbie–new hair, different makeup, rebend her arms, and more–there are the books on this subject, listed at right.

Remember that the BarbieTM name has been trademarked and is very protected by the Mattel company. Instead, use the phrase “fashion doll” when you’re searching for more information.

This website has no connection with the Mattel Corporation.

Advice about fashion dolls, including BarbieTM, is provided as personal opinion. When restoring valuable dolls, always consult a professional before attempting any repair.

The name “Barbie” is a registered trademark of the Mattel Corporation.

Let’s see… did I say enough about trademarks, Barbies and green ear to protect myself..? *LOL*

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Voodoo Barbie

Voodoo Barbie
Voodoo Barbie – an experiment!

Barbie® brings out the worst in me, sometimes. This is a good example.

She’s not quite Toy Story, but she certainly is strange.

I replaced her torso with a cloth body, and reinforced the (cloth) neck so it will hold her head up.

Her arms and legs are jointed, attached at the hips and shoulders with antique buttons.

She is a new Barbie that I bought for this purpose, so she has bendable knees, too.

The reinforcement in her neck makes it possible for you to angle her head how you’d like, too.

Around her neck I’ve hung a “fetish”-type necklace that I made from glass and wooden beads, bits of fabric, and feathers.

She already has a few (removable) “Voodoo” pins in place. The next owner can decide what to do about that.

(I mean no disrespect to those who practice Voodoo, Hoodoo, Vodun, or any related spirituality. This doll is pretty far removed from those actual beliefs and practices.  She’s more closely related to the tourist-y “Voodoo” dolls sold in very commercial shops in New Orleans & Salem, MA.)

In my mind, this doll was created to amuse everyone who’s ever shuddered or sighed when dealing with airhead blondes (by nature or nurture) who aspire to be Barbie.

I also say that with the greatest respect.  In the 1960s, I desperately wanted to grow up to look like Solo in the Spotlight Barbie.  Instead, I looked more like a very skinny Pitiful Pearl, for most of my teen years

Mostly, Voodoo Barbie was made for every mom who’s spent two weeks hitting every Toys R Us in the state, looking for the exact Barbie doll a little girl asked for, for Christmas. (Not that I ever did that, mind you. Ahem.)

In this redesign, Barbie’s cloth torso is a “normal” size and shape. In other words, the chick has hips. This makes her legs far enough apart to straddle New York City, but I like the effect.

It makes her look just a little off-balance and dangerous, and perhaps more normal… whatever that is.

She now lives in the home of a doll collector who appreciates this kind of art.

I have three more Barbies that I view with a slightly deranged look, on days when stress catches up with me!

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Altered Dolls

Not quite an altered doll
Not exactly altered, and not exactly a doll…

Altered dolls usually (but not always) start with ready-made, store-bought dolls. They may be modified or even deconstructed to make a different art doll or mixed-media figure.

These can include anything from themed, customized BarbieTM dolls, to Raggedy Ann gone wild, to McD’s doll toys that are made into jewelry or chess pieces.

However, that definition of altered dolls is the tip of the iceberg.  For many doll artists, “altered dolls” mean anything that even vaguely resembles a doll.  This takes altered dolls into paper arts, mixed media, and beyond.

My doll in the photo above is from around 2002 or so.  She’s more an assemblage than an altered doll.  My initial concept was to create a futuristic Kachina doll.

The face and feet were cast from existing dolls, using my mold process.  The torso/body was a clear plastic cube filled with opalescent Easter grass.  The arms were a single lucite rod, decorated with feathers.

(Thread didn’t attach the feathers as well as I’d hoped, so the thread was also glued in place.)

That doll was small enough to sit in my hand.  (She was one of several I made at the time, and all dolls from that series are now in private collections.)

Here’s what’s important about altered dolls: There are no limits to what you can do!

December 2011 update

If you’re intrigued by altered dolls, here are some more recent altered art doll articles to inspire you. (If any of these links are broken when you visit, let me know in a comment. Thanks!)

C. Dianne Zweig – Kitsch ‘n Stuff: Altered Doll Assemblages: Using

Altered Doll Assemblages: Using Up Your Vintage Junk. Creating Dolls Out of Vintage Junk I would love to be able to try my hand at making Altered Doll Assemblages out of vintage odds and ends. Like many of you who are

Dianne’s illustrations look similar to the altered dolls and assemblages we used to make when I taught at Artfest. They’re quirky and strange and generally wonderful!

For me, those represent some of the roots of assemblage and altered dolls, going back to the Dada movement and maybe earlier.

Next, scroll down this linked article to see a few interesting altered paper dolls. I think this concept could be taken in very wild directions.

inkspired musings

inkspiredmusings.blogspot.com11/29/11

4, 9am – 4pm. I had a fun discovery today -. several completed altered paper dolls! 2 of them are Halloween themed, but I’ll still put them out. Here are 3 that I have scanned. The others need to be resized, etc. and I will share!

If you like those altered paper dolls, you may enjoy the next examples of altered paper dolls:

Jumbled Crafts: Altered Dolls at Craft Room (offline as of 2020)

jumbledcrafts.blogspot.com6/15/11

Well I have never done anything like this before but it was so much fun. I didn’t know where to start really but the ideas just kept coming as I went along. What a great idea it is to alter a paper doll and I am pleased

And another:

Sue’s Art of Craft: My First Altered Paper Doll – Love It!

suesartofcraft.blogspot.com
My First Altered Paper Doll – Love It! This month’s challenge at Craft Room is to make an Altered Paper Doll. Click the link in the sidebar for Craft Room Challenge to take part. I’ve never tried anything like this before and must

Next, some art deco-style altered dolls at Etsy. What intrigues me is that the faces look like the ones I’ve made since 2002 (maybe earlier) using homemade molds. (The same kinds of molds I used for the futuristic kachina, above.)

I love seeing my ideas spread throughout the dollmaking community! (If you have other ways to use cast faces or other doll parts, please let me know. Leave a comment below.)

thechildrensgardenandseedcompany: My Latest Altered Dolls on Etsy

thechildrensgardenandseedcompany.blogspot.com10/28/11

Create a garden that will delight children. Become sensitive to what delights children- smells, textures, tastes…Create a place for adventures! Friday, October 28, 2011. My Latest Altered Dolls on Etsy

Now we shift to another extreme, a downright creepy altered doll. It’s one of Natasha Morgan’s stylish dolls, inspired by the DC Comic Book character, the two-faced Mr. Dent. (However, it’s not one of the creepiest dolls I found, when I was searching for altered dolls to share with you.)

Natasha Morgan Art Dolls: Harvey – A Two Faced Altered Doll Portrait

natashamorganartdolls.blogspot.com7/1/11

Harvey – A Two Faced Altered Doll Portrait. Named by my Husband after the Two Faced vintage DC Comic Book character Mr Dent, I was inspired to make Harvey by a challenge I was asked to take part in on behalf of my

If you liked that doll, be sure to see more at Zuzu’s Alter It Monthly.

And finally, returning to altered paper dolls and doll-related paper arts, here are some interesting and elaborate dolls & figures. (The website has music that starts playing on its own. If you’re at work, turn down your speakers.)

ALTERED EXPRESSIONS: Matchbox dolls!!

bloubell-alteredexpressions.blogspot.com5/4/11

Hi Betty, I’m so excited about your Matchbox Dolls tutorial…thank you so much! 🙂 I just love them!

I could have continued this list for pages & pages, but I think it’s enough of an overview to give you some inspiration and starting points.

The concept of “altered dolls” is huge. From altered children’s dolls (plastic, etc.) to altered paper dolls, to assemblages and found art, to cast elements and odd bits & pieces… there’s a lot to play with!

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Annie Faerie Dolls

Annie Maloney Morey - pindoll
Pindoll based on my great-grandmother, Annie Maloney Morey of Co. Cork, Ireland

This is one of a series of pindolls that I’ve made by hand. These “Annie Faeries” sold out within minutes at Artfest 2001.

First, I create my doll collages digitally, using antique photos and illustrations.

When I’m pleased with the design and colors, I print each doll onto iron-on transfer paper.

Next, I apply each doll design to cotton, usually unbleached muslin, raw silk, or a light-colored cotton.

The edges of the fabric are treated with Fray-Chek, a product that prevents the edges from fraying. (You can find it in any fabric shop or sewing supply store.)

Then I sew, quilt, stuff, and bead the doll by hand.

(This is a very relaxing activity, and I often assemble my dolls when I’m traveling by airplane.)

Finally, I add the beaded antennae and a simple pinback, so you can wear the pindoll as jewelry, or attach her to a curtain.

Because these are sewn, quilted, and beaded by hand, not machine, each doll is slightly different, and one-of-a-kind.

These dolls are three inches tall without the antennae, and nearly four inches tall with them.

This design includes the face of Annie Maloney Morey, a wealthy young woman who eloped to America (from County Cork, Ireland) to marry her True Love, a dashing local lad with eyes the color of the Caribbean and the reputation of a rake.

They had six children and lived happily ever after.

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Faerie Grandmother Pindoll

My faerie grandmother pindoll is still among my favorites. That’s partly because the doll’s face belongs to my paternal grandmother.

I wanted to create a happy pindoll to remind me of what I liked best about that grandmother. She’d lived to age 80, but that wasn’t long enough.


faerie grandmother pindoll

(click image to see full sized)

This is the second of a series of pindolls that I created by hand.

I printed my original collages on cotton. Then I sewed, quilted, stuffed, and beaded them by hand.  (I did a lot of this work on airplanes, as I flew across the U.S. to teach my “wild art doll” workshops.)

Finally, I added the beaded antennae and a simple pinback, so she could be worn as jewelry, or attached to a curtain.

Because these were sewn, quilted, and beaded by hand, not machine, each doll was slightly different, and one-of-a-kind.

I swapped lots of these dolls, and sold some of them at conferences such as Artfest.  If you’re not sure if you have one in your collection: These dolls are three inches tall without the antennae, and about three and a half inches tall with them.

My original collages, printed on the fabric, were made with antique photos and illustrations.

This one includes the face of Mary Ann Loretta Boyle, whose family was from County Cork, Ireland.

Today, I think of her as a “faerie grandmother,” sort of a fairy godmother, but with chocolate chip cookies.

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